Recently in Cultural Liverpool Category

Josephine Butler House Liverpool, ruined Josephine Butler House in Liverpool's Hope Street Quarter is named for the famous social reformer, and the site of the first UK Radium Institute. Latterly an elegant adjunct to Myrtle Street's The Symphony apartments, it sits opposite the Philharmonic Hall. But the intended ambiance has been ruined by a dismal failure and omission on the part of Liverpool City Council, who have permitted Josephine Butler House to be grimly defaced with little prospect of anything better, or even just intact, taking its place.

Liverpool & Merseyside, The Future Of Liverpool and Regeneration.

The Symphony, previously part of the City of Liverpool College of Further Education portfolio (and before that, the Liverpool Eye, Ear & Throat Infirmary), is a newly restored apartment block immediately opposite Liverpool's Philharmonic Hall. It is elegantly refurbished by Downing Developments and adds an attractive dimension to city centre living in Liverpool's historic Hope Street Quarter.

View of The Symphony from Liverpool Philharmonic Hall,  Myrtle Street Liverpool

But just a year ago this weekend (i.e. in the first few days of March 2008) residents of those apartments saw tarpaulin raised around their neighbouring building, the historic Josephine Butler House, home to the UK's first Radium Institute (which is celebrated in the Liverpool 'Suitcases' Hope Street / Mount Street sculptures) and named after the social pioneer whom Millicent Fawcett described as “the most distinguished woman of the Nineteenth Century".

Josephine Butler (1828 -1906) was an extraordinarily accomplished British social reformer, who had a major role in improving conditions for women in education and public health. She moved to Liverpool in 1866, when her husband, the academic George Butler, became headmaster of Liverpool College. Much of her work derived its inspiration from the death of their young daughter, and she has a national library, a collection at Liverpool University, an educational institution and a charitable trust named for her. Her life and work is also celebrated locally in the Suitcases ('A Case Study') public art installation a block up the road on the Hope Street / Mount Street junction in Liverpool.

Josephine Butler House with tarpaulin

So what followed after the Josephine Butler House was swathed in tarpaulin was almost beyond belief - with just days to go before a formal enquiry, Maghull Developments, who had recently acquired Josephine Butler House in partnership with the previous owners, Liverpool John Moores University, took hammers to its entire street-facing facade.

Josephine Butler House, Liverpool , Myrtle Street facing facade ruined

Josephine Butler House, Liverpool, Hope Street facing wall ruined

The Liverpool Daily Post reported Maghull Developments in March 2008 as saying, nonetheless, that the work under wraps on the frontage was “specialist restoration work to the stone facade” - a claim which is difficult to reconcile with the still intact stonework of the Stowell Street side of the building, unblemished to this day:

Josephine Butler House Liverpool, Stowell Street side wall, intact

But if the City Council had amended their omission, as many times requested, to include this corner of Hope Street in the Conservation Area, they could have protected the entire historic location at a stroke.

The plans for the Josephine Butler House site had been in considerable contention even before these extraordinary events. There were public meetings and demands that proposals be returned to the drawing board because they were adjudged inappropriate for Hope Street Quarter - Liverpool's cultural quarter, the home of the city's two cathedrals, its two largest universities, its internationally recognised orchestra and several theatres, and a critically important gateway into the city centre.

Josephine Butler House, Liverpool, ruined ; next door to The Symphony

A comment, at the time of the 'specialist restoration', from Liverpool City Council's elected environment portfolio holder, says it all:

Why would they restore the stone facade when they are planning to knock the building down? Don’t treat us like we are dim.
The building is an intrinsic part of what makes Hope Street so special, but there’s very little the council can do short of me sleeping under the scaffolding.

So much for the 'legacy' of Liverpool's status as 2008 European Capital of Culture.

What worries some of us is not even just that the Josephine Butler scaffolding has now long disappeared and the damage surely done.

It's that, in brutal fact, the prospect of any action on the Josephine Butler site - beyond perhaps demolition to become a car park? - looks itself from where we sit to be exceedingly dim; and that the whole City Council seems still to be asleep on the job.

Josephine Butler House Car Park Liverpool (corner of Hope Street & Myrtle Street)

Josephine Butler House, Liverpool defaced


[PS This sad saga was taken up by Ed Vulliamy in The Observer of 20 March 2009, in an article entitled How dare they do this to my Liverpool.. There is also a prolonged debate about Josephine Butler House on the website SkyscraperCity.

An updated version of this article (here) was published on the Liverpool Confidential website, on 22 April 2009.]

See more photographs of Liverpool & Merseyside and read more about The Future Of Liverpool and Regeneration.

09.01.10 Liverpool European Capital of Culture ends Pierhead clock illuminated So it's all over, for now. Liverpool has handed on the European Capital of Culture title to Linz and Vilnius, after a rollercoaster year on Merseyside. There have been highlights and muddle, fun, exasperation and exhaustion. The debates and analysis will start soon enough - and we need them, to learn what worked and what didn't - but tonight the thing everyone, people in their thousands and from many communities, came into town for, was a party....

09.01.10 Liverpool European Capital of Culture ends Lanterns on the new Pierhead canal

09.01.10 Liverpool European Capital of Culture ends The Liverpool Orrery at Pierhead

09.01.10 Liverpool European Capital of Culture ends Pierhead buildings illuminated with projections of La Princesse ('The Spider')

09.01.10 Liverpool European Capital of Culture ends Fireworks over the Mersey (The Albert Dock) seen from  Liverpool 1 retail park

Read more about Liverpool, European Capital of Culture and see more photographs of Liverpool & Merseyside.

Liverpool Capital of Culture 2008 Liverpool has made much of its community engagement programme during the city's European Capital of Culture year, in 2008. But when does engagement become genuine social inclusion? And does inclusion require empowerment as well as contact? Or is the underlying emphasis on increasing tourism to bolster the local economy enough? This is where opinion in the city divides.

Liverpool, European Capital Of Culture 2008 and The Future Of Liverpool

Great claims have been made for community inclusion during Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture year; indeed, it’s sometimes been hard to identify the ‘European’ element at all, in all the local leadership talk of community embedding and power to the people.

Not all of this is bluff. The Liverpool Culture Company has fielded a team of arts educators and animateurs who have worked hard to produce some imaginative and significant projects, and for that we must congratulate them. Likewise, another team has taken forward work on arts and health, for which substantial success is claimed.

Engagement, inclusion or empowerment?
But when does a degree of engagement become genuine social inclusion? Does inclusion require social empowerment as well as contact? This is where opinion diverges.

For our city leaders, the brightly coloured photographs of smiling children and milling crowds are enough. How much more evidence of ‘inclusion’ do you want?

Bottom up, or top down?
But for some of us, the evidence that real inclusion has been achieved remains patchy. No-one wants to decry some good work which Culture Company teams have delivered; but why wait for 2008 to develop a meaningful culture and health programme, in a city right at the bottom of the well-being league? And is ‘top down’ delivery, determined at high command, as inclusive as the more difficult ‘bottom up’ sort?

It is not Liverpool’s own community arts which received the biggest budgets in 2008. Vast ephemeral ‘events’ have scooped up massive sums, whilst many indigenous local artists outside the Culture Company have had to scramble between themselves, often to ridiculous and shifting deadlines, for a few thousand or even less here and there.

Tourism as the main rationale
Of course the Culture Company have their problems; but arts practitioners who were there before and must carry on afterwards arguably face greater challenges. Their work to be inclusive is geared to much more than large public ‘events’ which have – let us be honest – an increase in tourism as their main rationale.

It’s this which worries me. I’d like the city to treat me as a grown up. If they want to pursue hotel bed counts all out, could they please say so? Could they perhaps say, we know the public events we’re offering are not truly inclusive – you can come and have a bit of fun if you want, and that’s about it – but we need to do it this way, to improve Liverpool’s economic base for everyone’s future wellbeing....?

A focus on the bottom line
Spelling things out like this would emphasise how hard we must all work, to improve the local economy – more skills, no poor service, no attitude.

It would help community arts practitioners understand why their locally focused efforts currently feel less valued than the big event spectaculars.

Treating citizens as grown-ups
And it would say to local citizens, thanks for turning up, we hope you’ve enjoyed the big splashes, and, when all the tourist destination marketing has worked, we will indeed be able to support more genuinely embedded opportunities on your own terms for exciting, local, bottom-up creative and cultural activity.

Now, those messages really would demonstrate that the relationship between Liverpool’s decision-makers and its citizens has become adult and consciously inclusive.


A version of this article first appeared in New Start magazine, January 2009.


Read more articles about Liverpool, European Capital Of Culture 2008 and The Future Of Liverpool, and see more of Hilary's Publications, Lectures And Talks.

Liverpool Tunnel airvent outlet & Liverbirds There can be few issues, at the local level, more pressing than what's to happen to one's city. As Liverpool's European Capital of Culture Year ends, perhaps the new LinkedIn Group on 'The Future of Liverpool' will help to sharpen our ideas.

The Future Of Liverpool

For Liverpool, 2008 has been a year of enormous change, as buildings have come down and gone up, roads have disappeared and re-emerged, and of course the European Capital of Culture has taken, massively, the centre stage.

But now the emphasis must move from these transitions to our longer-term future; new critiques and ideas will emerge and point us in as yet unrevealed directions. And everyone who can will need to be involved; not just those who sit in committee rooms.

To help the debate along a new LinkedIn Group open to all has been formed. To join, simply go to LinkedIn and then search Groups for 'The Future of Liverpool'. Your contributions will be very welcome.


Read more articles about The Future Of Liverpool and see photographs of Liverpool & Merseyside.

08.12.18 Liverpool St George's Hall & Capital of Culture Xmas 2008 Liverpool's great St George's Hall offered a splendid setting for the event at which Andy Burnham MP, Secretary of State for Media and Culture, offered thanks and encouragement to the people who had made such an effort to deliver the 2008 European Capital of Culture programme. Volunteers and officers alike congregated to hear the Culture Secretary say well done, and to muse on the challenges of 2009. This he opined, as do many of us, is only the beginning...

08.12.18 Liverpool St George's Hall & Capital of Culture Andy Burnham  at the Thank You Reception 08.12.18 Liverpool St George's Hall & Capital of Culture Thank You Reception

08.12.18 Liverpool St George's Hall & Capital of Culture Thank You Reception

So, after the celebrations, the thank yous and, no doubt, the elaborate analyses of all that's comprised Liverpool European Capital of Culture 2008, what, we wonder, will happen next...?

08.12.18 Liverpool St George's Hall & Capital of Culture Christmas lights for 2008 (09)

Read more about Liverpool European Capital Of Culture 2008 and The Future Of Liverpool

08.11.03 Heron pic @ JoelBird viewing, Calderstones Park, Liverpool  011aaaa 135x124.jpg We were delighted this evening to attend the Private View of Joel Phelan's JoelBird paintings (acrylic on canvas) in the Coach House of Calderstones Park, Liverpool. Joel, a locally-born artist, is also a talented musician (JubJub / Eto The Band). He has created wonderfully life-like yet 'designed' impressions of birds which we see in our local parks. It would be great if these works inspired other younger people in the city to observe more closely the natural world around them.

08.11.03 Joel Phelan & Minako Ueda-Jackson @ JoelBird Private View, Calderstones Park, Liverpool

08.11.03 Hilary & Tony Burrage @ JoelBird Private View, Calderstones Park, Liverpool

Read more web reports on Liverpool, European Capital Of Culture and see more photographs of Locations & Events.

More information on Joel Phelan's work: JoelBird

08.10.03 Liverpool Biennial Spider, Web of Light, Ai Weiwei,  Exchange Flags This spider, set against the austere statue of Lord Nelson and a backdrop of Liverpool's historic Town Hall, has so much more to offer than the monster mechanical arachnid which scoured our streets a short while ago. La Princesse was piece of engineering; this spider is a work of art. It trusts us to see in it what we will - it's magical, creative and beautiful all at the same time, leaving the imagination to work its fancies.

08.10.03 Liverpool Biennial Spider, Web of Light,  Ai Weiwei, Exchange Flags & part of Lord Nelson & Britannia statue


More information: Liverpool Biennial 2008 plus The Observer Review of 'Web of Light' and the Liverpool Biennial.

See more of Hilary's photographs here: Camera & Calendar; and read more articles about Cultural Liverpool.

08.2.4 Monday Women El Rincon nameboard 164x91 030.jpg 2008 sees a new location for Monday Women in Liverpool. For a few months we'll be meeting in El Rincon Latino, by Roscoe Street and Oldham Street in the new City Gate development at the top of Renshaw Street. It's free to come; all women most welcome, first Monday of every month, from about 5.45 to 7.30-ish p.m.

El Rincon Latino is located on the corner of Roscoe Street and Oldham Street just one block up the hill from Renshaw Street. It's immediately across from the multi-storey car park behind Leece Street Post Office, on the town side of Leece Street but still near St Luke's, the 'Bombed Church'. You can also get there via a very short walk up the hill opposite the main entrance to Rapid Hardware on Renshaw Street.
The address and postcode are Roscoe Street, L1 2SU (map); tel: 0151- 324 0454.

08.2.4 Monday Women El Rincon group 495x214 025a.jpg










All you pay for is your supper and drinks, ordered as you wish from the bar, if / when you'd like some - but no obligation. (There's a photograph of a sample menu below, right...) Our Chilean host, Francisco Carrasco, is also Director of All Things Latin (ATL) and tell us the cafe aims to serve food from across Southern and Central America, as the head chef is from Ecuador. The venue has many cultural links with Latin America.

08.2.4 Monday Women El Rincon window 495x386 031a.jpg










If you have ideas about anything you'd really like to discuss or do when everyone meets, you can of course join the Monday Women e-group (absolutely free, quite voluntary) and suggest things beforehand. Other than that, the format of each Monday Women event is decided by those who are there - drinks and chat, debate, even this year perhaps post-meeting salsa classes... It's your choice! Dates for 2008 are below.

08.2.4 Monday Women El Rincon Costa Rica 215x386 coffee 027a.jpg 08.2.4 Monday Women El Rincon  Maybe salsa dancing lessons?  275x386 026aa.jpg










08.2.4 Monday Women El Rincon 495x344 029.jpg




















Monday Women meeting dates for 2008 (all first Mondays of the month, 5.45-ish to approx. 7.30, please just come and go as you wish) are:

February 4th
March 3rd
April 7th
May 5th
June 2nd
July 7th
August 4th
September 1st
October 6th
November 3rd
December 1st (special event, the annual Christmas Do!!)

To check any particular date please call the venue on 0151-324 0454.

Do join us. No need to book, just turn up whatever time you can; and bring your women friends as well...
We'd love to see you there.

Find out more here or visit the Monday Women message board.

08.1.11 Preparing for Capital of Culture, St George's Hall 'Delays likely' 142x84 019a.jpg 08.1.12a CoC Launch Programme Book 125x99 005a.jpg 08.1.12 Liverpool European Capital of Culture Official Launch Hilary @ The Arena 123x99 036b.jpg Liverpool's European Capital of Culture Year is finally launched.

First, we went to the pre-launch of the Liverpool Echo Arena on Friday 4 January.
08.1.4 Liverpool Echo Arena & Convention Centre 495x336 021a.jpg 08.1.4 Liverpool Echo Arena Pre-launch  Tony (Martin) Burrage 495x353 010a.jpg

Then we went to St George's Plateau for the 'People's Opening' on Friday 11 January, where after much frenetic construction all day Ringo Starr sang from a box on the roof of the Hall and we saw some fireworks and lights.
08.1.11 Preparing for Capital of Culture, St George's Hall Contractors & cranes 495x354 020a.jpg 08.1.11a Liverpool Capital of Culture is launched St George's Hall 495x254 026a.jpg 08.1.11a Liverpool Capital of Culture is launched Lime Street Chumki Banerjee, Colin Dyas, Felicity Wren, Tony Siebenthaler, Jason Penswick, Tony (Martin) Burrage  &c 008aa.jpg

And finally we found ourselves in the Echo Arena again on Saturday 12 January for the formal opening of that venue and Liverpool's 2008 events. The Arena ceremony offered a colourful performance of Liverpool - The Musical by artists ranging from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra with Vasily Petrenko (who all played valiantly throughout the show) to performers such as Gary Christian, The Farm, Sense of Sound, Ringo Starr, The Welsh Choral Union and The Wombats.
And so began our city's European Year of Culture....
08.1.12 Liverpool European Capital of Culture Official Launch The Audience awaits 040b.jpg 08.1.12 Liverpool European Capital of Culture Official Launch Kris Donaldson, James Purnell MP, Louise Ellman MP 495x324 039b.jpg 08.1.12 Liverpool European Capital of Culture Official Launch Alan Hardbottle, Adeyinka Olushonde, Minkao Ueda-Jackson, Tony (Martin) & Hilary Burrage 495x348 033b.jpg 08.1.12 Liverpool European Capital of Culture Official Launch 'Psychedelic!' 'on stage' 495x337 050a.jpg 08.1.12 Liverpool European Capital of Culture Official Launch Space-scene 'on stage' 495x409 051a.jpg 08.1.12 Liverpool European Capital of Culture Official Launch RLPO 'on stage' 495x295 049a.jpg

Everyone worked very hard to make it all happen. The preparations were no doubt complicated and frantic, the general mood was convivial and fun, and the outcome was by and large convincing and festive.

This was certainly not the weekend to be negative; though it has to be said that there is a lot still to do. Watch this space....

(But after this posting we shall, I promise, begin once again to acknowledge the world outside Liverpool 2008.)

For more photographs please see also Camera And Calendar.

Liverpool At Christmas

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Liverpool Nativity 220x125 07.12.16 009a.jpg The few weeks as 2007 ended and became 2008 saw much festive activity in Liverpool. Here, the set for the BBC's special production of the 'Liverpool Nativity' was surrounded by excited onlookers well before the performance started, but alongside all the high technology Saint George's Hall stood serene, just as it has for the past 150 years.

St George's Hall Liverpool, Christmas 2007 495x467 017a.jpg

The Liverpool Nativity was a live performance commissioned by the BBC to celebrate the Christmas story in a contemporary context, as Liverpool prepared to become European Capital of Culture 2008. The set for the performance was in the open, at the bottom of William Brown Street.

Liverpool's St George's Hall, constructed between 1838 and 1854 (original architect Harvey Lonsdale Elmes), is regarded as one of the finest examples of civic neoclassical architecture. Details of Hall opening times, features and events are available here.

For more photographs please see also Camera & Calendar

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