Just 2 hours and 15 minutes out of Euston and you are in Liverpool – not very far but a world away from London. Everyone I know who has been told me I would love it here – and they were right. My first visit ever was lots of fun.
First afternoon I headed down to the well renovated docks – a short walk from the town centre – which is no a mixture of museums, cafes, restaurants, shops and areas to stroll by the water. It is also where you can pick up ferries – but I decided against that given limited time and there does not appear to be much on the other side?
So first stop , after a walk through Cavern Quarter in town, was to get a dose of Beatles at the Excellent Beatles Story at Albert Dock. Everything you ever wanted to know was well organised and explained with headphones included.
Close by in the Dock area is the excellent International Museum of Slavery which shares its home with the maritime museum. While there is not a lot to photograph it is a great place to spend a couple of hours to understand the horror of slavery both in the past and sadly also in the present. Liverpool was a key port during the slave trade and it is impressive that they are willing to take ownership for those wrongs and educate people now so that it never happens again. I am not sure all those involved in the slave trade are quite as open on this topic.
A visit to the Tate Liverpool also by the Docks was next – like the Tate Modern it focuses on contemporary art and I was glad to be able to see the Keith Haring exhibit which I had just missed on my visit to Melbourne earlier this year. I also got the pink triangle t shirt!
The British Music Experience – which moved to Liverpool from London was probably my biggest disappointment. Somehow it just didn’t work very well (and of course I have been spoiled by the superlative Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame which is super fab. I amused myself of checking out “my era” and the album covers and clothes I remember well.
Back to the Beatles. On the advice of my friend Sylvie, I had pre-booked the National Trust’s tour to the homes where John Lennon and Paul McCartney grew up. Only this tour lets you inside both houses with two excellent guides who take you through what it was like growing up in these houses and their early years and you get to see the rooms where many well known early tunes were written. Lots of great photos inside taken my Paul’s brother Mike and all sorts of stories too. Both of them lost a parent when they were young. It was very cool and interesting – has to be pre-booked online. Lasted 2.5 hours.
Again on the advice of my friend Ann this time I took the Mersey Metro to Port Sunlight about 20 minutes away. This is where what is now known as Unilever started his empire but what makes him and this place so interesting is that he didn’t just build a soap factory but he also built an entire village, school, church, pub, leisure centre etc for his workers and as long as they retired with the company they could stay in their houses. He also introduced old age pensions and medical cover and allowed women to work (but only if they were single or widowed:) – it was the late 1800s! Beautiful place where people still live and work at the factory and locally. Everyone from the royal family at the time and beyond came to visit this experiment!
Also good to stop by at the Lady Lever art gallery – also funded by him. Great art collection.
Now that I had figured out the Mersey Metro system I decided to get good use out of my GBP 5.30 unlimited day pass and headed out to Crosby to see Another Place by Anthony Gormley on 1.5 miles of fabulous beach. I’d been advised to check to tides so that I could see all the 100 life size male nudes that are scattered at various points (some disappear as the tide comes in which would be very Reggie Perrin to see). It is well worth visiting – walking along the beach was lovely as it was a warm day and these pieces are very thought provoking. This was his first (and was meant to be temporary) large installation of nude men – there are a few different ones around the world now.
A visit to a local theatre is always a must whenever I can make it happen so was pleased to visit the Liverpool Empire theatre (holds 2500 people) to see the Motown Story – seen it before; liked it then, liked it now.
Final art gallery visit was to the Walker Gallery (Liverpool is pretty darned good for art and culture). Excellent and broad collection of masters and also a lot of pre-raphaelite which I am quite fond of – so here we go.
Also the famous “When did you last see your Father painting is here”
So yes I crammed a lot into my 3.5 days here but still had plenty of time to enjoy what I visited. Highly recommended that you visit Liverpool for something different.