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5 February 2007

NEWSLETTER No 22                          5 February 2007

There will be a general meeting of The Forum at 5.30 for 6 pm on Thursday 22 February in The Athenaeum (top floor). The main business will be to hold an exchange of information about what we know and what we are doing about the site of Liverpool castle and the seven original streets. You are invited to attend.

Urban Picnic held a walk and discussion around the site of Liverpool Castle on 24 January. Plans of the site of the castle and the seven original streets were shown. A scale model of Harlech Castle was superimposed on one of the plans displayed, showing it to be of the same size at ground level as Liverpool castle is believed to have been. Liverpool Castle was built before any of the Welsh Castles built by English kings. Was it whitewashed as Harlech was? Imagine a structure of that size where the Queen Victoria memorial now stands! Of course, while the site is fairly definitely known, what existed above ground is a matter of conjecture.

Liverpool Culture Company plans a programme of “live” interpretation of medieval Liverpool in Derby Square, for example on 28 August 2007, the actual anniversary of the founding of the borough by King John. It also intends to produce a leaflet on medieval Liverpool. Redevelopment of Derby Square will take place in 2009, when the footprint of the Castle will be picked out in a different colour of brick. (Welcome news but would not joined-up government have brought this forward to 2007 or at least 2008?) A new interpretative panel may be erected at this time. But there will be a new “Connecting Liverpool” panel in Castle Street dedicated to the Castle and the seven streets.  The Maritime Museum will display its model of the Castle from July 2007 into early 2008. The Council is not (yet) persuaded to put up interpretative signs in each of the seven streets, on grounds of cost and to avoid further clutter. This seems likes discrimination against English history because there are lions of the pavement at the entrance to China Town and the streets signs there have the names in Chinese as well as English.  Why can’t we have this for English history too?

In the City of London the authorities put up information panels about matters which are of interest to historians but hardly of much importance to the general public.  One commemorates the site of where Loriners (makers of the metal parts of horse harnesses plied their trade) and another where the first postmarks for mail were issued in 1661. If the City of London thinks it useful to put up plaques like this why don’t we have more of them in Liverpool?  The fact that there are no buildings to see does not invalidate the point.

■ National Museums Liverpool has commissioned Ben Johnson to create a highly detailed cityscape of Liverpool. Work-in-progress images can be seen here with more details on the NML website.

■ The 16 Jan was the 5oth anniversary of  the Cavern Club first opening its doors.

Docks bosses are planning to salvage the former Mersey ferries terminal at the Pier Head, which sank last March, plus a replacement terminal and ticket offices. Plans for a £19m cruise liner terminal at Princes landing stage, in time for 2008 Capital of Culture events, are well advanced.

■ In the current timetable, Mersey ferries no longer call at Woodside during the morning commuter period. For the rest of the day, the Woodside call is maintained, both for the evening commuter period and for the cruise trips in the middle of the day. It is hoped that the withdrawal of morning calls at Woodside does not herald a wider reduction of services. A view of the (much-altered) Liverpool skyline from the river is surely one of the most important parts of a tourist visit to Merseyside. If only the authorities in Wirral could see it, a “packaging” of a trip on the ferry and visits to Birkenhead Priory, Hamilton Square, the revived tram service and the Wirral Museum (in the old Birkenhead Town Hall)  - which would be a much better place to display the interesting material now in the hard-to-find Williamson museum.  Does Wirral have plans to benefit from Liverpool’s new tourism status?

■Paul and Anna Dunkerley (HeritagePD@aol.co. have published a pamphlet of Liverpool “firsts”.

■ The Scottie Press website (http://www.scottiepress.org/projects) has opened a webpage given over to the Friends of Anfield Cemetery. Also, it  is seeking to site a slate plaque commemorating the history of the Welsh who settled in the Vauxhall area of Liverpool (an area evidently known as “over the bridge”).

■ There are reports that Beatle drummer Ringo Starr's birthplace in Toxteth is to be knocked down as part of the government’s plans to destroy housing in the north and build over more parts of the south-east into which northerners are supposedly to move. The Victorian terrace in Madryn Street is one of 460 in the area set to be demolished. Ringo Starr lived at the house for about three months before moving to Admiral Grove. A campaign to save his birthplace failed after the City Council said it had "no historical significance". However, there is a plan to rebuild it brick by brick at the new £65m Museum of Liverpool on the city's waterfront to be opened in 2010.  National Museums Liverpool said it would be a "hugely popular" feature. Negotiations and planning are under way.

■ Sefton Park Palm House opened in 1896, a gift from Liverpool-born merchant/philanthropist Henry Yates Thompson. In the German blitz of May of 1941, a bomb fell nearby and shattered every pane of glass in the structure. Later battered by winter storms and a frequent target for vandals, by the mid 1980s its spiral of decline had been mirrored by Liverpool's own darkest days. A successful "sponsor a pane" campaign was followed by £3.5m funding for its restoration provided by the combined input of the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, European Regional Development Fund, the city council and the Palm House Trust. The work was completed and the Palm House reopened in September 2001.

■ We are aware that parts of the local media are interested in activities organised by individuals and voluntary bodies (i.e. other than the public sector) to celebrate 2007. Media outlets need good forewarning of events and need information in a style which would interest the general reader or listener, not dry as dust. The Forum will give such publish such information and societies’ contact details if it receives this information. 

■ The Williamson Gallery in Birkenhead has a permanent display of Della Robbia pottery. This was made at premises in Price Street Birkenhead. The firm, which was in business from 1894 to 1906 and was funded by Harold Steward Rathbone, of the Liverpool banking family, had a shop at 7 Berry Street Liverpool. Rathbone was in contact with the Arts & Crafts and pre-Raphaelite figures such as William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones and Ford Madox-Brown so his work compliments works on display at the Lady Lever and the Walker. He exhibited at the autumn exhibitions associated with the Liverpool Academy. The style of the pottery was inspired by the work of Luco di Simone Robbia, a sculptor in Florence who lived from 1400 to 1482. The Williamson has Liverpool pottery as well.

■ BBC Radio 4’s “Land lines” programme featured Liverpool on 5 February. Reference was made to Liverpool Football Club’s “Kop” stand, name after the Boer War battle in 1900, to the figure of 9 million emigrants who left Liverpool for the New World between 1830 and 1930 and to the mast of the SS Great Eastern stands at the Kop end of Anfield stadium. (The was largest ship built up to the date of its launch in 1858 in London,  and was said to be capable of carrying 4,000 passengers around the world without refuelling.  It was finally used for laying cables from Ireland to America and was broken up in 1889.

 ■ A firm in Sweeting Street (off Castle Street) is asking about the Quill Club, which once occupied their building.  Has anyone any information about this?

■ The model of Lutyens’ Roman Catholic Cathedral that was never built is now on display at the Walker. (The Anglican cathedral has a smaller model of an earlier design for this building.

■ The Echo is supporting an appeal for donations for a 14 foot high statue of Archbishop Derek Worlock and Bishop David Sheppard to be erected in Hope Street this year. The partnership between the two men is a major feature of the City’s more recent history.

■ Six postage stamps featuring the Beatles were issued on 9 January 2007.

■ A campaign is under way to keep “the greatest collection of football memorabilia in the world” (Everton’s) in the City. Championship medals and even the tender to build Anfield - home to Everton before Liverpool FC was formed. More than £350,000 has been raised, thanks to donations from Everton FC and Lord Grantchester, a member of the Moores family. A Heritage Lottery Fund bid for £750,000, supported by Liverpool Record Office, will make up the remainder as well as help fund the the cataloguing it. Even people from the red half of the city will surely support this project.






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