Monday, 30 April 2018

Liverpool Visit

Liverpool Cathedrals

My birthday present from Gregor had been a ticket to watch Liverpool but it was a lunchtime game so the afternoon was free to visit old haunts around the university. It was my fifth visit to Liverpool since completing a postgraduate course there in the early 70's. Once for a reunion, twice to conferences and twice to watch a Liverpool game.

We travelled to the game by parking in Ormskirk and catching a train to Kirkdale on the Merseyrail Northern Line. I had carried out surveys and made recommendations for introducing Park and Ride facilities on the Northern Line for the Merseyside Passenger Transport Authority. It had been my first job after graduating working for the transport consultants; Peat, Marwick and Kates who were eventually merged into KPMG.

After the game, we walked from Anfield to the University through the old terraced houses of Everton and new housing areas north of Kensington. It is not the most salubrious part of the city and only as we came into Edge Hill did the cityscape reveal the inspiring clutch of new university buildings wedged between the two cathedrals. This was home territory, I had lived 200 metres from the university in an unfurnished dilapidated but elegant Victorian terrace that was due for demolition.

The campus was surprisingly student free, no one was to be seen on campus but the students union and several other buildings including my old department were undergoing refurbishment. We passed the splendid university Sports Centre designed by Sir Denys Lasdun, which I had visited almost every day to play five-a-side, swim or play squash. It was next door to the Civic Design department where 32 of us from ten countries and nine disciplines learnt from each other and were given the best of tuition from an eclectic group of academics. The department was located across from Abercrombie Square and the Senate House where, in 1970, we occupied the building for a sleep-in protest against South African apartheid and Liverpool University's investments in South Africa. I had been persuaded to attend by the student agitator Jon Snow, now of Channel 4 News.

We visited the site of my old flat in Bedford Street South, it had been redeveloped as student accommodation but had none of the architectural merits of its predecessor building. We went round the corner for a pint in the Philharmonic pub where I had spent many evenings in the days when the Liverpool beat poets, Roger McGough and Adrian Henri were regulars. It was mobbed with young and old professional looking people. Inside little had changed apart from the vast range of ales. We moved on to the Everyman Theatre and the Metropolitan Cathedral before walking down Mount Pleasant through Georgian terraces and some fine Victorian institutional buildings to Bold Street where we found a Vietnamese restaurant for a very late lunch.

We had originally planned to walk down to the waterfront and visit the Albert Dock but we had both made visits in the last ten years so caught the train back to Ormskirk. We took the direct route back to Preston and I was able to show Gregor the terraced house where we had lived with my grandparents until I was four and then the family house from my school years. Then back to my sisters and an evening at the local Indian restaurant that boasted a cabaret singer. It had been a full on day and tomorrow morning we planned a walk and a run in the Lake District before returning home.

Kirkdale Station

Liverpool University, a redbrick

Department of Civic Design

Anglican cathedralfrom Myrtle Street

Bedford Street South, a replica of the old flat

Philharmonic Pub

Metropolitan Cathedral and Everyman Theatre

Mount Pleasant terraces

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