|Lister Steps - The Old Library||
We're right on the border of Old Swan & Tuebrook so we decided to take part in Old Swan in Bloom, a fantastic initiative from our local community magazine Old Swan Alive. On Saturday 13th July, we held a community planting session to plant up our lovely new pots and hanging baskets. Thanks to everyone who came along to help, we had a great morning getting stuck in and Lister Steps has never looked so good! Thanks also to B & Q Edge Lane for the kind donation of plants - all still alive so far!
The theme for our June photography competition winner was 'Childhood memories' and we had a really interesting mix of photographs from the past, as well as more recent shots. However, as always, there can only be one winner and this month we chose Barry Mackenzie for this summery shot of a rope swing in our local Newsham Park. Congratulations Barry! You can check out some of the other great entries we received below.
Our theme for July is 'A place to escape' so send your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org by 25th July for your chance to be our next winner! All winning photographs will feature in our 2020 calendar and be in with the chance of being crowned our overall winner and being awarded a camera as top prize!
After 12 months of research and planning with the Community Archaeology Team from Museum of Liverpool, we were finally ready to carry out our archaeological excavations in the grounds of The Old Library. From looking at historic maps, the land that the library is built on appears to have just been fields until the 19th century when Brook Cottage, along with a number of outhouses, seems to have been built on what is now The Old Library site. Armed with this information and having recruited a lovely group of volunteers to help out, we were ready to get started to see what we could find...
But we should have known not to trust the great British summer! We arrived on site to find our trenches filled with water, making it totally impossible to dig. However, that didn’t stop our fabulous volunteers who got on with washing the initial finds from the trenches and excavating the back path which leads to the original Ladies entrance. With the weather not looking any better for the rest of the week, we had to make the decision to postpone digging for a few days and cross our fingers that the site dried up!
Fortunately, the rain held off for our open day at The Old Library and we were able to welcome over 180 visitors to site to have a look at the initial archaeological discoveries made by the Museum of Liverpool team and volunteers. We also opened up the ground floor of the building, allowing visitors to step inside the ground floor of the building for the first time since 2006, and hear about our plans for the future. It was great to meet so many people with fond memories of the library who are looking forward to following the build and enjoying the facilities once it’s complete. If you weren't able to come along, check out the video below!
Thankfully, with the break in the rain, our volunteers were able to come back after the open day and get stuck in. Once the real digging began, there were some very interesting finds. The team discovered various bits of pottery that looked like they might date back to the early 20th century or Victorian period, as well as lots of oyster shells – a common snack for the working class is days gone by. All these finds have been taken back to the Museum to be processed and investigated further so we hope to be able to share more information with you over the next few months.
Most exciting of all was the discovery that the team made on the final afternoon of digging – the walls of what we believe is Brook Cottage, as shown on maps from the 1800s. It may not look much in the photographs but after all the challenges and everyone’s hard work, this was really exciting! Further exploration within the trench also revealed a section of brick floor which could have been a path or part of an outbuilding.
In such a short space of time – and right in the middle of an on-going construction project – this was an amazing find and confirms that the historic maps are pretty accurate. Although we were unable to do any further exploration on this occasion, now that we've confirmed the rough location of Brook Cottage and its outbuildings, we can continue to carry out further about the individuals who lived there and see if any of the archaeological finds we discovered can help us tell this story in The Old Library.
Despite the rain, we were thrilled to also be able to work with four local primary schools– Lister Infants, Lister Juniors, St Anne Stanley & Broadgreen Primary – running in-school workshops to learn about the role of archaeologists and the tools they use, as well as welcoming 90 local children to site to get hands on with The Big Dig. The children had a chance to dig for finds and look for clues to help explain what the items might be, as well as helping us wash some of the finds that came out of our trenches. We’re really pleased that with the help of the Museum of Liverpool, we were able to offer this unique experience to local children in our area and hope it has inspired them about both archaeology and The Old Library project.
Thank you so much to all our fantastic volunteers who braved the mud and gave up their time to help us dig, as well as our on-site team from H.H. Smith’s who were so flexible and kept everyone safe. Finally, huge thanks must go to the team at Museum of Liverpool for helping us bring real archaeology into our community, inspiring us all, teaching us new skills and uncovering more about the heritage of our local area.