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14 April 2009

Newsletter         No 56  :


<<< The Forum’s steering group will be meeting on Monday 20th April. It will have to discuss whether the Forum should continue in operation.  There are arguments for and against maintaining such a body. The key is that as well as being a general interface between heritage and cultural societies in and around Liverpool, the Forum was intended to act as a channel of communication with Liverpool Culture Company and now with the City Council’s Culture department. The problem of getting replies from the authorities to our letters persists. We wrote to them on 4 February last seeking to discuss our future, sent a reminder on 29 March and still have not even received an acknowledgment of either. If anyone was as discourteous and incompetent as this in the private sector they would be handed their P45 pretty quickly.  The Forum cannot exist without a link with the authorities that works. However, whatever happens, the Newsletter and the Website will continue as separate ventures. Any views on this will be welcome.

<<<Liverpool City Council's new culture team - Culture Liverpool - has unveiled a programme of over 100 events and festivals in a bid to be the UK capital of free culture in 2009. A waterfront celebration, a public art parade to rival the '08 Go Superlambananas and  a neighbourhood wide arts programme called Four Corners are planned to be just a few of the highlights of a the programme. There will be a fringe festival on 24-31 May, the Lord Mayor’s pageant will be on 6 June (on a new route), the Mathew Street Festival will be on 30 – 31 August and St George’s Hall will celebrate St George’s Day with a day of activities including a free organ concert (“Pomp and Circumstance” is on the bill) and Sir Winston Churchill’s car.

<<< Of the notices which all local authorities circulate to explain how they spend our money, we have the Wirral one to hand. The brief section on supporting the economy has no single word about culture or tourism, which ought to be a main hope for new jobs in Birkenhead.  Meanwhile Merseytravel is about to unfurl a tourism strategy and has plans for or has already put in place tourist venues at Seacombe and at the Pier Head.  Could Merseytravel have a word with Wirral Council?


<<< Responses have been sent in by various organisations to the consultation about the World Heritage Site, which takes in the Three Graces and the Albert Dock, with an arm leading up Duke Street, another to St George’s Hall and a third to Stanley Warehouse on the Dock Road.  While there is much sense in the propose disciplines to be applied within and close to the site, the document does not really deal with the fact that the location does not look or feel like a special place.  There are no notices to tell you when you enter it, no “house style” for street furniture and no visible explanation of what is special about it.  It is not only the magnificent buildings but what they represent, the peak of Liverpool’s power as the commercial capital of the greatest empire the world has ever seen.

<<< Liverpool Biennial has appointed Lorenzo Fusi as curator for the International, the lead exhibition of the Liverpool Biennial festival of contemporary art. He will be working on the development of the programme for the next festival which takes place in 2010. Lorenzo will be working alongside curators from the Bluecoat, FACT, Open Eye Gallery, and Tate Liverpool under the leadership of Liverpool Biennial Artistic Director, Lewis Biggs. Lorenzo, who takes up his role in May, is currently Curator of Sms Contemporanea in Siena (Italy) and until 2008 he was Chief Curator at the Palazzo delle Papesse.

<<< Tourists coming to enjoy our culture are inevitably influenced by the cleanness of the city.  While the streets are much cleaner than some years ago, certain areas of accumulated rubbish and dereliction persist, despite repeated complaints. We complained for a year about two phone boxes in Dawson Street (near the Playhouse) which have lain derelict and, according to several taxi drivers, have never been connected to the telephone network. A few weeks ago, we were told they would be gone almost at once.  Several weeks passed with no action but now they have been removed.  Our joy at this success is rather like what it would be if Liverpool put ten past Chelsea the other evening. We are also delighted that the travel centre at Lime Street station has had a refurb  -  having looked wretched all through Capital of Culture Year.  Even the dirty tunnel under Lime Street has been swept but pools of dirty water have reappeared.  And we know that the site of Liverpool Castle is to marked out in some way, two years after the year of Heritage.  Why can’t the public authorities rise to the challenge of big occasions and get ALL of their properties into tip top order at the right time. (Helpful hint to the authorities: we can inform you that Christmas will be on 25 December again this year, so you know when to make your preparations for.)

<<< A badge dated 1923 inscribed “Liverpool & District Carters and Motormens Union” has come to light. Anyone knowing anything about this is asked to contact

<<< The trust which has a lease on the building of the Royal Court Theatre (but not ownership of performances) has major plans to bring the theatre up to modern standards as regards the entrance, disabled access and the bars and foyers. Obtaining £10m form public sources to do this depends upon the City Council granting an extended lease which is causing some problems.  We are confident  that both parties will approach the matter with a “can do” attitude. Liverpool needs this theatre as part of its already formidable performing arts offer. (Dear Councillors: Please remember that good quality culture equals tourists coming here equals jobs for the people of the city and its region).

<<<  Attending not very attended performances of Turandot and Aïda at the Empire, we were told that this would be the last performance here by Ellen Kent Opera. It was not made clear to us whether the company will cease touring altogether or simply miss Liverpool out of its touring programme.  This is a blow for the city and follows the Welsh National Opera’s reduction of its visits here from two to one per year.


<<< You may noticed Pomona Street off Mount Pleasant not very far from where William Roscoe was brought up. Pomona was the Roman goddess of trees and bushes. It was also the name for a sailing ship which left Liverpool on 27 April 1859 and went aground two days later off County Wexford in Ireland. Of 39 crew and 372 emigrants, Captain Mayhew and 387 others lost their lives.

<<< The Public Speaking Competition organised by the Liverpool branch of the English Speaking Union was won by St Mary’s College, Cosby.  We now hear that St Mary’s also won the North West area final and was to go forward to represent our region in the national final.

<<< The Victorian Society’s March magazine has much about the north west, a pleasant change from the Londoncentredness of so much coverage of history and the arts. Robert Lee has an article entitled “Birkenhead Park: the first and still the best”. There are photos of how it was in 1900 and how it is today. The Gladstone palm house in Stanley Park is due to reopen in May. The magazine reports that Earlestown Town Hall, built 1892-3 has been “Listed” Grade II. The town is named after Hardman Earle, Chairman of the London & North Western Railway whose trains to London used to pass through it before Runcorn railway viaduct was built and is still on the original 1830 line linking Liverpool with Manchester.

<<< Irene Hanratty on 0151 476 is the contact point for an appeal to deal with condensation which is affecting the  Pieta Statue located at Standish Street, Liverpool L3, which was originally within Holy Cross parish church. This was demolished 2004 but the statue is now in an enclosed glass casing within a memorial garden. £3,500 is needed. for repair.

<<< We have received interesting material from Bob Jones of Seaforth and an American contact about the American Civil War. This will appear on our website in full. He has been researching Commander James Bulloch who commanded the Alabama. In looking for American Civil War traces in Liverpool, Bob finds that the Eagle pub is now an outlet for Sony! The Eagle has been restored to it. The American Consulate was at 22 Water Street on the 4th floor of Tower Buildings. A grave marking event is to be held on 18 July in Toxteth Park Cemetery for two American soldiers of that period.

<<< The closure of Regent Road is approaching its 11th month. Hopefully the road will eventually play a part in plans to attract tourists to the north docks area and Vauxhall.  There will be plenty to interest them there if heritage buildings are refurbished and cherished. 

<<< We have explained previously but folk keep asking.  The red telephone box (type K2) in the Anglican Cathedral is there because it was designed by the Cathedral’s architect, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in 1924.

<<< DaDa  Disability and Deaf Arts has a Newsletter, copies of which can be obtained by contacting: or DaDa- Disability and Deaf Arts, The Bluecoat,
School Lane, Liverpool L1 3BX  tel: 0151 707 1733.
The 20th century life stories of deaf and disabled women on Merseyside are to be recorded by the Disabled Womens Arts Project (DWAP) thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant. Up until now disabled and Deaf women have been largely missing from the records and archives. The DWAP project aims to change this by capturing the direct and diverse experiences of Deaf and disabled women - uncovering and preserving a hidden piece of social history on Merseyside. Deaf and disabled women who would like to find out more about how they can take part should contact the co-ordinator Pam Thomas either by e-mail at or mobile / text 0750 638 5330.


<<< Emerging and mid-career artists who live in Lancashire & South Lakeland are invited to apply to participate in the Green MOSS outdoor sculpture show. Deadline for proposals 27 April.  email:
<<< Ed Vulliamy, a Liverpudlian now working at the Observer recently published stringent criticism of how Liverpool treats its heritage buildings  “How dare they do this to my Liverpool”, he says. He particularly focused on Hope Street where what has happened to the four Art School buildings vacated by Liverpool John Moores University is truly disgraceful. Josephine Butler House opposite the Phil on Hardman Street has been stripped of its stone cladding and stands there forlornly empty.  The classic, original  Art School itself has been rented back to LJMU! The powers that be can tell us how difficult everything is (the credit crunch will be the next excuse) but to any ordinary citizen the way some of our heritage is treated borders on vandalism. To save such buildings and put them to tasteful use is not just fun for the rich.  This heritage is what brought all those lovely people here in 2008.  And guess what, they were spending their money in our city!

<<< We noted previously that Merseyside was the birthplace of both the former Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie and the newly appointed Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster. (Both Crosbyites).  Also of Liverpool origin is the new anti-terrorism chief at Scotland Yard John Yates. University of Liverpool educated is Lowri Evans, Deputy Director General of he Competition Directorate of the European Commission. All this Merseyside achievement may have something to do with the fragrant breezes of the river Mersey.

<<< While St James’ may again be used for worship, other Church uses in Liverpool are the Alma de Cuba restaurant in what used to be St Peter’s Church in Seel Steet and The Phil rehearsal rooms at the Friary in Everton, formerly the Church of St Mary of the Angels. (We notice that Google has this as St Mary of the Angles. Have the protestants been getting in there?) Now the Church of England is trying to bring St James’ at the corner of Park Road and Upper Parliament Street back into use as a Church.  It is listed in view of the iron columns supporting the gallery. £10 million needed. There were many Churches built in Liverpool in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Apparently having a nearby Church was good for the sale of superior new housing!. Contact the Rev. Neil Short at the Cathedral office (re restoration of the Church, not the superior new housing!) .

<<< “Cheshire Ancestor”, (Cheshire Family History Society) had an article by Eilen Simpson about Parish Registers. These began in 1538 and from 1597 it was compulsory for parishes to have them  -  on parchment (calfskin, sheepskin or goatskin). 1752 was the year when the calendar changed. January and February were added to the list of months and 1 January replaced 25 March as New Year’s Day. If you are ploughing through the records of births, marriages and deaths in Liverpool Central Reference library or elsewhere, this changeover can affect calculation of the ages of the people concerned. The Society’s Wallasey Group has a talk by Eileen Simpson on 16 June. Info: 0151 648 1497. The magazine also refers to cork cutters of whom there were five in Liverpool in 1841,. The job was to shape pieces of the tree bark imported from Portugal to make the familiar bottle stoppers. The Society’s West Kirby branch has a talk on Flaybrick cemetery on 13 May. Info: 0151 342 7919.

 Andrew Pearce, Editor.