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

Brazilica 2012

From Friday 13th through to 15th July Liverpool city centre was the venue for Brazilica which is the UK’s biggest Samba carnival that brings a taste of Brazil’s carnival atmosphere to the city.

I was in town yesterday late in the afternoon and I managed to savour some of the atmosphere in Williamson Square which hosted the main festival activity.  There was the Brazilica Main Stage with live authentic sounds of Brazilian musicians.  All around the square were a wide range of stalls selling Brazilian food and drink as well as a Brazilian street market. Over in Clayton Square I found out afterwards was a soccer zone playing host to exhibitions of footballing talents.

Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for the start of the carnival which was going to be a dazzling night-time parade. The carnival was starting off from Abercrombie Square near to Liverpool University at 8pm finishing at Williamson Square around 10pm.  Hundreds of performers were to take part in this Rio-style carnival weaving it’s way through the city centre with glittering costumes and floats moving to a powerful samba beat.  I will make sure I’m there next year and that I can take some better photographs which do justice to the atmosphere of the event.