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09.07.19 Liverpool Toxteth Big Lunch & Gathering Princes Boulevard in Toxteth, Liverpool, was once a bustling avenue, the home of wealthy merchants and many townspeople. Then local fortunes took a desperate downturn, the nadir being the Toxteth riots in 1981. But more recently things have begun to look up, as demonstrated for instance by The Gathering of May 2008, and today's Big Lunch in this historic setting.

Liverpool & Merseyside

Quite recently, we acquired from a local auction room a print of the hustle and bustle which was Princes Boulevard in 1915:

Liverpool Princes Boulevard print 1915

It's now fully acknowledged that some of this wealth arose from the shame which was the slave trade, but by the turn of the last century this was a disgrace of the past (not least as a result of campaigns by other Liverpool citizens) and Liverpool was establishing itself as a great city for the right reasons - its entrepreneurial spirit and the cosmopolitan nature of its populace.

And then began the decline in the fortunes of Liverpool which reached rock bottom with the riots of 1981. July that year saw us driving to work past huge groups of police officers imported from all over the country, with the fear every day that friends and colleagues living nearby might be injured in the ugly confrontations which were Liverpool's nightly lot.

But that was nearly thirty years ago. How much more positive it is that this year we have been able to attend the Big Lunch and Gathering in that same place. This was a fun event for everyone. We've seen the preparations getting going over the past few days, and were even permitted a sneak preview yesterday:

09.07.18 Preparing for Toxteth's Gathering and Big Lunch

09.07.18 Toxteth Gathering and Big Lunch - sneak preview of the Mongolian yurt

Then, at midday today, the activities were launched for real, the Boulevard decorated with streamers, ribbons and bows, dream catchers (some of them I was told made from recycled materials) and other features of festivity.

09.07.19 Liverpool Toxteth Big Lunch & Gathering 044aa 500x500.jpg

09.07.19 Liverpool Toxteth Big Lunch & Gathering

Already, by lunchtime, the place was beginning to fill up, with local folk, older couples and strollers, mums and dads and babies and kids, teenagers on bikes and a good sprinkling of community activists, along no doubt with visitors who'd just dropped by when they saw that things were happening.... and all this in an area of just a few hundred yards, which is also host to the Anglican Cathedral, a Greek Orthodox Church, Princes Avenue Synagogue and the local Mosque.

09.07.19 Liverpool Toxteth Big Lunch & Gathering

09.07.19 Liverpool Toxteth Big Lunch & Gathering - the cupcakes on the table spell out 'The Big Lunch'!

09.07.19 Liverpool Toxteth Big Lunch & Gathering ~ people meet and chat with the backdrop of Princes Road Synagogue, the Anglican Cathedral and the Greek Orthodox Church

There were singers, dancers and musicians....

09.07.19 Liverpool Toxteth Big Lunch & Gathering ~ the choir entertains

09.07.19 Liverpool Toxteth Big Lunch & Gathering - jiving and drums, with a harp at the ready...

09.07.19 Liverpool Toxteth Big Lunch & Gathering - African drummers

... and representatives of several local organisations and services....

09.07.19 Liverpool Toxteth Big Lunch & Gathering - Hippie Hippie Shake Banana and her friends from Granby SureStart Children's Centre

09.07.19 Liverpool Toxteth Big Lunch & Gathering - police and ambulance officers

...not to mention people selling everything from jam, bread and cupcakes to plants, recycled clothing, paintings and jewellery ....

09.07.19 Liverpool Toxteth Big Lunch & Gathering - gooseberry jam and much else

09.07.19 Liverpool Toxteth Big Lunch & Gathering - Camp Cupcake

09.07.19 Liverpool Toxteth Big Lunch & Gathering - fresh bread

09.07.19 Liverpool Toxteth Big Lunch & Gathering - jewellery and rag dolls for sale

So, what next? Way back before the Millennium some of us were agitating with the then-brand-new Liverpool Vision to take a route from Hope Street through Princes Avenue (Boulevard) into Toxteth, making the area people-friendly and good to be in.

Today, with support from Arts In Regeneration and others, there have been celebrations of our living communities at the Bombed Church (St. Luke's) in Leece Street in town, right through to Sefton Park, some two or three miles distant, at the other end of Princes Avenue. Perhaps some of the action on Princes Boulevard didn't offer quite what The Big Lunch prescribed (Geraud Markets for example are not exactly a voluntary organisation), but The Gathering did promote imagination, enterprise and friendship.

Last year there was a first attempt at such an event, on May 25th (2008):

08.08.26 Toxteth Liverpool Princes Boulevard The Gathering

On that occasion the weather was cruel - blustery gales and very cold. This year it has been a little kinder, and the sun even shone for some of the afternoon. Let's hope that next year is a sunshine-all-the-way sort of event, and that this is the start, at long last, of something really, enduringly, positive.


See more photographs of Liverpool & Merseyside and read more about Urban Renewal.

Wigan Pier canal historic statue of woman miller It's International Women's Day, an occasion for looking both back and forward. We have here some photos and text reminding us gently how grim life was for working class women and children in the mills (and often for their mining menfolk too) a mere century ago. Happily, Wigan Pier and the canals are now a tourist destination alongside a modern Investment Centre; but around 1910 a different story - not least about the uses of water - was being told. The challenge remains to secure the same progress as we've seen here, in ensuring healthy and constructive lives for women and their families everywhere, in the UK and across the globe.

Gender & Women, Sustainability As If People Mattered and Water.

Wigan Pier canal Trencherfield Mill historic notice

Here's the text of this notice, displayed by the towpath at Wigan Pier:

TRENCHERFIELD MILL
When cotton was king
as told by a cotton worker circa 1910

It's hot int' mill wi' lots o' noise. On a nice day, we'll take our lunch ont' towpath an' eat snaps* from't snaps tins.
It's a 5-and-a-half day week for us cotton workers, that's 12 hours a day and half a day on Saturday.
We've all got nimble fingers , especially the Piecers'. They're mainly children, who nip under the spinning machines to tie the broken cotton back together again.
Some of us work on the spinning machines and some on the carding machines. The mill takes a raw bale of cotton, cleans it, twists it and spins it into fine yarn.
The humidity in the mill keeps the cotton damp so it's easier to spin without snapping.
There are five floors of machinery - all powered by the Trencherfield Mill Engine.
The noise is deafening - we stuff cotton from the floor in our ears to protect them. We communicate using 'Me-Mawing' - a mixture of sign language and lip reading.
We work in our bare feet because our clogs could spark on the concrete floor and set the cotton bales alight.
We wake early doors to the sound of the Trencherfield steam whistle summonin' us t'mill for another day. But as they say - England's bread hangs on Lancashire's thread.

[* a snack favoured also by the men of Wigan, many of them miners, usually bread-and-dripping, with cold tea, carried in a flat tin called a snap-can - see George Orwell's The Road to Wigan Pier]

And here is the towpath which a century ago provided fresh air and respite for those mill workers as they ate their lunch-time snaps:

09.03.06 Wigan Pier canal & towpath

Wigan Pier Quarter & canals notice
[Public display boards by Wigan Heritage Services]

The power of water
And so, strangely, we come full-circle.

Water - the canals, the steam - was the power behind the early production of textiles, employing many women and children in horrendous conditions, as the full logic of the Industrial Revolution took its vice-like grip on the emerging economies of what we have come to know as the 'developed world'; but even now in other parts of the globe water remains both a critical force potentially for good, and often an almost unattainable resource.

Women as water workers
Vast numbers of women and children in the developing world continue to toil many hours a day just to obtain water to sustain their very existence.

Life in places like Wigan was harsh and short for women and men, alike, a century ago. It remains, as Oxfam tells us in the topical context of International Women's Day, particularly harsh even now for women in places such as Iraq, where water continues to be inaccessible for many.

The gendered meanings of sustainability
This is where we begin to understand what 'sustainability' is really about.... the just and equitable distribution of basic physical resources and accessible socio-economic opportunities, for everyone, women as much as men, the world over.

In terms of future global sustainability and equity, as the Gender and Water Alliance also reminds us, water remains a critically gendered issue.


Read more about Gender & Women and about Sustainability As If People Mattered and Water; and see more photographs of around 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

HOTFOOT 2008 flyer ~ Cafe Europe, Richard Gordon-Smith (world premiere commissioned by HOPES:The Hope Street Association) plus music by Saint-Saens, Coleridge-Taylor, Engleman, Rossini, Bizet & Mozart HOTFOOT 2008, in Liverpool's Philharmonic Hall on Sunday 7 September [NB: 7 pm], is the twelfth such annual concert. Promoted as ever by HOPES: The Hope Street Association, the theme for the city's 2008 European Capital of Culture year is 'Cafe Europe', with music devised by local children working alongside professional musicians from HOPES.

The HOTFOOT annual events in Liverpool, devised and promoted by HOPES: The Hope Street Association, are never less than exciting...

Here we explain what the HOTFOOT concert is about, how it came to be, and why HOPES continues to do it.

Come and join us!
Intended to be welcoming to everyone, whether used to such concerts or not, the HOTFOOT shows are musical performances tailor-made by - rather than just for - their participants and audience; and they seek always also to bring into focus the many aspects of life in Liverpool, a cosmopolitan and richly diverse city.

Tickets (£7 -11, children £5) are available on the Philharmonic website (here) or from the Phil Box Office (0151-709 3789).

The address of the Philharmonic Hall is Hope Street, Liverpool L1 9BP (location map here), and the performance begins at 7 pm [NB not 7.30pm] as it is a family show.
The concert will finish by around 9.15 pm, and the Philharmonic Hall Foyer Bar will be open afterwards, for performers and audience to meet and mingle.

The HOTFOOT 2008 concert programme
This year's (2008) programme for the HOTFOOT even illustrates the point, with a wide variety of musical formats and inspiration, not to mention, in keeping with our theme, geographically spread, with musical visits to 'cafes' in a number of different parts of Europe, including Austria, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

The concert begins with excerpts from two lively 'chamber music' or small group pieces, performed by the professional musicians of Ensemble Liverpool (also known as Live-A-Music), most of them also members of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra:

*** Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921, France) ~ Septet for string quartet (two violins, viola, cello), double bass, piano and trumpet and

*** Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) ~ Quintet for string quartet and piano.

[HOPES has consistently promoted Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, who remains Britain's greatest black classical composer, known especially for his work Hiawatha's Wedding Feast. He was a friend of John Archer, son of Liverpool and the UK's first black Mayor, appointed to the post in 1913 in Battersea, London.]

After Ensemble Liverpool comes a popular dance music piece by the mid-twentieth century British composer, owner of the Harry Engleman Tango Orchestra

*** Harry Engleman ~ Fingerprints

performed by John Peace and the HOPES Festival Orchestra.

And the first half ends with the Orchestra's performance of

*** Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868, Italy) ~ The Thieving Magpie.

[Interval]

Next is the World Premiere of a work commissioned by HOPES: The Hope Street Association, one of several musical works HOPES has commissioned from Richard Gordon-Smith over the years. In keeping with Liverpool's status on 2008 as European Capital of Culture, the work is

*** Richard Gordon-Smith ~ Cafe Europe.

The piece involves children from Liverpool's Greenbank, Kingsley, Rudston and St. Sebastian's Primary Schools, who, encouraged by their teachers, have been working from April with HOPES musicians (and Philharmonic colleagues) Richard Gordon-Smith and Martin Anthony (Tony) Burrage, to devise the words and music, which are then composed in full score as an integral work by Richard Gordon-Smith.

The children will themselves perform in the piece, with the HOPES Orchestra and soloist Sarah Helsby Hughes (Soprano). Included in this brand new work, which employs the multi-lingual skills of the performers, are 'Song of New Friends', 'Conversation in Paris', 'Urban Castaways', 'Postcards from Germany', 'Flamenco Girl' and 'When the World Comes Knocking'.

To follow this World Premiere we have Sarah Helsby Hughes with the HOPES Orchestra in two of the most dramatic and well-loved Soprano arias, Bizet's Habanera from Carmen and The Queen of the Night from Mozart's Magic Flute.

BBC Proms Royal Albert Hall The RLPO finished their season in style this evening, with a sell-out BBC Proms concert in London's Royal Albert Hall. There was a real excitement as the audience departed after the performance, matched by the sense of achievement RLPO players derive from working with Principal Conductor Vasily Petrenko. This is surely how professional orchestral musicians like to feel at the end of a year's hard work.

08.08.01 BBC Proms RAH after the RLPO concert 029a 500x430.jpg

A date at the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms is a highlight of the season for any orchestra, and this was no exception for the RLPO, an orchestra with a distinguished history. Vasily Petrenko and the RLPO's programme for the evening was the World Premiere of Graven Image for Orchestra by the RLPO's Composer in the House, Kenneth Hesketh, Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Minor, Opus 45 (soloist Paul Lewis) and the Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances, Opus 45, with Mussorgsky's Gopak as an encore.

And happily even those who couldn't join the Proms audience in person were able at absolutely no cost to do so, as for every Prom, live via BBC Radio 3.

Reviews for the concert reflected the enthusiasm on the night.

But now the players are off for a well-earned break, applause still ringing in their ears....

See more of Hilary's photographs: Camera & Calendar
and read more about Music, Musicians & Orchestras

08.05.29a Operation Black Vote Launch Simon Woolley speaks in Liverpool Town Hall 001a.jpg Liverpool's Operation Black Vote programme was launched today in our Town Hall. This ambitious movement intends to establish an emerging generation of politicians of all 'races', cultures and faiths, who have been mentored early in their careers by existing councillors. The event this evening demonstrated that OBV's aim is shared by all our civic leaders, and that they believe they will indeed deliver.

08.05.29a Operation Black Vote  launch Liverpool Town Hall 007a

08.05.29a Operation Black Vote Cllr Anna Rothery 320x300 l 008a 08.05.29a Operation Black Vote: The next generation?   Keziah Makena 010a

08.05.29a Operation Black Vote  Cllrs Anna Rothery & Joe Anderson 011

08.05.29a Operation Black Vote Liverpool Town Hall reception 026a 08.05.29a Operation Black Vote  Janet Robinson & Francine Fernandes 365x385 027a

08.05.29a Operation Black Vote  Lord Mayor Cllr Rotheram & OBV participants 020a


Further information on Operation Black Vote.

Read more:
Social Inclusion & Diversity

Camera & Calendar

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.

Xmas Tree & Piano 113x87 011b.jpg Sunday 23 December 2007 was the date for an occasion to remember: Carols Round the Christmas Tree at Sudley House, the historic home of a Victorian Mayor of Liverpool. The free singalong afternoon concert saw almost three hundred people came to enjoy the company and the carolling with Live-A-Music and the Children's Choir.

This event was supported by the National Museums Liverpool and offered a warm welcome to everyone. The musicians (Martin Anthony (Tony) Burrage, John Peace, Richard Gordon-Smith and Hilary Burrage) were all members of Live-A-Music, a group also known as Elegant Music. The children's choir of Mossley Hill Parish Church also performed.

Sudley House has an excellent tearoom for refreshments throughout the afternoon, and provides full disabled access. It is set in peaceful parkland and offers spectacular views across the River Mersey to the Wirral and beyond, to Moel Famau in Wales.

Visitor information and location and travel advice for Sudley House is available here.

See also:
Sudley House: Victorian Home Of A Mayor Of Liverpool

Liverpool's Ancient Chapel Of Toxteth, Dingle Gaumont Cinema, The Turner Nursing Home & Dingle Overhead Railway Station

Autumn Glory In Sefton Park

Sefton Park, Liverpool: Winter Solstice 2006

For more articles please visit History of Liverpool and The Music.

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