From Low Hill, 1976
Gregson’s Well public houses
The Raven, corner of Low Hill and Phythian Street
Today, Low Hill is no more than a connecting street at the junction of Kensington and the new road works that sweep across Hall Lane towards Edge Lane. The emptiness of the landscape is the price we pay for getting across the city a few seconds faster.
It was not always so but these 1976 photographs capture the slow decline of a once busy area. The view from Low Hill shows the Royal Hospital in the final stages of construction and the wholesale clearance of the area between Brunswick Road and Erskine Street to create the Erskine Street Trading Estate. (A few prefabs can be seen below Belgrave Street).
On the corner of Low Hill and West Derby Road was Gregson’s Well public house – not to be confused with the Gregson’s Well pub facing it on Brunswick Road. Both have now fallen to the bulldozer – another piece of Liverpool history lost forever. (The Spinners ran a popular folk club in one of the pubs although I am not sure which one). They were both named after a public spring which survived until the early nineteenth century. The Raven public house, another substantial building, has also disappeared along with the surrounding buildings. It stood on the corner of one of Liverpool’s more unpronounceable streets – Phythian Street, which apparently derives from the Latin vivianus (meaning alive or living). Its later corruption to the surname Phythian suggests the street was named after a person (there were a number of Phythians in Liverpool in the early nineteenth century).
Liverpool has lost many buildings since the 1950s. Many are quite ordinary but they were an important link to the city’s past. Many had to go but the totality of loss has meant layers of history have been erased forever.