1910: Bartholomew’s Plan of Liverpool

This is one of three maps of Liverpool which have come from the Massachusetts Collections Online website. There they have high quality scans of all sorts of documents and photos, and the collection focusses on items with no known copyright. Therefore they’re free to download and use – like I’ve done here! This is the Plan of Liverpool from 1910 by John Bartholomew and Son.

Bartholomew is a common name to see when looking through maps of Liverpool. Although there are no other old maps on this site published by the company, they lasted long enough to publish into the 20th century, and some of the ‘A-Z’ style maps were made by them. There’s a pencil annotation in the title block – ‘Phillips’. I’d love someone to help me out on this, but it seems that Philips produced atlases that were then used by other companies (like Bartholomews) to produce individual products, and perhaps that is what is being referred to here. Although it’s spelled with two Ls instead of one. Perhaps it was the name of a librarian that filed the map!

Second City of Empire

This map was published in 1910, and I think it’s fair to say that this was possibly Liverpool at the height of its powers (though with its decline not all that far away). This power is reflected in this map, and the things we can see on it.

Some of the great landmarks of Liverpool’s historic landscape, including those that later disappeared, are here.

The David Lewis Northern Hospital is there on Great Howard Street; the old Customs House still stands. Wapping, Riverside and Exchange Stations are present, amongst countless smaller termini. The Liverpool Overhead Railway sweeps the length of the map, and beyond it.

The docklands are at their greatest extent, from Herculaneum in the south to Gladstone in the north. The original St John’s Market, and Scotland Road exist here in their pre-20th century re-redevelopment states. The Leeds-Liverpool Canal comes right into Leeds Street (hence the latter’s name).

Liverpool’s Anglican Cathdral is shown in plan, though it was only a decade into its more than half-century long gestation.

This is Liverpool pre-Blitz, pre-replanning and pre-demolition, in its pomp. There is industry, planning for the future, transport, philanthropic ventures… The list goes on.

Two sides of Liverpool

Of course, it wasn’t a golden time for everyone. While the Anglican Cathedral was being built, the site of the future Catholic Cathedral was occupied by the Workhouse. The ‘inmates’ of the workhouse were those people too poor to live independently, possibly because injury or disease had made them almost unemployable. The workhouse was something of an employer of last resort, but conditions of living and work were no picnic.

Conditions did vary as legislation tried to improve on things, but this wasn’t a place you wanted to end up.

Away from the palaces of commerce in the centre were the narrow and tangled streets of Everton to the north, and Toxteth to the south. People here often lived in one of the notorious court houses and, because they had to live within walking distance of work, were housed in close proximity to the docks, warehouses and noxious factories that occupied the area.

And so this map shows Liverpool as a city of contrasts, a giant engine powered by the masses and steered by the ‘fathers of industry and commerce’. It’s a reminder that, even as we mourn the loss of much architectural interest and close-knit communities, time also saw the passing of overcrowding and exploitation. The sequence of maps on this site captures something of the story of the changing times.

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