Yesterday we went over to Liverpool for a day out on a reasonably sunny Sunday on a Bank Holiday weekend. While we were there, we decided to go up the St John’s Beacon (or, Radio City Tower as it’s known these days). The tower, which was built in the late 60’s, originally had a rotating restaurant at the top and the observation deck was in the open air on top of that. It was closed in 1983 and was unoccupied for a number of years. It was refurbished between 1998 and 2000 adding an additional floor where the outside observation deck used to be, re-opening as the studios of Radio City, the local commercial radio station. An indoor observation deck was opened to the public in 2012. On a good day like yesterday it affords great views over the city.
I’d been up before – 37 years ago when I was at University in the city. It was a bit different in those days. I remember stating outside in the open air and looking over a city that was much more depressed than today. there’s been a lot of development since then when the Albert Dock was deserted and dilapidated, Liverpool One wasn’t even a twinkle in the eye of the Duke of Westminster and the new buildings to the north of the city centre and near the University didn’t exist.
This is the view of the tower from St John’s Garden behind St George’s Hall. For a short while the sunlight was illuminating the bottom half of the tower making it appear to glow against the grey sky. The photograph doesn’t fully capture the effect.
Some views from the top of the tower.
Looking down over the developments during the city’s “golden age” during the Victorian period – St George’s Hall, the “World Museum”, Library, Walker Art Gallery ad Crown Court.
A couple of shots out over towards the pier head and the “Three Graces” and the Albert Dock
The Catholic cathedral with my old University behind.
The Anglican Cathedral
Looking over the city out towards the sea
We visited the Museum of Liverpool on Easter Monday. Our main motivation was to view the exhibition of paintings by Beryl Bainbridge that’s showing there until the end of April, but we also wanted to have a look round the main exhibits. The Museum is located at the end of “Mann Island” between the Albert Dock and the “Three Graces” at the Pier Head and opened in 2011. It’s located in a purpose built, very modern building designed by Danish architects 3XN.
Picture source: Wikipedia
Although the Museum has been open for about 18 months, it’s the first time we’d visited. The displays cover four main themes: The Great Port and Global City, on the ground floor and People’s Republic and Wondrous Place on the Second Floor. There are three other displays on the first floor. History Detectives covers the history and archaeology of Liverpool. The City Soldiers gallery tells the story of the King’s Regiment and there was also a very interesting display about the old Liverpool Overhead Railway. A couple of film shows, one about the Beatles and another about Liverpool’s football heritage, were also shown at regular intervals in the Wondrous Place Gallery and there were activities taking place throughout the day for children.
The displays covered a lot of ground between them so were, inevitably, rather superficial. But I guess that couldn’t be avoided. If they whetted visitors’ appetites and made them want to find out more about the history of the city, then I think the Museum will have served it’s purpose well.
The highlights for me included the bronze cast made of local gymnast Beth Tweddle’s body which was displayed in the entrance hall
the Lion, a locomotive from the Manchester Liverpool railway (made in 1838)
the exhibition about the old Liverpool Overhead Railway, which seemed to be particularly popular with older visitors from Liverpool
the large scale model of Lutyens’ original design for Liverpool’s Catholic cathedral, which is very different from the every modern structure that was built in the 1960’s
the stained glass map of Merseyside
the sculptures of ‘The Builder’ and ‘The Architect’ taken from the entrance archways of the Gerard Gardens flats, Hunter Street, which had been built in the 1930s, when they were demolished
which were very characteristic of the 1930’s and reminded us of the sculptures of Eric Gill,
the Liverpool Cityscape by Ben Johnson, commissioned to create The Liverpool Cityscape for the city’s year as European Capital of Culture year in 2008, which we’d previously seen displayed in the Walker Art Gallery
Chris Boardman’s yellow jersey from the Tour de France, Olympic medal and other memorabilia
the various music related displays
the mural on the wall just outside the Wondrous Place gallery, which was inspired by the Super Star Fucker Andy Warhol Text Painting, by Peter Davies which won the John Moore’s painting prize in 2002 and is displayed in the Walker Art Gallery
The views from the large windows at each end of the building from the 2nd floor over the Pier head at one end and the Albert Dock at the other were very good and worth the visit to the museum for that alone.
There was a lot to see and time constraints meant that we weren’t able to visit all the displays, so we missed out on the Global City and the two film shows, both of which I’d have liked to have seen. I’d also have liked to spent more time looking round the building itself. So another visit will be on the cards for the near future.