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Interesting Liverpool history links

Photograph of Liverpool Cathedral in 1944 and 2017

After all the kerfuffle and bluster of recent posts, I thought it would be nice to share a few more light topics, i.e. great sites for Liverpool history buffs like yourselves.

Journeys in 1955

I can’t remember whether I’ve shared this one before, but this is a deceptively simple idea created by the Co-operative Insurance company. They want to show you how long your journey would have taken in 1955, what with the motorway network being a mere glimmer in the Transport Minister’s eyes in those days!

Give the site your start and end point and it will give you two routes: one for the present day and one for ‘1945’, and it will show you how much longer that old journey would have taken, and many more miles you’d have had to drive.

The secret is that it’s just excluding motorways from the search, and so any non-motorway roads built since 1945 are still on there. Nevertheless it’s quite fun, and I’ve found that my journey from my current house in Bristol to the house where I grew up in West Derby (which now takes 3 hours 12 minutes) would have taken 6 hours 29 minutes back then. There’s a few suspicious late 20th Century bypasses which are on my ‘1945’ journey, along with the Runcorn Bridge (built 1961), but hey, it’s just for fun. Maybe the data is out there to build this tool more accurately. It brings home how useful our ‘clogged’ motorways still are (plus it offers an alternative scenic route for some journeys)!

Get yourself a route: Maps Time Travel

Spirits of Place

What with all kinds of things going on in my life at the moment (weddings, holidays, website redesigns) it seems I’ve been sitting on some quality web pages for too long!

One of them is this transcript from Gary Budden’s talk at Spirits of Place, a John Reppion-led held at Calderstones Park in April of 2016 (see this article for my report on the Spirits of Place event).

Gary’s talk was about a central topic to that day: how does the sense of a place affect how you approach it, and what you can do there? It’s about music and literature too, and how the ancient, crumbling landscape of Britain infects and infests all kinds of culture from psychogeographical novels to punk rock.

Spirits of Place was such a great event – so varied and such a fusion of disciplines – and this transcript brings out some of that essence. Even if you’re not interested in punk and the grittier novels, you should take a read to see how landscape is much more than something to look at – it’s something lived in.

Read: Re-enchanting the Parkland (actually, Gary’s half of a two-parter under that title, alongside David Southwell), at New Lexicons.

Liverpool: the Blitz and today

There are quite a few people, in Liverpool and elsewhere, doing then-and-now photos of their favourite city. The most visible of these is the Liverpool Blitzed page on Facebook, run by Neil Holmes.

His photos each meld together an old and new image (he takes the new himself), and he’s got enough to fill a couple of books: Liverpool Blitzed and Echoes of the Merseyside Blitz.

Andrew Farris seems to produce a similar type of image for a few different cities. His images, of which a selection are shown in a Buzzfeed article, are made by overlaying an old and new image and using a natty little slider to switch between them. It makes it easy to see what’s changed.

His images on Buzzfeed include the cathedral at different stages of construction, the Cavern, and other parts of town. They show that not all post-war development was ugly Brutalism! The current Primark shop is shown to have replaced a Victorian building which was destroyed by the Luftwaffe, and yet it’s a neat and restrained design which still looks good today. It does document some sad losses though, such as the much lamented Customs House and wonderful shops on Church Street, at the Bold Street end.

I’ve got to give credit to Andrew, whose images line up almost exactly with the older images. Even distortion produced by the camera lens seems to have been reconstructed. I’m not sure whether this is just photographic skill or post-snap work in Photoshop, but either way it works excellently.

Read: 29 Amazing Then And Now Photos Of Liverpool, by Andrew Farris on Buzzfeed.

That’s all for this edition of the Historic Liverpool blog. Please let me know what you think in the comments, and share this article with your interested friends on Facebook and Twitter!

Image: Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral in 1944 and 2017, separated by a slider. Credit: Liverpool Picturebook / Andrew Farris /

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Mapping the History of Liverpool

Interactive maps of Liverpool's suburbs, old maps of Merseyside, and details of our protected, listed heritage.

Cover of the book 'Liverpool: a landscape history'

And don't forget the book, Liverpool: a Landscape History


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