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16 December 2005


The Forum’s steering group has collected information about a number of events which member societies are planning to hold or at least considering holding in 2007. (You will remember that there is a general view that 2007 should be properly celebrated, as well as 2008). The steering group will put this information into a table to review at its next meeting, with the intention of putting it before all interested societies at a general meeting in February. The list of events would of course at that stage be very provisional but we must make a start if we are to meet the goal of having it available in published form by the beginning of 2007. (Go-to-press date would be end October 2006). The information we have to date shows some well thought out projects and some good ideas to be further developed but also a number of areas of activity where one might expect societies to be making plans for 2007 but for which nothing has been communicated to us so far.

These two years are Liverpool’s great opportunity to put itself back on the map as a centre of culture, which it once was recognised as being. It is a great chance to show the world that while we welcome publicity about the Beatles, there is much more to the city’s history than that, reaching right back through the high points of the 18th and 19th centuries to medieval times. It is also the way to provide the “legacy” from 2008 which everyone wants - ongoing means to show visitors and local people alike our cultural assets and aspects of our history. Some of the public authorities still don’t recognise that well- developed cultural activity is a means of attracting both tourists and new investment.

I am a member of the Liverpool Heritage and Regeneration Group, an official committee, which has met three times so far. Its remit is to advise the powers-that-be in the Liverpool Culture Company about getting the best out of our culture and heritage for 2007 and 2008. I have been pressing that an outline of plans for major official events in 2007 be made known as soon as possible so that societies can dovetail their activities into them if they so wish and I now understand that general outlines will be made known in February.

I still frequently hear cries that “nobody in the Culture Company listens to voluntary societies”. (I have expressed this view myself a good many times in the past). I do now believe that through this new Group and with the willing support of Graham Boxer and Eileen Willshaw in the Culture Company the voluntary cultural sector does now have the means of contact with the Culture Company which it has sought. For this partnership to work, the voluntary sector has to come up with plans of what individual societies will do. If they seek financial help, they should use the official channels (keeping Eileen Willshaw fully in the picture). If they want their events to feature in the publicity which the Forum will co-ordinate and which the Culture Company will, I hope, fund, they need to starting making their plans now.

Two things are new in the preparations for 2007 and 2008. Firstly, we are now getting recognition by the public authorities which was lacking previously. Secondly, the new influx of visitors from near and far offers our societies the chance to speak to a much wider audience than before, looking beyond their own membership. Whether societies want to avail themselves of these developments is up to them but the opportunities are there.

A final point. 2008 is to be EUROPEAN Capital of Culture Year, not just a British one. Moreover, parts of the city now have World Heritage Site status. This means that our concerns should not be limited to purely UK matters. There are myriad aspects of continental and Irish culture in our city’s history. But beyond that, Liverpool, in its great days an archetypical international city, had very strong links with the Americas (especially the United States), with China and with Africa. Not for nothing was Liverpool known the world around as Britain’s second city, culturally as well as commercially. Let us not be modest in telling the world about our heritage and our culture.

The Civic Trust’s offices

The Civic Trust offers heritage and culture societies free use of the meeting room in their new offices at 5th floor, 31 North John Street, Liverpool 2 (corner of Victoria Street). This can accommodate 10-12 people, or can be changed into a small conference facility. Simply telephone Ian Harvey on 231 6900 to make a booking. Free internet facilities are available for groups/individuals to use. This can be of very great value to societies looking for somewhere in the city centre to hold meetings. We commend the Civic Trust for this initiative.

The new office was recently opened by Louise Ellman, MP, in the presence of the Lord Mayor of Liverpool and Peter Bembridge, Managing Director of the Civic Trust. As well as being a regional office of the Trust, it administers the Green Flag and Green Pennant schemes for public parks nationally.

Promoting Liverpool

Anna Maloney has been appointed to promote Merseyside as a tourism destination world-wide, working from the London offices of VisitBritain, the national tourist board. Jason Harborow, Chief Operating officer of the Liverpool Culture Company, said that this would help to showcase “Liverpool and Merseyside’s unrivalled cultural offer”.

Forthcoming events
  • Friends of Old Christchurch, Waterloo Road, Waterloo (a beautiful Victorian church now surplus to the Church’s requirements but available as a splendid venue for large events), will celebrate Burns Night on 27 January with a dinner and all the traditional ceremonies. Contact Brenda Murray on 924 2541 or

  • Tom Bloxham, Chairman of Urban Splash, gives a talk on “Architecture or Development? – Learning from the past” on 18 January. Contact

  • Liverpool Organists’ Association has a recital at St Mary’s, Grassendale on 28 January at 7 pm. Music for Epiphany with Liverpool Festival Choir.

  • The Friends of Liverpool Cathedral celebrate Shrove Tuesday on 28 February with a talk by Canon Brunswick, Rector of Croston. Contact the Cathedral on 709 6271

  • The Heswall Society meets on 6 February for a talk by Michael Potts about his family clockmaking firm. 8 pm at Heswall Hall. Tea and biscuits beforehand.

  • Liverpool History Society has a talk by Brenda Murray on “The Rathbone Family – from welfare to politics” at 2 pm on 19 February. Contact the Hon Secretary at 46 Stanley Avenue, Rainford WA11 8HU or
Around Town
  • Much of central Liverpool was severely damaged by bombing in World War II, the city suffering more bomb damage than any other British city apart from London. On Monday 5 May 1941 St Luke’s Church, Leece Street, was hit by an incendiary bomb and burnt out. Urban Strawberry Lunch are making an archive which will contain memories of the Liverpool blitz of May 1941. This will be housed in the Museum of Liverpool until the opening of the proposed UN-backed Peace Centre at Luke’s. If you have memories to contribute, contact 709 7562 or

  • There is a campaign to create a lasting monument to Noel Chevasse, one of Liverpool’s bravest sons. The son of the then Bishop of Liverpool, Chevasse, a Captain in the 10th (Liverpool Scottish) battalion of the King’s Regiment was the only man to have been awarded two Victoria Crosses in World War I. There is as yet no permanent memorial to him or Liverpool’s other 15 VC holders. It is hoped to locate a statue commemorating Chevasse and the 15 other Liverpool VC holders in a prominent location and to unveil it in August 2006.

  • Liverpool’s Peter Pan statue has moved back to Sefton Park after restoration work following vandalism. This work, by sculptor George Audley, is a replica of the statue in London’s Kensington Gardens. (Talking of vandalism, have you noticed the hideous graffiti now defiling the Queen Victoria monument at the end of Castle Street? – Ed).

  • A statue of William Huskisson was unveiled in its new location beside the back-to-back houses near the top of Duke Street. The statue was previously in Princes Avenue but was toppled in the riots of 1981. Huskisson is renowned as the first man killed by a train (at the opening of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway in 1830, which ceremony he attended as a government Minister). He had previously been British Ambassador in France at the time of the French Revolution and helped a number of people to escape the terror there.

  • Controversy continues about the intention of John Moores University to quit the iconic Art School building at 68 Hope Street in 2008 (Capital of Culture Year) and to relocate Art in its new prestigious Design Academy near the Metropolitan cathedral. No 68 itself is, presumably, safe thanks to its listed status, but the removal of its function and possible conversion into a hotel or flats would take away something important from Liverpool’s cultural quarter. Opponents of the plan say that we have to build on our heritage, not put it aside.

  • The Travelling People sang in the Maritime carol service at the Anglican cathedral.

  • Merseyside Archaeological Service has extensive records of archaeological finds and buildings throughout the county. The Forum hopes to increase knowledge of the information it contains in the near future but ways of increasing access to it must be consistent with the limited staff available to deal with queries.
I am asked to correct a misinterpretation which arose out of something in the last Newsletter concerning meetings of the History Group of the Athenaeum. People who are not members of the Athenaeum may be invited to attend its meetings if invited by a member of the Athenaeum. For further information contact Mike Corfe via 709 7770.