Author Archive for laura

Seeking a Fuller’s lady from the 1950’s

Fuller’s was a cafe on Bold Street in what is now Look’s Leather Goods. The business by all accounts was well known for its delicious cakes and I think a large stuffed bear in the doorway if I’m not mistaken! It was also the workplace of Martin’s relative - he writes about her below. If anyone has any information they would like to pass on to him you can either comment and I will pass it onto him or email me at laura.yates@fact.co.uk.

We are often told that life is a journey. Well my personal journey recently took an unexpected turn which landed me in Bold Street! Those of you familiar with Bold Street may not find that surprising as reading  the various articles and posts on this site it is apparent that Bold Street has been and remains a focal point for the local community. As a Mancunian however (please don’t hold that against me) I didn’t, up until a few weeks ago, know anything about Bold Street it was, I’m afraid, just another address, a name in the Liverpool A to Z a set of  coordinates on a sat nav. So how did I end up here?  I recently discovered whilst doing some family research that a relation of mine had been employed as a waitress at Fuller’s Café on Bold Street. Her name was Veronica Joan Chambers and it appears that she worked at Fuller’s for approximately 18 months in the early 1950’s. I am desperately seeking information about Joan, the time that she spent at Fuller’s, and any other details of her life from around this period. So even though I may be a stranger in these parts I would be more than grateful if anyone who knew of Joan could point me in the right direction on my journey.

Martin Kay


Stone of Crows! Its the Mardi Gras!

I have had a request for information from someone completing a bit of trivia about the Stone Roses who would like to know what date in August 1986 they played at the Mardi Gras, if anyone has anything about this please let me know and I can pass it onto Ed for his project. Thanks!

Contributions to the Bold Street Blog

Apologies for our blogging silence over the last couple of months, Boldstreet’s mother project tenantspin has taken up a lot of our time of late with some amazing projects which have helped us to spread our community TV wings into one of the cities most famous and influential gallery spaces (apart from FACT that is!!) Check out our other projects at www.tenantspin.org and www.tenantspinontour.com.

So, for my first post in a while here is something sent to me recently, from Mark Shepard called Street People:

Street People March 1978

Come into the silence of the crowded street

There are some faces I’d like you to meet

The ones that look like locked doors

Concealing what’s inside

The ones who don’t reveal to you

The music of their minds

That man knows his beer glass

Like a jeweler knows his jewels

Another man knows his empty pockets

Like a school boy knows his rules

And the young man who just passed us now

Is searching for a friend

Who understands his solitude

And knows how to make it end…

Refrain:

Stand inside the echoes

Of this cold concrete

It’s like an ever moving photograph

Never to be complete

Hold the silence in your hand

Feel that it is wise

Assemble all your senses

and place them in your eyes

That girl knows the sidewalk

Like a songbird knows its cage

She’s a year from home and tired

Of lying about her age

The business men who know her best

Don’t know her very well

They’re too caught up inside themselves

With what she has to sell

Refrain:

Stand inside the echoes

Of this cold concrete

It’s like an ever moving photograph

Never to be complete

Hold the silence in your hand

Feel that it is wise

Assemble all your senses

and place them in your eyes

See the old man with the spaniel dog?

He loves it like a son

And sometimes in his room at night

He dreams that he is young

Some “victim of society” just stole a lady’s purse

He eats the ground with his strong legs

And accelerates in bursts…

Refrain:

Stand inside the echoes

Of this cold concrete

It’s like an ever moving photograph

Never to be complete

Hold the silence in your hand

Feel that it is wise

Assemble all your senses

and place them in your eyes

See more of Marks work at www.markshepard.com. Thanks to Mark for submitting this poem.

Maggie May’s and James William Carling

carling

We recently attended the opening of a new gallery on Bold Street dedicated to the work of James William Carling in an upstairs room in our favourite Bold Street eatery, Maggie May’s.

The gallery has been months in the planning, the vision of dedicated people such as Ron Formby (Scottie Press) John Lea (owner of Maggie May’s cafe) and Michael Kelly (author of Liverpool’s Irish connection) and includes a selection of works on paper by the pauper artist now the property of The Poe Museum, Richmond, Virginia USA.

James was born in Addison Street Vauxhall 150 years ago and soon discovered he had a talent for painting and drawing, specifically street scenes and portraits of local places and characters which caught his imagination. The interesting thing about these images are that they capture the spirit and atmosphere of Liverpool during these years from the perspective of the ordinary working people.

Carling also cut a familia character particularly on Bold Street were he was seen most days in his childhood at work on chalk pavement representations of scenes around Liverpool and beyond begging for money from the wealthy patrons of the fashionable street.

After a 4 year spell in America Carling returned to England with a view to attending the Royal College of Art in London but this was not meant to be and he died at aged 29 from drinking related illnesses in poverty in Liverpool and was consequently buried in a paupers grave in Walton.

His work will be exhibited in this gallery above Maggie Mays cafe in Bold Street alongside other works throughout the year.

Click here to read more about Carling.

For more information about the gallery call into Maggie Mays or email laura.yates@fact.co.uk and I will be glad to pass on your enquiries to Ron or John.

Maggie Mays serves a selection of traditional dishes as well as some very good scouse/Irish sausage from a local butcher which we were privaledged to taste at the opening morning on St. Patricks day.

scots

New Year’s Revolution!

As part of the New Year’s Revolution free event at FACT, join international artist Shu Lea Cheang and tenantspin in the Ropewalks Square soup kitchen as they serve up free scouse along with sound machines!

Eat Scouse, meet your neighbours, discuss what revolution means to you, share your aspirations, your doubts and your hopes for 2008.

This event continues FACT’s three-year BOLD programme of projects committing to finding new and meaningful ways for artists to work collaboratively.

Net-streaming live from Ropewalks Liverpool, UK at www.stream.fact.co.uk

Bold Street memories.

 When I was 11, it was the only place I was allowed to go shopping with my friend on our own…we felt so grown up. Her Mum would drop us off there & we were not allowed to go outside of Bold Street all day, we used to buy fake cigarettes from a little joke shop that puffed out some form of talcum powder and we’d sit on the benches trying to look older, pretending to smoke. 

 Years later Bold Street’s Café Tabac was the meeting place for my friends and I at the weekend before going on to Macs & the Mardi …what great nights out we had then. I had my 18th Birthday at the Four Seasons which was awful but cheap to hire and as I was too drunk to remember much of it, it’s of little importance where it was held.

I still love Bold Street, I can spend hours in Rennies, it’s like a second home to me. 

Thank you to Carol Ramsay at the Liverpool Biennial for her memories.

From ponchos to pendolinos….!

Many people had spoken to me about the Virgin music shop on Bold Street during the 1970’s but I hadn’t yet had a full account of the interior of the shop.

That all changed when I received an email from Murray Greenberg who remembers the shop well and sent me the story below to bring it back to life.

I and three long- haired other friends who attended the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys from 1965 to the early 1970s (now Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute for
Performing Arts (LIPA) ) would ‘escape’ and go down to Rushworth’s in
Whitechapel where you could listen to records in separate booths.

Then something happened !

About 1970 on the way down Bold Street we noticed that this new store had
opened. Virgin offered something different. As soon as you walked in you
could smell and see burning joss sticks. There were several sets of large
head phones and the ‘hippyish’ staff would gladly let you hear whole
albums. It was here I discovered Deep purple, Black Sabbath and Emerson
Lake and Palmer. You get imported albums, unavailable in the UK and albums
were up to £1 cheaper than in the other record shops. Then they expanded
and opened the upper floor. They sold flared jeans , loon pants and
;”Afghan” coats - big suede coats with sheepskin edging. Then the shop
got too small for the stock - the Virgin empire was growing and the shop
moved to the St Johns Precinct shopping centre

We are all in our 50’s now but the memory is as clear as yesterday!

The shop is now Maggie May’s cafe and has swapped beanbags for beans on toast! It is a favorite spot for refueling over a cup of tea and is soon to be the new venue for the William Carling Gallery. (more about that in another post!)

Thank you to Murray for his tales of the early Branson endeavors.

Maggie Mays

Al Peterson, protest, art school and coffee!

Al Peterson contacted me recently with a great story of radical Bold Street. Protest is in the fabric of Bold Street and so to have a story of one such event really crystalises this, thank you Al!

Starbucks

“Bold Street became my gateway to my involvement with Arts & Music ever since 1955 when I started to attend Liverpool Junior School of Art in Gambia Terrace and
Liverpool College of Art Hope Street (1960–1965) as well as visiting my late great friend Adrian Henri who resided at 21 Mount Street.

After Junior Art School we used to meet up with girls at the El Cabbala in Bold Street and there experienced my first taste of Espresso Coffee and Spaghetti Bolognese.

In 1977 my band 29th & Dearborn’s Sound Recording Studio was established at No 2 Mount Street.

My most recent escapade in Bold Street was with the Merseyside Stop the War Coalition to protest against Starbuck’s being the main supplier of coffee to the guards
and the other psychopaths that run that anomaly known Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
As you can see from the photograph we have adopted the much publicised fluorescent orange jump suits that the inmates are forced wear.
The protest lasted about 40 minutes before we were asked to leave by the manager accompanied by a security guard who had informed the police.


Merseyside Stop the War Coalition is a non-violent protest group that has organised numerous marches in London, Manchester and Liverpool.
They helped organise the largest Anti War Rally against the Iraq War that Britain has ever witnessed in London on the 15th February 2003.
News from Nowhere is the organisations main outlet for tickets and books for the various rallies and Anti-War information.”

Al also remembers El Cabbala coffee shop mentioned to me many times by different storytellers. This was obviously a really important venue for the youth of the 50’s & 60’s and deserves a blog of its own so watch out for that coming soon! (I am still trying to find an image of it!)

Al’s views are not to be confused with the views of FACT, tenantspin or The Bold Street Project.

Even more comments from the gallery

“I think the future of Bold St. looks good.”

“Bold Street belongs to all people, past, present and future”.

”Bold street is great there’s always something happening, it’s tradition for me and my girlfriend to come to town every Saturday and go to as many shops on Bold St as we can. Forbidden planet, Home Bargains, Waterstones, HMV, Soul Cafe, etc. We wouldn’t know what we’d do with ourselves without it. The busking is great too.”

“After moving to Liverpool from the Wirral soon discovered Bold street as the place to meet people. It is much more bohemian than any other part of the city centre and as you walk down the street your would feel cultured by all the unique shops surrounding you.
I always seem to bump into somebody I know as I walk down the street and yet that doesn’t happen to me anywhere else like it does on BOLD STREET.”

More comments from the gallery

“When I was a teenager, I would hang round on a Saturday around Pryre records and the Palace and look at all the cool records and clothes we could’nt afford. When I was older I used to take Mondays off work and while everyone else was working I would buy books from ‘News from Nowhere’ and read them on St.Lukes steps with a rostie and a cake from Sayers. Now it’s been my high street for two years and I walk down it nearly everyday.”

“Bold street has never been far away from my life
-Dragged around the shops by my mum when i was a kid.
-In and out of the clubs in my teens and twenties.
-Now working in the new offices behind FACT.”

“My most abiding memory was when my girlfriend had a flat on Berry St 2003/4. A band were performng in ‘TABAC’ window facing cut onto the street. It looked excellent and like I’ve never seen since.
Has anyone else? (Think it was on August Bank Holiday weekend)”

“We love Bold St keep it going!”

“Michelle - You have masterstroked Bold St. Joseph Cornell had Utopia Parkway-this is yours Thanks for the beauty.”

“Very interesting - great visuals and display… where’s Matta’s? Otherwise brilliant.”

comments from the gallery

“Throughly enjoyed ‘The Bolder They Walk’, great job Kim, Chris and Alex. What can I say? Keep the gowns etc they suit you who is the stalker in the straw hat/pink bag? Started to do my head in a bit-nearly every shot!!!!
Stories of Bold street :-I can just about remember going to a record shop in the late 60s with my elder, hippy/friendly brother (now mid 50s), all beanbags, smelly stuff!!!! And headphone booths to listen to the latest sounds.
Bold street is a beautiful to promenade along to St.Lukes at the top, What a sight. Love it!”

“My memories of lovely Bold street: My mum took me whan I was 9 and a half to the Lyceum Cafe at the bottom of Bold Street. I was so excited. I remember the high backed chairs, the polite waitresses in black dresses with white gowns. We had toasted tea cakes and I had ‘white lemonade’ for the first time.
Later on still age 9 I went on saturdays to ballet classes Sheila Sillist Clark school and would buy myself a bar of chocolate from Thorntons which was halfway up the street.
Later on again i worked for 3 years as a secretary at 66 Bold street where i met my future husband in a quantity surveyors office. Also I bought my wedding dress for £16 in the sale at the shop called ‘M.Rose Laffway’ up on the right hand side”.

“I remember The swans at the mardi- it was so loud I had a nosebleed!
Also I saw Peter Kay at the Life cycle before he became famous.
And the Bhunda Boys at Cafe Berlin.
Wilson’s Healthfood shop -where ‘News from nowhere’ now live.
Characters wandering around Bold street- Pete Burns, Will Sergeant, Holly Johnson,Ian McCulloch, JayneCasey, all the cool Liverpool musicians - Julian Cope etc…
I also remember the 50p shop, the fur coat shop (which we used to campaign against), Cafe society - a really cool clothes shop, and 69A used to live in Bold St as well.
And Nick Cave did a book reading from ‘And the ass saw the Angel’ at Waterstones- it was then situated in Reflex Bar where McMillan’s used to be.
Planet x was once home in MacMillan’s.”

“I have fond memories of the Mardi and MacMillans, where they played great music and I met some great Like minded people. They were places I found I fitted in, where I met the friends I still have and we remember our experiences there and long for them again, these places united us then and unite us still. Meeting anyone who used to go to the Mardi and Macs . Is like meeting an old friend, even if I’ve never met them before.”

“I always thought of Bold St as the bridge between people who came into the city to shop (in Church St) and people who live on the outskirts (such as Toxteth). Once it was the shopping area for the rich and then like the houses on Princes road fell into ruin. Bold St made a comeback and became a fashionable area for the young with 69A, Flip ,Mardi and Liverpool Palace. I didn’t wait to see designer shops + Coffee shops, I’d like to see an investment to bring the shops back to their former glory but a place of Art, Culture, Literature, Retro clothes and music from the people of Liverpool we have a lot to give.”

Liverpool Savings Bank…a living memory.

Liverpool Savings Bank, at one time a prominent and familiar banking corporation in Liverpool once had branches spread all over the city. Bold Street was no exception, many of the Bold Street memories collected over the period of the project mention the bank once at 93, 95 & 97 (now Rapid Hardware Furniture Shop, coming down from the top on the right hand side) which was once the main bank for the depositing of wages by Bold Street workers. It was taken over in the 70’s by Lloyds TSB.

Lesley, a lady I met at The League of Welldoers (Lee Jones Centre) on Limekiln Lane mentioned to me that she had once worked at the Bank and kindly agreed to write a story about the experience.

“I went for my interview at Liverpool Savings Bank Head Office in January 1973 – the letter said to report to the side door – no front entrance for me!!

I was shown into a small office right at the back of the banking hall – the space was vast – high ceiling and so many staff, mostly men and all in suits. Voices echoed from the counter although from where I stood you couldn’t see it – there were so many screens and people.

It’s hard to explain the smell – but all traditional banking halls had the same smell – of marble, polish and money!!

After the interview I was taken through the busy banking hall, managing a quick look at the high wooden counters, and then through a door which opened into a large stairwell. A grand staircase swept up to a first floor boardroom and offices, the impact of such a grand sight immediately made you want to whisper if it hadn’t already struck you dumb!!

I passed my interview and was sent to work at Waterloo Branch but as ‘junior’ I would go to Bold Street one a week to pick up the branch ‘bag’ that would contain internal mail - a great way to meet all the other branch juniors! One day Bold Street’s manager called me to one side and asked where my suit jacket was – I explained I didn’t have one – he was appalled, his opinion was that a female in trousers should wear them as a part of a suit (similar to the male staff) – I made sure I was wearing a skirt on all my other visits!

Many years later I actually got the chance to work at the branch although by then it was called TSB plc with the head office in another part of the country. The impressive boardroom had become a staff lunch room but the high wooden counter was still there as were the wonderful staircase and that unforgettable smell!!

I’ve got really happy memories of Bold Street branch even the cellars, which were a bit dank and spooky but held so many secrets. The floor was always a bit damp being below the water basin and much of the paper had water stains and smelt a bit funny but it was an amazing place to ferret around oops I mean tidy up!!”

Thank you to Lesley for this wonderful story.

Quentin Tarantino, FACT, Bold Street and Peter K’s…..

Quentin

Tuesday 11th September saw Quentin Tarantino come to Liverpool to promote his new film Deathproof. Joan Burnett, the visitor services manager @ FACT was lucky enough to spend an evening in his charismatic company.

“What a guy! First, he wants to re-arrange his promotional trip to the UK to branch out from the usual round of London interviews to include Liverpool and Glasgow, as he said “to go somewhere working class”. Then when he gets here, he wants to sit in the audience to watch the film with them. He then announces he’s really fond of Cains 2008 ale and proceeds to drink a couple of bottles as the evening wears on. Quentin Tarantino, you’ve gone up in my estimation!

Death Proof is a pretty accurate rendering of seventies slasher movies, complete with in-yer-face girls and their not-so-happy endings. It falls into two distinct halves; in the first Stuntman Mike, played with impeccable cheesiness by Kurt Russell, gets his wicked way, while in the second half, it can only be said that girl-power wins out. If for nothing else, you should see this for the best car chase I have gasped at for a while - and as Mr T himself avowed, no CGI or special effects were used - Zoe Bell did all the work herself. Here we have a star turn. Ms Bell is a stuntwoman by trade and in Death Proof she certainly raises this speciality to an art-form. I was practically jumping out of my seat to cheer her on. No one has put a bit of scaff bar to such good use for a while even if I did have to look away…

Mr Tarantino took questions from the audience for over an hour, including some about his politics and his reaction to local protesters who had called him a mysogynist who glorifies violence against women for profit. He’s a great raconteur and obviously understands what makes an audience sit up and listen. It was a rare chance to see someone so lionised by the whole entertainment business talk openly and without pretension about their passion for creativity. he had some good pointers for up and coming creative people and a couple of good stories about his inspiration for the film.

A day later, the man was still in Liverpool and was seen whiling a mellow evening away with a few pints in Peter Kavanagh’s….he obviously meant what he said about wanting to see another side of the UK, away from the bright lights and corporate shindigs of the media world.”

While he was here Quentin was also seen wandering up and down Bold Street much to the shock and amusement of people on the street that day - it seems he was advised to do this by Samuel L Jackson who had the opportunity to explore the city during the filming of the 2001 film 51st State.

eighthundred. One day/eightphotographers/eighthundred Liverpool people.

As part of the celebrations for Liverpool’s 800th birthday a group of photographers got together to capture 800 portraits of Liverpool people. All the images were gathered over one day and features images by Bold Street contributor and well-known photographer Mark McNulty as well as images of Bold Street and her people.

The show is open until Sunday 9th September in the Grand Hall, Albert Dock.

For more information visit www.popcultured.co.uk

“Hawker-Owen”,118 Bold St.

War damage

I received an email via our blog from a gentleman whose parents where Bold Street traders during war-time Liverpool. Below is his account of Bold Street, its wartime damage and the effect war had on trade in Bold Street - amongst other interesting facts!

Prior to my parents purchasing the lease in the early thirties, probably about 1931, the shop had been a rather “select” haberdashery shop, run by an elderly lady. My parents changed it to a soft furnishings business, selling material for curtains (mainly Sandersons), making them up to customers requirements and fitting them. (At the age of four I went with my father to Deganwy to fit curtains at a house owned by a Lady Peacock. Changing trains at Chester we ventured outside the station where I caught sight of a green and cream tram so I must be one of the few alive who actually saw Chester trams, as they closed in 1929 I believe).

Lady Peacock was a relative by marriage. I think her husband was knighted having served as Mayor of Warrington for a long time. (Sounds posh. They were ironmongers!) My parents also sold carpets (the smell lingers still), cushions, curtain rails and other items which were then relavent to soft furnishings.

I kind of assumed I would take over the shop when I was old enough but it was not to be. The shop was double fronted, the windows filled (tastefully of course) with curtains and cushions etc; inside on the left was a display area and on the right a substantial counter with the usual brass rule inserted for measuring lengths of material. In the rear was an office and a sewing machine and in the large basement was a row of sewing machines, some being treadle and some being electrically operated. I took pleasure in pretending the electric one was a tram, using the pedal as a tram controller. There was a fireplace there too but whether that denoted former living quarters I don’t know. I reckon the properties were 18th century.

There was an upper floor but we cannot recall if there was another above, (from indistinct photographs I’m sure there was), and my sister seems to recall that the first floor could be used for interconnecting between the various buildings as she remembers her mother using this method to go to one of the other shops to buy chocolates.

Wetheralls had a retail establishment a few doors away towards the church, as well as having their factory behind Bold St. I remember at least two banks across the road and the back entrance to Allen & Appleyard’s large furniture store in Renshaw St, their shop now being in Knutsford.

By May 1942 we children had been privately evacuated to St Asaph , our first lodgings being in the house where the famous victorian poetess had lived - Felicia Hemans, then we were split up and lived quite separate lives. My sister hated it here and returned home. We had remained in the city until December/January 1940. In May 1941 my mother had come over by train for the weekend to see us and had great difficulty in getting back to Liverpool. With no Underground running, and having crossed by ferry she endured a very hazardous walk eventually making it to the bottom of Bold St amongst the chaos which existed at the time (a bit like Liverpool now!) to be refused admission to the street by the police although when she explained she had a business there they did allow her to venture up. No doubt she must have been very shocked; after recovering, she joined the Civil Service War Damage Valuation department and became very busy valuing damage in the Scotland Rd and dock areas. Prior to this my father had been called up. He was of the age when he was eligible for both wars, becoming a Captain in the first (Lancashire Hussars as a cavalry officer then Kings Liverpool as an infantryman), because of his age however (40’s) was given the choice: Army at old rank or Civil Service, so having a business to run he chose the latter. This didn’t do the shop much good as he had rapid promotion, ending up as Senior Valuer for South London. Being a “temp” he received no pension but did receive very good wages. He remained in the Civil Service until retirement. The shop was run by my mother after my father moved away as she had had to do at one time in the thirties when business was poor and father took a job as a salesman for an American company called Kirsch, selling curtain rails etc; (he also was a partner in a new invention - a fountain pen with a tiny roller of blotting paper at the end to dry the ink. Trouble was - once that was used it could not be replaced!)

During the depressed years of the 1930s they did not do very well financially. I remember about 1938 my mother showing me the shop accounts with a net profit of £300. By 1939, due to the shortage of materials, all they could sell was blackout curtain material, so in hindsight the bombing may have been their saving grace. In those days everybody travelled to work by tram, and the positioning of the “Fare Stage” was very important. For some years this was at the bottom of Leece St, so everyone alighted there in order to avoid having to pay another halfpenny, and they would then walk down Bold St towards the business area, thereby passing the shop, with the chance of a purchase. Great worries ensued (I recall the atmosphere in the house) when the Fare Stage was moved to Lewis’s! Though it did return to Leece St eventually little did the tramway authourities realise how important such matters were to struggling small shops. As children we spent much of our time in the shop after school as my parents seldom arrived home before 9pm; however we did have a housekeeper, a Miss Hanmer, to take care of us when we went straight home from school. We were independant kids, and I travelled all over the city by tram at a tender age, hence my good knowledge (and love) of Liverpool.

My parents also employed a manageress by the name of “Miss Wilson” a.k.a “Willy” a favourite with us, who lived in the then family orientated Granby St. She became a family friend and would join my parents in St Asaph when they eventually retired. As for myself. I returned to Liverpool in 1943, went to Skerrys College in Rodney St, took my School Certificate, worked as a junior clerk with chartered accountants in Castle St, got called up and the rest is history!

Thank you for Denys Owen for this insightful account into War-time Bold Street.

Bold Street in sunshine and hard shadows with David Lewis.

Painted Glass

David Lewis is an author and historian specialising in work relating to Liverpool. He very kindly agreed to contribute to The Bold Street Project and, one sunny day in June we went on an exploratory walk of Bold Street starting at the top of the street and working our way down to 52, former Music Hall, exclusive ladies outfitters (T.S Bacon and Jaegar) and now the home of drinking and dancing via themed bars Reflex and L1.

We wanted to focus on secret areas of Bold Street rarely seen by members of the public such as the interior of St Luke’s Church (opened at the moment by Urban Strawberry Lunch) Debbies Hair Design above Tabac, Busi & Stephenson (once a branch of Midland Bank) the basement area of Oxfam (former storage of the Rolls Royce car showroom Watson’s) and the Music Hall which in more recent times was a bookshop famed for its amazing hand-painted lead-lit window backing on to Wood Street. (See image)

David and I recorded our conversation (which can be accessed via this blog click here) the has also contributed a fantastic piece of writing - see below!

Bold Street Journey I

Bold Street in warm sunshine and hard shadows. A piece of found text on my way to the railway station set the tone for the walk; WHAT WAS PAST IS NOW. A touchstone, a mantra, a remembered line for the exploration of dead bank vaults, a burned out church, the dressing rooms of a Georgian concert hall, the soft cellar of a car showroom long concreted into shopped oblivion. Gloomy capitals and refurbished shops, a parade of shops and changing tenants, the gentle subtleties of change over two centuries. I stood in the FACT reception space and looked at old slate roofs, higgledy-piggledy chimneys, windows into empty rooms and attic flats, cool spaces and dead spaces. The newness of street art, Metroscopes; civic furniture, in a new urban space, Ropewalks Square; the pomposity of explanation derided by SK8BD graffiti, club stickers, underground movements, pictures of a leering Tony Benn advertising a Socialist rally, a discussion of democracy or a club night stealing the clothes of revolution.

The journey was to be from top to bottom or bottom to top. The buildings that would give us access to their hidden spaces and unknown floors visited in series as if on a journey, as if paralleling the street we would smash our way from one building to the next through a hundred first floor rooms; empty store room, office, unexpected bedroom, night club, bar, clothes shop, bathroom, brothel, concert room, classroom, hairdressers’; to emerge panting on Berry Street in a cloud of dust and falling brick, still twenty feet above the ground. Walking, the reality is always different. We saw more pigeon-spattered smokers’ haunts than I had expected. Met more people with stories, stoked more interest in unexpected people, broke the work crust to find interest and warmth beneath.

We began in the massive banking hall and redundant vaults of a dead bank that still gets customers; fine wooden doors, rich tiling, high plaster coving. Edwardian dignity broken now into cubicles, workstations, seating areas. Sunlight through dusty glass impossible to clean behind grilles, bars, mesh, the abandoned security apparatus of a building that stored gold bullion. The vaults were heavy, old fashioned, solid solid. Impossibly heavy doors that swung at a finger’s touch and had bolts the thickness of a man’s arm, open now and used for storing files. And behind the vaults, a second skin, brick walls and exposed pipework grimly suggestive of gas chambers. Walls that seemed to grow and shift in their subterranean darkness. They left grey corridors narrowing to nothingness, swallowed brick staircases, made spaces too small for live people and created overlooked rooms full of 1950s accounts, trade descriptions and arrangements with newly free African states; this on a street named after the slave-trading family that owned the land. (Distant earth-memories in damp and gloom, earth-memories of fields and trees and hedge-boundaries, rope walks and country lanes on the edge of the town.) Pale brickwork grey with moss, like a man-made world at the bottom of the sea, a place of endless darkness and soft strange creatures. The first of our ghost stories, a myth sprung to scare the young female office clerks, an erotic frisson connected to darkness and unexpected presence. Or the need to familiarise and populate that dead darkness, those indifferent shifting walls.

The street after such encounters seemed bright, temporary and fragile, a plane between worlds; the reaching walls and the attics and the gloom beneath the flags, the hopeless glass blocks, windows in the pavement, to allow some light into vault and cellar, as if they could stem the darkness, civilise the sheer underneathness. Another bank, large windows and tall iron columns hammered into a showroom for cheap furniture; stern glances and the lemon faces – Laura’s phrase – of disapproval. The street seemed warmer after that chilly room.

The unexpected pleasure of St Luke’s church, the crowning glory of Bold Street, visible the entire length. I have written about the church and explored its history but have never been inside. On this sunny day it was opened to the public by an alternative dance and workshop group, who had researched old photographs and commissioned new artwork. These stood at the base of the walls like abandoned placards from a demonstration. The open space, once aisle and chancel and organ loft, dominated still by the soaring reach of the Gothic tower. The walls were tall, proud, naked; amalgams of brick and stone and charred wood, the occasional tablet still smoke-blackened after fifty years of city rain, the occasional piece of stained glass that survived the bombing, as if the only glass to survive had been that which crept into the smallest niches. And an angel, a rare clear image, a face unaware of the incendiary device, a face still singing praises to God, a face alone in the walls of glass and colour; perhaps the second of our ghosts. A strangely unLiverpool experience, the inside of the bombed-out church. More European, or a London thing; in either it would have been celebrated many years ago, opened to the public, planted as a garden, a celebration of peace; here it has been shut away for half a century as if we are ashamed of this event, this scar on our history, shut away like the mad child in the attic. On this mild and sunny day the ground was covered with slow wild flowers and creeping plants but the crunch of glass and dust beneath, the iron window frames kicked up easily by our boots, they seemed to suggest that the building was only just safe to revisit, safe to walk in again, that the ground had only just cooled and that the charred wood was still dangerous, that walls might still fall.

The street seems different once you start seeing its secret places; it feels tilted, insubstantial. Back on Bold Street we found a narrow Georgian corridor, surviving plasterwork and heavily repainted doorframes; a tilt to the building as if the ground had shifted, unsettling staircases and joints, realigning floorboards. A hairdresser’s shop above the street, a great invisible dome of glass leaping out into space above the pedestrians, a woman full of stories and untold ghosts. Yet more support and interest, yet more unexpected enthusiasm. And yet stopping to stare you become an object of curiosity, an oddity. Who stops and stares on city streets? Who examines kerbstones and metal grilles, flagstones and drainpipes? Mad men and poets, thieves, drunks, charlatans. Who stops and stares at those already stopped? Bored secretaries, office staff, lonely men in dark flats, invisible yet aware of our presence, our analysis, our disruption of the street’s lack of self-knowledge or awareness.

The magnificence of the Oxfam building, built as a car showroom with a gigantic lift that took cars from ground floor to basement and back up to showroom. The slow soft bounce of rubber on smooth concrete, the smell of upholstery and leather, walnut and teak, the gentle purr of gigantic engines. An incarnation of the street as a place of commerce, a place to sell; in this instance luxury cars. Impossible to imagine the gleam of Armstrong-Siddeleys and Bentleys and Rolls-Royces in these tight, functional underground rooms, cluttered with boxes of books and rails of clothes. Only the brightness and sense of purpose survive, the hard work, the invisible energies. And yet the new electricity substation, installed this year by hacking a hole in the floor above – how useful the old lift would have been – is one of a series on the street whose smooth energy flow seems constantly disrupted, by power cuts, unexpected fusings, the sudden plunge into darkness. Stories of hidden rivers, lost power sources, perhaps of the street’s energy lines, the pull from top to bottom. As if the installation of underground boxes to channel electricity had jolted older power lines out of synchronicity, out of balance, and the power cuts were a result of this; or even as if the street itself, woken Quatermass-like by the digging, resented the intrusion. But these bright functional cellars held no stories, no mystery.

And then chance intervened, or the street decided we should see what we came to see. We took a chance and dived into Bar L1, that used to be Edward’s, that used to be Waterstone’s the bookshop, that used to be Macmillan’s nightclub, that used to be an exclusive clothes shop and a concert room. It was built from the 1770s, the earliest incarnation of the street, and sits on three sides of Bold Street, Concert Street (an unrelated echo of performance, this one commemorating outdoor music for the urban poor) and Wood Street. An iced wedding cake of a building, solid, square, punched windows crusted with sooty plasterwork. I was last in there when it was a bookshop, a quiet set of cream rooms lined with bookcases and collections of chairs, thoughtful emaciated readers and chubby girls in frayed jeans behind the counters. Today it is decorated like a jazzy gentleman’s club, a cross between deep leather elegance and glitter, a long sticky bar of granite resin. Upstairs the second floor of books had tall windows and was flooded with light like a piano nobile, a slower place than the ground floor, a place of reference books and classical music. It has become a 1980s club, a vivid swirl of a nightmare of epileptic glitter balls, electro-posters, drinks promotions, a giant’s causeway of platforms and raised dance floors under massive black walls. It felt as though, with difficulty, I had broken in to something that had slipped away through time, reclaimed a room that was no longer a part of my world, like revisiting the first house I lived in. But the elegant plaster ceiling has survived, painted a deep matt black, and the magnificent sweep of the staircase still takes dancers from the ground floor to the dance floor, as it always has. The tall windows are still there behind thick curtains, and the huge staircase windows, richly-painted rococo gold and orange swirls on great sweeps of leaded glass, have also survived; perhaps as garish to some as the glitter balls and 80s tat is to me. We were guided through a maze of rooms and staircases and corridors, bunches of keys and members of staff coming in the opposite direction. The last of our ghost stories, a woman called Mary alleged to haunt the upper floors; another myth of the upper floors occupied by prostitutes. Upstairs again to a tiny roof space, more pigeons and air-conditioning, and gazed up at walls towering another two floors above us. Hidden windows and unused roofs. Another staircase to the basement, the old Macmillan’s night club, memories of dark nights a quarter of a century ago, the ghost story of a Smiths gig here nearly thirty years ago, in a building that opened with a recital of Handel’s ‘Water Music’. (Like history, music always repeats itself; here where the music was played seriously to people for whom the Smiths meant something there is now a club that plays endless 1980s music to people who weren’t born when it first came out. Do the (modern, ironic) strains drift down the bricks to the basement, echoing damply through the walls into the building’s tiny, silent rooms? Does the building remember the Handel recitals? Perhaps in the future it will be possible to listen to the sounds stored in ancient brickwork.) It is impossible to reconcile the nightclub with the modern room-scape of beer kegs and offices and kitchens. And then, a kitchen store or was it an office; huge roof beams just above my head, the first sign of a Georgian building, rough beams fifteen inches square and twenty feet long; beams used in the earliest incarnation of the building perhaps but planted when the street was fields, in the 1690s. Their fields and woods have long gone but the beams survive, five or six of them visible in this neon food store office, built into the ground and history of Bold Street for two centuries and more. From them the ancient history of the building appeared; perhaps our enthusiasm persuaded the building to show us more. Georgian staircases reallocated as fire escapes, staff entrances, leading to empty rooms in the upper bowels of the building. Light through dusty windows falling onto bare wooden floorboards, the servants’ quarters. A vanished floor of rooms taken over by huge heating ducts and air conditioning systems, a recognisable building colonised by something alien and unwieldy. Long metal corridors, scales and warmth, the suggestion of nocturnal movement; holes punched in walls, floors ripped out to let the giant pipes slide from one space to another. But at the very top of the building, the very end of our journey, a long dusty corridor of rooms known as the changing rooms, perhaps used by artistes performing downstairs at the concert rooms. Servile decency, dignity, the threadbare grace of a butler’s room, a housekeeper’s pantry; large patches of overlooked sunlight falling onto empty corridors. I was reminded again of the high rooms in the city that are lit by daylight but see nobody from one year’s end to the next, a gentle rising of the sun, the sounds of rain on dusty glass, the hubbub from the street far below, the fading light, the orange street glow. At the very end, above us a roof of Georgian slates, unused chimneys, and a view through a skylight of high blue skies.

David’s Book Walks Through History: Liverpool published by The Breedon Books is available to buy from News From Nowhere on their website click here to access.

Stories and comments from the gallery.

Below are a couple of stories added to our comments book in the gallery at FACT.

I have been a pedestrian and car parker of Bold Street since the 70’s (before you had to pay to park your car there) when the vinyl records were playing from Jayne Caseys flat in 61a, the very vinyl records that ‘hairy records’ are selling, when culture came from ordinary people and their flats - that was their exhibition space.

I used to meet lots of mates on Boldie in the 80’s, I would hang out in cafe Berlin which was more like a social club. Wouldn’t it be gorgeous to have more things happening with outside entertainment in the street, it would be fab to see it decorated with festival stuff going on rather than just a doorway from the South end of town into the city centre.

I’d go to Bold Street every week, to get ‘an phoblacht’ republican news from ‘News from Nowhere’ top paper top shop! I was there one day when some Nazi’s put the windows in. Great exhibition, cheers beans.

I think Bold Street is as good for shopping now as what it was 50 years ago and I don’t think it will change, in addition it is better than Oxford Street in London.

What happened to to the El Kabala Coffee bar? Situated where News from Nowhere is now.

Thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Bolder they Walk’, great job Kim, Chris & Alex. What can I say - keep the gowns etc they suit you. Who is the stalker in the straw hat/pink bag? Started to do my head in a bit - nearly every shot!!! Stories of Bolds Street:- I can just about remember going to a record shop in the late 60’s with my elder, hippy/trendy brother (now mid 50’s), all bean bags, smelly stuff!!!!! Headphones/booths to listen to the latests sounds. Bold Street is a beautiful street to promenade along St. Lukes at the top, what a sight, love it.

My memories of lovely Bold Street: My mum took me when I was 41/2 to the Lyceum Cafe at the bottom of the street. I was so excited, I remember the high-backed chairs, the polite waitresses in black dresses with white aprons. We had toasted teacakes and I had ‘white lemonade’ for the first time. Later on, aged 9, I went on Saturdays to ballets classes of Sheila Elliott Clarke School & would buy myself a bar of chocolate from Thortons, when it was halfway up the street. Later on again, I worked for 3 years as a secretary at 66 Bold Street, where I met my future husband in a quality surveyors office. Also, I bought my wedding dress for £16 in the sale at the shop called ‘M.Rose’ halfway up the right hand side.

Thank you to everyone for sharing these stories with us

Leon & visitors in Media Lounge

Bold Street in the 40’s

Continuing with the theme of Bold Street stories below is the story of Agnes Curnow (nee Smith) who remembers the Bold Street of Cripps, T.S Bacon and her own shop Drinkwaters.

Bold Street

In 1943 I started work at a high-class dressmakers in Bold Street. I was 14 years old and it was my second job. My first one had been for about eight months, in a printers in Wrexham, having been evacuated there on the 3rd September 1939 - the day that the war started.

When most of the bombing had stopped we return to Liverpool in 1943 and thats how I arrived at my second job of apprentice dressmaker, at the tender age of 14.

The dressmakers was very exclusive and called ‘Drinkwaters’ making top quality ladies’ wear and outfits for ladies who were going to be ‘Present at Court’ known in those days as ‘coming out.’

The name of G W Drinkwater was spread across the front window for all to see. The shop and workroom was on the first floor and was reached by a set of wide stone steps leading from the pavement.

Looking up Bold Street from the Hanover Street end it was not very far up on the left hand side. Next door to Waring and Gillow who sold quality furniture and almost opposite the Kardomah Cafe which specialised in coffee - the fragrance was very nice and seemed to travel the full length of the street.

Also on the first floor was a milliners, with the Elliott Clarke School of Dance and Drama on the floor above. It was all very posh to me in those days.

I was the youngest of the workers as most of the other were a lot older than I was except for a girl of about 19 who started about three years later. The others were what I thought of at the time as middle aged women.

The were probably the good-old-days of Bold Street and the high class feel of the area may well be gone now. I worked there until 1947 and when I left I joined the land army and was posted to Cornwall, where I have lived ever since.

Thank you so much to Agnes for sharing her memories with us.

Bearly there……

Troxler’s Swiss Cafe, home to beautiful cakes, harassed staff and the only stuffed bear on Bold Street.

In 1945/46 I was a young shorthand typist in Liverpool,
and every Friday, pay-day (27s.6d or £1.37p a week)an office colleague and
I would treat ourselves to a 3-course lunch at Troxler’s Swiss Cafe in Bold
Street. It cost us 2s.3d (11p!) which was the maximum the Government
allowed us to pay for a meal in those rationed days. Inside the entrance
stood a huge stuffed brown bear on its hind legs,looking a bit motheaten.
The meal was always very tasty, served up by a harassed waitress called
Bessie, who’d be about 40 then. We thought her rather elderly. The
clientele were quite fashionable - we all wore hats and gloves in those
days, especially when entering Bold St. As far as I can remember, I only
once ventured into one of those elegant shops, and that was to purchase a
silk Jaqumar headscarf - every girl’s status symbol then! Now at the age of
80, I often walk up Bold St. and find the mix of shops and people very
interesting. But what a difference from our young days! I hope my little
memoir will interest you, and that other people will remember Troxlers.
Good luck in your project.

Thank you so much to Audrey Thomas for this story.

Bold Street uncovered

I have had so many stories since I began this project, some are interwoven into the Bold Street exhibition itself (on in the Media Lounge in FACT until the 19th August) some are orally told via interviews, stories, songs and poems and some are still waiting to be told.

I thought I would post a series of blogs with stories I have been sent and told which have given me an amazing insight into the streets effect on the people who have visited it over its 227 year history.

The first ‘famous’ person I saw in Liverpool (I’ve only seen two and the other was an _enormous_ footballer) was on Bold Street - it was 1993 (or early 94?) and I had just started as a student at the University of Liverpool. Before I came to uni I used to hang around with this group of lads from Lancaster Boys Grammar School who were all a bit weird and their favourite viewing was Red Dwarf…

Hmm, Liverpool, Red Dwarf, ‘famous’ who could it be…?

…yes, you’ve guessed it, it was the world-renowned - ho ho - Craig Charles…

falling down the stairs and back up again (several hours later) at 2 of the best former clubs in Liverpool.

MacMillans- now a bookshop (and they call that progress!). The launchpad for many a Liverpool legend. Used to DJ in there and was once mistaken for superstar (at the time) DJ Terry Farley. I was over the moon until some weeks later when I saw a picture of him. Not the average male pin up it needs to be said.

And of course the legendary Mardi Gras (even more stairs). Two floors of pure joy. The most eclectic venue in the city for many a year. Home of the now legendary G-love events in 1989. Sadly closed due to probably failing every health and safety test possible. I can even remember carrying wheelchair bound friends up and down the many flights of stairs.

Tabac Cafe- Sadly I preferred it when it was not quite so upmarket and you felt ‘out there’ ordering a bowl of chilli con carne with garlic bread.

Walking down Bold street with my Dad and taking the mickey of out the “largest hearing aid in the world” chair and secretly never being sure if they were serious or not!! This would be late ’70’s/early ’80’s.

The Mardi Gras and dancing the night away with all the crowd from the Everyman back in 1988/89/90/91 - meeting some of the people who are still some of my closest friends now and meeting the first happy out gay people that I knew -

Going into News From Nowhere and hanging around the gay/lesbian section in the hope of being swept off my feet by a mad literary lesbian or two…I still see people doing that now! You can always tell they have only just realised they’re gay or have just come out by the books they are buying.

And of course, Maggie May’s as the FACT staff canteen - all the gossip going down over a plate of egg and chips surrounded by a mix of elderly ladies, workies and drag queens in their day clothes!


I remember when it was a proper street; then it was ‘pedestrianised’ with ugly oval plant holders and benches nobody ever sat on in the late 1970s or early 1980s, and now it looks like a proper street again.

I also remember a club called the Four Seasons by what is now Starbucks during the 1980s. it was dreadful cheesy place with lots of pale green walls and mirrors. I once went there when I was at college to hear a student friend called Debi Jones sing to some gangsters (friends of her husband) who might get her work singing in their clubs. She sang some standards and a song called Pete the Piddling Pup about an incontinent dog, which went down really well! Whether she got any work I do not know.

The Warehouse shop near the bottom used to have a café on the first floor which was one of the coolest places in Liverpool to have a coffee. The walls were plastered and painted to look like concrete. Café Berlin near the top was definitely one of the coolest cafés in town and popular with musicians and artists. It featured on the front of an Icicle Works album whose name I can’t remember. Café Society nearby was a clothes shop selling 1950s overcoats and Dr Martins boots, very popular with trendies in the mid 1980s. The top end was a little trendy enclave with the record shop (still there I think) and Café Tabac (coffee like dragon’s blood) as well as Café Society and Café Berlin further down. The shop at the very top used to have a boat made of shells in the window which has/had been there for decades; the shop itself is maybe a part of the old RAF club upstairs.

Mattas International Food Stores is a Liverpool institution selling Indian food and odd pastas and Greek bread and frozen fish and Chinese pancakes. It used to be renowned for its raisins in yoghurt and incense and its bags were once THE carrier bag to be seen with. Ian Perry might not have such fond memories of Mattas!

My partner then was a music journalist. I used to get so vexed because every single time we walked down Bold Street, someone from a band would rush at him with a demo tape.It took so long to get from one end to the other, we used to do “Musician Alert”, and hide in doorways.

I remember coming over from the Wirral to Bold street for my first ballet exam aged about eight. The dance studio was above one of the shops near the top and I was really nervous as I crossed the busy street filled with shoppers.

Mardi Gras




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