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Old October 29th, 2011, 11:22 PM   #1
600West218
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England of the Industrial Revolution

This is a trip report by an American on his travels across some northern English cities in mid October 2011 to see the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and visit museums pertaining to England’s industrial heritage.

My itinerary was flying in to Manchester but immediately travelling to Liverpool to visit that city. Then I traveled back to Manchester and on to Leeds and Sheffield taking in some other small towns. Finally I travelled to York and Durham.

The pictures will be presented in the order that I took them and there are therefore pictures of the same sites in different parts of this report. I will also try to add as much explanation as possible so that the viewer will understand what they are seeing. Note that I am not a good photographer and I only had a cheap point and shoot camera so don’t expect pictures with high artistic value. I simply hope they can give a sense of what the places are like.

All in all England is a spectacular country and I had a fantastic vacation. It vastly exceeded my already high expectations. I want to thank all those in the UK Skybar who helped plan this trip and make it so special. And special mention goes to Paul who not only gave me invaluable advice but gave me a guided tour of Liverpool one day. Thank you all so much!!

To start we have the Lime Street train station where I arrived by train from the Manchester airport:

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This was a high speed train by Virgin - apparently they do more than just airlines and music. I never road a special high speed train in England, just regular trains between cities. But I was simply amazed at how good their rail system was. Trains seemed to depart to all destinations very frequently meaning that I never had to look at a schedule the whole time I was there. Also, the regular trains were quite fast - I think they were going at least 100 miles per hour. The only drawback - not enough room to store luggage.

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When you first walk out the front of the Lime Street station this is what faces you:

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Certainly not the classical or Victorian England one might expect. Still, for me it was love at first site in Liverpool. In what is to come I think you’ll see why.

Immediately to the right you see this:

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Looking at back at the station:

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As I was to learn the saying above “In England but not of it” is very much how Liverpool seems to see itself, even today. Due to its international ties through seafaring and trade and its large scale Irish immigration it probably sees itself as less English than many other places.

At first I was completely lost and just wandering, trying to make my way to the radio tower so I could go up it and try to get an over view of the city which would orient me:

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Even in this picture you can see a little of what really took me by surprise - how vibrant English cities are. In the town center (downtown) of the overwhelming majority American cities you see no one around other than during work hours on weekdays. Central Liverpool was packed with people (this was a Saturday) and even though the weather was grey the atmosphere was most certainly not.

On top:

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There were two drawbacks to the radio tower - 1) it is an active radio studio and you can’t walk all the way around it so you only get a 180 degree view, not 360 degrees. Also, they apparently never wash their windows and with all the dirt it was almost impossible to get decent pictures.

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The building slightly left of center with the columns is St. George’s Hall. It was a very interesting building that was a combination court house, prison, and grand public events hall. Liverpool needed all three of those things but didn’t have the money for it so they combined them into one building. The prison is now a very good museum showing graphically the sometimes hellish conditions of Victorian life for the poor and downtrodden. I highly recommend it. I will have some interior pictures later.

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I have no idea which particular arcade or shopping area that was. There are two man of them to keep track of.

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The radio tower viewed from below:

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Now I set off trying to make my way to the waterfront and the famous Albert Docks (thinking that is the real center of Liverpool live, which it is clearly not):

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The streets were just packed with people.

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Some sort of inscriptions dedicated to water:

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There were a good number of young people in costumes doing fund raising for some sort of charity (hopefully not themselves):

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Old fashioned cabs are still quite common:

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All the cities I visited had signs like these. 80% of the time they were quite helpful. 20% of the time they only served to make you more lost.

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This is the gate from the old seamans home which had been demolished many years ago. Note the bird on the top is a “Liver” bird and is the symbol of Liverpool. I never got a straight answer on what exactly the bird was or even if it ever really existed.

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Holy cow, they really do use double decker buses. And I always thought it was some touristy gimmick of London (and that they were always red). But they are real and are used all over. An inexpensive way to get a good tour of an English city: buy a day pass for the bus and just ride the double decker busses all over, riding on the top at the very front from which you get a spectacular view.

I finally made it to the Albert dock. Note the canal boats, or barges as they are called in England. Little did I realize I would be seeing those everywhere in England.

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I found the old and the new in Liverpool to go together quite nicely.

Didn’t do this tour:

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Not sure exactly what this “Pumphouse” was pumping for before but now it is an eatery, and a rather expensive one.

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This is inside the Albert dock. Notice how the ground floor is set back to make room for loading and unloading while above it they build the structure to maximize wharehouse space.

The water is actually part of the dock system and it is called a Quay (pronounced “key”). It is essentially a wet dock that holds the water there at the level of high tide at all times so that boats can load and unload without being effected by the tides. I’ll explain that further later but the Quays are actually the central structure in Liverpool. Without their invention Liverpool could never have become a major port.

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Looks a lot like Elvis but isn’t.

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A statue donated by the Mormon church to honor all the families who emmigrated from Europe to the New World via Liverpool.

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The above gate is what seperates the Quay from the river Mersey. The Mersey is a tidal estuary at this point and rises and falls quite dramatically with the tides. We will see evidence of that later. However, the dramatic tides would leave ships stuck on dry land when they went out and would tip them over making it impossible to load or unload their cargoes. The very clever remedy was to build these Quays which would be open to the Mersey at high tide and fill with water. Before the tide goes out the gates are shut trapping the water inside the Quay at the level of high tide and allowing the boats to stay upright and move around to be easily loaded and unloaded. Only when the tide was in and the gates could be opened did ships enter and leave the Quays. The docks and wharehouses surrounded the Quays.

This ingenious system of wet docks, or Quays, is what made Liverpool the great port that it was. Clever little bastards, those Liverpudlians.

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You can see from the water line here how much the tide drops. And this wasn’t even low tide.

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Not sure what these were but they were all over Liverpool:

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England has fought a lot of wars so there are war memorials everywhere:

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There are three spectacular buildings along the water front that are known as the “Three Graces” - this is the first of them:

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The very worthwhile but only partially open Museum of Liverpool:

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A canal connecting the Liverpool - Leeds canal to some of the Quays. As I was to discover, England has a mind blowing canal system:

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Very rarely in England do you see the Union Jack. This car was an exception.

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Last edited by 600West218; October 29th, 2011 at 11:38 PM.
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Old October 30th, 2011, 12:26 AM   #2
600West218
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day one in Liverpool continued...

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One of the Three Graces, The Cunard Building:

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The Liver Building:

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I then decided to walk back towards the city center to get out of the wind (and find a desperately needed bathroom):

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A couple of blocks in and I started to hear the fifes and drums of a parade. And sure enough there was a big parade coming my way:

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The British are really to wearing flourescent colors when they want to be more visible. All the police officer, emergency vehicles and even bicyclists wear them. Note they even put them on the horses!

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As you can see it was an Irish nationalist march commemerating the death of the hunger strikers who died in British prisons in the early 80s. Again, Liverpool has a large Irish population.

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It was a very disciplined para-military type march with really good marshal music. Too bad I didn’t video tape it.

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Not exactly sure how Che winds up on an Irish banner.

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WTF, I thought kilts where Scottish? That is the strange thing about the people on the British isles. They often claim they don’t like each other yet they are always copying each other (and isn’t that the sincerest form of flattery?).

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This was following the marchers. The police seem to have lots of vehicles dedicated solely to video taping people. I saw more than a view throughout my trip. And there were signs all over the place saying “smile, you are being video taped”. Obviously the ACLU is not very active in Britain :-)

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Once the parade passed I was able to explore the area around the Town Hall which was when I first realized how spectacular the architecture was that I was going to see.

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This is the Town Hall. It is a spectacular building and to me the aging given it by the sootiness of the stonework only adds to its appeal:

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Unfortunately it was not open for tours. They only do tours in the peak tourist season. They do however rent its main room out for weddings in case you are about to tie the knot:

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For a time I was paralyzed and couldn’t decide in which direction to walk as the buildings were so spectacular in every direction:

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Without even realizing it existed I then stumbled up a large modern semi-covered shopping mall in the center of Liverpool - Liverpool One:

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Its a very busy place and seems very nicely integrated into the heart of the city

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Two things I noticed about British retail stores though: 1) they tend to close early - whereas stores in the US are open until at least 8 or 9 pm in England the stores seemed to start closing at 6 and where fully closed by 7 pm (even Starbucks!!) 2) many of them don’t open at all on Sundays. I think that is what accounted for the crowds on the Saturday I arrived - that is the main day of the week that people can shop in England.

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Looking at all these buildings it is pretty apparent that Liverpool was doing ok for itself in Victorian times, isn’t it?

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I finally made my way back to the Lime Street Station area and went into St. George’s Hall. The old prison area was an amazing museum but too dark for pictures. However, I did get some pictures of the main room where they were having some sort of a market that day (it was also dark hence the pictures aren’t the greatest:

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This is a drawing there of the ships in the 19th century in the Quays. I was told they really were packed in that tightly.

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Never did figure out what was in this very large and very grand old building right next to the train station:

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After 4 or 5 hours I had come full circle:

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Old October 30th, 2011, 12:40 AM   #3
Bristol Mike
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Fantastic pictures there - looks like you did a very commendable tour considering the time you had and the weather with which you were greeted!

Look forward to Manchester.
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Old October 30th, 2011, 12:48 AM   #4
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I'm glad that you enjoyed Liverpool; but I know that you have, yet, many more pictures to share.

Shame about the weather!

Yes, shops close at 6pm, except in Liverpool One - where they close at 8pm, and 10pm on Thursdays.

Saturday is always a, hugely, crowded day in Liverpool - as I expect that it is in most other British cities.

People do go into their city centres in British cities - with the exception of London, maybe - because it is so large that people tend to centre themselves around their own neighbourhoods; more atomised in that way!
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Old October 30th, 2011, 12:59 AM   #5
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I am jealous of your marvelous visit to Liverpool.
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Old October 30th, 2011, 01:00 AM   #6
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Liverpool Day 1 continued....

I then decided to walk to the main Anglican Cathedral in the hopes of maybe going up its tower before dusk came

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The entrance to Liverpool’s China Town which given that New York has a large Chinatown I didn’t bother to explore:

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Finally, I arrived at the Anglican Cathederal which is supposed to be one of the largest cathederals in the world:

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Some very nice and stately looking row houses next to the Cathederal:

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No pictures can do it justice but here are some from inside:

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I decided not to go up the tower but instead explore the interesting looking church cementary:

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The walk down along side the cathederal to the cementary was lined with tombstones - many of them quite moving with long lists of children and others dieing at a very young age:

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I never did get the exact story of the cementary but apparently it is NOT affiliated with the cathederal and is actually situated in an old stone quarry, which is why it is so far below street level. It also turns out that the very first person to be run over and killed by a train is buried here but I only found that out later so that picture is from my later visit and will be shown later.

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I then walked back to the center of the city and got a train out to Aigburth which is a section of southern Liverpool. I would be CouchSurfing in someones home and that is where they live, so this would give me an view of somewhat typical Liverpool neighborhood

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This is Aigburth. Note it is almost all row houses or semi detached homes. Fully detached single family homes seem quite rare in England. They do exist and I even stayed in one in Sheffield but they are clearly a small portion of England’s housing stock

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I went out and had some drinks at a local bar with my host and that was it for day one. What a day!!!!

Last edited by 600West218; October 30th, 2011 at 01:25 AM.
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Old October 30th, 2011, 01:13 AM   #7
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The houses in the photo above are Edwardian arts and crafts style houses - they have lovely original features. In fact, those houses are just a brief walk away from my own home.

'Row' houses, as you refer to them, are called 'terraced' houses in Britain.

You are right that probably most homes in Britain, are either terraced or semi-detached - but if you go to more middle-class or wealthy or, certainly, less urban areas, then you will find more detached housing.

We do not have the luxury of space, as you do in the U.S - also raw materials are so much more expensive; and housing equally so.
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Old October 30th, 2011, 01:53 AM   #8
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Egads, some of the Flickr pictures at the end from Aigburth aren't coming through for me - don't know why

@openlyJane:

Yes, I realize England has huge space constraints. I was amazed at how compact the cities were and how close together they are. In the US Manchester and Liverpool would probably be considered one metropolitan area.

However, I think the space limitations actually help keep their cities livable. They can't just abandon them as is done in the US where people always want to live in new homes and ever further out from the urban core. This vitality from lack of space makes British cities seem much bigger than they are. Liverpool metro is about 1 million people I think yet to find an American city with such vitality in its core you have to go to metro areas with at least 5 million people, sometimes even more than that (Houston is around 6 million I think and completely dead after 5 pm)
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Old October 30th, 2011, 02:17 AM   #9
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All this makes me proud to be British, never been to Liverpool myself. Fun little fact, the liver building isn't pronounced like Liverpool, the locals call it more Lie-ver building. Anyways can't wait to see more, you come my way through Yorkshire? Let me tell you York is an awesome place for old architecture, and Where I am Bradford, Especially the Saltaire area, it's a UNESCO world heritage site you know, Worth visiting the Andy Warhol Museum somewhere there. Anyway the Bradford district might be right up your alley if your in progress of doing it or if you've already done pop over next trip you do here ^_^ Can't wait to see more of your trip through Britain.
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Old October 30th, 2011, 02:23 AM   #10
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The vast space in the US is a blessing & a curse. Room for big houses & lawns, but neighborhoods, towns & cities abandoned like old socks. We have squandered our wealth and are left with cities that shame us.

Sorry, enough about our bad habits in the US.
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Old October 30th, 2011, 02:58 AM   #11
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Yup, I made it through Yorkshire. Unfortunately didn't hit Bradford (wanted to go to the industrial museum there but not enough time) but I did go to the industrial museum in Armsley Mills in Leeds. I also visited Saltaire and went to the National Coal Mining Museum of England (one of the best things I did on the trip). Pictures of all that will be forthcoming.
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Old October 30th, 2011, 03:00 AM   #12
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Liverpool Day 2

On my second day in Liverpool I took walked over to the Aigburth train station to go back to the city center:

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I could have gotten into town quickly except I missed the first train because I failed to realize that British trains run on the left, just as their cars do. I finally figured that out and crossed over to the correct track:

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This Merseyside rail was quite good and convenient. They had electronic signs saying when the trains would arrive. Also, it was a hybrid between a subway and a suburban rail system. The trains were generally 3 or 4 cars long and seating was front and back facing train style seating rather than side facing subway style seating.

A statue of some famous Liverpudlians in the Lime Street Station:

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One neat thing they did was paint on the street at intersections which way you should look for oncoming cars. Given that the left side of the street driving really through me off (I really did almost get hit by cars a few times) it was the only thing that kept me from getting an inside look at their NHS:

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I met up with Paul of Skyscrapercity who had agreed to spend a day showing me around town. As soon as we met we were off to what I had really come so far for (and no, it wasnít the Beatles):

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I love the aging of the brick. To me, aside from the sheer size of the structure, it is what makes the building. Youíll see in pictures of the Albert Docks (some of which are already posted and others yet to come) that they clearly sandblasted and completely restored the brick work to make it look brand new. I am not a fan of that. You only know the Albert Docks is old because they tell you it is - looking at it it could have been built yesterday. But there is no escaping the authenticity of the Tobacco Warehouses. I hope the building does some day get put back into use but when it is I hope they leave the facade as it is. This building has aged beautifully!!!

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Then we walked across the street and looked at what was the beginning of the Liverpool-Leeds Canal which I am told actually winds up going fully across England. I certainly did see for myself that it goes as far as Leeds.

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So here we go with what makes English canals so spectacular - the original canals all still exist and are operational with working, hand operated locks!! Note these locks doors are opened by hand - ie simply pushing against them. The sluice gates to let water in or out of a closed lock are also hand operated. This is how it was on the old Erie Canal that traversed New York State. Yet I had only ever seen these locks in drawings of the old Erie Canal as they were wiped out in the early 20th Century when the Erie Canal was replaced by the larger Barge Canal. And here they were in real life in front of my face. What an unexpected bonus for my trip!!!

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Nice brick work to help you keep your footing as you open and close the gates. Clever!!

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The viaduct is for the Merseyrail line which passes right by there. It must have spectacular views from the train but I was so busy the four days I spent in Liverpool I didnít have time to ride it. Next time.

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Some Yank showing off in front of a lock :-)

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No idea who maintains all these locks. They are ALL over the place there and they all seem in good condition. Must require lots of money and effort to keep them up.

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Be forwarned - any who doesnít like to see pictures of canals can stop following this thread now as the whole time I was in England I was around canals and taking LOTS of pictures of them.

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I was told these homes along the canal were working class homes. Looked quite nice to me.

ok, back to the Tobacco Warehouse:

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Note the watchtower built on to the side of the building!!

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I think this was the administration building:

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Notice the CCTV cameras. As I said they are everywhere. Orwell was right, at least about England.

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I believe I was told this was an 8 sided clock meant to be visible for anyone entering Liverpool, especially by ship. I believe there is only one other like it in the world, somewhere in Rusia.

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The rotted and unused gate to the Quay around which the warehouses were built:

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Than Paul drove me on a highway past the main container port (to bad there is no place to get pictures from of that!!) and to a park further out towards the sea on the Mersey.

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Note all the windmills out in the Mersey. The tide is out (but coming in) but when it comes in it will cover most all of this beach.

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There are lots of these statues afixed to the beach. From a distance you really think they are people standing in the water.

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Iím the one on the left.

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Notice how even though the waves are breaking further out the land in front is wet. The ground is not all even (though you donít realize that until some one points it out) so you can be standing on land that is a bit higher and above the tide while the water has actually already come in behind you. That happened a little bit to us and that is what is so dangerous and can get people into trouble with the tides.

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You can just make out a statue in this picture:

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In just a couple of minutes the tide had come in past the statue where I had took a picture.

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Then Paul took me to the area nearby where the Captian of the Titanic lived and where the owner of the Whitestar Line lived.

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This is the Captains home. Doesnít look all that impressive but I guess in the early 1900ís it was.

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Next we see where the owner of the Whitestar line lived. That was a very nice area:

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I love the chimneys with the multiple pipes coming out of them. That is sooooo European :-)

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Then we went into the little town right there (actually I think it used to be a seperate town but is now a part of Liverpool though I canít remember its name).

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There is some new lottery that is meant to finance part of the NHS. A way of raising taxes on lower income people without saying you are raising their taxes - just like in the U.S.

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In an eatery there they had pictures of what the area used to be like and of the captian of the Titanic.
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Old October 30th, 2011, 05:22 AM   #13
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Hi, Just been reading the other thread asking for information about the trip grad to see you enjoyed you're time in northern england, most people just go to london. Did you like Durham City and York ?
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Old October 30th, 2011, 05:43 AM   #14
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[QUOTE=600West218;85190352]image hosted on flickr

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That is an awesome scary photo I love the Anglican Cathederal. Thank you so much for sharing those beautiful and interesting photos.
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Old October 30th, 2011, 10:34 AM   #15
cpwken
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Quote:
No idea who maintains all these locks. They are ALL over the place there and they all seem in good condition. Must require lots of money and effort to keep them up.
.

All English canals are owned by British Waterways, which is a "Public Corporation". I.e government owned but semi-independently run.

They very nearly did disappear. Commercially they started to decline after the arrival of the railways, and by the end of WW2 most were either completely derelict or at least in very poor repair, and commercial traffic was in its final deaththroes.

However, just in the nick of time campaigners started to argue against closure of the canals, and succeeded, to the extent that there's now about 2000 miles of navigable canals in the UK and they're recognised as a very important environmental and recreational asset.
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Old October 30th, 2011, 11:43 AM   #16
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Great pictures! Can't wait to see other cities
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Old October 30th, 2011, 12:51 PM   #17
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To answer one of your questions, as to what the large building - Great Western Hall - immediately outside of Lime street station is: Originally, it was a hotel that served the railway station.

The world's first -ever train, departed from Lime Street station on its journey to Manchester ( also the first ever train fatality - when the M.P who was officially opening the railway, accidentally fell in front of the departing train). Rail travel revolutionised life in Britain - certainly for the middle classes who used it - and The Great Western Hall was the hotel of choice.

It is now used, unfortunately for such a significant building - as student accommodation.


As for C.C.T.V, I, personally, don't mind it; it has become one of the most reliable tools used in bringing criminals & troublemakers to book.

Last edited by openlyJane; October 30th, 2011 at 01:06 PM.
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Old October 30th, 2011, 12:56 PM   #18
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Fabulous thread, and it's just getting started! Thanks so much for showing us Liverpool, I'm ashamed to admit I've never been despite my Grandmother being from there and having family in Manchester... You've made me resolve to have a city break there next year.

Look forward to following this thread as it grows!
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Old October 30th, 2011, 01:09 PM   #19
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The Elvis Presley lookalike is, actually, of Billy Fury - a 1960s singer from Liverpool.

The two figures in Lime street station are Ken Dodd - a Liverpool comedian, and Bessie Braddock - a champion of the poor in Liverpool.
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Old October 30th, 2011, 01:21 PM   #20
Paul D
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Great trip report so far Dan.
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