A short trip with Lauren to visit my family in my home town. We stayed in an apartment on the waterfront near City Quay, South Liverpool.
Every time I visit this city I become increasingly depressed by the damage that the City Council has caused to the historic core around the Pier Head and the iconic waterfront of the ‘Three Graces’: the Liver Buildings, the former offices of the Merseyside Docks and Harbour Board and the Cunard Building. This area was designated as a World Heritage Site but no longer deserves that honour.
Studying for a Master of Civic Design at the University, between 1974 and 1976, we campaigned for the restoration of the Albert Dock, then derelict and threatened by demolition. Albert Dock comprises a magnificent collection of innovative dockside warehouses designed by Jesse Hartley in 1846. They were the first buildings in Britain to be constructed of cast iron columns and floor joists, brick and stone walls with no wooden elements. These were the first fireproof warehouse buildings in the World.
The restoration was eventually agreed and completed in the 1980s and has been a great success. They are now a huge tourist attraction. However, one of the most iconic vistas from the Albert Dock and Pumphouse toward the Liver Buildings has since been completely destroyed by architecturally illiterate offices and apartments in steel and black glass. What on Earth were the planners thinking to allow this?
The whole of the waterfront has been ruined by thoughtless development and now looks a complete mess. Worst of all is St Nicholas Church with its wonderful brass weather vane of a tall ship, buried amongst a random collection of tall, soulless glass and steel monstrosities competing for attention but receiving none at all.
Fortunately, there are still a few remnants of the old waterfront left, hidden amongst the jumble of concrete arenas, fake wharves and nondescript apartment blocks of pastiche, Jesse Hartley style, plastic columns, holding up nothing and adding even less to the townscape. Here’s a few shots: a detail of Scottish Granite from the wall of a Dock Gatehouse; a stone staircase into a wharf; and, a small side Quay, the purpose of which is long forgotten.