End of year blog stats 2014

Well it’s that time of year when WordPress supplies the blogsite’s statistics for the year just ending.  This year I have struggled with work and other pressures to get out and take photos.  During this year I have only published 16 articles and I uploaded 220 images.   I had a first when I had a month where I didn’t manage to publish a blog in October.  I’ve not used the new kit I treated myself to last year nearly as much as I would have liked.

However during the year I had a record number (for me!!) views of 8,902 with 5,370 visitors to the site.

The top six posts that got the most views on the blog site in 2014 were:

  • On Four Bridges – around Birkenhead Docks posted in August 2013
  • On Bidston Hill posted in March 2013
  • Liverpool Anglican Cathedral posted in January 2013
  • About Wirral posted when I set up the site in March 2012
  • Thingwall to Landican posted in May 2012
  • Liverpool Brazilica Carnival 2013 posted in July 2013

It is interesting that none of this year’s posts featured in the top six.  I thought the return of the Giants to Liverpool and the Viking longship the Draken Harald Hårfagre leaving Wirral in August may have featured.

Visitors to the site came from a total of 94 countries in all – another record for me.  The top six were:

  • The United Kingdom – 6266 visitors
  • The United States – 866 visitors
  • France – 278 visitors
  • Australia – 234 visitors
  • Netherlands – 191 visitors
  • Germany – 189 visitors

Whilst a substantial number of visitors came from mainland Europe the blogsite saw people from as far as Africa, South America, Pakistan and India but many smaller counties as well such as Nepal, Kazakhstan, Sudan and Myanmar.  I’m touched that people from such disparate nations find something of interest on my blogsite.  Many thanks for your support.

Well it’s customary at this point in the year to make New Year’s resolutions.  For 2015 I will make the same resolution I made last year, that is to have a better work/life balance and make more time to take photographs and publish articles on my blog.

I will end by saying thank you to everyone who has taken the time to follow my blogs and photographs in 2014.

Best wishes to you all for 2015.

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Ringo’s house in Madryn Street

I visited the ‘Welsh Streets’ district in Dingle on the outskirts of Liverpool city centre on yet another wet and rainy day.  A debate on what should become of the eleven ‘Welsh streets’ has raged for eight years following the declaration of a renewal area under the then Labour Government’s Housing Market Renewal initiative.  The debate has had the City Council, its partners and some residents on one side saying the houses should be demolished and the land developed, and some local residents and heritage campaigners on the other claiming the Victorian terraces should be restored to their former glory.

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The properties are called the Welsh Streets as they were built and lived in by Welsh workers in the late 19th Century and named after Welsh towns, villages and valleys and include Rhiwlas Street, Powis Street, Madryn Street, Kinmel Street and Gwydir Street which adjoin South Street close to Princes Park.

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9 Madryn Street holds special significance for Beatles fans as it was the birthplace of Ringo Starr when he was known as plain old Richard Starkey.  The nearly abandoned streets are eerily quiet apart from the passing taxis taking Beatles fans to 9 Madryn Street.  As I was taking photos a yellow ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ bus drives by the end of the street and stops for tourists to have a peak down the road in the rain.  Ringo’s childhood home remains boarded up and covered in graffiti left by Beatles fans from across the world.  The long running row between local residents who want to save the streets and those who want the streets demolished to make way for new homes has an added twist in Madryn Street where there is a further  balance between the need for decent modern homes and protecting a piece of the Beatles’ heritage in their home town.

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In the summer of 2013 the City Council approved a £15m regeneration plan for the Welsh Streets with a plan to build more than 150 new homes, demolish up to 440 homes and refurbish 37 houses.  9 Madryn Street was set to be knocked down as part of the City Council’s plans.  But in September 2013 the plans for the area were put on hold after the Government’s Communities Secretary Eric Pickles called for a public inquiry to consider the planning application.

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In June 2014 it was announced that Ringo’s former home had been saved from demolition following the intervention of the Government’s Housing Minister.  The house is one of 16 on the street to be spared, although 400 other homes in the wider area will be pulled down.  About 32 properties including 9 Madryn Street will now be refurbished and put on the market. The Housing Minister was responding to calls from many Beatle fans across the world who wanted to see Ringo’s house saved for posterity.

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However the wider public enquiry is still to report back on the wider plans for the area and walking down the streets you can see rows of tinned-up houses in most of the Welsh Streets with some houses leaning precariously as the chimneys; roofs and brickwork bulge out with green shoots sprouting out of the walls and gutters.  There are still some residents living in the streets as they are still fighting for their homes to be saved and refurbished and others who are waiting to be re-housed in new homes.

OK3A1121v2 The Housing Market Renewal initiative was set up to demolish areas of declining and unpopular housing and build new modern homes in better neighbourhoods in many towns across the north of England including Liverpool and Wirral.  The Housing Market Renewal initiative was eventually wound up in 2010 by the incoming coalition Government.  The City Council wanted to press on with plans to demolish Madryn Street along with many more homes but following the Housing Minister’s intervention the Council has been allocated additional funds to refurbish the houses in the street.

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Ringo lived at Madryn Street with his father, also called Richard, and his mother Elsie Starkey.  They rented the house for 10 shillings (£0.50) a week.   His parents separated when Ringo was three years old, and Elsie and her son moved to the smaller, less expensive two up, two down house at nearby 10 Admiral Grove, which remained his home until 1963 when he became famous as the Beatles shot to fame.

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Across from Ringo’s house in Madryn Street I am told there was a man who sold Beatles memorabilia from his house window but he hadn’t been given permission from the City Council to have a sign. So he had “Beatles” written in the brickwork!!  The house is empty now but the wall still tells the story.

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Other notable landmarks in the immediate area include the Empress pub on South Road which is still going strong serving pints and displaying memorabilia linked to Ringo and the Beatles.

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It featured on the cover of Ringo’s first solo album ‘Sentimental Journey’.  ‘Sentimental Journey’ was released in 1970 as the Beatles were falling apart. George Harrison and John Lennon had released solo albums already and Paul McCartney’s debut, ‘McCartney’, would follow three weeks after Sentimental Journey’s release. The album was completed in early March 1970 and it was rushed out a few weeks later to avoid clashing in the shops with the Beatles’ final album ‘Let It Be’ which was released in May 1970.

The cover from Ringo Starr's solo album 'Sentimental Journey' released March 1970

The cover from Ringo Starr’s solo album ‘Sentimental Journey’ released in 1970

‘Sentimental Journey’ was an album of standards that reflected his mother’s favourite songs.  Ringo had asked his mother and step-father and other members of his family to choose the tracks to go on the album.  To reflect the links to his past Ringo chose a photograph of the Empress pub, a tall old pub that stands almost opposite Madryn Street where his mother Elsie worked for a time.  The people pictured at the windows of the pub were members of Ringo’s family.

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Hopefully the fate of the Welsh Streets will be known soon.  Could there be a solution of selective refurbishment and demolition alongside new homes?

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