with GED FAGAN
I was surprised and honoured to be asked by the Scottie Press to supply a little information on myself to be included in a future article for the Scottie Press, so here goes.
When Born in 1962 at Mill Road Hospital, my family were living at this time in the workmen's dwellings in Holly Street facing the tenements. These were the mock Tudor styled Corporation landing flats built around 1912 at the same time as Eldon Grove which are the last surviving housing of this style, albeit in an inhabitable and dilapidated state. My parents were born in the Richmond Row area, their ancestors having settled in the area since their departure from the Irish potato famine of the 1840s. I vaguely remember my time living in Holly Street until we were rehoused due to their imminent demolition to make way for the new St Anne Street Police station to replace the one on Rose Hill. We moved into Thurlow House, part of the Gerard Crescent tenement development and later into Gerard Gardens which offered us an extra bedroom.
During the 1970s my whole family were working in various Corporation buildings, my dad often bringing home the sparse amounts of books that were available showing old photographs of Liverpool. One of these which I'd eventually read in the 1980s was 'It all came tumbling down' and the fact that Frankie and Freddy O'Connor were recording history via their camera somehow struck a chord with me so I set about doing some of my own, capturing old property on nearby Islington, Fraser st and Manchester St for instance, all of which has long since been swept away. Eventually with the advent of the internet and its increasing capacity for storing and swapping information with likeminded enthusiasts, I set up a website called 'Inacityliving' and set about getting it known.
I was only too aware about the increasing interest in photographs of old Liverpool and there were a number of local History forums appearing including that of the Scottie Press. There were plenty of books showing photographs of all the grand civic buildings within the city, but little about actual day to day living and in particular the tenement housing which I'd loved as an impressionable youth. My next project was to collect some of the most personal photographs to me and put them in a book. For me, I wanted to see Holly Street and Gerard Gardens in a publication I was responsible for, not repetitive images of all the old buildings we know and love. As luck would have it, around this time a number of things would happen which would further aid my interest. The Liverpool Records office were archiving their vast source of City Engineers photographs and those taken by a photographer called Harry Ainscough who had bequeathed his collection to them and my near neighbour Joe Devine who had extensively recorded our area in particular during the 1980s allowed me to copy his collection. Meanwhile an ex-near neighbour and acquaintance Paul Sudbury then contacted me via the Scottie Press forum regarding a personal enterprise he was embarking upon whereby he was transferring his old 1970s cine 8 film footage to dvd, this inevitably included scenes of our tennies and the surrounding area and so we swapped pertinent to our own projects.
Eventually, after many, many visits to the Records office and to my ex-neighbours to research and collate all the information to hand, my book was ready for its launch which was purposely scheduled with the film documentary premier of Paul Sudbury's 'Gardens of Stone' which when advertised in the Liverpool Echo, on various forums and by word of mouth resulted in 3 free all day screenings at Liverpool's FACT. These were attended by many ex residents of Gerard Gardens and the surrounding area and was in fact so over-subscribed that it resulted in further screenings over the subsequent weeks in various community centres and halls in the neighbourhood.
A further attraction was the model of the Gerard Gardens tenement development I had built to act as a backdrop and talking point to the very interesting Questions & Answers sessions held after each screening. I was amazed at the response to my book, it becoming the local Christmas best seller, in part due to my ensuring it hit every possible local outlet including newsagents, pubs and halls to which I personally delivered it as well as to whoever required it to their front door.
Further local media coverage has since resulted in the model, film and books taking pride of place in the likes of the St Georges Hall, World Museum and now the new Museum of Liverpool where it can be found in the 'People's Republic' gallery on a five year lease. However, time and tide wait for no man and the clammer for people to see 'Their' tenement block in a publication, coupled with all the extra information and material that was now to hand meant I was able to follow up with a further couple of publications which were equally well received. Another platform which became available through time was the enablement for an interactive chat website, so Inacityliving went live on facebook this time last year with tens of thousands of photographs already uploaded into its postcode folders by me in preparation for its launch. The closed group membership now stands at just under 1,500 and the average of 30 new images and 200 new posts daily makes it one of the most regularly used sources of information in social networking for any city anywhere.
Another couple of personal goals of mine realised last summer were to firstly investigate and record the World's first air conditioning system based in the cellars of our fantastic St Georges Hall. This was a playground for me as a youngster, taken into the very bowels of this place by my dad during the early to mid 1970s when he was a deputy foreman there. However, it was long before my interests as they are now and so I'm indebted to Mr Neil Sturrock, the expert in the aforementioned system which was implemented by Dr David Boswell Reid during the buildings construction. The other goal was to photograph from the top of a City Centre structure which was once very local to me and which had not seen a series of photographs taken from it since 1958 when the surrounding topography was being surveyed for the implementation of a ring road which largely didn't materialise. The Wellington Column was subsequently conquered and photographed inside and out making these the only photographs of the interior ever recorded in its entire 148 year history.
For information on the history of Liverpool and tens of thousands of historic photographs please google inacityliving blogspot and for those of you on facebook please search for inacityliving and request to join and I'll see you there.
The Liverpool records office and in particular the collection it has bequeathed to them by Ormskirk born photographer Harry Ainscough has been a marvellous resource when locating old photographs of the Vauxhall area. Recorded by him during the 1960s during visits here from his home in Sheffield, long since lost industry, housing, fashions and motor vehicles of the day are here for our perusal and evermore.
The first photograph captures part of Charters Street off Vauxhall Road on 23rd January 1967. Charters Street once house the huge Corporation destructor and chimney which was situated on the Leeds/Liverpool canal basin when it came much further into the city whereby it now terminates to the rear of the Eldonian club.
The foundation stone for the Bevington Bush Peoples Home was laid on 21st June 1898 by Thomas H. Ismay and officially opened by The Earl of Derby on 11th January 1900. Serving dock workers, seamen and the local community alike throughout the years it was requisitioned by the Admiralty at the height of the 2nd world war in November 1941 before being sold exactly 4 years later to the Salvation Army who renamed it Arden House and opened it as a hostel. The large Victorian building was finally demolished in 1986 after lying empty for many years in a state of disrepair. It was captured here on 29th March 1967, its bridge over Arden Street clearly seen which linked the North and newer South building.
The Bostock St and Kew Street area caught on 3rd October 1966 and again, just this year is about to undergo probably its 3rd redevelopment just in my lifetime with the bottom end of the street very much in the 'Project Jennifer' zone. Property on Great Homer street can be seen in the distance as well as St George's iron church high up on Everton ridge.
Carruthers Street, taken from a set as the same day as the Charters Street photo. I can remember us riding our bikes along this way in the mid 1970s with the wafting putrid smell heading our way from the bone works. Back then of course the area was awash with busy industry, noise, chimneys smoking, people going about their business, heavy plant traffic from Bibby's and Tates. The scene now is a lot more serene and anyone of a certain age will never have known what this area once contributed to the local economy
Chisenhale Street - also from 29th March 1967. It one time spanned the canal, the left hand part of the bridge seen on the left here now encompasses a residential back garden which is built into the infilled canal. The pub to the right, the Bridge, known affectionately as the flyhouse due to its sugar coated patrons from nearby Tate and Lyle attracting the nuisances still stands albeit as a painter and decorators premises. Much quieter these days but nearly half a century ago it boasts here a number of Bedford Flatbed wagons working Tates as well as a host of the now cars to have including Ford Anglias, Morris Minors and an Austin Cambridge.
A busy Vauxhall Road in 1967 looking north from the city end as the No.16 bus heads out of town. Vauxy must be one of the longest main thoroughfares in the city to have the least number of buildings still standing and trading as they were back then. Industry and its near location to the docks dictated that this L3 and L5 area further north would account for many thousands of tenement style workmen's dwellings and sadly the decline in manufacturing and servicing would likewise result in shifting the population elsewhere. These days, the city end of Vauxhall Road is more notable for its transient student population with lots of new high rise apartment blocks constructed solely for their purpose.
TATE AND LYLE
Tate's Sugar Refinery was a massive employer in the Vauxhall district. It had a very big part to play within the community with generations of local residents working there and had an active Social Club too. The firm's dark blue lorries could be seen daily in the surrounding streets such as Pall Mall, Love Lane, Burlington Street and Vauxhall Road and the sugar coated employees when visiting their local pub 'The Bridge' on Chisenhale street would attract flies into there giving rise to its nickname the Flyhouse. The water in the stretch of the Liverpool/ Leeds canal which ran between the factory were warmed by factories discharge and local lads swimming in there who were nicknamed the Water rats would call it the 'scaldies'.
The company was formed in 1921 from a merger of two rival sugar refiners, Henry Tate & Sons and Abram Lyle & Sons. Henry Tate established his business in 1869 in Liverpool, later expanding to Silvertown in the East End of London. He used his industrial fortune to found the Tate Gallery in London in 1897, and endowed it with his own collection of pre-Raphaelite paintings. Abram Lyle, a cooper and ship owner, acquired an interest in sugar refinery in 1865 in Greenock, Western Scotland and then at Plaistow Wharf, West Silvertown, London. The two companies had large factories nearby each other - Henry Tate in Silvertown and Abram Lyle in Plaistow - so prompting the merger. Prior to the merger, which occurred after they had died, the two men were bitter business rivals, although they had never met in person. In 1949 the Company introduced its "Mr Cube" brand, as part of a marketing campaign to help it fight a proposed nationalization by the Labour government. In 1976 the Company acquired a 33% stake (increased to 63% in 1988) in Amylum, a European starch-based manufacturing business.
The Liverpool plant sadly closed in 1981 and the Greenock plant closed during the 1990s, while the Plaistow and Silvertown plants were sold to American Sugar Refining in 2010. During the subsequent years of its closure in Liverpool the Company has continued to acquire and then sell stakes in various related companies, it's just a great pity that its continued success couldn't have been achieved at its Liverpool Site which was eventually demolished with the site being sold for some fantastic housing initiatives which involved the district's own Eldonian co-operative organisation. In wanting to keep the community together and refusing to see the local residents dispersed far and wide which had happened after the demolition of a lot of other tenement dwellings, the Eldonians were formed and the land which once housed all the Industry along a great stretch of the West side of Vauxhall Road is now a model village.