Friday 29 February 2008

The Old Rope Walk, Newington, Liverpool.


I love pub signs – especially ones that are “wrong” - and during my wanderings in Liverpool city centre on Monday I came across the Old Rope Walk in Newington, Liverpool.

This is a ropewalk which was a long straight narrow lane, or a covered pathway, where long strands of material were laid before being twisted into rope. Ropewalks historically were harsh sweatshops, and frequently caught on fire as hemp dust forms an explosive mixture. The ropewalk at Chatham Dockyard is still producing rope commercially, and the rope walk has an internal length of 1,135 ft (346m). When it was constructed in c 1790 it was the longest brick building in Europe. Before steam power was used in 1836, it took over 200 men to form and close a 20in (circumference) cable laid rope. The rope walk is used to form and close the rope, these being the final stages in rope making. Before this the raw hemp, manila or sisal has to he hatchelled, spun into yarn, and tarred.

A sailing ship such as HMS Victory required over 20 miles (32km) of rope. This is the Gors Foch, a tall ship which docked in Birkenhead in 1984 - I wonder how much rope it has on board? Liverpool being the home of hundreds of sailing ships the demand for rope must have been enormous and although I have done no research on the subject it may be that the rope works stood on the site of this pub.

Unfortunately when the signmaker designed the pub sign he hadn't a clue what a rope walk was - so this is what he came up with!

The Big Issue

Do you know what a sandwich man is? If your answer relates to foodstuff and slices of bread I would suggest you are not as old as me!

A sandwich man was a person (often homeless or out-of-work) who walked around with a board on his front and back advertising some local product or service. They were paid peanuts and were out in all weathers. As late as the 1960s they could occasionally be found on the streets of Liverpool but sadly I never photographed one.

The modern equivalent is the purveyor of the Big Issue, the magazine published on behalf of and sold by homeless people. I came across two of them last Monday on my trip around the city centre and was surprised not to find more.

There is also a Big Issue seller who has a ‘pitch’ outside the Tesco car park in Heswall. I don’t always buy it but have tended to get it more frequently since Richard had a poem and an article published in it last year.

Spot the Library


This is the car park entrance to either Kansas or Missouri public libarary (the websites differ as to which it is!). The photo is from
As a temporary measure Cardiff City Library has a frontage of a similar nature. I think they should keep it permanently – it’s wonderful. Photo from

Thursday 28 February 2008

Euro ‘96

Richard first got interested in football around 1995 and as well as collecting cards of football players and putting them in an album he closely followed the fortunes of the various countries in Euro ’96. One of his favourite players was Alan Shearer so I did him a pastel painting for his wall.

For many years I had a mental block about painting faces and was delighted to discover that using pastels as the medium made the job a lot easier.



Favouritism is not that unusual but this is going a bit far!

India Buildings, Liverpool


Although the external architecture of Liverpool city centre is quite spectacular visitors rarely get the chance to see inside some of the marvellous office buildings. To get into many of them you have to jump through hoops. For the court buildings, for example, you have to go through metal detectors and give your inside leg measurement but surprisingly in this day and age a few can still be entered without any fuss at all. One of these is India Buildings – the entrance to which is pictured above – blocked by a parked bus unfortunately!

India Buildings, which was completed early in the year 1931, occupies an island site, facing the main thoroughfare of Water Street and Brunswick Street and with side frontages on to Fenwick Street and Drury Lane, in the heart of the business and banking quarter of Liverpool and within five minutes walk of Princes Landing Stage on the River Mersey.

Prior to the outbreak of war in 1939 India Buildings was practically fully let and became fully occupied during 1940. This satisfactory position continued until the building was to a large extent destroyed by enemy action on the 4th May, 1941. Reconstruction of the building was completed early in 1953.

You can find out more about India Buildings at

This super (unique?) George V post box is in the entrance doorway of India Buildings.



GBE took this photo of a beetle in New Zealand this week and we have been trying to identify it – so far without success.

While doing so I came across this rather super mosaic by Jacqui Castle of a Goliath Beetle wandering. For more mosaics see various pages of the Mosaic Association of Australia and New Zealand.

While on the subject of GB’s wildlife he also found a Northern Wattle Moth (Dasypodia cymatodes) in his living room. This moth was known to early Maori who found the odd moth blown in from Australia before the first wattle trees were planted in NZ, hence the Maori names: pepe kehue, pepe atua, para kori taua, all of which refer to the belief that these mysterious moths were the returning spirits of ancestors. (A similar belief about noctuid moths is found in Madagascar.) Also known as owl, moon or peacoock moth from the ‘eye’ pattern on the wings, shining like a new moon or like the tail feathers of a peacoock.

Wednesday 27 February 2008

Kiss my Arse


There is a pub in the back streets of Liverpool not far from Chinatown that goes by the name of Pogue Mahone.

The Pub sign gives no real clue as to the meaning of the pub’s name. it is an anglicized version of the Irish slang “póg mo thóin” which means, quite simply, kiss my arse!

Word Imperfect


I won the Wordimp vote again this week. I haven’t told you that so as to blow my own trumpet - as if I would do that! I only mention it so as to promote her site again. After all, I’m proud of my modesty!

Mr Punch


Just as a brief follow up to my blog about St George’s plateau I have spent a while finding a slide that had the Punch and Judy stand on it. Ironically when I went to get the blog reference for that posting I discovered the first photo actually showed Bert Codman's stand as well!

Tuesday 26 February 2008

Liverpool revisited


Having scanned in some of my old slides of Liverpool I thought I would have a wander around the city centre on Monday morning. Gosh! How things have changed since I last had a leisurely stroll around. I think it must be 20 years since I wandered around and forty years since I took my main photos. At the moment the whole city centre area seems to be a building site. Over the next few months I shall do some postings about Liverpool and the changes on this blog and my Memoria mea blogspot.



Photoshop can mess with your mind! See more examples on


A great little one minute movie about how we communicate...

Monday 25 February 2008

Body Mass Index

Calculating your body mass index is said to be becoming increasingly important because it affects your life insurance payments. I don’t know where people have got the idea that this is a new phenomenon because I was always being asked to have medicals when I took on life insurance in the 1960s and 1970s. Unsurprisingly I was not overweight but underweight for my height. If you want to calculate your BMI here is a way to do it:-

Silk Cut


Many years ago I smoked Silk Cut cigarettes. They had some skilful adverts.

Nowadays, with cigarette advertising banned here we are denied the opportunity to admire some of the campaigns they use abroad like this super Greek set.

But don’t forget, as Brooke Shields once said, “Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life.”

Sunday 24 February 2008

Bookseller/Diagram prize

Voting for the 2008 Bookseller/Diagram prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year (see my Blog posting) is underway. If you would like to take part in the on-line voting go to The Bookseller. Currently leading is “If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs”.

Advice from Mother Teresa

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self -centred.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and make some true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you.
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone may destroy overnight.
Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, people may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough.
But give the world the best you have anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

When my friend Sandy gave me the above my immediate reaction was that I would post it on my blog. But then I thought – what about Humanists. Most of the Humanists I know have as high or a higher moral code than those who worship a God. Then I realised there is an answer there as well – just change the bottom lines to
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and yourself;
It was never between you and them anyway.

A walking tour in 1930


Three girls drinking tea outside a farmhouse in Coniston in August 1930 while on a walking holiday in the Lake District. The middle one is Mum. Nothing exciting about this photo one might say. But these girls actually caused quite a ripple of comment in the Lake District when they went on their walking holiday that year.

This one is of mum’s friend Doris Makin, taken at Seathwaite on Borrowdale on the same youth hostelling holiday. Have you guessed yet why there was a furore at some of they places they visited? The answer is that they wore shorts! Men’s shorts because there were no such things for women in those days. Shorts that showed legs! This was not only revolutionary it was, in places, the subject of a great deal of admiration. And not just from the men. Their courage was also admired and commented upon by some of the women they met (whilst others – women and men - thought their boldness quite inappropriate!).

Saturday 23 February 2008

St George’s Hall, Liverpool


St George's Hall is a neoclassical auditorium in Liverpool city centre located on Lime Street, opposite Lime Street railway station. In the 1960s and 70s I took quite a few photos of it. The foundation stone was laid in 1838 and it was partially opened in 1851 and completed in 1854. Its architect was Harvey Lonsdale Elmes, who was only 25 at the time he won the competition to design the building. Elmes died before the building was completed and the supervision of the completion was done firstly by John Weightman (City Surveyor) and Robert Rawlinson (Structural Engineer) and, from 1851, by Sir Charles Cockerell.

Bas-relief sculptures on the building are attributed to C.J. Allen, among others, and the hall is considered by many to house the world's first air-conditioning system. It is part of the William Brown Street conservation area. The organ was the biggest in the country until a larger one was built in the Royal Albert hall in 1871. It has a total of 7,737 pipes.

In front of the hall is St. George's Plateau with various equestrian bronzes, dolphin-based cast-iron lamp standards (by Cockerell) and a statue of Disraeli (Birch 1883) which stands on the steps. The Plateau also houses the Cenotaph, a memorial that was originally dedicated to those that lost their lives in World War I, but has since been dedicated to all who have fallen in any wars since.

A number of other folk are commemorated in statues around the plateau.

These are the equestrian bronzes of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (Thornycroft 1866-9)

The hall is made of sandstone. Once the grime of decades was cleaned off in the 1960s the beautiful colour of the stone became apparent. Unfortunately the stone is so soft that patches are wearing away - especially on the steps.

The Plateau has long been associated with public rallies and gatherings, including the deaths of Beatles, John Lennon and George Harrison, the homecomings of Liverpool and Everton football teams after Cup Final Victories, and the opening ceremony of the City of Culture Year 2008 ( and

Also on the Plateau are four huge lion sculptures by Cockerell reminiscent of the lion sculptures by Sir Edwin Landseer at the base of Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square.

This picture – from 1877 – is not one I took! It shows Professor Richard Codman’s Punch and Judy show outside St George’s Hall.

This same pitch was still in use by Bert Codman , Richard’s grandson, when I was a lad. (Photo from the Codman family website). Bert died in 1969, two days after the death of his beloved dog Toby, purchased in 1949 at St. John's Market in Liverpool for 7/6d.

On 23 April 2007, during the year of Liverpool's 800th birthday, St George's Hall was reopened by Prince Charles after an extensive £23 million restoration. It has been described as the 'best example of Neo-classical architecture in Europe' and a 'monument of world importance'.

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