Williamson’s Tunnels on…..

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Last month a part of Heritage Week, Friends of Williamson Tunnels took us deep down into the hollows of Edge Hill to view the latest of their excavation work and forever new findings.

The Williamson’s Tunnels were created over four decades starting from the early 1800s. Joseph Williamson, the man behind the labyrinth of passageways was believed to have started life in nearby Warrington, probably around 1769. Presumably, being of little means, he was sent to Liverpool to find work at the grand age of eleven. He gained employment with the wealthy tobacco merchant Richard Tate. Over time he rose through the ranks and eventually married the merchant’s daughter, Elizabeth. Eventually, he acquired the company from Richard Tate Junior after the death of his Father. In the early 1800s, Joseph and Elizabeth move the then suburbs of Manson Street and the tunnelling began. There are numerous theories behind the purpose of these tunnels, the most likely being for the excavation of sandstone which is used extensively in building constructed of the period.

On this fine Heritage week exploration, we were taken down into the latest of the excavations on Paddington. The once site of former Paddington Gardens tenements was demolished to make way for student Halls not long after the turn of the Millennium. The tunnels look to have been under a commercial building, the entrance possible a though way from a bakery.

. a philanthropist by default…


Williamson was a philanthropist by default, through the construction work he provided much-needed jobs for local people and ensured they became highly skilled. It is thought that many of those who burrowed the network went onto work for the railways, the first line being laid between Edge Lane and Manchester in 1829.

The tour started at the Friends of Williamson’s Tunnels main HQ in Mason Street. We took a quick look at the remains of the Manor house where the Williamson’ resided before heading down the road to Paddington. After carefully making our way down the damp gangway we embraced the stalactites ever so familiar with tunnel structures. Harsh lights illuminated former access passages as we headed to the main chambers.

..a delightful collection of pots to p*ss in…

Used as a Victorian dumping ground for many years the chambers host an array of artefacts from bygone era’s. Bottomless glass drinking vessels, bodiless dolls heads, various tea taking vessels and a delightful collection of pots to p*ss in.

As we head down and deeper into Edge Hill the magnitude of the tunnel network was hard not to be overwhelmed by in its full glory. Ever-present drippings of water, which are drained daily, join us as we look around in awe.

A magnificent tour and a big shout out to the Friends of Williams Tunnels!

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Lister Steps Up!

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Last weekend for Heritage open day the former library, Lister Steps throw open the doors for the public to see how the £3.9 million restoration project was progressing.

Lister Steps, the Andrew Carnegie library, based on the corner of Lister Drive and Green Lane in Tuebrook, Liverpool, was opened in 1905. The building was funded by the wealthy philanthropist: Andrew Carnegie, it became Grade II listed in the mid-eighties due to being of architectural and historical interest.

After serving as a functioning library for over a hundred years it was forced to close in 2006 due to health and safety concerns. Under the period of closure, the library suffered from theft and vandalism in addition to general neglect. The major damage was as a result of the lead flashing being stolen from the roof, resulting in rain waters flooding the interior. Severe damage to the timber structure was to follow.

After a small grant in 2014 to run a feasibility study for restoration a large scale funding bid was progressed. In 2016 a £3.9 million grant was awarded from Heritage lottery funding, Liverpool City Council, Hemby Trust, Eleanor Rathbone Foundation and Power to Change.

The final development is intended as a community Hub offering; childcare, café, meeting space, hot desking, events and services for the community including volunteering opportunities. The exterior ground looks to offer a variety of landscaping. The customary formal garden and traditional lawn, but also wild woods, the green credentials of allotment planters and a faraway land designated for use with the youngsters of the nursery.

H.H Smith Construction was offered the renovation contract, utilising many trades including those with traditional craft skills. Currently, a large pod has been set up inside the building to allow for work to continue. The foliage of the grounds has been cleared fully to allow for new planting from next spring. Flood damage and dry root are being repaired, internal structures and staircase put into place. The original high windows which were ideal for the bookcases of the library are being lowered in the nursery area to bring light in at child height.

A great start, we will look forward to developments!

More about Lister Steps

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Bongo Bongo Bangs…

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James Bongo bangs on…..about many matters. The conscious Poet, humanitarian and ascending master performed at last weeks Fringe Festival Open Mic Night at Frederiks. He talks to us about poetry, life and beliefs.

In choosing from a collection of over fifty poems to perform at the event last week his work reflects his varied beliefs. He doesn’t abide by any religious controlling mechanism or any other ‘isms’, feeling that they are detrimental to society. However, he does believe in God, the Universe and the energy of love. His interests lie with social unrest and true history, not the nonsense we have been force fed.

Born in Liverpool and raised in the city centre, then Croxteth the youngest of eleven of an extensive very loving Catholic family. His parents and siblings liked a drink , this seemed normal to him, after his Mum and Dad passed away he drank to mask the pain. Things escalated:

‘I hit the wall with the booze.’

He knew he had to stop, he was harming himself, his family and his partner. They helped him through alcoholism so he could face life again. In cohort they fun an exciting family business, ‘Practical Magic Vintage’ based in Newington. James has been free from alcohol addiction for six years.

Attending college in old Swan he decided against Uni in favour of self-education. He looked at many sources of literature including Sumerian Texts and the Gospel according to Thomas. Studying ancient symbolism, he re-addressed the Bible, the Quran and other religious readings. In terms of writing, he began to produce works relating to the control of the masses through religion and schooling. Reflecting his view; ‘We are born free, we enslave ourselves in the mind prison, we need to free the mind and free the soul.’ His major works include ‘The failed indoctrination of a broke entrepreneur gospel, according to Jimmy Bongo’, this will be published in the autumn. In addition to the poetic works, he includes writings about his life and growing up in Liverpool under ‘Thatchers Iron Fist’ and those he has seen dye from drug and alcohol abuse.

Organizing several nights in Liverpool he is a leading figure on the spoken work front. ‘Freedom of Speech’ is a platform for performers: poets and musicians, to do their own thing, building a community of people to voice their beliefs. Second to this he holds fundraisers to help a domestic abuse charity, ‘Out of the Corner’. A friend of his, Dr Karen Johnson, set up the charity and is a survivor of domestic abuse herself. The night is a mix of poetry and music and a cause James is passionate to support. He is helped with both nights by his friends. His other life long friend peter, an expert with filming and technical matters we all strive to master.

The next Freedom of Speech night will be held this Sunday (05.05.19) at Dr Feelgoods, 57a Bold Street, Liverpool. There will be performances from many including, Electric Shakedown, Just Joe and not forgetting 1 cool Poet.

I shit my Pants

Jesus was a Chonger

Grab a Granny Night

Maggies Children

More about Out of the Corner

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Game Over

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I stand Tall
The remains of Mee demolition
The crew:
Mee, the head man, Mo, Dow and Re-bow
Got started last week
The rest of the building knocked down:
Demolished
Kaput
No more

Outsides removed
Core kept in place
Outers ripped
Splattered to the ground

I stand as I have stood for fifty years
A geometric spiral
Staircase
Jagging my way upward
a point scoring-level
Increasing, jumping up

The internals of my handrail run free
Lashed, juxtaposed at angels
Level markers
Reds of point increase indicators
Borders to penetrate
Upper levels to target cross

Heading me off: the control box
The upper cube
Rooftop location
An outer look out
Generator casing
Roof maintenance portal facilitator

But the roof is now gone
The cube stands singular
The rain drip tray removed
The target level of console characters
Rubble to the ground

For the weekend I remain
The tower which survived
Friday knock off time
Mee said get off-ski
Mo, Dow and Re-bow
Made route: nearest watering hole
For two more days of the half century
I will stand tall
Monday morning, I shall fall
Crushed to rubble mush
The ultimate Game Over
No more
No longer
Nothing…

 

Game Over is an illustration and free flow text work created by Alison Little.

Hand-Held Destinies

Me

Wednesday evening saw the opening of; John Moores Painting Prize, the Rise of the Sixties in Liverpool, at the Exhibition Research Lab of John Moores University. The fresh white interior of the John Lennon Art and Design Building provided the exhibition venue, brought to life by an evening of the performance. Stimulating music, spoken word and monologues were accompanied by illuminating visual arts responses.

Hand Held Destinies is a spoken word piece written and performed by Alison Little on the evening. Created as a response to a photo exhibit from 1968 of two girls playing in the sea shores of New Brighton:

 

Hand Held Destinies

Girls hold hands in friendship.
Gleeful
Elegant in play

Eight years old
Born in 1960
The decade which changed Liverpool, Britain and the World

1960 saw the introduction of the pill
We had effective contraception
Birth Control
The Sexual Revolution
Smaller Families
We got richer

As they play in the swath they are attractive in their childhood. Swimsuits made for play, hair it’s natural colour, tresses they are not afraid to get wet. Sand grit, Sea and the salt of the shores adorn their sun-soaked bodies.

Today we have the modern day falsehood of youth. Primark churning out padded bras for pre-teens. Claire’s accessories piercing collections of hoops and studs to the lobes of innocence. Youthful visions of success; to appear on celebrity love island, becoming a WAG or to acquire a cosmetically enhanced bosom larger than Jordan’s.

An era when British beach holidays ruled the waves. Stripped deckchairs, the bucket and spade, splendour of Punch and Judy. Taken over by the package holiday: routes to the warmer destinations of Southern Europe. Made redundant for a second time by the cheap flights of the digital buyers market.

Background, we have sea vessels and the Albert Dock, it’s function then for shipping. Today, as the girls head to retirement we have shipping in its last days of decline. We have a dock surplus of its intended purpose.

Sea Faring industrialism replaced
A cultural haven
The Waterfront
The Tate
Museum of Liverpool
The Maritime
A new Future
A future of tourists
Culture Vultures
City Breakers
A cheap flight destination
The ‘Must take in’ city of Liverpool
A city revived
An end of mass unemployment
The striking city no more
The legacy of the Capital of Culture Year

Their playscape is now a Metropolis challenging globally.
But to the padded bras, the stud lined ears and fixations with celebrity culture we have the bucket.

A return to the beauty of innocence bathing in the optimism of the future.

Alison Little

 

Exhibition continues throughout April.

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Main photograph credited the Graham Smillie.

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in the woods

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‘in the woods’ was a commision proposal for a nature trail to be sited near Alder Hay hospital by Alison Little.

in the woods….
Trail, Woodland Walk, Springfield Park, Knotty Ash

Specifications

The trail looks to present a selection of 15 signs based on an element of nature, wildlife, insects and local history relevant to Springfield Park.

Each signpost to measure around 150meters high in Oak. The top section of posts to be hand carved with either a creature, plant or feature related to the specific sign presented. The services of a woodcarver to be engaged, the finish to be left rough, not finely polished. On the first appearance, walkers may get the impression they have been carved randomly not commissioned craft-works. This is to be complemented by a matt lacquer giving the forms a natural woodland finish.

The signboards are to be A2 and landscape in design. Printed directly to Dibond with an enamel coating to ensure they remain graffiti free. The ‘in the woods…’ logo to be drilled directly into the Dibond then to incorporate the use of small prisms to reflect sunlight either within the holes or on adjacent nature growth structures. The logo has an interactive potential for visually impaired visitors, place braille panels to be added to the lower section of the signs.

Each sign to focus on a different element of the ‘in the woods…’ trail, the design shown has focused on wild garlic. There is great potential to work with local schools and community groups in workshops for slogan generation, image production and using recipes with wood foraged from Spring field park. The results of these workshops to be incorporated within the graphic design of the signage.

carved squirel copySign Board copy

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