As part of our Primary History studies, we are constantly looking for ways in which we can inspire the trainees, and in turn, help them to meet the demands of a new curriculum. For many trainees Liverpool is one of the reasons they chose to study at Edge Hill, therefore it was of great interest to all concerned when we ventured off to Liverpool one day last week for a History Walking Tour.
I put together the walking tour as a means of covering a variety of aspects of Liverpool’s glorious past. Our feet would tread the same streets as rich merchant bankers, traders and rope-makers. We would follow in the footsteps of the Beatles. We would explore Liverpool’s cultural links to China and we would explore fantastical tales of body snatchers and gambling dens with the devil. To add to the experience, I created an app to accompany the tour, which many of the trainees downloaded and referred to as we promenaded our way through Liverpool.
Meeting at Waterloo Place, the first talking point is the first lending library in Europe. The Lyceum building is imposing, even neglected, as it is now, the building screams of better times. As a sanctuary for The Liverpool Literary and Philosophical Society, the building was a far cry from the hurly burly of the crowded coffee shops of the time. A place where, whisper it, radical ideas could be discussed. Abolitionists and the like…
Thomas Harrison’s building now lies empty. A recent google search indicates that if you have £4m spare, this could be yours.
Walking up Bold Street, named after Jonas Bold, a noted trader of all things such as sugar and slaves and one time Mayor, we reached what is now referred to as the Ropewalks area of Liverpool. Bold Street, along with Duke Street and Hanover Street were originally sought after residential areas for the merchants that used Liverpool’s docks as part of their work. However, the ropeworks area alludes to another industry that forms Liverpool’s past and indicates the close proximity of work and play as Liverpool grew into England’s second city. Ropewalks, these days, houses the incredible FACT. An arthouse picture house, gallery, cafe and media centre all rolled into one.
From there we walked on to the Bombed Out Church (St Luke’s) which was unfortunately behind chains on the day of our visit, but nevertheless, a fine war memorial. It is difficult to imagine the scenes of the 5th May 1941, the night the church changed from being a place of worship to a memorial. What a blessing, that this church was saved from the bulldozers. Maybe God does move in mysterious ways! St Lukes, is the scene of one of Liverpool’s timeslip stories, and so, with urban myths (or are they?) in our heads, we strolled along Berry Street to the Chinese Arch.
Work on the Chinese Arch began in October 1999 and took 90 days to complete. It was flown over from Shanghai (Liverpool’s twin city) in five containers and 2000 pieces. It is the largest multi-span Chinese Arch outside of China and the second largest Chinese Arch outside of China, the largest being in Washington DC.
The Anglican Cathedral was our next stop. Liverpool is famous for having two cathedrals. Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral is the fifth largest cathedral in the world and was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, who also designed the red telephone box. At the moment, an impressive Lego Liverpool Cathedral is on show. That’s worth a visit alone.
Next, our feet took us to the Liverpool Institute. The School of Paul McCartney and George Harrison. Today it is LIPA, Liverpool’s school of Performing Arts. Macca wasn’t at home, so we carried on to see if John was in next door. The Art school building, on Hope Street, is now owned by LIPA, the two buildings being reunited as they were originally. John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe (the fifth Beatle) had studied here before Hamburg, German girls and the ‘hit parade’ took their lives in a different directions. In Liverpool, both had enjoyed drinks at The Phil and Ye Crake which are conveniently placed on our walking tour (although we didn’t partake on this occasion!)
Our promenading took us past the Philharmonic Hall, the scene of many a fine recital and upon it’s opening in 1849 was declared by a Times critic as ‘one of the finest and best adapted to music’ halls of its kind. After a fire in 1933, the new Philharmonic Hall opened in 1939.
Soon we were opposite the new Everyman. An impressive theatre that is about to re-open to an expectant theatre-going crowd. At around this spot was number 8 Hope Street, scene of the tale of the Hope Street Body Snatchers. Gruesome doings involving brine, barrels, ships, A Scottish university and grave robbing. No-one was ever caught. As if that wasn’t enough, we walked around the corner to Rodney Street and sought out the grave of Mackenzie. Mackenzie was a respected engineer, but despite his work on the Leeds-Liverpool canal and the Paris to Rouen railway line, he is best known for losing his soul at cards to the Devil. The Devil, having declared that he would not claim his prize until Mackenzie was dead and buried, left the door open for Mackenzie to cheat the Devil from his prize. In the photo, peeping up above our heads, is the point of a pyramid- Mackenzie’s resting place. It is said (feel free to believe) that inside, sat at a table, holding a winning hand of cards, is Mackenze. Thus preventing the Devil from claiming his soul.
A nice story, however before you lose too much sleep, Mackenzie died in 1851 and the Pyramid, which also houses his two wives, wasn’t erected until 1868.