Archive for the 'Exhibition' 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/

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


Recent interesting Bold Street emails.

I was recently contacted by a couple of far-flung readers of the blog who wondered if I had any information on their family members and possessions.

As I couldn’t find much out I thought I’d post it here to see if there is anyone who knows anything they can share.

The first is from a Dr Whittingham whose enquiry was related to his Mum who once sold copies of a radical pamphlet in Bold Street. The pamphlet was called ‘White, Orange and Green’ and was sold from an empty shop which was described as a ‘big, bare, shop’ by the Liverpool Echo at the time (1936)

Bold Street has long had a history of radical activity, from protest to one of the first vegetarian cafe in the country so this discovery has really helped to reinforce this.

The second is from Victoria in Toronto who bought an antiques chair in Canada in 1974. She later discovered that the chair was made or sold in Bold Street and was branded with the name Hughes, Read & Co 45 & 47 Bold Street, Liverpool. According to the Gores Street directories I have which only go back to 1892 this is the location of the Liverpool Union Bank, now Pizza Pronto, Mr Chips and the sweet shop by Subway. The suggestion is that these chairs pre-date that. If anyone has any information about Hughes Read and Co Victoria and I would be really interested in hearing from you.Have a look here for images of the chairs.

Thank you to Dr Whittingham and Victoria for their contributions.

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!

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.

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

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/

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.”

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.

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

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.

Roland and the Cornet

Bold Street has some great buskers, at any given time on any given day the melodic hum of accordions, guitars, drums and trumpets can be heard wafting around the street. I received the following story from Bold Street’s infamous trumpet player, Barry.

Barry

Bold Street. A chilly day in April, felt like going back to bed after having a massive party in the brewery tap for my 50th. Need a cup of tea and cheering up……An elderly gentleman approached carrying a square case with a serious look about him. He stood next to me and waited until I had completed my melody. He turned to me an said: “here you are son (sic.) its yours now…I’ve had a heart attack and I don’t think I’ll be playing her again. I want it to go to a good home, providing you won’t sell it.”

Arms outstretched I took hold of the box, agape, as I had already seen Selmer logo on the case. Breathless in anticipation I placed the instrument carefully down flicked the catches on the lid and slowly opened it up. “Oh, is this really for me?” as I looked into his smiling face.” “What do you think of that son?” Speechless I gently lifted ‘her’ from her velvet bed. A Selmer cornet in shining brass with a silver bell. I held it firmly now realising just what a most incredible gift I had been given, I pressed the mother of pearl buttons down.

Adoration of the instrument quickly turned to this tall slim man, clearly in his 80’s. ‘It’s beautiful” I replied staring at in disbelief. A 1963 Selmer ‘Invicta’ in mint condition. It used to belong to a Mr. Parrot, John Parrot’s father (the ace snooker world champion) “there is obviously no chance I would sell this.” He simply left me with it still spellbound….a hand-made instrument of the highest quality.

Roland was an R.A.F technician and played on military bands on horn and guitar and managed the Rialto (Toxteth) until the 1950’s/60’s and played with their big band. I am now in touch with him regularly. He calls me ’son.’

Our thanks to Barry for this great story and to Roland for his great act of generosity.

Bold Street webcast 1

Last Wednesday at FACT tenantspin staged the first of the Bold Street live webcasts, chaired by Jayne Casey with guests John McGuirk, Matthew from Liverpool Vision, Kate from Utility and Mandy from News From Nowhere. The show will be archived on tenantspin soon and the discussion covered the reality of running a business on a changing Bold Street and its relation to other retail and cultural parts of Liverpool city centre.

Bold Street webcast 1

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

Busker of the Year

Bold Street has become a stage for some fantastic busking talents over the years, some of whom have contributed to the exhibition. Bold Street Bill is featured in an interview and also appears on the album cover of band Jonas Thomassen & JT Scam’s latest album titled Bold Street while Barry has featured heavily in a film by artist’s Foreign Investment.

We’ve also been lucky enough to receive a specially recorded message for the exhibition from Liverpool-based acoustic singer songwriter Alun Parry who started his career on Bold Street and was subsequently voted as the “Liverpool Echo Busker of the Year”.

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All three of these fantastic performers’ work can be found in the exhibition.

The Bold Street Project, exhibition update

CCTV, Thursday 17.15pm and install in progress

CCTV, 28.6.07Install, 28.6.07

 




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