Lost Castle of Liverpool

A rather belated posting from the weekend of 9 to 12 August when I visited the ‘Lost Castles’ in Liverpool city centre, one of the installations from the first community cultural art project to involve all six boroughs of the Liverpool City Region.  This saw hundreds of volunteers work with renowned French artist Olivier Grossetȇte to create monumental structures based on medieval forts or historic structures which were in the region at one time.  All the structures were made of cardboard, tape and community spirit!  The art installations were another part of Liverpool 2018 celebrating ten years since being European Capital of Culture.

The hundreds of volunteers worked with thousands of cardboard boxes to build monumental castle-inspired structures.  Anyone who signed up to help create these magical structures was able to join in the fun of toppling them at the end of the weekend.

The cardboard buildings were over 20 metres high, with each borough using their own heritage as inspiration.  Creative director Olivier Grossetȇte, researched the history of the six boroughs and came up with designs which he hoped would do the heritage of each area justice.  In interviews he has said that it is rewarding to work on a project which brings together a community in producing a unique piece of art which reflects where they live and then to have the fun of the demolition at the end so that within hours it is like the castles never existed and it was just a ‘wonderful dream’.

In Wirral in Ashton Park West Kirby, a Viking stave church was built to celebrate Wirral’s unique Viking history and Norse connections. The area is thought to have been almost a Viking state with its own borders, customs, trading point and language.  I had hoped to get along here but couldn’t make it and during heavy rains late on Saturday the structure collapsed.  The whole event here was featured on BBC1’s ‘The One Show’ on national television.

In Knowsley Safari Park a structure taking its inspiration from Elsinore Castle which features in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and celebrating the Elizabethan and Jacobean heritage of Knowsley was built.

In Halton at Norton Priory a construction inspired by Halton Castle, a medieval ruin a mile and a half away in Halton village was built.

In Victoria Square, St Helens saw a partial recreation of Stuttgart Old Castle built to commemorate the 70th twinning anniversary between St Helens and the German city of Stuttgart – which was the first post-war twinning to take place between a British and German town.

In the Borough of Sefton Bootle Castle, also known as Miller’s Castle, was recreated in North Park, along with two nearby Bootle landmarks – the obelisks which in the 1800s acted as a navigation point for ships entering the Mersey.

In Liverpool where I went, a castle was built inspired by Liverpool Castle which stood at the top of modern day Lord Street.  It is thought to have been built early in the 13th Century – around the 1230s.  The re-creation was built in nearby Williamson Square near the centre of the city centre.

During Saturday there was a fairy-tale themed programme with knights in shining armour, juggling and stilt walking jesters, princes, princesses, kings, queens and a dragon to entertain the crowds. There was story-telling throughout the day along with live music supplying a medieval soundtrack to the activities.

On Sunday 12 August communities were encouraged to come together once again to topple the structure.  As an exciting finale, each castle was laid siege, destroyed and then the environmentally-friendly ‘Lost Castle’s’ will be responsibly recycled.

It was interesting to watch shoppers and visitors exploring the cardboard castle in Williamson Square and going about their business on a busy Saturday afternoon.

Fog on the Mersey

I took a few pictures of the River Mersey from Birkenhead just before the Christmas break. An early morning fog was burned off by the sun on both the Liverpool and Wirral riverbanks, but it refused to fade away over the river itself and by lunchtime it made for an eerie sight. The blanket of fog made the famous skyline of the city appear to be built on a low-level cloud.

The City’s two cathedrals, St John’s Tower and the both the old and new old Royal Liverpool hospital buildings can be seen clearly. However, the Albert Dock and Pierhead are under the mist, with only the top of the Echo Arena and BT Convention Centre to be seen. The rest of the City is in bright sunshine.

Just another day on the river and with apologies to the Geordie band Lindisfarne who sang about the Fog on the Tyne… the fog on the Mersey is all mine, all mine, the fog on the Mersey is all mine.

It’s above you…

From Williamson Square behind the Playhouse

I was in Liverpool today and it struck me that wherever you go in the city centre the Radio City Tower (also known as St John’s Beacon) always seems to be above you looking down.

Side enterance to St John’s Market

St. John’s Beacon was built as a ventilation shaft for St. John’s Market in Clayton Square in Liverpool city centre. It was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1969.

From Clayton Square

It is 452 feet tall and it is the second tallest free-standing structure in Liverpool as the 40 storey Beetham West Tower is seven feet taller but it is 121 feet higher than the third placed Anglican Cathedral.  It is apparently the 32nd tallest structure in the United Kingdom.

From the old George Henry Lees buildings

When built originally there was a revolving restaurant near the top of the tower, the facade and floor of the restaurant revolved around the concrete shaft. The roof of restaurant was used as an observation platform for visitors.

From Marks and Spencers building just off Church Street

The original restaurant closed in 1977 over health and safety concerns. It re-opened as a space-themed restaurant in 1983, but closed once again due to lack of business. After this the observation deck and the restaurant remained closed and the tower lay empty and derelict.

Reflection in Millenium House on Whitechapel

The tower was refurbished in 1999 at a cost of £5 million and it reopened as the Radio City Tower in August 2000.  Radio City 96.7 (and Magic 1548 and City Talk) are Liverpool’s commercial radio stations. The outdoor observation deck which had been on the roof of the original restaurant was converted into a second floor.  This now holds offices and conference rooms for the radio station. The studios are on the lower floor that used to be the restaurant. The original revolving structure and machinery were left intact during the refurbishment but they have now been locked in place so that the platform will now no longer revolve.

The tower peeping out between buildings on the Old Haymarket