Thursday, 14 February 2008



Dr Johnson is said to have touched bollards for good luck. Nowadays he would find it hard to indulge his superstition as most of them have disappeared – along with a lot of other old street furniture. These photos were all taken in Liverpool in the 1960s. I am hoping to have a wander around the city centre in the near future and shall see if I can find any that still survive.

Bollards, also called stumps or carriage posts, were usually placed so as to bar traffic in small roads and alleyways (such as here in Temple Lane), protect the edges of doorways into yards, or to keep carts from parking on the pavements. Some bollards were quite elaborately made.

Many bollards were erected around the time of the Napoleonic wars and were created from old cannon muzzles, their ends filled in with small domes. This one was at the corner of Wood Street and Colquitt Street.

Bollards with rings on them were also used as tethering or hitching posts for horses.

Most iron bollards are now painted white, black or silver. During World War II they were mostly painted white to enable them to be seen in the blackout. This bollard was near Rainford Square and has the style of painting that was commonly applied in towns in the early 1960s – black and white horizontal stripes.


  1. I think that you will find lots and lots of bollards in Liverpool though not the ornate ones from the past and the use will be slightly different. There will be the pop-up ones supplemented by permanent fixtures protecting pedestrianised areas but principally there will be ones to prevent ram-raiding. Mind you these may appear more at petrol stations and the entrances to out of town stores than in the City centre.

  2. Touching bollards for good luck? Hmm, sounds like a bad case of an obsessive compulsive behavioural disorder to me.

  3. Obsessive compulsive, yes - perhaps it's a good job they didn't have paving stones (and the cracks between them) in Dr Johnson's day. Hopping around would not have done his image any good.


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