I’ve just got back from a whirlwind trip to the UK, where I spent most of the time in my hometown of Liverpool.
Spending most of my time in Liverpool meant that I had the opportunity to do some research and photos for my photography project – Hamilton and Liverpool: Two ports, two stories.
This project is based on my perceptions of these two cities, which, though sitting on opposite sides of the Atlantic, have some things in common.
I first saw Hamilton when I was en route to Niagara Falls shortly after I moved to Canada. I was awestruck as we reached the top of the Burlington skyway and I looked to my right to see Hamilton’s industrial waterfront in all its glory. I was mesmerized, immediately recognizing and feeling some affinity with it as I was momentarily transported in my mind, back to northwest England. Hamilton and Liverpool are two cities that have risen to prominence as great ports, experienced major decline and are now regenerating and redefining themselves.
Liverpool looks like different place after almost 30 years of development and each time I go back I can see the impact of new initiatives that now have the city buzzing with people and activity. The grandeur of the five red cranes hovering over the horizon at Seaforth announce that the port business is alive and kicking. The many bars and restaurants in town speak to how the city has become a centre for entertainment and tourism. A panoramic view from atop the Anglican cathedral gives a brilliant overall impression of the city as one that is using the old to feed into the new. This is most evident where old architecture has been retained for new developments and new buildings fit or complement the older ones in an area. I’m amazed at how areas around Duke Street, for instance, are vibrant and enticing, which was definitely not the case in the 70’s and 80’s.
Even housing, new builds and renos, often take this approach. I visited the old terraced “Welsh Streets”, seemingly so familiar. I grew up on Claudia Street, which backed onto Gwladys Street, next to Goodison Park. Even though it was demolished in the 80’s I still well remember what it was like growing up in a terraced street, in our case, eight of us in a two-up, two-down. Ok, we did have a tiny back kitchen and used the attic but to say it was cramped would be an understatement.
The Welsh streets are now being redeveloped with a modern-day focus on more light, more space and safety, while retaining much of the outer look of the original buildings. This offers a great sense of continuity and community that appeals to a lot of people.
You can find information on the Anglican Cathedral’s Twilight Thursdays here