In my short(!) life I’ve seen some major changes affect Northern England’s largest city. Perhaps “seen” isn’t wholly accurate, because I’d barely spent anytime in Liverpool before this year, so the changes I have witnessed have presented, and therefore filtered, through the national media.
In my early years Liverpool was synonymous with the mop tops and other pop sensations of the sixties. Merseybeat was at its height, and though the Beatles are still celebrated here (the airport is named after Lennon even), there were many others with their roots here: Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Cilla Black and Ronald Wycherley. Hang on, Ronald who? You may know him as Billy Fury.
In the decades that followed the city fell into decline, the docks that had been the city’s beating heart were in cardiac arrest as the move towards containers gathered pace. With the 80’s came Derek Hatton and Militant, characterised as the “loony left” which inevitably rubbed off on the city of which he was deputy leader of the council.
The city has now put those years behind it, and in common with Glasgow that featured here earlier in the year, is benefiting from extensive regeneration and investment.
The Albert Dock, once amongst the most advanced in the world, has made virtue of its obsolescence and now comprises Britain’s most extensive range of Grade 1 listed buildings, so with only limited time available as I diverted from my route to Bootle, I made this my objective.
With more time I might have visited Tate Britain, or any of the plethora of museums and galleries here and around the dock, but I was constrained to spend my time outside and found it… well… samey. Yes those columns beg to be photographed in receding perspective but it didn’t wow me. Perhaps because my heart had already been captured. Nearby, stand three bold architectural statements; the Port of Liverpool Building, the Cunard Building, and most famously of all, surmounted by its eponymous avian sculptures, the Royal Liver Building. Collectively they are known as the Three Graces, and whilst we’ve seen them all before on countless TV shows looking for a shorthand for Liverpool, this doesn’t prepare you for their staggering impact. Perhaps the day’s bright sunlight gave them a greater sparkle, but they are stunning. Even the brutal blocks and angles of the new developments that surround them could not detract from them. Once seen, all others struggle to compete.
Perhaps slightly less graceful, at least when I first encountered them were Lisa and her friend, who were seeking a way for Lisa to mount a nearby equestrian sculpture. At first I thought there might be some comedy value in a candid shot of their efforts, but the gentleman in me won the day, and I offered to help. Once Lisa was sure which leg went over the beast we had no trouble and she was aloft in no time. Naturally I sought recompense by way of a picture, and what a beautiful reward it was. Hope she got down again!