Friday, 18 August 2017

India Buildings Liverpool Twenty Years Of My Life.

Twenty years in the same place. Twenty Years In India Buildings.
I wouldn't have believed it.
 I thought I had gypsy blood at one time I was travelling so much.
I declared when I became a carpenter all those decades ago that I loved it because there was always a different place to work. New surroundings' new people to meet. 
 And then I fell in love with a perfect piece of architecture. 
When something is so perfect as Holts Arcade where else would you want to be.

 There is nowhere else like Holts Arcade, or Holts Parade as it is always referred to in lease documents and rent demands by the various shysters that have owned the building. 
And there have been a few. Twenty years in quarterly bills, that's more than a few.
I first discovered India Buildings about 1984 when a rather attractive and exotic looking lady that I met in town said she worked there. For the Inland Revenue or was it the VAT office. 
You entered in the back entrance on Brunswick street and went up to the mezzanine level and then if I recall there was an office where she worked. 

My grandmother talked about it when I told her I was moving there she told me it was once the Law courts or a Coroners office. 
She had to visit there when she lost her husband just before I was born. I think my great grandmother had a cleaning job here and other places such as Exchange Flags.

Discounting sleep I probably spent more time there than at home.
I was travelling a lot when I first opened the shop, backwards and forwards to France sometimes twice a month. Looking for swag. 
I loved my job then and roughed it a bit on my travels.
 And this made me appreciate the place when I returned.
I recall an old fashioned song that used to come into my head when I was heading back up the A9 through France, from Montpelier or Avignon through beautiful countryside. 'I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls'. I don't even know who originally sung it. It was in a film, an old black and white one.
 I will always remember the way the sentiment of the song was used to describe the feelings of the poor girl who was wishing in a fairy tale way, in a Cinderella way to escape to a grand house and live in luxury without the cruel wind of everyday life. Don't know what happened in the end. Maybe she lived happily ever after, with Errol Flynn. 
But it seemed to ask me questions such as why would you need to wish for another place to dwell?
Its why I stayed really because business has not always been brisk.
Though in reality there was always one question to answer. Where is the rent going to come from?
So I stayed watching other antique dealers close all over the place. Chester was decimated. 
The Internet arrived and changed the face of the trade. 
But I could not get away from the fact that this was not just a job to me. Its a way of life. A learning curve. A thirst for knowledge, and it became apparent that I was not doing it for the money. 
Being involved with art and history and the stories that they tell is far more important to me than money. I could always lose myself.
And like the character I used to watch when I was a kid at times I felt like Mr Benn.
I would put my key in the door and turn it and enter into another world.
Like the world of tales of times gone by, of adventures and history.
I love learning and this is the job to unfurl mysteries and peoples stories.
Insights into personalities who owned or made objects fills my inside with a feeling that you would never get making doors or fitting staircases, even though in different places every week. Although I can never stop using my hands and always keep my skills alive recently i have become interesting in clay and love creating works of art. It may be time to put the key in that door soon and walk through into another life.
So I stayed and then stayed a bit longer and people come and went and new friends appeared as others left and I let it all drift me by and I watched the world go by while fighting vociferous heritage battles for Liverpool's skyline, and trying to get various buildings listed before they would be ruined.

I felt the sense of place was being changed all around me. Everywhere was turning into homogenised nothing shops full of stuff you can get anywhere, in any town.
But still India Buildings beautiful arcade stayed the same. Because it always should, its so perfect.
Then they wanted to close me down and I fought hard and got angry. Fighting for the right to survive would always have challenges. The biggest challenge was always the changing times and the regeneration of Liverpool had opened up different aspects of the city that took people in different directions and India buildings drained of offices, and people left.

And now they say the HMRC is going to relocate a regional super call centre here.
I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls.......maybe no more.


  1. I see you've setup an online petition to keep the ground floor open to the public. Good luck with it. I've signed already and I encourage others to visit and do the same.

  2. The Liverpool Echo has an article about the petition to keep it open to the public.