Postcard from Highway One #68: Merseyside

17 February 2008 (posted 24 March 2008)

Liverpool, this year crowned the European Capital of Culture, is throwing a party.

Only problem is, the party girl is only half dressed to receive her guests. The city is dominated by major construction sites. Working in that industry, I'm not opposed to major construction but I've never seen construction sites quite so pedestrian unfriendly. Across large tracts of the city, areas where tourists would normally congregate, you find yourself either barred from footpaths or sharing the tarmac with cars, actually walking amidst traffic lanes.

And the waterfront is another thing entirely. Construction works and the associated hoardings have so alienated pedestrians from the Mersey that we were wandering around the precinct for half a day before I caught my first shocked glimpse of the mighty waterway from a first floor window in the Maritime Museum!

And so to one of the jewels in Liverpool's capital of culture crown. Our meander through the Merseyside Maritime Museum's amazing collections was truly one of the most enjoyable museum visits I've ever been treated to. Attracted by two displays which were discontinued shortly before our visit, we were enthralled by the exhibit on the great ships as Liverpool was their genesis: It was the port where the Titanic and its contemporaries were built and mostly crewed. I was totally absorbed by the personal stories of the local connections, descriptions from the family members of Mr X from suburb Y etc.

After our Saturday visit, I googled the discontinued displays promised by Lonely Planet, histories of slavery and of emigration to the Americas and Australia, Liverpool being the key gateway in both of these endeavours. Thanks to Google, I found a little exhibit hidden away in a corner of the first floor called "Hello Sailor", a history of gay seafarers. Anthony and I spent nearly an hour on Sunday morning reading all the personal stories and poring over the effects contained within this tiny treasure trove not much bigger than the average lounge room. If you're in Liverpool, don't miss the Maritime Museum!

Later on Sunday, after a wander around the city, we did the obligatory Mersey crossing to the piped sounds of Gerry and the Pacemakers' "Ferry Cross the Mersey". It was a nice way to end the weekend before our train ride back to London.


An art deco street lantern near Pier Head
Church Street Shopping...
Stained glass in St Georges Hall
The lavishly decorated barrell vault in St Georges Hall's Great Hall
The lavishly decorated barrell vault in St Georges Hall's Great Hall
St Georges Hall's Great Hall
Part of the new face of Liverpool's waterfront
Sunlight playing with our architectural perceptions
The Lost Language of Cranes.  Cranes (and pedestrian unfriendly development sites) dominate central Liverpool
Pier Head, from whence millions set off for the new world
Pier Head, from whence millions set off for the new world
Running for the ferry at Pier Head
A salvaged fare board adorns the lounge wall at the YHA youth hostel.  Cheap fares! 16.16.0!
Sunny by day but icy at night, Anthony came prepared
The Roman Catholic cathedral, also referred to as Paddy's Wigwam.  I won't explain why!
A detail of the spire
Although modernist, the RC church is not without adornment.


© Rob Morgan 2008