During our recent day in Liverpool, while walking round the Albert Dock we spotted a sign for a temporary exhibition in one of the empty shops. The “Hidden Liverpool” project features notable Liverpool buildings that are unused and, in most cases deteriorating and threatened with demolition. The exhibition had displays on each building with photos, a description, some history and quotes from local people. They were encouraging visitors to write their own memories on post it notes.
A couple of the buildings had memories for me. There was the old Irish Centre, on Mount Pleasant near the University which some friends used to visit on a Sunday evening when I was at Uni. Originally known as the Wellington Rooms it’s a neo-Classical building, completed in 1816, designed by Edmund Aitkin as the assembly rooms of the Wellington Club.
I went a few times. They used to have music on, mainly Irish “Showbands”, that were popular in the 70s rather than the Irish traditional music that I like. One of the post it notes had a comment from someone who remembered being dared to go and order a Black and Tan (a mixture of Guinness and bitter) from the bar. This blog post explains why that wouldn’t have been such a good idea!
The other building was the gigantic Tate and Lyle sugar silo on the docks, a very distinctive building that I used to see every day when I had a summer job in Heap’s Rice warehouse up at Sandhills one year. That brought back some memories too. But in both cases I wasn’t brave enough to write my comments on a post it note!
There were other buildings that I knew featured in the exhibition including the ABC cinema on Lime Street, the Oratory (near the Anglican Cathedral), the Welsh church on Princes Drive and the former Blind School, with others I didn’t know so well.
One building that wasn’t featured in the exhibition was the former Heaps Rice Mill which is opposite the Albert Dock. It’s derelict now but I used to go there in the morning where I caught a mini bus to take me, with some other students, along the Dock Road to the Sandhills warehouse where we were working. It’s a striking building, an example of industrial architecture that deserves to be preserved.
When I worked for Heaps I used to see the Albert Dock which at that time was unused and derelict. It’s transformation in the 1980’s shows what can be achieved with a little imagination and determination. It would be a shame if the buildings featured in the exhibition were allowed to decay and deteriorate further. Hopefully this project, by bringing them to wider attention will generate some interest and ideas to find ways to preserve at least some of them.