The Ancient Crosses of Lancashire

Happy New Year all! This year I’ll be concentrating on more maps of Liverpool and the surrounding area, with only a smattering of news when it suits. First up: a lovely little book from 1902, detailing one man’s niche interest…

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The Liverpool History Geek’s Gift Guide

It’s that time of the year again, so what better way to beat the winter blues than to treat yourself to the stuff below. Of course, you could also buy something for the historian in your life, but who’s gonna know?

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Zen and the Art of Heritage Protection

Heritage Protection is a controversial field at the best of times. There are almost as many different opinions on a given listing, say, as there are people offering said opinions. It’s difficult for the likes of English Heritage to decide what to protect and what to let go, and it’s certainly not a scientific process. But should we stop getting confused between the things we should be saving, and the events they merely represent?

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Photo of Liverpool Central Station

Liverpool in the 1950s

The 1950s were a turning point in the history of Liverpool’s urban fabric. In fact, it marked a point in time just before some of the most wide-ranging changes the city had ever seen. A new book by Robert F. Edwards casts light on this era through a selection of photos under the banner Liverpool in the 1950s. Continue reading

Liverpool: A landscape history (or Historic Liverpool: the book)

I can’t deny it – I’ve waited a long time to be able to say this: I have written a book, and someone has agreed to publish it.

At the time of writing, Liverpool: A landscape history is due in shops imminently, although I’ve not had confirmation of the exact date yet. There’s only 1000 to be printed, so get yours as soon as you can! Continue reading

Maps of Landscapes

I recently visited that there London, popping into the London Review Bookshop (a bricks-and-mortar relative of the London Review of Books – definitely pop in if you’re in the area!), where I stumbled across Maps, the first in an annual series of compilations by Five Leaves Press. It’s one of the most fascinating books I’ve read in ages, and I had to share it here. Continue reading

The centre of the city of Liverpool in 1898, from Royal Atlas of England and Wales

Liverpool City Centre, 1898

Today’s map is from the end of the 19th century, part of the Royal Atlas of England and Wales, published in 1898. It’s one of my favourite views of Liverpool at the height of its global power, for several reasons.

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Refurbishing old buildings in the historic landscape

English Heritage have released a new volume of their ‘Constructive Conservation’ series, this one entitled Sustainable Growth for Historic Places. It’s all about the benefits of re-using historic buildings for new purposes, and the effects not only on the bottom line of the developer, but also the ability of these buildings to attract customers and tourists, and the benefits of creating an attractive and enjoyable place to work in. Continue reading

Peel Waters and the New Liverpool Landscape

As you’ll no doubt be aware, the planning application for Peel Waters was recently waved through by Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, and there will be no public enquiry. Regular readers will remember previous posts, where I’ve come down against the scheme. But now that it looks like going ahead, it’s time to move on and consider how the development will unfold. Continue reading

Alder Hey and the Remains of War

Those of you trying to drive past Sainsbury’s on East Prescot Road in West Derby may have found themselves diverted around a police bomb squad. A suspected hand grenade was discovered in Springfield Park as work began on the new Alder Hey hospital.

There are conflicting reports as to whether this was a modern grenade or one from the First World War. Hopefully someone will clear this up at some point, but it gives me a good excuse to look at a brief period in Alder Hey’s history: when the grounds of the hospital and park were used as an American army camp. Continue reading

Mr. John Dewsnap and the teaching of history

This morning, the funeral of Mr. John Dewsnap took place. He was my teacher in year 6 of primary school at Blackmoor Park in West Derby (c.1992-3), and was an inspiration. It might not be too far fetched to say that, if not for him, you might not be reading these words on this website, because he was one of the biggest influences on my love of history. Continue reading

Mapping Local Food in Liverpool

Memories of Mr Seel’s Garden is a community project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, looking at the history of local food in Liverpool. The three local groups involved, Friends of Everton Park, Friends of Sudley Estate and Transition Liverpool, are all interested in finding out whether knowing more about the past might inspire new ways of thinking about the future of local food in our city. For example, while it might seem strange now to say you were heading out to Aigburth to pick some fresh veg from the farms there, this was exactly what people were able to do only fifty or sixty years ago. With all the interest in developing more local food systems, including long allotment waiting lists and new ‘Growers’ groups, we wanted to gather together a picture of how people used to grow food locally. Continue reading

Covers of the books Ghost Signs of Liverpool and Along the Mersey

Liverpool Ghost Signs and Along the Mersey

I’ve got another two books for you today. This time they are Liverpool Ghost Signs by Caroline and Phil Bunford, and Along the Mersey by Jan Dobrzynski. The first pair of names are familiar through their presence on Twitter and with the Liverpool Ghost Signs Project, whereas Dobrzynski is a new name to me. A quick look at Amazon shows Jan has written a lot of books like this, from all over the country (Severn, Conwy, Cotwolds…). They’re two very ‘landscapey’ books, but let’s see how the two volumes fare against each other… Continue reading

Stanley Park, landscape of leisure

North Liverpool is an area that I’ve become much more interested in since I started Liverpool Landscapes and Historic Liverpool. It’s seen such changes in its time, and been home to every part of Liverpool society. Stanley Park’s a great subject for closer inspection, especially as it’s become something of a metaphor for one of the passionate divides in the city! Continue reading

The Liverpool Book of Days by Steven Horton

This is a simple book with a simple premise: 365 historical stories of Liverpool, attached to their dates. The whole thing is presented in an attractive hardback, and is just the thing for flicking through when you’re waiting for the kettle to boil. The format and title almost give it the look of a compact Bible, though it clearly aims to conjure up the Chambers’ Book of Days, which had a very similar, if wider ranging, remit.

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Not a Guide to Liverpool & Merseyside War Years by Daniel K. Longman

There are two new books out by journalist and historian Daniel K. Longman. Both are short books, and part of larger series, but take two different views of the city of Liverpool. They both cover history, but are they both for you? Continue reading

Bootle: seaside village

Today’s map is taken from a detailed one that I picked up recently, from the Illustrated Globe Encyclopedia printed in 1878.

The point of interest I’m drawing your attention to is Bootle. In 1878, and also visible on the First Edition Ordnance Survey map of the area, the village of Bootle sits alone to the north of Liverpool. The docks to the west have stretched this far north, but Bootle’s strong links with the port were still a little way in the future. Continue reading

Liverpool’s Electric Tramway

This week’s research has been all about transport: roads, rail and that in-between technology, trams.

Like a lot of Liverpool’s landscape, the trams were both pioneering and behind the times. The first Act of Parliament was granted in 1868, and Liverpool was the first city to be granted such an Act, and yet Liverpool stuck with trams when other cities were moving to buses, the last tram entering the depot in 1957. Continue reading

An 1885 map showing Liverpool's north docks

Liverpool at the forefront of dock technology: Waterloo, Victoria and Trafalgar Docks

I’ve been obsessed with Liverpool’s docklands this week. I’ve been reading a lot about them while writing the 19th century chapter of my book. Although the book’s focus will be on the changing historic landscape of Liverpool and its docks, you can’t help but be drawn into the technological advances. These too helped create the dock landscape we see today. Continue reading

Ordnance Survey map of south Liverpool, 1934

Historic map of Halewood, 1934

Following a request from one of our Facebook ‘Likers’ (particularly appropriate word for Scousers, perhaps), I posted an old map of Brook House Farm in Halewood. Here I want to post a slightly larger version, taking in more of the surrounding area which was, at this time, on the cusp of great changes.

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Little Book of Liverpool, and Bloody British History: Liverpool

The two books here, both published by the History Press, have been written by authors with previous well-known Liverpool books under their belts. Alexander Tulloch wrote the general history The Story of Liverpool, while Ken Pye is best known for his coffee-table book Discover Liverpool. Continue reading

Toxteth – Some distant childhood memories.

The following blog post is a bit of a departure from the normal round of news or analysis.

I was approached by Derek Tunnington who was born in Leeds but grew up in Toxteth, and has many memories of his childhood in Liverpool. What follows is his account of those years.

I’d really like to hear what you think of this. Is it the kind of thing you’d like to see more of? Do you have similar stories to share? Let us know in the comments, or contact me directly. Continue reading

Photograph of the front of Croxteth Hall

Five fossils of Liverpool’s founding year

On August 23rd Liverpool celebrated 804 years as a town! OK, so it’s no ‘2007’, but it’s a good time to have a look back the best part of a millennium. There are quite a few things which were laid down in 1207, the evidence of which is still visible today.
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Detail of Penny Lane Anglican Church 2, by dkwonsh via Flickr

Churches, and Rural Landscapes in Urban Liverpool

This article was inspired by Celia Heritage’s recent article on parish churches. Her love of churches, in terms of history, began through researching family history and looking for ancestors’ gravestones.

What to look out for in a parish church

What to Look Out For in a Parish Church is the first article on the revamped Celia’s Blog. The article is a really interesting run-through of the oft-missed aspects of church architecture and archaeology and those features which any observant onlooker can spot.
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Photograph of the monument to Edward VII outside the Museum of Liverpool

7 ways in which Liverpool *is* the Museum of Liverpool

The new Museum of Liverpool opens this week, to great fanfare and after what seems like a long wait.

‘Museum of Liverpool’ is a very fitting name too, because this is a museum about the city, and about the people. It’s the largest national museum dedicated to a city in over a century, and opens in a year when the M Shed in Bristol, the Cardiff Story, and Glasgow’s Riverside Museum Project bring similar attractions to those places.

But just as the Museum of Liverpool will capture the city in a nutshell, the city beyond is a museum in itself. For starters, it contains objects that have survived from the past into a new use in the present, but unlike the museum, they’re not on here for display’s sake.

But, in a sense, Liverpool is the Museum of Liverpool: Continue reading

Photograph of the Blue Plaque dedicated to Jesse Hartley

Liverpool Heroes 4: Jesse Hartley

Continuing our look at the men and women who have had the greatest impact on the Liverpool landscape, this time we examine the work of Jesse Hartley, dock engineer.

Jesse Hartley (1780-1860) is best known as the architect of the Albert Dock. But this was just one of his achievements as Civil Engineer and Superintendent of the Concerns of the Dock Estate in Liverpool from 1824 to 1860, and his career was one which changed the face of Liverpool. It’s a landscape we can still see today, and his buildings continue to affect how we move through and how we deal with the built environment of the city.

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Photograph of a Viking longboat, taking during the 600th anniversary of the foundation of Liverpool

Liverpool Heroes 3: Vikings in Liverpool

OK, so perhaps the Norse are as far from the ‘Liverpool Radicals’ we have in mind in 2011 as it’s possible to get.

They’re distant in time, left little visible trace in our city, and went about changing society through the delicate application of pointy-horned helmets.

But of course none of that is strictly true. There are traces of the Norse presence on our doorstep, and may have paved the way for Liverpool itself to be settled half a millennium after they first arrived. Continue reading