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5 July 2007

NEWSLETTER No 30                                     5 July 2007

 ☻ The Forum’s meeting in the Town Hall, at which John Tiernan, Chairman of Liverpool History Society gave a most interesting talk, drew an audience of about 120 people.  The next meeting at the Town Hall will be at 2pm on Thursday 19 July when Graham Fisher, Chairman of the Liverpool Group of the Victorian Society, will speak on “Liverpool’s architecture”. There is no charge for attendance, (thanks to the generosity of the City Council) and it is a chance to see the magnificent Council Chamber, which is not normally open to the public.

☻The Turner prize, Britain’s most prestigious art prize is coming to Liverpool in the autumn, the first time it will have been held outside London. It will no doubt draw to our city opinion-formers from London who have never been here before so it is important that all aspects of their visit give a favourable impression.  We have read that Liverpool taxi drivers have been schooled to talk about the city’s heritage.  The word “Turner” is a bit tricky for someone with a thick scouse accent to say (just try it!) so patience may be needed all round. We hope our visitors appreciate the richness, poetry and colour of the local dialect.

☻Don’t miss visiting West Derby Courthouse, which is open on Sundays till October. West Derby was “something” before Liverpool achieved any sort of importance and had a castle, a wooden fortification. There’s only the site of it to see now.

☻Merseytravel is to be congratulated for having erected an interesting panel in Liverpool South Parkway station, showing highlights of Liverpool’s history. One of the pictures is taken from publicity for Liverpool’s 700th anniversary in 1907 and shows King John handing over the charter in 1207 with the castle in the background.  Which is interesting because records suggest that the building of Liverpool castle was not started until after 1220 and West Derby castle, if that is what is depicted, was of wood! A similar panel is being erected at last (2007 is already half over!) in the travel centre in Queen Square.

☻The Adelphi, that monument to early twentieth century transatlantic travel, is being refurbished to a high standard.  The advertised price for B&B is £299!  Of course, at the top end of the market, not many people actually pay the advertised price (which is a maximum) but apparently the hotel is doing very well at prices not that much lower.  It offers visits round the building on Sundays, which have drawn 7,000 people so far this year. Advance booking is necessary.

☻A Toxteth film studio is raising funds to make a film about the Birkenhead-born football legend Dixie Dean, who was born in 1907. He scored 60 goals for Everton in 1927-8.

☻Congratulations again to Merseytravel!  They are seeking Wirral Council’s agreement to display U534, one of the last German U-boats sunk in 1945 at a visitor centre at Woodside. It would apparently be cut into three sections with glazed viewing panels at the ends.  Let’s hope that this time that Wirral Council acts responsibly in the care of part of its heritage.

☻In case you missed it is the press in May (we should have reported it earlier) there are plans to build 930 apartments in the Stanley Dock warehouse site with 650 duplexes in the 13-storey warehouse itself. This is planned to take seven years to complete, starting 2008 or 2009. The ceiling height is only seven feet (which we think relates of the sizes of the boxes of tobacco which were stored in it in its heyday). If you are driving along the Dock Road, its worth getting out of the car for a moment to look at the warehouse complex.  Also along the Dock Road is the massive “toast rack” shape Sugar Warehouse, which lost its original function when Tate & Lye’s refinery in Love Lane closed in the 1980’s.  Wouldn’t this make a wonderful exhibition hall? 

☻Congratulations to Crosby and District Historical Society who have published “Birth of an Elephant: Audubon in Liverpool 1826”. Audubon came to Liverpool from America in 1826 after failing to find backing there for publication of his drawings of American birds. This book describes how, through the support of the Roscoe and Rathbone families, he gained the confidence and connections to print his double elephant folio, life size drawings. His journals give a vivid account of the social life of the time, and the surviving buildings of the period are described, which can be visited on a trail that is enclosed in the book. 48 A4 pages, with over 60 illustrations, many in colour, bibliography and index. £5 + £1.10 p&p from the author, Hugh Hollinghurst, 0151 924 7889.

☻One of the weirdest sights in town (“daring” is the word used in the publicity material) is “Turning the Place Over” by artist Richard Wilson. A large section of the derelict Yates Wine Lodge in Moorfields some floors above ground has been converted to revolve on an axis where the windows were. Seeing it is the only way to understand it.  What you do when you have seen it is a matter of conjecture!  But it’s worth a short detour if you are around that area. The Lodge used to have posters saying “Moderation is true Temperance”, which could be dimly perceived through the haze of tobacco smoke across the heaving bodies vigorously sampling the “Australian white”, a favorite tipple there. Yes, it’s all part of our heritage!

☻We are getting closer to the celebrations on 28 August of Liverpool’s birth as a borough in 1207 and to the celebrations on 23 August of the ending of the British Slave Trade in 1807. On the latter, there will be a service in St Nicholas Church at 10.45 and various events at Otterspool fro 12 noon to 3 pm.  Two days earlier (21 August) there will be a Memorial Lecture by Dr Molefi Asante in the Town Hall at 5.30 pm: “The ideological Origins of Slavery”.

☻At the recent exhibition of paintings at Old Christchurch in Waterloo, we were struck by highly original and attractive works by Tracy Lewis  -  three dimensional items made of various materials. Her studio is in Little Crosby village. Nice to encourage the creation of art now as well as to celebrate art created years ago.