Liverpool, Old and New

Image of Liverpool at sunset

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.

Image of love locks at Liverpool waterfront
Hundreds, possibly thousands, of lovelocks are tied to chains along the Mersey.

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.

Image of New Brighton Beach and Seaforth Docks
People swimming at New Brighton beach with Seaforth docks in the background.

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.

Image of wakeboarding in Liverpool
Wakeboarding in Liverpool with the Anglican cathedral looming in the background.

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.

 

Image of the Welsh Streets
Image of one of the Welsh Streets (Kinmel Street) as it awaits renovation.

You can find information on the Anglican Cathedral’s Twilight Thursdays here

Hamilton and Liverpool – Two Ports, Two Stories.

Image of Hamilton Waterfront and Burlington Skyway

I’m just getting back to working on my current photography project, Hamilton and Liverpool – Two Ports, Two Stories. At last! So many distractions and competing priorities in life but you always know the ones you’ll come back to.

I don’t have the official title yet but I’ll stay with Hamilton and Liverpool – Two Ports, Two Stories for the moment. The project is looking at  two cities that are over 3,000 miles apart and on different continents. Different backgrounds, different histories and yet strikingly similar in a number of ways.

Image of the six-sided clock on Victoria Tower at Salisbury Dock in Liverpool
Six-sided clock on Victoria Tower at the entrance to Salisbury Dock in Liverpool on a foggy day

I grew up in Liverpool in the UK. A city with a remarkable history that dates back more than 800 years, it thrived as an international port in its heyday, serving the transatlantic trades that developed before and as a result of the industrial revolution. Until more recent times it was in an extended period of decline due to shifts in trade and manufacturing over the past century. Now it seems to be embarking on a vibrant new life.

Image of steam clouds over Stelco in Hamilton
Steam clouds kicking off from Stelco

One of my earliest memories from when I came to Canada was on the approach to the Burlington Skyway as I headed down to Niagara Falls to see one of the great wonders of the world. As the car moved up the arch of the Skyway I glimpsed the distant skyline of Toronto off to the left, but the scene to my right drew a gasp and left me mesmerized. There I saw the iconic view of the Hamilton industrial waterfront, in all its grime and glory. I was immediately taken back to my childhood in the industrial north of England and I loved it. It didn’t just resonate, it was as if I knew the place. I often go down to Niagara and I still look enthusiastically off to the right for that inspiring view. I suspect not many people would say that.

Abstract image of hydro tower and blue sky
My view of Hamilton – natural and man-made

So, two cities, two ports that have thrived, experienced decline and are now recreating themselves. This is the story I want to tell, and from the way I see it.

Image of Banksy-Style art in Hamilton and Burlington
Banksy imitation image on the lighthouse at the end of the pier at the Burlington canal

I’ve included some initial images here, before I get into the real meat of the project, and there’s a bit of a side story.  Last weekend I was down at Hamilton beach with my husband and walked over to the pier at the Burlington canal, where we made two discoveries. The first was a Banksy-style image on the lighthouse – or more of an adaptation. The second was a live coyote trapped under the bridge above the water. That was a surprise! Poor thing was scared and apparently frozen to the wall of the pier. We alerted police and animal services and you can see the outcome here .