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29 October 2007

NEWSLETTER No 36                                 29 October 2007  


The Welsh National Opera gave a splendid performance of Il Trovatore (The Troubadour) on Saturday  22 October. I wondered why the Empire was not very full.  Do Liverpool people not like opera? Do they not know that the Welsh National is up there with the best in Europe? Would they rather listen to Verdi on a CD in their car rather than see and hear music and drama live in a theatre? Or is it because they didn’t know it was on?

“We didn’t know it was on” is a frequent complaint about the events of 2007. Of course some people don’t listen. Some forget. But it is tempting to think that there is something wrong with the dissemination of information of this kind in the city and even more so in the surrounding areas from which so many supporters of the city’s culture come. It’s true that the Daily Post runs a listings column on certain days – but the paper’s circulation is below 20,000 (a good deal smaller than that of certain other regional dailies).  The Echo, with a print run six times as great as the Daily Post and one of the biggest provincial papers, perhaps appeals to a section of society which is less interested in heritage and culture (even though the paper runs the important Stop-the-Rot Campaign and regularly features cultural matters.) Of course the number of readers of a newspaper is higher than the number printed. This is also true of this newsletter. This goes out by e-mail to some 700 people of whom about 100 are local councillors and the rest mainly people who have requested copies). Certain voluntary organisations send this newsletter out, with our permission, to their own members.  We think we reach in all well over a thousand people. 

The comprehensive events listing produced by Liverpool Culture Company, available on the web at MASTER 2008 calendar for media_tc, covers some 150 events and shows organised, for the most part, by the major commercial and public sector organisations in the city. It is a useful and essential reference document but by itself will do little to get the message across to the public.

(The Welsh National’s spring tour, by the way, takes in Llandudno, Bristol, Birmingham, Milton Keynes Plymouth and Swansea  -  but not Liverpool.  Sad!)


  • Bernice law has been seconded to Liverpool Culture Company by the North West Development Agency (where she earns £103.000 a year) as a senior adviser on operational delivery.  (We suppose that this means that her task is to ensure that we get what we have been promised  -  something of a contrast to what we have had so far.)  The huge salaries that some of the people in the Culture Company receive is in contrast with the situation of Michael Parker, currently Chief Executive of BNFL and previously of America’s Dow Corporation, who has been appointed to head Liverpool’s new enterprise agency. He is generously waiving the £50,000 salary for the post. We do not expect people in the Culture Company to work for nothing but we do expect results for the tax payers’ money they receive.
  • Accountants Grant Thornton, the Bluecoat Arts Centre and Yorkshire Bank have agreed to provide money or venues for 2008.

·         A song to represent the spirit of the city for 2008 is to be chosen from entries to be submitted to Liverpool Culture  Company. The winner will be recorded at the Bridport Street premises of Merseysound Studios. We are told that folk, hiphop and dance are among styles of music expected.  Wouldn’t it be nice if a classical piece could also be written, recorded and played?


  • At yet another packed meeting of its members and traders, the New Brighton Heritage Action Group have unanimously voted once again to challenge Wirral Council Planning Committee's approval of a scheme which they consider to be a damaging development on New Brighton’s waterfront. The proposals by Neptune Developments Ltd involve the siting of a large supermarket with an elevated 750-space car park, a Casino, Bingo Hall, a 16 meter-high budget-Hotel and retail units on this prime seafront location (the site of the old New Brighton Baths).  Campaigners consider the scheme inappropriate and over-scaled that it  would for all time violate the resort’s character and sense of place, permanently damaging the setting of the Wellington  Road Conservation Area. Heritage supporters can email or write regarding  Neptune Phase II, an outline-application (No.2007/6508) before the 6th November to Wirral Council.
  • Helen Mirren and Vanessa Redgrave are among stars who have signed up as patrons of the Shakespeare North project. The plan is to recreate at Prescot a cockpit theatre for performances of Shakespeare’s plays and other works,  Shakespeare is believed to have written some of his works in the Prescot area and to have visited Rufford Old Hall.
  • It is delightful to hear that the German U-boat now lying on a wharf in Birkenhead Docks is finally to be saved. Merseytravel will move the vessel in four pieces to Woodside Ferry Terminal and install glass panels at the ends of each section so that visitors can see inside. This is a happy ending to one aspect of the sad demise of the Historic Warship Preservation Trust about which the authorities seemed to take so little interest at the time.  Good for Merseytravel!


  • Ian Tracey will be relinquishing his role as the Anglican Cathedral’s Master of the Choristers.  It is hoped that by then the Cathedral will have appointed a new Director of Music.  Ian will continue as Cathedral Organist.

·         Dr Justin Welby will be installed a new Dean of the Anglican Cathedral on 3 December.  Quite apart from its religious activities, the Cathedral plays a major part in the cultural life of Liverpool, as does also the Metropolitan (Roman Catholic) Cathedral.


  • John and Diane Robinson have published a book on “The Lighthouses of Liverpool”. The magazine “Cheshire Ancestor” reports that even after the Old Dock was completed in 1715, ships were still being unloaded at The Hoyle Lake  off the Wirral coast and a number of ships were lost in that area. It was decided to build four lighthouses on the Cheshire shore to guide ships. There were pairs of lighthouses at Leasowe (then known as Mockbeggear) and Hoylake.
  • The London Mint Office, a subsidiary of a Norwegian firm, is producing commemorative coins for the city in 2008. The coins, which are not legal tender, will be sold for £5 each.  Earlier this year, the Royal Mint refused to produce such coins. Now, if London had been made Capital of Culture, that would have been different, wouldn’t it?

·         Canon Bob Evans, port chaplain in Liverpool for many years, has published “A lantern on the stern : Liverpool’s seafaring heritage”. The two volumes hold stories of some  of the men who sailed from the city. £7.50 each + £1 p&p introductory offer. Call 0151 727 3608.


  • The Walker opens an exhibition of works by Joseph Wright of Derby on 17 November. Wright was the first professional painter to express the spirit of the industrial revolution in his trademark candlelight paintings. He lived in Liverpool from 1768 to 1771 and painted portraits of some of Liverpool’s growing merchant class at the time.
  • The Philharmonic Orchestra takes our culture on the road to other cities and towns. In November and December it visits Hull, Nottingham, Leeds, Preston, Blackburn and Huddersfield and Halewood. Yes, Halewood!  Good for the Phil! The Philharmonic Society’s AGM originally to be held on 29 October had to be postponed due to the postal strike in Liverpool. Notice of the postponement was dated 24 October.  We this reached those who had already put the date in  their diaries before they set out for the meeting on the original date. The revised date: 26 November at 6 pm in the Rodewald Suite at the Phil).
  • Liverpool Consular Corps has just held a reception in the banqueting room on the 6th floor of the Cunard building.  There are 18 honorary consuls in Liverpool, the largest number in any provincial city other than Manchester.   The room was originally the departure lounge used by first class passengers waiting to board the company’s liners bound for North America.  The decoration is magnificent.
  • A new society for the descendants of Italian immigrants has been set up. Members will be at the Academy of St Francis of Assisi, Newsham Park on 16 November for an evening of Italian Culture. 7 pm. ( 0151 222 0532)


  • Arriva now runs a bus service (S1) every 10/12 minutes 7 days a week serving Lime Street station, Queen Square bus station, the Cavern Quarter, James Street Merseyrail station, the Pier Head, the Albert Dock, the Arena and Conference centre, the Anglican Cathedral, the Metropolitan Cathedral and the National Express coach station. This will be very useful for getting round the city’s culture and heritage locations.


Andrew Pearce, Editor