Archive Page 2

“Hawker-Owen”,118 Bold St.

War damage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bold Street in sunshine and hard shadows with David Lewis.

Painted Glass

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

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

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

Bold Street Journey I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Butterfly Hunting…..

and Photo-Shopping on Saturday afternoon.

On Saturday afternoon eight young people went, armed with a digital camera, to hunt for butterflies in the windows of Bold Street shops.  Later they attempted to photograph items inside the shops of a specific colour, in an activity called ‘Photo-Shopping.

This was all part of FACT’s Gallery Workshop which was led by artist John O’Shea.  The young people were introduced to the mechanics of digital photography and were also shown a traditional slideshow.

It was suggested that the young people should use the cameras as a device for ‘capturing’ - in the same way as an explorer might use a butterfly net.

When they had finished exploring and capturing the young people returned and uploaded the images to Flickr and were able to do their own digital slideshow of what they had collected.  Click here to view the work.

oxfam-bold-street.jpg

Stories and comments from the gallery.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for sharing these stories with us

Leon & visitors in Media Lounge

Bold Street in the 40’s

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

Bold Street

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bearly there……

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

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

Thank you so much to Audrey Thomas for this story.

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!

Flickr on Friday

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Last Friday was the Flickr Friday meetup - a meetup for Liverpool photographers in conjunction with the Bold Street Project. A quick look at the lively Bold Street Exhibition was followed by a talk by Patrick Henry, the Open Eye Gallery’s director about the gallery, and its history on Bold Street. More history followed with guided tours of the E. Chambre Hardman house and photographic studio on Rodney Street. On a very rainy day we were pleased with the turnout - I think around 15 of us did the tour! A good time was had by all - but where are all your photos everyone?

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

Flickr Friday: A Liverpool Photography Tour

Katie Lips and the Bold Street Project presents Flickr Friday: a Flickr meetup with a difference; next Friday 20th July.

Join us for a Liverpool Photography tour taking in the Open Eye Gallery and the fabulous E. Chambre Hardman Photographic Studio on Rodney Street. We’re pleased to announce we’ll get a unique special tour of both the Open Eye and the Hardman Photographic Studio. It’s for anyone in Liverpool interested in Photography, Liverpool Photography, and Flickr!

The Schedule (20th July)

4.30 Bold Street Project Tour (Media Lounge, FACT, 88 Wood Street)

Katie Lips, Laura Yates and Patrick Fox will offer a guided tour of the Bold Street Project.

Then we’ll take a short walk to the Open Eye Gallery.

5.00 Open Eye Gallery Tour (28-32 Wood Street)
Take a look at the Open Eye’s ‘Clinic’ an exhibition that explores the aesthetics of the medical universe through contemporary photography.
http://www.openeye.org.uk/

Then we’ll take another quick walk to Hardman Street.

5.45 A guided tour of Mr Chambré Hardman’s Home and Photographic Studio (59 Rodney Street)
Sarah-Jane Langley, the Custodian of the house will give us a special tour of the house and its history.
http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-findaplace/w-59rodneystreet/

Following that inspiring 2 hours we’ll finish up with a drink or two at Parr Street’s most creative venue: Parr Street 3345 from around 6.30.

The Bold Street Project and The Flickr Group: Background

The Bold Street project has been uncovering, filming and photographing Bold Street Liverpool, its social, cultural and economic history, from the perspective of its traders, residents and community; and from the perspective of many Liverpool based Flickr members and photographers.

http://www.flickr.com/groups/boldstreet/

Flickr.com has played an enormous part in the project; enabling us to show the Bold Street images online as well as in the Media Lounge Exhibit. The Liverpool photographer community has been instrumental in helping us create a unique, diverse and significant collaborative work. New photographs of Bold Street and its people, contributed by Flickr members is now displayed in the Bold Street project exhibition at FACT, Liverpool.

As a thank you to the Flickr community, and so that we can meet even more of you, we have arranged this unique photography tour event as a Flickr Meetup,

We hope to see you there! Please sign up on Upcoming: http://upcoming.yahoo.com/event/219033

We Love Technology….

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… so much that the Bold Street Project will be ‘appearing’ at the We Love Technology conference in Huddersfield tomorrow. I will be talking about the Bold Street Project, and this blog as the catalyst of all the online work we’ve been doing to put Bold Street in the online limelight.

We Love Technology is organised by the fabulous Lisa Roberts from Blink Media and compered by Matt Locke; Commissioning Editor, New Media and Education at Channel 4.

“Led by pioneering technologists and artists working in areas such as interactive architecture, sound and games, WLT07 presents the latest adventures in the creative use and misuse of technology.”

The line up looks wonderful and I can’t wait to share all the Bold Street stories!

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.

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

Down the Banks

Liverpool Union Bank

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

The images are available to view on Flickr from today.

Private View evening

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

Bold Street Project PV

Independence Day (Tomorrow!)

Tomorrow is Independence Day at FACT! Join the lovely Jayne Casey (loveliverpool) who’s chairing a keynote webcast discussion on the past, present and future of Bold Street. Join in in The Box, FACT, Wood Street, Liverpool 2.00-3.00pm

As one of the most important and historical streets in the city – once known as The Bond Street of The North - Bold Street has a rich story to tell. With its future uncertain as Liverpool City Centre changes beyond recognition, we examine its lifeblood, sounds, economy, policing, flavours and sense of community. Guests include Matthew Biagetti, Development Manager at Liverpool Vision, and representatives from News From Nowhere and Utility.

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The event is also listed on Upcoming, if you’re an Upcoming Fan!

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!

Bold Street Events: KIN

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

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

Photo courtesy of Atmosferik Photography.




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