Archive for the 'Cultural History of Bold Street' Category

Hidden Liverpool, the Lyceum and other stories…

A few months ago I was contacted by a lady developing a new project for a company called Placed in Liverpool: Hidden Liverpool. Hidden Liverpool is a year long project supported by the Heritage Lottery which explores Liverpool’s empty buildings and how memories of the usage of these buildings could go someway to informing the reuse of them in the future. Amongst the buildings selected are Woolton Baths, the Tate and Lyle Sugar Silo, Liverpool School for the Blind and the iconic Lyceum Building on Bold Street.
The Thomas Harrison designed Lyceum has been empty since being vacated by its last tenants around 4/5 years ago and the marks of neglect are already starting to show. On last inspection I noticed parts of the steps had fallen away Its shocking that in a city that trades so much on its heritage buildings like the Lyceum are just left to rot whilst in the care of big corporations with little care clearly for the social and historical importance of the buildings in their care. Lets not forget that this building (reputably) housed the first lending library in the world, that the building of it in the first place was a sort of political statement made by dissenters and abolitionists William Roscoe, John Lightbody, John Currie and the Rev’d John Yates the signatures of whom you can find on the original deeds for the Lyceum kept at Liverpool Central Library Records Office. It was visited by Herman Melville (author of, amongst other things Moby Dick) who was promptly kicked out for looking too scruffy and if all of that is not enough it was completed in 1802 - making it 212 years old - all important reasons for the reinvention of this majestic Bold Street icon.

The exhibition will be on at The Colonades in the Albert Dock until 29th April read about it here http://www.albertdock.com/2014/04/peoples-history-exhibition-opens-albert-dock/

Ponchos + pendolinos revisted

I was contacted by Tony recently who ran the Bold Street Virgin shop in the early 70’s. I had thought that this was the first site (which I must admit did seem unlikely to me!) but Tony put me straight. Below is Tony’s account of the year he ran virgin Bold Street which makes a great addition to our growing archive of all things Bold Street.

“I saw your article on the website about the Virgin Record Store in Bold St and felt I should reply. I opened the shop in about 1971 and was the first manager for about a year. This was the 3rd Virgin shop as the first was opened in Oxford St in London although we had run as a mail order business for cut price records some time before this. Brighton was next and Liverpool shortly after.

I arrived on my first day from London to find a carpenter and we proceeded to build the fittings for the shop including the counters and shelving, all do-it-yourself in those days as money was very short and we were fighting the big record companies to break the monopoly on record sales and provide customers with discounts. The shop had been a women’s clothes/bridal shop before we took it over and was very large with lots of room upstairs. I think it was number 90 Bold St but can’t be sure. I lived in the shop for some time before eventually finding a flat locally. We kept a rabbit at the time and sometimes she lived in the shop but had to be moved when she started chewing the alarm wires and setting it off in the middle of the night.

Most record shops of the time made you stand in a small booth to listen to records and limited the time you could spend there. Virgin’s philosophy was to give people a comfortable environment and no limit on how many records you could listen to hence the cushions. Richard had decided to sell waterbeds and at one point we  had one as well as the cushions but this did not survive visits from the Scottie Rd School kids who delighted in sticking pins and knives into it until we had a very soggy carpet.

There wasn’t a doorman in my day but if anyone was seen taking drugs they  would be asked to leave as it risked the closure of the shop by the police. We were raided by the police once who arrived with dogs, plainclothes and lots of uniformed officers. They closed the shop and searched everyone there but nothing was found except a mess on the carpet by a police dog.

Sadly I do not have any photographs of the shop at this time.”

If anyone does have any photo’s of the Virgin Shop Bold Street we would love to see them. Thanks so much to Tony for this.

Port of Culture

“Liverpool is more than just 2008.”
Indeed, and local photographer and Bold Street Project contributor Pete Carr shows us how.

Pete contributed many amazing images of Bold Street to the Bold Street project - viewable on Flickr and at the time, in the exhibition at FACT. Now he’s got his own show “Port of Culture” on the Albert Dock (Unit 18, next to the Tate). Well worth the trip we reckon; Pete’s images are stunning!

In his own words:
Port of Culture is an extension of a project I have been running for over 3 years called Vanilla Days.  It’s a photographic site featuring a new image each day.  I have been using this site to document Liverpool over the past few years from key events to cityscapes to simple images of life on the street.  Port of Culture is a showcase of the best images featuring dramatic scenes from protests to classic local architecture.  I wanted to show people that Liverpool is more than just 2008. The idea behind the name is basically that Liverpool’s new import / export is culture.  The city was once a huge port and while that may have dwindled the city’s level of culture has grown.  2008, as the Capital of Culture, means that we’re now exporting everything that has made Liverpool great all over Europe.  Our music, architecture, art, and people are all being exported for people to see.  Liverpool is now a port of culture. The exhibition couldn’t have been held at a better location, the Albert Dock.  A once popular dock back in its day and now a great place for artists to exhibit and perform.  This exhibition is my contribution to 2008, my way of showing how great Liverpool is as the year starts. 

The exhibition runs till March 9th  http://www.portofculture.co.uk/

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.

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.

“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.

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.

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

Cripps, Sons & Co

Cripps

Cripps, the name has been with me since my very first day on The Bold Street Project back in January. Cripps was an upmarket ladies’ outfitters based at the bottom of Bold Street (in what is now Waterstones) catering for the well-to-do of Merseyside and Cheshire society. I have records mentioning Cripps in its location 12, 14 & 16 Bold Street from the mid 1800’s - late 1900’s.

I was contacted by a lady who worked at Cripps, Maureen, who was a dressmaker in the store from 1962 - 66. For a dressmaker a job at Cripps meant you were set up such was the prestigious reputation of the shop.

Workers would arrive and leave through the entrance at the back of the buidling, onto Wood Street. Here a man would be waiting to sign you into work, Maureen generally remembers it being a very strict environment to work in with no talking amongst the staff and no music playing in the shop.

Cripps was known for making and altering clothing on site which stretched from hats and furs to specially made dresses for ladies who had specific physical requirements from their clothes.

Often ladies would have a new musquash, mink, rabbit or fox fur coat instead of an engagement ring from prospective husbands, although the irony was that most of the women working in Cripps were not married - expected instead to be married to their job.

Maureen particularly remembers a lady named Miss Delaney, her supervisor during her years at Cripps.

Cripps

Image Courtesy of Liverpool Record Office.

Story of a gas life.

Radiant House, former headquaters of the Liverpool Gas Co for me is one of the most interesting buildings on the street. So you can imagine my excitement when I was contacted by a lady who worked in the building from 1951 - 1983. She described to me a workplace furnished to the highest possible standards with a commissionaire called Fred guarding the front entrance.

Radiant House

Gladys started work straight from school and remembers it being very strict. She was based in the wages department on the 4th floor of Radiant House and recalls the boss coming round regularly to inspect handwriting and figure work.

The building had many different area’s apart from the main shop floor there was also a theatre/demonstration room where young women, known as service advisors, advised people on how to use the cookers (see Vegetable Pie, a film made in Radiant House by Service Advisors on www.youtube.com.) Areas for the overall administration of Gas, a staff canteen and boardrooms and offices for the Directors of the Gas Company.

The boardrooms in particular stuck in the mind of Gladys who remembers them as plush, luxurious spaces totally out of bounds to staff and served by their own chef who cooked lunch and dinner for the directors.

Boardrooms

The Golden Eagle, currently on display in the Media Lounge in FACT as part of The Bold Street project was actually once located in Radiant House - a veritable Bold Street celebrity!

Radiant Bird

Thank you to Gladys for sharing her story with us.

Down the Banks

Liverpool Union Bank

I received a lovely set of images from a lady at the Lloyds TSB group archives of the Lloyds branch at 66 - 68 (now Meet Brazilian bar & restaurant) and the Liverpool Union bank at 45 - 47 (now Quynny’s, Alharf Newsagent, Pizza Pronto and Mr Chip’s) which really show the flavour of Bold Street in the 1920’s.

The images are available to view on Flickr from today.

Private View evening

A total of 419 people passed through the Bold Street Project exhibition on Friday evening alone with another 500 over the weekend, breaking all recent attendance records. Laura and Ciara took these shots of Dolly, Vera, Steve, John, Emily, Paul and company.

Bold Street Project PV

Bold Street Events: KIN

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It seems Bold Street is buzzing at the moment with creative and arts initiatives. On Wednesday Bold Street fashion favorite Microzine played host to a KIN networking evening. KIN is the network that connects creative people on Merseyside; and there are a lot of them it seems. The networking event attracted around 100 businesses in PR, media, film, fashion and design and other creative industries all gathering in the store enjoying drinks and bites before hearing Radio City’s Simon Ross interview James Barton, the founder of Cream. The event was hosted by Merseyside ACME who have funded and developed Kin.

Now at this point I have to reveal that while I fully intended attending, my hectic schedule last Wednesday in the middle of the install prevented me from doing so. (I also missed geekup and the Peter Blake opening at the Tate). However, I do know that several of my creative colleagues who did go had a great time and tell me it was well worth the visit. Looks like a great event, and hopefully we’ll see more of this in Bold Street.

Photo courtesy of Atmosferik Photography.

New Film: Mind Drift

Filmmaker Emily Voelker has been collaborating with tenantspin tenants over the last 4 months on a film entitled Mind Drift. The film is a collection of 14 sets of images taken from the point of view of a consumer walking down Bold Street.

Themes covered include shopping, dirt, architecture, people and poetry. Brash, beautiful and funny, the film captures the sheer range of activity, personality and function the street has to offer.

Click here to watch.

20 Years On

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“20 Years On” is an audio tour created by local anthropologist Mary Wallace. Mary takes us on a tour of Bold Street, reminiscing about happy times 20 years ago as the ‘Smiths Girl of Liverpool’. The tour takes the route from Central Station up Bold Street and ends in the Swan Inn. (And she swanned out again!) Click image to play.

Tastes Like Happy…

We’ve recently acquired a film shot on Bold Street about the making of a Vegetable Pie in a post war Britain still in the grips of rationing. The film was shot in Radiant House which today houses HMV and Argos and is excerpt from Echo’s of the 40’s and 50’s.

Check out the fantastic soundtrack. Many thanks to Angus Tilston from Pleasures Past.

An Architect’s Dream

During our early research we were put in touch with Architectural Historian Joseph Sharples who has given us a fantastic insight into the streets history and architectural influences.

From Ancient Greek and Egyptian influences to insights into the Lyceum and staff entrances at 72 Bold Street, Joseph lifts the lid on some hidden histories during a 6 part interview series.




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