Monday, 4 January 2021

Gerry Marsden- You'll Never Walk Alone.

 I had Ferried across the Mersey and I was living in Willaston Mill, a 80 ft Windmill in South Wirral for a while.

A lady with her daughter stopped me to ask some information about the historic Grade II listed structure. It was a rainy day and I asked if they would like to come in and have a look inside. 

The young lady was doing a project at school and she had chosen my property, to write about, so I was of course quite honoured. “Hang on” I said “Let me get you some more of the history”. They told me that they lived across the meadow in Mill Lane. I went and got her a folder and asked if she could return it when she had taken all the information that they needed.

I carried on my merry way and almost forgot about it. I had been restoring the Mill for some time and there seemed to be people there everyday. Man, it was tough going, but I had a good team of lads who knew what they were doing.

It took a lot of concentration.

This day was no exception there were six guys on site. The double entrance doors to the conicle shaped brick structure were open and I saw a couple walk in and I went to greet them as there was machinery and tools everywhere. I hardly recognised the lady who told me she had brought me the documents back and thanked me. The gentleman stood there awestruck at the twenty five foot high circular room with its new staircases that I had built. I was proud of my work. Fitting a spiral staircase in a circular and tapering room had proved one of the hardest challenges I had undertaken. 

“Come in” I said and they both stood there staring open mouthed. Which was the usual for any visitors. My guys working there were use to me showing people round.

Then the bloke caught the sight of my Wurlitzer Lyric Jukebox and he was over like a shot staring at the case at the titles of the records contained within.

Next thing Tommy Hicky the joiner who I had served my apprenticeship with, and hated me reminding him of the fact, walked over, with his saw still in hand.

Tommy was the worst timekeeper in the world as he was a DJ by night doing many wedding events that went on all night. We both loved music which is why we got on so well. I had sacked him at least five times for his bad time keeping. But I always had him back.

If I added up the amount of pay I docked from him it would be a small fortune.

This was the time when you had to record records from the deck, to put them on a cassette for the car, and I often went through his collections and 'put a tape together' in those prehistoric days. “Listen to this he would say”. 

"Yes I will have that" 

He use to like the fact that I was telling him about newer music, Bowie and Kraftwerk and the new groups coming along, Music was changing when I worked with him.

He was Beatles mad and I once said to him “Oh you like all that old fashioned stuff then” which seems a mistake now.

So he hovered on this blokes shoulder staring at him. He noticed Hicky out of the corner of his eye and as he slowly turned Tommy' the Joiners eyes followed him as he peered back into the juke box slightly perturbed.

“I know you from somewhere” Hicky said, hanging on his shoulder.

“Oh yeah” the man said with his pearly white grin and raised eyebrow

“I am trying to think, hang on it will come to me in a minute” which seemed like an hour, as the man stood there with his one eyebrow raised.

The rest of the guys had stopped work and began to gather around wondering whats going on.

“No I definitely know you”......waving his saw around. Then after some time his mind seemed to click.

“Where you a joiner for George Wimpey on the Okell Drive site” he asked out loud.

His wife laughed, as did the man and calmly and he paused, he said “I am Gerry Marsden”.

Tommy's mouth opened wide in shock.

“Oh Gerry.....I've got all your records”

A howl of laughter went up and poor old Tommy stood there nearly pulling Gerrys hand off, shaking it in shock at the mistake he had made.

Gerry laughed his head off.

“No I didn't work on that site.

It was hilarious. Gerry Marsden hanging doors and putting partitions up on a building site?

 All the lads were shaking their heads with laughter after his 'Tom foolery' but finally it all calmed down and he thanked me for helping his daughter. Still smiling as he left.

I only met him a few times after that. He was always a gentleman.

Now, I remember bunking into the Anfield Kop over the railings, from the Boys Pen and standing there with my scarf raised singing You'll Never Walk Alone. The atmosphere was always electric. I was there when Liverpool won the League and Shankly took his jacket off to proudly proclaim he was wearing a red shirt. It was he, who, in 1963 instructed a little known song from the film Carousel, to be be played before every match.

 How many times in defeat the deafening chorus would lift the spirits. How many times it helped the team play, and win in the final whistle blow. Even more in defeat the song was as important. When You Walk Through A Storm Hold Your Head Up High. Meant, it was alright, we will still follow you. We all lose sometime. But there is always hope.

I wrote the whole song out and sent it as a card to my ex girlfriend who lived in Willaston in the shadow of the Mill, when she was diagnosed with cancer.

 I thought it would make her better. 

It didn't.

Some people think this is just a song. It's not. It's a feeling, its a spirit. It lifts you when you are down. Gives you hope to carry on, through that storm. And no matter how bad it is, there will always be a golden sky and the sweet silver sound of a lark.

I have watched grown men crying, sobbing like babies when singing it on the terraces. 

One of them may have been me.

The song has been sung by many. The Frank Sinatra version is slow, but Gerry skipped it up. It was one of his three consecutive no 1's. It also sums up the whole 1960's Merseybeat scene when Liverpool was the centre of the Universe, and the aspirations of a whole city were shaken by its decline. It was hope.

It means something, to everyone, be you a Liverpool supporter or an Evertonian. Its about life. And death.

Bill Shankly who once said “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I can assure you its much more important than that” knew what he was doing.

So every time we got knocked down as a city, when the tide of unemployment turned for the worse. When the Hillsborough fight that lasted decades, the fight for justice was fought. This was the anthem of hope. At Istanbul his song inspired us to pluck victory out of defeat.

We all know that. We Will Never Walk Alone. In Liverpool.

And Gerry Marsden is part of all our lives. 

When I began to learn to play a Clarinet. One of the first songs I learnt was this great song. Then Ferry 'Cross The Mersey.

So now in this time of International pandemic, with football matches without a crowd to sing, the lyrics of this song, that Gerry sung, the words have never seemed more pertinent.

Gerry will be remembered not just at every home match. And if his songs are in other peoples hearts like they are in mine. Then he will never be forgotten.

So..........Don't let The Sun Catch You Crying........Lets be glad and not sad. 

That Gerry Marsden a lad from Toxteth walked along our path, and touched our lives with such inspiration. 

I wont forget him. But I have often wondered what he would have been like with a hammer in his hand?

Thursday, 17 December 2020

The Christmas Truce-Cold Turkey

This year we are in the hands of politicians who have the power to keep us safe and save lives.

Politicians have decided people are allowed in 2020 to have a little respite from Covid and meet loved ones in a limited way over the festive period.

Many think this is too lenient. Who am I to say.

It's a sort of truce.

There are politicians and there are murdering politicians and just over a hundred years ago, during the First World War most were the latter.

Twenty years ago while running a campaign to save the Chambre Hardman archive for the people of Liverpool I received a phone call with the offer of help.

“It's Lady French” she had said on the telephone.

Expecting to meet an old dud in a tweed suit I was surprised, as she was quite young. We chatted over a coffee and after a while I asked her about her title.

“Oh my Grandfather got his title from World war One, Lord French”

“Wasn't he that murdering General that sent hundreds of thousands of people over the top to death”

She looked at me hardly surprised and said “Yes that's him”.

I did not receive any assistance, though we stayed friends.

We have had the hundred years commemorations for WWI.

Individual stories of heroism has given way to the endless lists of tragic deaths. 

Murdering Generals have been replaced by stories of heroes.

Recently during a recording at an Antiques Roadshow valuation I was asked to appraise a FA Cup Final medal from 1914.

King George V presented the medal and was, at that time the patron of the Football League.

Not to give too much away as it has not been aired yet.

The recipient of the medal was a bit of a card and the story that unfolded was of extreme interest to me. The story is mesmerizing. I hope I have done it justice. It will be aired sometime in 2021.

I learnt a lot from delving into these war years. I learnt a lot through football.

 If I don't learn something new every day I am very disappointed.

I entered the debate before Liverpool became European capital of Culcha in 2008. (Some people were saying the only culture in Liverpool, was, in the yogurt, in the fridge, in the Kwik Save, in Old Swan). But I disagreed. The debate of' 'Is football culture? Intrigued me, as I grew up a stones throw from Anfield. Football is part of my, modern day culture. Its in my DNA. All great cities such as Napoli and Rome embrace football. The highs and lows and.......the art of football. 

If a skilled craftsman can be a silversmith. Why cant a skilled footballer be treated the same way off the terraces.

I learnt more than I needed by handling this medal my mind began to race. That's just the way I like it. So it the story grew and grew.

The following year, after the medal was won, the 1915 Cup Final would be known as The Khaki Final because nearly all the crowd was dressed in uniform. I wonder if you did one of those images that took away all those who later died how many faces in the crowd would remain.

In between these two finals was of course the famous Christmas Truce.

Christmas Day 1914 where soldiers from both sides played a game of Togger in No Mans Land. They had both sung Silent Night in their mother tongues. The voices had hovered over the trenches in honest sentimentality. Fifty to hundred yards away from each other. It was a Christmas favorite in both homelands. The Germans had decorated little trees on the parapets of the trenches. These trees had been sent by their families and candles were put in jam jars lit up the night sky.

Shouting took place amidst the choirs.

“Happy Christmas Tommy”.

“Happy Christmas Fritz”. 

Who would want to kill on Christmas day.

It was said, that a sign was held up. 

Happy Christmas No Shooting”

And some brave soldier walked over the top. He was not shot and this started a unbelievable sight. Where enemies met and shook hands and swapped cigars coffee tea, and chocolate. Someone got a ball out and they had a kick around. That leather ball must have weighed a ton with the build up of mud amidst the bomb pocks and craters. What a match that must have been.

 Enemies playing a game in good spirit.

There was also talk of a British officer being blindfolded and taken behind German lines for Christmas dinner. He was given a slap up, by trench standards and was taken back soon afterwards. There were stories of people recognizing Germans who had worked in London. One even was said to have had his haircut by his barber who was German and had returned home to fight in the war.

Some truces lasted for days.

It is of course the season of goodwill. Photographs appeared in the British papers.

This was of great discontent to the Murdering Generals and of course the politicians with blood on their hands like Churchill, who had helped start the war so that they could play toy soldiers, for real.

The scorn that was poured on both Tommie's and Fritz's who nodded a ball around a field in some distant land meant that they were ordered to stop fraternizing and bomb the gubbing's out of the opposition shortly after. Orders were given by the murderers who probably never got anywhere near the front line.

Where these fraternizers the clever people. Could they have spoiled Churchill's war.

I respect the heroism of my Grandfathers generation who fought in that war and I have even come around to having a bit of sympathy for the German soldiers who were also led like lambs to the slaughter for the honour of their King and Country.

Now if the people had known what we know now about the Cousins, the spawn of the mentally disturbed Queen Victoria. King George his lookalike, Tzar Nicholas and the evil Wilhelm of Germany, would they have allowed themselves a glorious death.

Is there a glorious death?

Its strange the way time gives you more insight, to digest and when writing about the Next of Kin medal designed by the father of a lady I knew, I was quite emotional at the way solemnity and dignity could be designed as symbolism. A symbol of lament. Death.

But recently I have started to feel that the dignity was manipulated to make up for the stupidity of murdering politicians now PR'd in the case of Churchill into saviors of our nation. If the word of peace had of been spread on Christmas day forthwith to both homelands maybe it would have saved 2 million peoples lives and a Second World War. The whole truth of The American Flu pandemic that was PR'd into The Spanish Flu killed near a hundred million souls. It is only with the outbreak of Covid 19 that people have become aware of the great death during WWI.

They also PR'd The Murderous act by the Hun of  torpedoing  The Lusitania. As a recruitment exercise to send more soldiers to their doom.

DID THE FLU STOP THE WAR. That would have been an unacceptable response. A insult to all those relatives that received The Dead Mans Penny.

I grew up with stories of Great Britons the likes of Scott, Shackleton, The Charge of The Light Brigade. Only to now look back at the whole bouncy build up of failure as no more than lies spun on heroic failure. They have just named the Nightingale Hospitals to hide another con just like the invention of The Lady With The Lamp, Florence Nightingale. No matter how kind she was, her fame just hid the abominable state of medical treatment in The Crimea.
 And made her a jolly good fellow out it all while Queen Victoria and the politicians got away with murder. I could make the list of lies longer.

You get a bit cynical the older you get. But you also have more tie to think for yourself.

So what of those soldiers who met to spread a bit of Christmas cheer. A little respite to horror before they may have met a glorious death. Up to their necks in mud and lice they sensed a small respite from the horror of war.

They knew what death was in reality. It was all around them. Not a public relation invention by the suppressed newspaper magnates, in on the con. Feeding the flames

Where these honorable soldiers the clever people? 

These men most of whom had little or no education.

Who had nothing against the opposite of themselves. Barbers plumbers shopkeepers. Who went along with the propaganda of the evil Hun. Spun by the evil murdering politicians of Britain.

Most may have been wondering what they were really fighting for. What Belgium had to do with them. Most would not know that Leopold The King of the Belge was one of the most cruel people ever to walk the face of the earth. He was responsible for real evil in his African Congo Kingdom.

So what was it really all about?

When the murdering politicians on both sides were a confused bunch of confidence tricksters.

 Running amok.

One thing I have learnt, is that football was and has become a symbol of humanity. They shake hands after every match.

All politicians should be made to go out in a pair of muddy shorts and be made to play for a team on a wet windy Sunday morning. Because the game of life is like match. Once you start disrespecting yourself what chance for your opponent.

That those simple folk on the terraces. The Spion Kop (another con) are the salt of the earth and that modern culture is inextricably tied together with football.

For one thing I have learnt. From learning. Is that.

When it's foolish to be clever. It is folly to be wise. 

Update 22.12.2020.

There are now thousands of lorries waiting to get to France. The 2020 Christmas truce called by buffoon politicians  is all but cancelled. Brexit is looming.

France has banned the returns of lorries because the murdering politicians of Britain's current crop have made such a mess of dealing with Covid 19 that a new strain has developed. What a mess.

And they are still lying to us. Through Their teeth. What will the new year bring.

Friday, 30 October 2020

David Woodlock Oil On Canvas-Piece of the Week.

I noticed a rather grubby looking but well framed oil painting just as travel restrictions started to be applied which made it difficult to handle it in person. So I was more than relieved to find that it was in excellent condition when I eventually got to see it.

The vendors chosen auctioneers had been so lazy as to not even give it a wipe, and thus presenting it in a terrible state. You could hardly see the painting through the muck on the glass. Which it seems may have been to my benefit. The same lazy auctioneers that don't even wrap a parcel up for you, or even supply bubble wrap.

There can't be another profession where they pluck 25% from the vendors and 25% from the buyer and then treat both with contempt.

But this seems to my advantage in this case.

The painting was by David Woodlock.

His work is held in many institutions. I gave it a clean and it came up looking as bright as a bell.

Labelled several times on the back. One label read Alderman Harford and another label reads WOODLOCK EXHIBITION Walker Art Gallery 1929 and a owners name.

David Woodlock (1842-1929) was a key figure in the development of a distinct school of Liverpool painters, being a founder member, and later the President, of the Liver Sketching Club, (still going today) and also a member of the Liverpool Academy of Arts.

David Woodlock was born in County Tipperary, Ireland, the son of John Woodlock. Moving to Liverpool at the age of twelve, he was apprenticed as a drapers. He showed great artistic promise and began to study at the schools of the Liverpool Academy of Arts. He studied under John Finnie, possibly in the evenings, while he still worked as a draper’s assistant. In 1871 he exhibited at the Liverpool Autumn Exhibition, which was held at the Walker Art Gallery. He was living at 28 Almond Street, as the head of the household, with his widowed father, John, who was working as a coal dealer, his brother, Thomas and sister Margaret.

Woodlock helped found the Liver Sketching Club in 1872.

Marrying Marion Theresa Martin that year.

Becoming a member of the Liverpool Academy of Arts.

He exhibited in London in 1880, showing at the Royal Academy of Arts from 1888. Also exhibiting at the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, the Royal Scottish Academy.
He exhibited sixteen works at the Royal Academy between 1888 and 1904.

During the late 1880s, Woodlock was living in Sheffield with his wife and four children, and working as a ‘hosier and haberdasher’. In his spare time, he studied at St George’s Museum, Walkley, which had been founded by John Ruskin for the education of local workers.

Having returned to Liverpool by the early 1890s, Woodlock travelled to Venice and North Africa in 1894. He would later visit Holland.

He became President of the Liver Sketching Club in 1897.

In the early twentieth century, he lived in Warwickshire, where he painted some of his most characteristic images of country life with half-timbered cottages set in flower-filled gardens.

Back in Liverpool, he took a studio at Canning Chambers, 2 South Street, Liverpool. In 1911, he was living at 46 Nicander Road, Toxteth Park, Liverpool, with his wife and three younger adult children, Winifred, Evangeline and Charles.

At the time of his death on 4 December 1929, David Woodlock was living at no 2 Voelas Street High Park Liverpool.

So I contacted the Walker Art Gallery and Alex Patterson kindly gave me confirmation that it was exhibited at The Walker Art Gallery in 1929 as Part of The Autumn Exhibition showing contemporary artists. He had exhibited widely in the Autumn Exhibitions from the galleries conception in 1871.

This picture was shown there upon his death perhaps in memory to him.

They have two further oil paintings and four water colours by him in their collection.

None of which are currently on display.

Signed in oil in the lower right corner.

It is a portrait of Alderman Harford who was the brother of The Lord Mayor of Liverpool. Looking ever so Bohemian in his wide brimmed hat with a red plume and sporting a tasseled necktie. Is that a cape he's wearing?

He could almost be mistaken for a painter himself.

It looks to me to be painted during that period we now call The Arts and Crafts. Possibly Victorian maybe Edwardian,

I was so pleased that the auctioneers showed it little respect because maybe I would not have been able to afford it if they did.

It now, thankfully resides with me. Where it is now cherished. A piece of art history.

I have no desire to sell it at present

His portrait of Cardinal John Henry Newman 1988 held in the National Gallery of Ireland was purchased 1987.

Mary Bennett, Merseyside, Painters, People & Places: Text, Liverpool: Walker Art Gallery, 1978, Page 235

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Edward Chambre Hardman-59 Rodney Street-The Truth-PART THREE

This give the, by this time, campaign, a new life. The Daily Post waded in deep and I kept the headlines coming. Radio Mereyside wanted a interview and I nervously went to talk to Roger Philips. Who was looking for something to report on. The City Council had sent a representative to argue for sending the archive to Bradford.          What! How can this be?

It was Councillor Frank Doran who I gave a right ear bashing to outside the studios calling him an idiot. 

Which proved to be correct as he subsequently had to resign. A clown.

I also found that the City Council owned 120,000 negatives and they were going to Bradford too. 

It was an outrage .

 Liverpool City Council hawking our heritage to......the lowest bidder. 

Well for free. 

Mike Storey was leader of Liverpool City Council. Not the most cultured of people. 

He would later be gobsmacked when Liverpool was announced a capital of culture.

 He wouldn't have a clue.

 Liverpool would receive the accolade of World Heritage Site Status and he would use executive powers to take the cities tall buildings policy away and accommodate some of the dodgiest land deals, that the people of Liverpool will forever pay the price for. You couldn't make it up.

He and his friend Trevor Jones would be in bed with The Duke of Westminster's property arm Grosvener and the council would give away most of the city centre for free.

Other headlines about missing antiques from the town hall added to the pressure.

Then BBC North West decided to do a programme as the whole campaign seemed to have legs. 

Mike McCartney was interviewed and at one stage he said “Everyone is moaning at us but we are the ones paying the tunnel fees to get over there. It was embarrassing for him.

I was annoyed. I wrote to him after we had a whip round in the barbers next door and enclosed £2.40, that was £1.20 each way return and said “take a paintbrush with you next time you lazy sod”

Everyone I spoke to was amazed at what was about to happen. Soon the public weight behind it gathered momentum and I kept filling the pages of The Daily Post.

Letters started to flow in and the radio waves went haywire.

 I had found in the Charity commissions files that Memories of Avignon had been licensed to a major print producing company....for 25 grand. The archive was worth a fortune.

The campaign began to remind me of the Simon Poliakoff film about another photographic archive nearly lost.

 I kicked up that much anti feeling against the idle trustees who were, by now getting worried. I got worried that I was starting to resemble the Timothy Small, off the wall character in the film.

I spoke to Poliakoff later when was giving a talk at The Unity Theatre and thanked him for his inspiration. “I have heard of the Chambre Hardman campaign” he said.

I wrote to Liverpool Museums and received a reply from the director Sir Richard Foster said he would look into the matter. He sadly committed suicide soon after.

I wrote a letter to the National Trust asking if they could look at taking over the house as they already had John Lennon's childhood home, Mendips.

I thought they could compliment each other.

 Lets say I was actively exploring every avenue, the lazy trustees had not. I was doing their work for them.

I asked for a meeting with the council leader Mike Storey who could not ignore the publicity as it was getting hot. I kicked up headlines every week. We were making them look foolish and showing them up for the lack of respect for the historical past.

He was ignorant to the history so I explained it to him and he offered to look into setting up a room in the Liverpool Library in William Brown Street to house it.

And the 120,000 neg's owned by The City Council.  

Gavin Stamp the historian waded in after I suggested we contact him.

Now we were getting somewhere and there was a great weight behind my campaign that many others had joined. We became The Friends of Chambre Hardman.

Peter Elson was up for an award for my, err, I mean his reporting.


Saturday, 15 August 2020

The Chambre Hardman House. 57 Rodney Street-The Truth. PART TWO

By chance I picked up a newspaper to read in a coffee shop at the corner of Brunswick street.
 It was November 1999. 
I noticed an article in the middle pages of The Liverpool Daily Post. With a headline. 

Turning a Positive into a Negative.

It was about Edward Chambre Hardman.
I knew that name.
A horrid neighbor of mine in Gateacre Brow had been working for the Social Services and was involved in the clearance of the photographers house when he passed away. 

A bloke called Peter Hagerty had recognized and formed a trust and there were calls to preserve all his stuff as it was a time capsule. So here we were now in 1999.
Peter Elson of the Daily Post had the good sense to question a press release from the Edward Chambre Hardman Trust who proclaimed that it was good thing.

That was, to send the whole Edward Chambre Hardman archive, including many unexplored negatives and all his life's work, to Bradford Museum of Film and Photography!!!!

That is no longer open. 

And sell the house to pay them to take it!

What! I thought.

This was the second article. I had missed the first.
This riled my back up and looking at the picture reproduced in the paper of Hardman, with his camera, he seemed to mouth to me.
'You are not going to let them do that are you'.
I wasn't.
I contacted Peter Elson who was looking for his next angle and told him as a art dealer in Liverpool I understood the worth of this collection, not only in monetary terms but as a cultural record of Liverpool's past.
“It wasn't any old archive” I said “It was a record of Liverpool's past”.
This seemed to give him an extra confidence. He had a hook for his next article.
We had a common goal to ensure this archive does not leave Liverpool and the house is not sold off to pay for the archive's donation to....Bradford. They were going to pay them to take it!

I had seen an exhibition at The Walker Art Gallery shortly after his death.
The collection moved through at least a couple of generations.
It was also a record of Liverpool's middle classes.
 Everyone who was anyone had their portrait taken by Hardman and Burrell.
Hardman never threw anything away.
There had been big ideas at the time. What had happened?
I set to work.
I got Chambre Hardmans will from the Records Office and after a bit of exploring I found that these trustees had been in possession of a load of cash. There were lots of assets.
Where had it all gone?
Peter Elson had obtained a quote for his first article from Mike McCartney who was Paul's brother and a well known documentary photographer of Liverpool himself.
I questioned why he was saying this was a good idea.

I made an appointment with the Charity Commission to see the accounts and dragged Peter Elson over to the Kings Dock.

There was all the evidence. Evidence of squandering all the money that had been left in his will.
To make matters worse McCartney was also a secret trustee!
Elson didn't know that. They tried to stitch up the press. He didn't fall for it.
There it was in black and white for all to see. For those who took half a day off work to do so.
The figures were alarming. The wastage amounted to £350,000. Yes!
They had even received a grant of £47,000 from Liverpool City Council.
One of the ex trustees was a director of the Bradford museum!
Another, Viv Tyler was renting space in the basement of the house in Rodney street.
For a peppercorn rent.
I had written to them offering my help. I did not receive a reply. They thought it would go quietly. They had not anticipated me and Peter Elson teaming up.
Lots of valuable pieces had gone missing without any proper records kept.
I noticed a picture of Edward sitting next to what appeared to be a Tiffany lamp.
Where was it?
It had gone missing.
There was a car that had disappeared.
This was all Peter Elson needed to swing back into action and the next headline was a damning indictment of the pathetic group of ineffectual people who had networked their way into being trustees of the most amazing record of Liverpool's past and its past people. This is the City that knocked the Cavern down and called itself Beatles Town and this was the photographic equivalent of that disaster.  

Here is the next Daily Post article.

This sent shock waves all around the city and the whole sorry escapade was now becoming more than just a few photographs it was becoming a point of order. a principle of looking after our historical records.

Of Shooting The Past.

Friday, 24 July 2020

Edward Chambre Hardman. 59 Rodney Street-The Truth-PART ONE.

Are The National Trust Liar's?
I noticed a poster tagged on the park gates of Reynolds Park in Church Road Woolton. It said that there was a talk taking place courtesy of The Woolton Society at St Marys Parish Hall.
 It was about Edward Chambre Hardman and The Hardman House in 59 Rodney Street. 
By Roy Wainwright of The National Trust.
Interesting I thought. 
There is a subject I know something about.
I wasn't doing anything else. 
It was a sunny summer evening, that I walked into the church hall and took my seat.
The speaker preparing his power point seemed to stop and notice me.
I recognized him.
He was the one that came over and asked if he could shake my hand. Thanking me.
 This was a wet Saturday afternoon.
I had been invited to meet the top brass. Of The Ark Royal. The Royal Navy were docked in Liverpool for the weekend. The Captain was being presented with a print of the famous photograph showing the construction of the famous aircraft carrier. By Edward Chambre Hardman.
The National Trust awarded the framed print but it was organised by Peter Elson of The Liverpool Daily Post.
“I love working here” the bloke said “And I have to thank you for all the work that you did helping save this house and the Chambre Hardman archive”. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you, I go out doing talks now. I love it.”
I remember it well because I had been touched at the time.
Little things like that make the hundred hours working on a heritage project seem worth it.
The house had been doomed to be sold off, when I had became involved.
So I sat there one sunny summer evening in Woolton feeling proud.
There are now books about his work. All could see the photographs of Edward Chambre Hardman.
Though many of his photographs had not been cataloged yet.
Listening to the talk about his life and his work. It had been worth it.
It was enjoyable enough.
Questions were taken at the end of his talk. 
I decided to sit on my hands and a few were answered.
Then one lady asked.
“Wasn't there a bit of controversy in the papers about it all, wasn't it going to be closed?”
“Errr no” he said scuffing on quickly to another question.
I nearly fell off my chair. I was about to stand up and put the matter straight.
The little fibber didn't look at me he just stood there in barefaced cheek.
With his pants on fire.
I had taped the whole talk. What a diabolical two faced joker I thought.
I am not having that.
Then I thought.
Did you do it for recognition, Wayne?
No I thought. It was something I just couldn't let go. I did it because I could.
I had made it my life for a while. 
I was successful. I know what I did.

They had written The Friends of Chambre Hardman out of his history despite the
 National Trust thanking us profusely at the time.
Diabolical bad manners, that.
I thought I would have a quiet word with him.
Then I thought. Y'know, I don't even want to acknowledge or talk to the balloon.
I walked away.

So with that. I decided to put the matter straight and post a few of the headlines I created.
So all can see what little ungrateful fibbers the National Trust are.

Part II to follow shortly.

Friday, 3 July 2020

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. His Gothic Ideal Is All Around Us.

 I still recall how I wandered around the war torn streets thinking that everywhere was damaged and forlorn, and covered in a thick black patina, from the smog that frequently fell. Like a stone.
That at times, made even circumnavigating the other side of the street impossible.
The first church that I attended, was attached to our school. That was St Georges, and is a Grade I listed building of 1812. St Georges is one of the earliest buildings to be constructed by metal skeleton. Leaving it light and allowing the architecture to float in in its Georgian Gothic splendour. The decoration hanging on its Rickman designed cast iron frame.

I would not know the name Pugin, it would mean nothing to me until I started to feed the thirst for knowledge that I started developing while still in short pants.
Gothic was born of Rickmans work and was championed by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin.
The first time I looked up at the heavenly architecture of st Georges that was heightened and was shimmering in tinted colours, like a magic lantern slide. I wandered into a world of why. As the light from the only stained glass windows that escaped the Luftwaffe, pierced the pulpit during the services that I had to endure. My mind would wander.
It was built on the site of the old Liverpool lighthouse and Beacon lane fed up to its plateau. This was the old welsh town of Liverpool.
There were numerous massive buildings that I recall, that would either fall down or be demolished and the architecture of the firm of Pugin and Pugin, I would later find out, filled the streets around my home with Gothic pearls.
Our Lady Immaculate with the ambitious foundations of the Chancel Chapel on St Domingo Road. That would never be more than that. The plans to build a Majestic Cathedral, at the top of our street had never been able to to be realized. For lack of finances.
I could feel those ambitions all around me, enveloping my senses.
Decades later I would become a specialist in the restoration of listed buildings and then move into the world of antiques.
But I will never forget the way it made me feel to live in such a place with its monumental faded Gothic glory at every turn.
So now, when I may, understand the esoteric's of design, I try to keep on furthering my knowledge by the continual feeding of that seed. That grew out of those bombed out buildings that I played in as a child.
There were three Pugin and Pugin buildings in stones throw from, our house.

I want to explore here, a little more about The Great Gothic Master of Design.

Augustus Northmore Welby Pugin (Born 1812) wrote a scathing attack on British Georgian architecture. He called it an abomination.
CONTRASTS was written by Pugin when he was 25 and he does not hold back in his thought. The Industrial revolution of the 1830's had saw huge civil unrest.
A strong moral leadership was called for. But it was not there.
The country was burdened with George IV. Who did fancy himself as a patron of the arts.
He wanted to work on Buckingham Palace and the kings favourite architect John Nash who was a master of disguise was employed.
This work showed what we call Facadism where a building is cloaked in a Stucco fronting.
Pugin was an angry young man. He thought he would cleanse the immorality of this Georgian style. In 'Gothic' he asks the questions of the reasons of the demise of architecture.
Even though we now look at Georgian as an example of style that is admired, he thought Gothic was the way forward. Believing classicism to be false to a higher ideal.
St Giles in Staffordshire was an attempt to turn the tide of immorality through architecture. In his eyes Medieval fusion would be controlled into a channel of heavenly paradise. To him, the Gothic revival was devoutly christian. This was his brave new world......of looking back.
His mother Catherine Welby and August Charles had fled the french revolution and they settled in Bloomsbury. As a direct result of Catherine's inheritance. They were wealthy. The young Pugin never really went to school. His father supplemented their income by doing architectural drawing. At five years of age his parents took him to Lincoln Cathedral. He was struck by the genius of the prizmatic light dousing the building in contrasting colour's, that was built 700 years before.
He admired the honesty, and how the building was made.
Its skeleton was on show, there for all to see.
His father ran a drawing school and he and the pupils were taken to Northern France. Rouen Cathedral entranced him.
There is a drawing in the national archives entitled My first design at 9 years old.
He learnt about the engineering. How buildings held up. How they were built.
He was shown them the bones of how they were constructed. He would feel them.
Many Cathedrals were looted during the revolution. Many with sculptures were defaced. He noted this.
He would collect and would study fragments of medieval glass.

Low church services were held in preaching boxes in small chapels and his mother supported Edward Irving who was a sort of evangelist of the day.
He began to loathe the low style of service and turned to the theatre.
The Theatre Royale Richmond, entranced him at 15 years old, he saw the scenery flying on and off the stage. As if by magic. He began to study in three dimensions and in 1831 he designed quite lavishly for Henry VIII.
He gained a sense of the dramatic, with the immorality of the theatre.

Ann was 5 months pregnant when Pugin married her. He did the right thing and they seemed happy, until Ann died, shortly after childbirth. Then his mother died. And at the age of 21 he was a single parent. He was shattered by events and buried himself in the wreckage of his life and his Gothic ideal.

Contrasts won him the friendship of John Talbot the 16th Earl of Shrewsbury and his money gave him the capital for amongst others St Giles in Cheadle.
Cheadle, my perfect Cheadle he declared in later life. Picture The west doors of St Giles
At the consecration of his Gothic masterpiece of St Giles, Archbishops were present. He had come a long way. It was a national event. He wanted to capture a spirit something he felt and it all went into his ideas for Gothic.
Talbot's stately home is now Alton Towers.
He had converted to catholicism while writing 'Contrasts'. He adored the playing out of the service with all theatrical theatrical manner, he adored.
George Myers was his prefered builder, a Yorkshire man. They struck a chord, he had a understanding what Pugin wanted. Though on one project he was not involved in, the Bellfry fell down.
He would design wallpapers and Mintons took the decision to reinstate the practice of making encaustic tiles around his designs.
His friend John Hardman would make his metalwork and stained glass.

'The True Principle Of Pointed Architecture' was his second book. Published in 1841 it laid down six principles for building in the Gothic style.
Pugin believed good architecture is good society and it lays down all the principles of how to achieve this. A vision. Detail must have meaning. If it is constructed it can be decorated.
In his work he puts the hinge in full view showing exactly how the door is opening. A hidden hinge was imoral he thought.
He declared classicism was wrong and truth and honesty was Gods work.
'God will see if you skimp on hidden parts of the building' he would declare. This inspired a new generation of architects such a s George Gilbert Scott.
Who would say after reading Pugin.
'I felt as if I had awoken from my slumbers'.
The whole landscape of Britain would subsequently change through the thoughts and writings of the man'.
Though some people claim that modern buildings such as the Pompidou or Lloyds of London hold true. This is stupid thinking. They may hold the twisted principles dear but these have been, shall we say, stretched by the architects for good PR.

The Palace of Westminster burnt down and the rebuilding of the corrupt place would be replaced by Pugins moral ideal. Charles Barry had classic training, but Pugin overshadowed him. The towers were definatly Pugin which led but the heraldic interior, combining the work of John Hardman, that showed an ideal to an almost heavenly enlightenment of the mind.

We take for granted today the interiors of the chamber because we see it almost every day on TV. But it was made to overawe everyone who came in contact. And from his thousand drawings, he aimed for perfection. He was a man posessed. Working tirelessly.
The Soveriegns Throne is an example encompassed. The medieval view in revival form, evoked history and with a linear heritage from days gone by.
Though Barry was the architect, Pugin, in 1834 had designed an imaginary college and by co-incidence the year the Houses of Parliment burnt down.
It is almost the same building.
He was subsequently, unfairly written out of the final finished scheme. Barry claiming it all. While Pugin was working, he had no idea of the PR that was playing out around him.
Pugin worked because he wanted to. Barry got £25,000 while Pugin got £800.

Pugin had entered the debate surrounding wallpaper which was now entering into more mainstream consciousness after the Great Exhibition by designing a series of two dimensional papers. These were mostly heradic motifs for The Palace of Westminister. He would design a hundred different styles. There is a wonderful book showing his pattern designs from 1851-1859 in the V&A. Of course the best place to see them would be in place, on the walls. Of those hundred different wallpaper designs that were commissioned many were lost but his inspiration would seep into the public. I picked hand blocked Pugin wallpaper for my hall that is still available today if you know where to look. Though most of his designs would be too bold for most domestic settings. This debate be continued by Morris and Co.
His work then strangely dried up. This was his time, and he wasn't there.
Louisa his second wife of 5 children then died and at 32 he would struggle to cope with his paranoair.
He then wrote another book in Ramsgate.
An Apology for the Revival of Christian Architecture in England. He explains as best he can under the pressure of his developing illness and proclaims Gothic should be on every detail as what was in The Grange, that he designed for himself. It is.....Gothic to the core. Designed from the inside out and not the other way round, as of most architects of the day seemed to do. Rooms were arranged in the need for movement he was absorbed in theatrical vibrancy of its interiors.
Trefoiled escutcheons and Gothic handles with inscriptions declaring his love of patrons, family and places. It's as if he wanted to surround himself in a cocoon.
He married a third time.
He would stay at the Grange for the rest of his life.
He would exhibit at the 1851 Exhibition, a medieval court. It was acclaimed at all levels. Though he never won a prize for manufacture as a designer.
He then built a church next to the Grange. St Augustin's. Of napped flint, sandwiched between horizontal lines and courses of stone. This was a new departure in architecture for him. This building has recently been restored. His finances suffered.
It encapsulated his faith. £14,000 of his own money and he couldnt afford the spire.
It was all becoming too much. He was having blackouts.
The Westminister clock tower hadn't been built and Barry turned to Pugin who was ill with piles, worms and strange visions.
The finished article is said to be a masterpiece in delicacy reaching for the heavens.
He never made the opening of his design after a mental breakdown.
Consigned to Bedlam and in 1852 at the age of 40 he died. His tomb in St Augustin's decorated with carvings of his family.
He died at the same time as The Duke of Wellington and his death was relegated to the back pages of the periodicals. This maybe a metaphor or a symbol of his whole life. His son E.W Pugin would continue his work.
It took a hundred years for his recognition to come to the fore.
Half French, as was Brunel. They both were largely forgotten.
They, in time would both become greats.
In working on his book Gothic revival published 1928 Kenneth Clarke found it hard to believe that a man so little known was actually so important.
But still Pugin needs to be explored because what he created was more than buildings it was an ideal, a movement.
There are not many who could do that. And Pugin is one of the greats.

I will always remember the lightness of the cast iron framed architecture of St Georges. I visited there recently. The side entrance to the back of the church still has the same atmosphere and smell from decades past.
Looking at old photographs, I also remember the stolid Victorian remnants of the Victorian buildings of the era I grew up in. Most of it is heavy, over adorned, over engineered and self apposing.
I think this is why I love the lightness of the Georgians at their best..... and the freshness and the feel of the best of French Art Deco.
Though I do declare I love the work and appreciate the ideals of Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin.