Postcard of Liverpool

Souvenir of a quick walk around Liverpool waterside and commercial districts following an Aunt's 95th birthday party at suburban Maghull. We used to visit grandparents in Liverpool regularly when I was a child; in 1958, our family embarked from Liverpool docks on the Carmania, a liner of the Cunard Line, bound for Montreal and the USA. We came back on Cunard's Queen Elizabeth and then did another transatlantic trip a few years later on one of the last voyages of the Queen Mary.

I've not been around Liverpool for many years now; I find it's now cleaner and the trains don't run on the roads (meaning that the trams have gone). But Liverpool's historic origins are still prominent, a quintessentially English blend of showy civic monuments, commercial architectural exhibitionism and enduring philanthropic gestures.

 

This postcard is my attempt to snapshot the essence of Liverpool in a quick walk around the iconic buildings and streets. Here of course is the Royal Liver Building at the Pier Head featuring its sculptures of Liver birds that watch over the city. Family legend has it that my grandfather worked on the construction of this massive building, its 1907 architecture using reinforced concrete resulted in a solid and square shape; it pre-dated the skyscrapers of New York at the other end of the sea route across the North Atlantic which were able to reach higher and thinnner because of the newer technique of stacking steel box frames. The Royal Liver Building is no longer surrounded by trams or the Liverpool docks overhead railway that my grandfather would have used, nor is the Pier Head the bustling and dirty place it once was.

St Georges Hall, Liverpool, a dual purpose building housing both a concert hall and law courts, more convenient for the growing city than the historic courts in Lancaster. It sets culture on a high pedestal above the people and vehicle traffic but fittingly is now surveyed also by a CCTV camera installation as well as statues of war heroes erected by public subscription! Who else remembers the battle of Kirbekan in the Soudan (ie Sudan) in 1885 but the statue of William Earle whose statue looks out from St George's Hall?

The dark red sandstone of Liverpool's Anglican cathedral peeks through the busy shopping streets devoted more to Mammon whilst the highest spire in the city is now the Radio City tower. The buses are coloured a drab cyan, a colour that just happens to be echoed in the glass of the numerous new shopping centres.

My impression of Liverpool after this quick walk was that it felt familiar despite my not having been here for over fifteen years. Firstly Liverpool is very similar to Marseille (major port of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries), now re-building and re-branding including both Liverpool and Marseille being nominated as European cities of culture. So many similarities; but to my mind Marseille on a Sunday has more obvious bustle and vigour. Just don't mention the weather!

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