Archive for the 'Radical, Freethinking Bold Street' Category

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.

New Year’s Revolution!

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

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

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

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

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!

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“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.

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

Bold Street iMix

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Over the course of this project, Laura, Alan, Patrick and I have all come across a lot of music related facts relating to Bold Street. We began compiling a ‘playlist’ some time back to keep a record of Bold Street songs. Some are about Bold Street (such as 3am on Bold Street), some were performed on Bold Street (I am the Sun), some have historical links to Bold Street (anything on the His Master’s Voice label) and some just remind us of Bold Street (Celebrity Skin). The playlist is below, but you can also view this as an iMix in iTunes (which gives you links to hear and download all the songs if you like).

“Now that’s what I call Bold Street” Volume 1
His Master’s Voice - The National Jazz Ensemble
Black Lights - Jonas Thomassen & Jt Scam
The Harder They Come - Jimmy Cliff
Perambulator - The Icicle Works
C’mon Everybody - Eddie Cochran
I Am the Sun - Swans
Seven Minutes to Midnite (Live) - The Mighty Wah!
3 AM In Bold Street - Jegsy Dodd & The Original Sinners
Two Tribes - Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Hey Mersh! - Moe Tucker
Celebrity Skin - Hole

And if we get enough new suggestions, we’ll compile a Volume 2!

The Bolder They Walk

Filmmaker Kim Ryan has been a long time collaborator of tenantspin’s and on a sunny day in May over the course of an hour, something magical happened on Bold Street. Six camera’s positioned throughout the street, two priest, willing shopkeepers and a fascinating public resulted in The Bolder They Walk. The film, staring Chris Bernard and Alex Cox dressed as clergymen and featuring some interesting observations about art, religion and regeneration transformed the street into a film set.

The results are a magical one off day in Liverpool with a cast of hundreds. You can see the film in the exhibition or online here.

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Save The Lyceum


We interviewed local activist Florence Gerston who was instrumental in the successful campaign to save the Lyceum which was under threat of demolition in the 1970’s. Florence speaks at length about the measures they took to save this historical landmark, its history and journey to becoming Bold Street’s only listed building.

Running Up That Hill

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Artist and broadcaster Roger Hill has created two new audio tours of Bold Street for you to listen to hear and showcased within the model. During our research we have encountered some amazing facts, some that seem so fantastical they are hard to believe, Roger exploits this rich history and dances between rumour, fact and the downright absurd.

Click here to hear Audio Tour 1

For an alternative view of Bold Street; as much Mystery Tour as Audio Tour… click here to hear Audio Tour 2.

Pete and Jeff in the alleys of Bold Street

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Filmmaker Olivia Greenberg has recently completed a new film commission working with writer Jeff Young (tenantspin & SuperBlock) and musician Pete Wylie. Olivia has created a unique new cut and paste flickbook short in the doorways and alleys of Bold Street.  

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More images on Flickr. The film will soon be available via the blog.

SWANK

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Dawn French takes a trip to Liverpool circa 1985 to present an episode of SWANK for Channel 4. SWANK offers a suave view of the world, from pavement art, to experimental fashions, avant guard music and culture, all filmed in Liverpool. SWANK, Produced for Channel 4 by Veronyka Bodnarec is now available on Google Video.

Foreign Investment

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All female artists’ group Foreign Investment were invited by Liverpool Culture Company and Alan Dunn to produce a new piece of work that built on the strengths of Liverpool City Centre. Over two days in July 2006 they presented “Tuning-in Op.3″ featuring buskers serenading workers on the site of the Grosvenor, Hanover Street and Bluecoat developments, flyposted graphics, an exhibition at PolishedT and the same buskers, including Bold Street regulars Barry and Phil, touring Bold Street and the city centre on a horse-drawn cart, playing to static audiences rather than the other way around.

You can watch the film on Google Video, and also as one of our Bold Street Podcast episodes. For documentation, see: http://www.alandunn67.co.uk/diversions/

“When you walk around dressed as priests, people respond differently to you”

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We were checking up on our online activities recently and found film maker Alex Cox’ blog. Alex has recently acted in Kim Ryan’s new film for, and made in, Bold Street ‘The Bolder They Walk”. On Alex’s blog he tells tales of what it’s like to walk up and down Bold Street dressed as a priest.

“When you walk around dressed as priests, people respond differently to you. Drunks are more likely to be attracted. A middle-eastern man shouted at Father Chris for setting a bad example by smoking. Another guy confessed something that was on his mind…” 

The image also clearly shows Patrick, Ed and Laura of the Bold Street Project.  More wonderful tales on Alex’s blog here: http://www.alexcox.com/blog.htm

The Bolder They Walk

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tenantspin has commissioned internationally renowned film makers Kim Ryan (gente hermosa), Chris Bernard (Letter To Brezhnev) and Alex Cox (Repo Man) to create a film for Bold Street.

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The filming has taken place, and the film “The Bolder They Walk” is now in the post production phase; and will be ready for public viewing as an integral part of the Bold Street Project launching in FACT June 30th.


3_kimalexchris_blog.jpgThe film is part of the “Radical, Free Thinking Bold Street” theme. Images from the film set (Bold Street) are available here. Larger versions available on Flickr.




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