The Anonymous Widower

An Open Letter To The Lord Mayor Of Liverpool

I spent four years in Liverpool in the 1960s and as I met my late wife there, although like me, she was a Londoner and we had forty good years together, I have a great affection for the Second City. I also know the city well, although that is in part memory from nearly fifty years ago.

On Friday, I took the Virgin train up from Euston for a meeting with Liverpool University.  As I had an hour to spare, instead of going straight to my meeting, I decided to awake an old memory by going to see the Richard Huws fountain by the Pier Head.  I took the Wirral Line to James Street station and I must say, the Underground looks very good after refurbishment.

The fountain didn’t disappoint, especially as it was working.

I then needed to find my way up to the University. As I’m 66 and have a free bus pass, I remembered that in the 1960s, there was a bus from the Pier Head up Brownlow Hill. But I also know, that traffic layouts in Liverpool have changed a lot. So I did what I would do in London and found a bus stop. I tried several and there was no information that I could find that told me how to get up the hill. So in the end, I took a taxi and got entertained by one of Liverpool’s many comedians.

I know the city from a walking point of view well, but I didn’t see any serious walking maps like those in London, Ipswich or Bristol.  I even gave directions to a group of alumni from my university, who were looking for the same fountain.

On the subject of information about the city, you rarely find any adverts or posters in London, directing tourists to visit Liverpool. Only recently, I finally persuaded an old friend, to have a couple of days with her husband in Liverpool and they returned thoroughly impressed with what they had visited. I recently came up to see the Chagall exhibition and the floor of St. George’s Hall, but I only heard about the latter by accident. I’m glad I didn’t miss it!

Unlike some cities I won’t name, you have the attractions, the hotels and the restaurants, but they just need to be linked with more and better information.

September 21, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

A First Trip To Liverpool

As I went to Liverpool yesterday, I realised it will soon be fifty years since I first went to the Second City. I suppose it must have been in September 1965. I was just eighteen and as I’d had an unconditional offer to go to Liverpool University to read Electrical Engineering and Electronics, I hadn’t even had an interview. I remember, I had a large cheap cardboard suitcase with all my clothes and books and I had digs in Huyton, which meant I needed to lug that case up Copperas Hill to find the H13 Crossville bus to get there. I could afford a taxi, but didn’t take one. I’m still a bit like that!

In those days the West Coast Main Line was only  electrified to Liverpool from Crewe, so I suspect they changed engines from diesel to electric there. According to this section in Wikipedia, electric trains didn’t run all the way until April 1966. I can’t remember how long the journey took, but I think it was of the order of over four hours.  Compare this to the train I took yesterday, which did the journey with two stops in two hours and eight minutes.

If you think four hours was bad, I have a vague memory of a late night journey from Liverpool to London a few months later, that took five hours and forty minutes.  I remember on that trip, I was so tired I climbed into the luggage rack of the compartment train to get some sleep.

One memory of that first trip north, I do have, is of arriving in Liverpool through a very dark and wet cutting that leads into Lime Street station from Edge Hill. I took this picture of the same cutting yesterday.

The Approach To Liverpool Lime Street

The Approach To Liverpool Lime Street

But in 1965, it resembled some place from Hell and I wondered hard about what I was getting myself into.

I survived that first day and the rest as they say is history!

September 21, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

The Success Of Open House

Open House is an undoubted success, but is it both big and well-organised enough?  There was a report of excessive crowds at Battersea Power station and as the queues at Canary Wharf station showed, the demand is very large.

The organisers need to rethink how Open House is organised.

Two of the places this year, that I visited were reasonably local and well-organised without queues.  But obviously that can’t be said for the big set piece openings like Canary Wharf station.

September 21, 2013 Posted by | World | | Leave a comment

Is This Enough Clocks?

The number of clocks here, showing the time around the world could be considered excessive.

Is This Enough Clocks?

Is This Enough Clocks?

But I think it’s a good display.

I took this picture from a 277 bus, which was easiest way to get back from Canary Wharf, as being Open House weekend, there was engineering works on the DLR and the Northern line.

September 21, 2013 Posted by | Transport, World | , , | Leave a comment

Inside Canary Wharf Crossrail Station

This was one of the must-see events in Open House.

The areas we saw were the bottom levels of Canary Wharf station where trains and passengers go.  On the top of these floors is a large retail mall.

This is the future, where stations are more than just means to access the trains. The new Birmingham New Street station has another large retail mall on top and the new Crossrail station at Woolwich, is underneath masses of flats, as is my local station of Dalston Junction. Land is expensive, but digging down or building in the sky only increases its value and hopefully gives benefits to all of us.

September 21, 2013 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Going Underground

I saw this poster on the Undergound.

Going Underground

Going Underground

I think it will be worth seeing, as a glimpse into the future.

September 21, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

S Stock Trains Are Now Circling

The London Underground’s new S Stock trains are now running on the Circle line.

S Stock Trains Are Now Circling

S Stock Trains Are Now Circling

These trains make a tremendous improvement to London’s sub-surface Underground lines. If only we could run air-conditioned trains like these on the deep lines.  But the cheap-skate Victorian tunnels stop this.

September 21, 2013 Posted by | Transport | | Leave a comment

Are People Generally That Dim?

I was surprised that this poster for the film Le Weekend has a translation of that into English.

Are People Generally That Dim?

Are People Generally That Dim?

I do wonder how many wouldn’t have realised it was a French film about a weekend.  I hope not very many.

Checking on Wikipedia, it’s actually a British fim, written by Hanif Kureishi 

September 21, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | 2 Comments

A Sad Clock

There is no other title to this picture.

A Sad Clock

A Sad Clock

I hope when the property is refurbished, they give the clock a makeover.

September 21, 2013 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

The Bunhill Energy Centre

I went to the Bunhill Energy Centre as it was one of sites in Open House.

This centre provides enough heat and electricity for 700 homes.

We shall be seeing a lot more developments like this. I’ve always felt that small versions of the same system, using the same principles of a gas powered engine driving a generator, could be used to power and heat larger houses and small industrial premises. In fact Tomorrow’s World showed such a system based on a Fiat car engine in the 1980s.

We are just too conservative about how we generate electricity and heat.

Strangely, I met someone here, who was just a couple of years ahead of me at Minchenden.

September 21, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , | 7 Comments