Park Lane Goods Station, 1980
Apartments on the same site, 2012
Kean’s Hotel (originally Mayfair Hotel) 1980
Park Lane/Tabley Street, 1980
Comparative view taken 2012
Park Lane/Liver Street, 1976
Comparative view 2012
Park Lane is a short street, probably no more the 500 metres. I walk along it most days and always enjoy my quick walk into the centre. It has no pretensions to grandeur unlike its London counterpart but it was once a busy thoroughfare connecting Canning Place with the Dingle.
I can remember some of the buildings that once lined the street. The offices of the Park Lane station (the top photograph) were demolished in the last five years to make way for the blocks of flats shown in the second photograph. Next to the station stood that glorious folly of a pub, the Mayfair Hotel. Folly in that the brewery had jumped the gun when plans were announced to extend the railway from Edge Hill to Park Lane. Anticipating a great trade from thirsty travellers, they built an impressive gin palace, only to discover that the station was meant for goods traffic only. It was a remarkable sight and survived until the early 1980s. The next blocks were typical nineteenth century Liverpool – a mix of pubs and businesses with considerable character. My 1966 Kelly’s Directory has armature winders, flooring contractors, leather goods manufacturers, turf accountants, dried fish dealers, tailors, hairdressers and publicans amongst the trades listed. All in all, a very vibrant street.
The colour comparative photographs tell a different story. Most of the street is now vacant land. There is a new housing development walled off alongside the Swedish Church but the rest of the street is now cleared land – a soulless stretch only enlivened by sight of the Albert Dock in the distance. Why does this kind of destruction have to take place? I could understand it if the land was built on (like the new apartments in the second photograph) but to remove interesting and historical buildings for waste ground is a depressingly routine act in Liverpool. Who is to blame? Developers of the City Council? Either way, the destruction of Park Lane is a clear lesson in how not to develop an area. Like the Sailors’ Home, there is an undue haste to pull down buildings in the hope that development will become that much easier. The holes in the ground and acres of waste ground are scars the community must look at, often for decades.