Landscapes, Special Places
94pp paperback, £7.99
THIS IS ANFIELD
At last the Capital of Culture year produces a study that isn’t
about Liverpool city centre. This book traces the development of the Breckfield
and Anfield suburbs. It’s pricey and the title is uninspired, but
there are good maps and some excellent photographs.
The area started out as farmland. At the end of the 18th century the
upper class moved ‘up the hill’ out of town. Those who missed
out on the view from Everton Brow built the first villas in Anfield Road
and the ‘Arcadia of Liverpool’ on Breck Road. As the city
grew, so the middle class moved in and houses became progressively smaller:
lesser villas in St Domingo Grove (1850s), three-storey terraces in St
Domingo Vale (1860s) and small brick terraces (1870 to 1900).
Unlike the later districts such as Norris Green and Speke, all the development
took place piecemeal in small units, as the owners of the small fields
built on them. There was no grand plan. That’s why there are so
many triangular buildings at street corners. And none of these phases
of housing has been demolished, so you can still see and compare the (now
multi-occupied) three-storeys with the two-up-two-downs.
With the growing population of course came parades of shops, churches,
schools and pubs. Trams took people to work and back as there were no
big local employers. Stanley Park was developed as a recreation space.
Then in the late 19th century came…
Well, Liverpool Football Club paid towards this book, so it’s no
surprise that they get a separate chapter. You get a potted history of
the early days but the main theme is the development of the club site
from field to stadium. Disappointingly there’s nothing on the interaction
between club and community: what must it have been like to see a mighty
new stand named Spion Kop (after a traumatic Boer War battle)?
This study is well-timed as major changes are afoot. The football club
are committed to expansion and there is a big picture of the new stadium
design (although the American owners have just said they can’t build
it). The city council are also committed to large-scale house demolition.
Both club and council have been slow to realise quite how much heritage
they are about to knock down. The book contains some sharp comments on
the need to ‘ensure that valuable evidence of past ways of life
is not needlessly destroyed’.
A final chapter shows how you can do your own local research, where you
find maps, council records and so on. This book is the last in the Heritage
series on Liverpool, but it shows how you could write the next one. Tuebrook,