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.
The theme for May was 'The street where I live' and we were really pleased to see some entries from our local area. Congratulations to our chosen winner Matthew Pinnington, who lives locally, for his atmospheric shot of a backlit tree in front of what is now Lister Fisheries. This building used to be the old Lister Drive Baths which, like The Old Library and the original Lister Drive School which once stood next door, was designed by architect Thomas Shelmerdine. What an impressive road Lister Drive would have been 100 years ago! Look out for Shelmerdine's distinctive style in other libraries across the city, including Everton, Toxteth and Wavertree. Thanks to Matthew for capturing this piece of history - check out his winning photo and some of the other entries below.
The theme for June is 'Childhood memories'. As always, all entries are welcome but we'd love to see some from L13 and surrounding areas. Send your entries to email@example.com by 25th June for the chance to be our next winner, featured in our 2020 calendar and in with the chance to win our overall prize of a camera.
On Saturday 18th May, we invited local businesses and residents along to our Community Business Fair at Lister Steps. The aim of the day was to celebrate local enterprise and raise awareness of the great things happening in our area so we were really pleased to welcome a broad range of organisations within our community, including Liverpool Model Boat Club, The Male Room Barbers on Green Lane, handmade signs by Letters By Be, children’s author Paul McDermott, and The Ale House community pub on Prescot Road.
We also had stands from The Vibe, who prove social & recreational activities for adults and young people with additional needs, and Alt Valley Trust who are providing new adult learning opportunities in Old Swan, as well as volunteers who have been working on our memory project and historical research project.
It was also great to see Dr Oriel Prizeman again – she has been working on an international research project into how Carnegie libraries are being used across the UK and USA and shared some of her fascinating findings with visitors.
We welcomed 80 people along on the day and there was lots for everyone to get involved with our plant sale (thanks to Turners Fruit & Veg on Green Lane), community art wall, healthy raffle and sweets & wine – or ‘not so healthy’! – raffle. It was also fantastic opportunity for networking with businesses, organisations & residents who are interested in working together within the community to make our area better for everyone to live and work.
Thank you to all our volunteers and the staff from Lister Steps who came along to help, as well as everyone who ran a stand to make the day such a success. We hope to be able to run similar events again in the future to continue to make positive links in our local area – maybe next time from inside The Old Library!
If you couldn’t make it, check out the video below to see what you missed:
We had loads of entries this month for the theme of 'special buildings' - not surprising given the amazing architecture in & around our city - but we were especially pleased to receive lots of photographs of buildings local to us in L13. Our photography competition is all about seeing the interest and the beauty in the everyday so we loved the way people had been inspired by the buildings around them. Thank you to everyone who took the time to enter, you can check out some of their amazing photos below!
Once again, it was really hard to choose a winner but this month, Eddie McCormack took the prize with his powerful shot of St Cecilia's Church on Green Lane, just down the road from The Old Library. Eddie's shot will feature in our 2020 calendar and be in with the chance of winning the overall prize of a camera at the end of the year.
Our theme for May is 'the street where I live'. Anyone can enter so get creative and show us photos that capture what's special about your neighbourhood. As always, we're particularly keen for photographs from our local community so get snapping! Send your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org by 25th May for the chance to be our next winner!
The examples we used were the Welsh Presbyterian Church on Princes Avenue, The Wellington Rooms on Mount Pleasant and The Lyceum on Bold Street. The group had to carry out a site analysis of each building to think about its location, strengths, weaknesses, risks and potential.
We then headed back to our base at the University of Liverpool where the group split into small teams and had to recreate scale models of their assigned building using cardboard – not an easy feat in one afternoon!
Once their buildings were constructed, the groups thought about the different audiences that might be able to use the space and created a vision for their buildings, outlining what they wanted the space to achieve in the local community and how it might benefit the people who use it.
The fun really started when they began to design the interiors and everyone came up with really varied & creative ideas including pop-up shops, a nursery, escape rooms, a rehabilitation centre, libraries & study centres, bars, roof gardens, sports facilities restaurants and even a hotel with a spa.
By the end of the week, the models were completed both inside and outside along with posters to explain the groups’ plans for each building. The teams presented to each other before friends & family arrived to have a drink and check out all their hard work, with special prizes given to the groups with the best team dynamic, the most creative ideas, the most evolved design and the best presentation.
Everyone who took part got so stuck in and produced really impressive work in such a short space of time. Some people travelled quite a distance each day to attend and they all gave up a week of their Easter holidays ahead of exam season so we were really impressed with their commitment.
We hope that the programme not only provided great, real-life experience in the field of architecture, design & planning but also helped to develop transferrable skills such as teamwork, creative thinking & problem-solving. Most of all, we hope that everyone who took part found it enjoyable, make new friends, gained more confidence in their abilities and learnt valuable skills to take away for whatever they go on to do in the future.
A huge thank you to University of Liverpool Planning Department for the venue, Sophie from Placed who led the week, making it lots of fun and a really valuable experience for everyone who took part, and all the volunteers and student ambassadors who gave the group real-life insights into a range of careers across the industry. Finally, thank you to National Lottery players who, through the National Lottery Heritage Fund, have enabled us to provide this amazing opportunity for free to local young people across the city region.
If you missed out on the Easter holiday programme or you know someone who might be interested in getting involved, Placed are running a new 12-month Academy programme for students who will be in Year 10, 11 and 12 from September 2019.
Check out the Placed Academy website for more information and details on how to apply.
On Wednesday 3rd April, we were back at St Cecilia’s Club for our latest project update event. Our last event in the summer was a chance to meet our design team from OMI Architects; this time it was to meet our contractors, family-run business H.H. Smith & Sons, who started consruction work on The Old Library this week.
Chris, Rob & Juan from The Old Library project team at Smith’s talked us through some of the previous heritage restoration jobs they’ve worked on across the north of the country, including Gorton Monastery, Norton Priory and Quarry Bank Mill. With some really amazing projects under their belt, we’re thrilled to have them working on The Old Library and know we’re in safe hands. We’ll be working closely with the team to provide a number of community open days throughout the project for people to come and see the progress of the build, as well as numerous training opportunities for local people such as bursary placements, apprenticeships, technical training days and school & university visits.
We also heard from some of our fabulous research volunteers about what they’ve discovered whilst looking into the history of The Old Library and Liverpool’s public library movement. Here’s an extract from Kate’s talk about how sometimes things in the libraries could get a bit out of hand…
One bit of archive I came across encapsulated the excitement experienced in the community with the opening of a Branch Library. The Libraries Annual Report ,1903 describes the hubbub and general mayhem when Toxteth Library first opened its doors. Boys played leapfrog in the Reading Rooms and women chattered boisterously and things got so out of hand, that in the end the local constable had to be called for! Though we are told in the same report that the community soon settled down into, “excellent and steady readers” so we can see that from its inception the library would have been central to the community.
Olivia also ran through some of the exciting events & activities to look forward to over the next 6 months including:
- Read & Relax shared reading group, every Wednesday from 2pm – 4pm at The Ale House on Prescot Road
- Community Business Open Day on Saturday 18th May
- The Big Dig archaeological investigation on Saturday 15th June
- Lister Steps Summer Fair on Saturday 10th August
- Heritage Open Days tours of The Old Library on Saturday 14th & Sunday 15th September
Keep an eye on our ‘Events & Activities’ page for more details or email email@example.com to get involved.
As always, thanks to everyone for your continued support for The Old Library project – it’s going to be a very exciting year!
We received some really lovely entries this month for our theme of 'Shadows' but we could only choose one winner... so congratulations to Eram Faroq, who captured the theme in this photograph of two people enjoying an autumn walk. Eram’s photograph will feature in our 2020 calendar and be considered as a potential overall winner at the end of the year, with a chance to win a camera. You can see more of the great entries we received this month in our gallery below.
With work starting on The Old Library, the theme for April is ‘special buildings’. We’d love to see some entries from L13 and the surrounding areas so send your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org by 25th April to be in with a chance of winning.
Today is a really big day for The Old Library project. After a lot of hard work (7 years, in fact!) we have handed over the keys to our contractors, H. H. Smith & Sons, who officially start working on site today. We’re so excited to have reached this milestone and can’t wait to watch the building come back to life over the next 12 months so watch this space regular updates.
The project team from H.H. Smith’s will be meeting the local community at our project update event on Wednesday 3rd April at St Cecilia’s Club on Green Lane. Join us for a free drink from 6pm-8pm to hear all about what you can expect throughout the building phase of the project, as well as what our volunteer research team have been up to and the events & activities we’ve got coming up.
If you can’t make it, you can read all about the start of the project in our press release.