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Thread: Ed Vulliamy: How dare they do this to my Liverpool | Comment is free | The Observer

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    Senior Member Howie's Avatar
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    Unhappy Ed Vulliamy: How dare they do this to my Liverpool | Comment is free | The Observer

    How dare they do this to my Liverpool
    The threat to some of the city's most beautiful buildings is typical of our disregard for history

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    Ed Vulliamy
    The Observer, Sunday 22 March 2009

    Back in Liverpool last Saturday night - after quite a game at Old Trafford (Man Utd 1, Liverpool 4) - I decided to take a walk around some of the buildings precious to years living on Merseyside. I thought it might be tough, having seen the "regeneration" of Liverpool 1, the once Victorian city centre, into a construction site and shopping centre.

    It was a shock to find my favourite greasy spoon and a fine second-hand bookshop clinging to Lime Street station demolished to make way for the sanitised "Gateway", while the glorious view along the tracks under the great arch of Victorian iron is about to be wrecked by a protruding, big, bent-finger thing. But one can retreat from this folly to various places - including Hope Street.

    "Hope Street is," says Hilary Burrage who chairs the Hope Street Association, "either the Left Bank or the Acropolis, depending on how we feel - bohemia, but with more institutions of learning, culture and medicine than any street in Europe." Until now.

    How to describe a lifetime of memories on Hope Street, one of Europe's great boulevards connecting the eccentrically massive gothic Anglican cathedral with the 1960s Catholic one? Hope Street was an elegant bridge preceding and spanning the century it took to build the former edifice and the five years it took to build the modern cathedral. There were nights in a dive called Casablanca, adapted to become the "Casa", fixed up and managed by sacked dockers after the strike of 1995-8.

    There were Liverpool Philharmonic nights with Charles Groves and at the Everyman Theatre with its famous bistro. The monumental Philharmonic Rooms have the most ornate marble urinals in Europe and down an alley called Rice Street, you'll find Ye Cracke, one of the best little pubs in the world.

    But the main thing was the street itself, rich with history, but edgy, funny and fun, tatty and splendid, to which tourists flock, not least to see the finest of its great buildings between the cathedrals: Liverpool College of Art, constructed between 1892 and 1910, where my mother (Shirley Hughes, the doyenne of children's book illustration) learnt her craft and John Lennon studied. I loved seeing students on the steps, chatting with a fag between painty fingers. My mother remembers especially the singular, diffuse light in the life-drawing room.

    So I went to pay my usual homage. The art college was empty. Through the windows of so much past diligence, exuberance and colour, just a deep, hollow nothing. "Acquired by the Maghull Group," said the board on the railing. "Invest. Develop. Construct."

    I had been to Turin the previous weekend. There is history between these cities, after the death of 39 Italian fans before the European Cup Final between Liverpool and Juventus at Heysel stadium in 1985. I was at Heysel and love both great teams as deeply as I do the cities they come from.

    Yet how differently each city's history is regarded by those holding purse and power. To say that visiting Turin is like going back to 1910 is to appreciate that the city has not lost its strength of aesthetic identity to postmodern mediocrity. Venerable buildings retain their usage, renovated when necessary, so that the centre is robustly fin-de-si?cle and the peeling but lovely arcades and apartments around Piazza dell'Indipendenza are being restored for affordable housing. The Verdi music conservatory looks like the day it opened in 1866.

    Unlike the shell of Liverpool art college, listed Grade II by English Heritage. It has been sold in a package of four buildings by their owner, John Moores University, to the Maghull Group. Maghull's proposal reads: "The former art college, attended by John Lennon, will be converted into a 48-bed, 5-star boutique hotel. Alternative proposals for the building are for a high-quality residential refurbishment to provide 19 two- and three-bedroom apartments." Similar plans are posted for the also listed Hahnemann Building.

    Maghull's "Hope Street Portfolio" has been mired in controversy because the Josephine Butler building is to be demolished to create underground parking plus overground retail and office space and luxury residential apartments. Maghull sparked outrage by hacking off the building's stone facade.

    The sum Maghull paid John Moores is secret. Vice-chancellor Professor Michael Brown has referred to "the hysteria that has been generated" over Maghull's plan. But the most hysterical outburst came from Michael Hanlon, Maghull's founding director, after he received an email from Philip Coppell, a Beatles tour guide, which read: "Please leave Liverpool alone, as you are only in it for the money and I hope that the present credit crunch bankrupts your company and this obscene development never sees the light of day." Mr Hanlon recalled meeting "a whole raft of local consultation groups, many of which consist of time-wasting w*nkers like you who seem to think they are experts in heritage ... if you don't like our proposals then that's hard lines for you so why don't you f*ck off".

    Mr Hanlon does not specify who the other time-wasters were, but one may have been councillor Steve Mumby who said: "Sometimes it is better to do nothing than to mess these places up for ever." Or he could have been thinking of Save Our City, whose director, Florence Gerston, says: "Liverpool is losing its soul, its architecture systematically eroded by people with no sense of history."

    With the recession, the development is now on hold. The university says it is leasing the art college back. A conversation with Mr Hanlon reveals that John Moores is also renting back two more buildings it owned, so that John Moores will pay Maghull for three buildings it sold them. Mr Hanlon resents his company being "a political football" over Hope Street and has a fair point.

    For this is not about Maghull: Hope Street is an allegory for Liverpool. And Liverpool is an allegory for Britain. There is something singularly British about the attitude of local authorities and the developers they favour to our once-great industrial cities. The hopelessness on Hope Street signifies a relinquishing of a civic sense of history and long-term future in pursuit of what Mumby calls "the quick buck now".

    Source: The Observer

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    Keeping It Real !!!!!!!!! ItsaZappathing's Avatar
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    At last, someone who can see the destruction/vandalism and someone who talks sense

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    As Howie will know, there is a decent debate on another forum regarding this article. Whilst it's abhorrent what Maghull developments have done to some of the addresses they've taken over, some of the blame lies with the vendors who sell out to them at what's best for them.

    As for losing architecture and citing Liverpool 1. No worthy architecture was lost there unless you include a multi storey car park and bland looking bus station and in fact many run down facades and buildings were brought back into good use by Grosvenor as we know, not least Hanover Street, the old Eagle - Paradise Street and some School Lane buildings.

    The guy writing it also did what the Beatles are (in their case wrongfully) accused of doing - Got off to london to line his own pockets when 'my' Liverpool didn't mean too much to him then.
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    Senior Member Howie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ged View Post
    Whilst it's abhorrent what Maghull developments have done to some of the addresses they've taken over, some of the blame lies with the vendors who sell out to them at what's best for them.
    As an employee of LJMU I think I'll leave it to others to comment on that.

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    While not condoning maghull developments,( that in itself seems a contradiction in terms,you should see how they've left Crosby village,indefinitely!)) who the bloody 'ell is mr.Vulliamy? Errr, sorry Wack,you can stick your greasy spoon, and take it home with you,wherever that might be! The new frontage of Lime street station will now look the way it was meant to be,fantastic, though I miss the "ordinary to Chelsea" graffiti, that was scrawled in the dirty white tiles,for 20 yrs,or more!( So some cockney footie fans must have been slightly jealous,at the time )

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ged View Post
    As for losing architecture and citing Liverpool 1. No worthy architecture was lost there unless you include a multi storey car park and bland looking bus station and in fact many run down facades and buildings were brought back into good use by Grosvenor as we know, not least Hanover Street, the old Eagle - Paradise Street and some School Lane buildings.
    Liverpool 1 is a great disappointment. It is just another forgetful shopping mall.
    The new Amsterdam at Liverpool?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waterways View Post
    Liverpool 1 is a great disappointment. It is just another forgetful shopping mall.
    Liverpool 1 is a joke. That was the answer to the cities fine historic buildings being overshadowed

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    A shopping mall is what it's designed to be though, the old Customs house has gone now, maybe a mock frontage of it could have been created and a better viewing platform into the old dock they saved but apart from that, all most women want is to shop in another forgetful looking shopping mall but some delapidated buildings which otherwise might have went the way of previous ones were saved and brought back into use. I've read it's actually in line for an award, it's certainly rejuvenated South John Street/South Castle Street which after being destroyed by the planners in the 60s/70s was left to rot as a nonentity.
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    Got to agree Ged,
    there was little worth saving on the Liverpool 1 site, it had already been demolished in the 60's,and was just an unvisited wasteground, bar for the "Dolphin", and the benefits office,oh, and the seaman's dispensary I think L1's quite good,the way they've kept some of the older buildings,and it's really opened up that part of the city centre!

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    Senior Member Waterways's Avatar
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    The site was the original Old Dock, the world's first enclosed dock. It is historic. It is still there - have look down the glass tile on the pavement.

    The Old Dock should have been partially excavated and the shopping centre built around the dock, complete with boats and the dock gate to Canning Dock re-instated. What an attraction for a shopping area!!! It would be an amazing success and giving a historical link to the past.

    Too easy is isn't it. Too much common sense for many. The missed opportunities in the the city are abundantly clear for all to see.

    One of the reasons spouted on the L1 masterplan is that it could be used to link up the waterfront and the city centre. Some hope.

    The Dock Rd was a part of the appalling, misplaced Shankland plan of the 1960s to create an inner motorway - the only part to have been built, demolishing the Goree warehouses for this ridiculous road. The Dock Rd from Herculaneum to Bramley Moor Dock can be largely done away with. It is a motorway through a city - even the NY Times critcised the road when doing a piece on Liverpool. It splits the docks areas from the city. The city should pay more attention to quality public transport than glorified, misplaced divisive motorways.

    The Old Dock need not have been fully excavated and the link from centre to dock areas would have been more complete eliminating the Dock Rd at this point.

    Another missed opportunity.
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    how it once was?


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    Yes,Waterways, I've seen the dock,and yes,what a great idea, but.......it's the people with the cash that make the decisions, (understandably) so from a desolate looking wasteland, we've now got L1! Not everyones cup of tea, but you've got to see it as an improvement,I mean it's been busy enough up till now,so there's an obvious benefit to Liverpool!

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    Senior Member Waterways's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wsteve55 View Post
    Yes,Waterways, I've seen the dock,and yes,what a great idea, but.......it's the people with the cash that make the decisions,
    The people with the cash do not make the decisions, that is for the city to do.

    (understandably) so from a desolate looking wasteland, we've now got L1! Not everyones cup of tea, but you've got to see it as an improvement,I mean it's been busy enough up till now,so there's an obvious benefit to Liverpool!
    I would not say it was an improvement - forgetful is the word for it. I liked the park. I wish the Dock Rd was removed in the centre, no Mann Island developments, and the park run to thee quays and around to the Dock Office with the odd two floor building strategically placed. What an place it would be then!!!

    Lots of lost opportunities. A shopping mall can go just about anywhere. How about the Baltic Triangle facing the Salthouse Dock? Perfect. The centre is moving onto the water space and a perfect opportunity to attract investors. The centre now ends behind Lime St Station, which is now besoming out on limb - unless the city expands further.
    The new Amsterdam at Liverpool?
    Save Liverpool Docks and Waterways - Click

    Deprived of its unique dockland waters Liverpool
    becomes a Venice without canals, just another city, no
    longer of special interest to anyone, least of all the
    tourist. Would we visit a modernised Venice of filled in
    canals to view its modern museum describing
    how it once was?


    Giving Liverpool a full Metro - CLICK
    Rapid-transit rail: Everton, Liverpool & Arena - CLICK

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    Senior Member wsteve55's Avatar
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    Well, no cash, no need, to make decisions! Liverpool has had precious little of the latter,over the last 30/40 yrs,and I, for one, am grateful for all the recent investment in the city,but you can't please everyone

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    Senior Member Waterways's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wsteve55 View Post
    Well, no cash, no need, to make decisions! Liverpool has had precious little of the latter,over the last 30/40 yrs,and I, for one, am grateful for all the recent investment in the city,but you can't please everyone
    The city must not prostitute itself.
    The new Amsterdam at Liverpool?
    Save Liverpool Docks and Waterways - Click

    Deprived of its unique dockland waters Liverpool
    becomes a Venice without canals, just another city, no
    longer of special interest to anyone, least of all the
    tourist. Would we visit a modernised Venice of filled in
    canals to view its modern museum describing
    how it once was?


    Giving Liverpool a full Metro - CLICK
    Rapid-transit rail: Everton, Liverpool & Arena - CLICK

    Save Royal Iris - Sign Petition

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    Senior Member wsteve55's Avatar
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    no ..... just fade away, as it was,losing half it's population, industry,shipping,buildings, etc,etc,!

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