Archive for the 'Economy 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.

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.

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.

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.

Thank You Bold Street (by Stuart Ian Burns)

thankyouboldstreet.jpg

As per Laura’s recent post about Bold Street tales, it seems so many people have stories to tell about this famous Liverpool thoroughfare.  However, we now have a growing community of Liverpool writers (and story tellers) online and you can find local blogger Stuart Ian Burns either at Liverpool Blogs or at his personal blog Feeling Listless. We wanted to get a blogger’s opinion of Bold Street so we asked Stuart to tell us what he thought…

“It’s only recently I’ve considered how indispensable the Bold Street area has become, at least to me. At present, each Thursday, I have a routine. Before the weekly shop at the Tesco Metro, I get off the bus outside of St. Luke’s Church then stroll or rush down Bold Street depending upon how late I am. I’ll pass through Forbidden Planet looking for Joss Whedon written comic books and magazines about a certain timelord who travels in a police box; to Oxfam next in case they’ve something new about Shakespeare; on then to The Works to see if there’s a sale and to the shop formerly known as Home & Bargain to check if they have anything worth buying too; new arrival HMV perhaps on the rare occasion that a decent record that been released and possibly Waterstones if I’m looking for something to read and through to Church Street for WH Smiths and …

I also usually end up passing through too if there’s a special day to prepare for, a birthday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, Easter. It could be to find a card a Rennies or a bottle of red at Oddbins but sometimes I’ll be looking for something unusual which you simply can’t find anywhere else, in which case Utility is the place to go and when the recipient has told me what they want, there is Argos and the wait within for the opening of the hatch. But incredibly Bold Street also serves my entertainment and caffeine needs with the FACT Centre and its cinema and exhibition spaces and café and restaurant and further down the road Starbucks if I’m in a corporate coffee mood (with Costa Coffee opposite on the rare occasion when I want a change of place). I even booked my last holiday there, three days in Paris, at STA Travel.

I can’t remember when I first visited Bold Street, but I know I must have been young. I was brought up in Speke through the seventies and eighties and in those days a trip to the city centre was a special treat, let alone Bold Street. When you’re very young geography doesn’t mean much to you — there’s just shapes and colour and then toys and games. So whilst I remember visiting the Medici Gallery to buy a birthday card and the 50p shop for a colouring book or Star Wars toys it’s only now that I realise they were on Bold Street (especially since they’re both gone now). Something I definitely have memories of is Penny Lane Records, an outpost of a shop actually on the street from which is took its name; that was were I fanned the flames of many a teenage pop star crush but also discovered that Louis Armstrong recorded more than just ‘Wonderful World’.

But the time when I was most grateful for Bold Street just being there, was when I was working in the city centre and wanted somewhere to disappear to at lunch time. Even after all these years, the place has a strange mystique particularly at the ’top end’ — it’s really not like anywhere else in Liverpool which means that after you’ve passed the Rapid Hardware Furniture shop you could be anywhere, which in that empty daily hour helped to drag me out of the mess I was in even if it was for a few brief minutes and could pretend I was somewhere else, which was good therapy in the job I was doing in which I had to greet the people of my own city hard-on. Popping into Café Tabac for some soup, buying a sandwich in the Soul Café, a drink in that newsagents just down the way from Mattas or …

Thank you Bold Street. For everything, it turns out.”

Thank you indeed Bold Street, and thank you Stuart!

- Oh, and thanks also to Pete Carr for this amazing Bold Street image recently uploaded to the Bold Street Flickr Group!

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.

Matta’s Interviews


Interviews with Mr Matta from Matta’s on Bold Street are now available on the Bold Street Video Podcast AND on YouTube!

‘Portobello Road’ plan for Bold Street

Bold Street has been in the news again this week. Jessica Shaughnessy writes a lively piece for the Liverpool Daily Post on plans to transform Bold Street ‘Portobello Road’ style.

“Under a programme of events being put in place by the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, the city could see a series of small festivals, including in Concert Square and the Albert Dock as well as a gay parade.” 

Read the full article on the Daily Post’s website.

Farewell to Asha

ASHA


“When I first came to Liverpool, nobody had even seen an aubergine and hadn’t heard of things like green chilli or coriander”
is perhaps one of the quaintest statements I have read in association with Bold Street since I started working on this project. But sadly, whilst I like the idea that Bold Street introduced aubergines to the diners of Liverpool, the news article this is taken from has a somewhat sadder tone. Asha, Liverpool’s oldest restaurant a Bold Street institution is set to close. You can read Caroline Innes’ article and interview with Asha’s Dipak Choudhury for the Liverpool Daily Post here.

Dishing the Dirt

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Bold Street offers inspiration to film makers. For a sneak preview of quite literally “the lowdown” on Bold Street, we’ve added our first tenantspin Bold Street film to YouTube.




Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.