Sadly today's little walk out didn't do as planned as I was intending to finish my railways round the Square mooching with a trip to Edge Hill, but the station was closed. So instead can I recommend watching the Walking Through History which was on last night. As it was focused on canals it re-dates the Abercromby Square interests but great as a background to Liverpool trade just up to the arrival of the railways!
While my work on the Square and American Civil has naturally focused on Confederate links so far, I'm wondering in the interests of balance if I should do a little more on the pro Northern and pro- neutral occupants. There was still a lot of trade with the North, and some figures who lived next door to the pro-South lobby, like the McIvers and George Melly, dealt more with the Union than the rebels. Worth mentioning at least.
There's also the history of James Spence himself, who may have worked for the South, but whose history was very connected to trade with the North. His views on race are quite shocking today, but his disapproval of the slave trade while still seeing Africans as an 'inferior race' is probably quite representative of many of the middle classes or the time. The arguments Spence puts forward in his books have a very strange kind of twisted logic, but it was popular enough for numerous reprints. One of his arguments was that slavery was abhorrent to white Europeans, who were moral and good, hence it should be outlawed, though 'of course' the institution was not only natural, but also loved by the slaves himself, who couldn't be expected to know any better!
I really do need to try and keep focus on the bits I'm writing, difficult as it is when there's so much good peripheral information out there. It turns out many ( often reputable) sources tend to get much confused between Edge Lane, Crown Street and Wapping when it comes to talking about the earliest days of the railway. The drawing from my previous link for example, I've found captioned as being each of the stations. Oh well. Must stop going of on flights of fancy and investigating too much about Rainhill and Huskisson, tempting though it is. I remember going to the Rainhill anniversary and have photos someone so its tempting but I think I may go back to where I was up to previously.
Also rather distracted by a number of possible Masonic connections, but no, I shall be good. back to 1800 and the start of the building and planning of the Square for me!
Today’s Sunday constitutional walk wasn’t far. I decided to wander up to the site of the old passenger terminus for the Liverpool-Manchester Railway at Crown Street. One of the reasons was following on from my earlier post about the success or otherwise of Falkner Square. Apparently this Square was completed around 1830, at the same time the Crown Street station opened, so I thought I’d investigate the usual myth ( explained in the Council information in the gardens themselves) that as well as being ‘too far out of town’, Falkner Square was deemed to be too difficult to access and up too steep a hill. Walking the area, the station was almost in literal spitting distance, at the side of Falkner Street, and according to contemporary reports there were thousands of passengers daily from Liverpool, and regular omnibuses to the city centre. So hardly difficult to reach. There is an excellent website with photos and background here on the station itself for anyone wanting to investigate further.
The passenger station closed in 1836, after which is became a goods yard and depot, which continued into the late 20th century. Could it be that while Abercromby Square was not only already established by 1830, and was well served by the railway, but also protected by the building on Grove and Myrtle Streets from the sight of it, the direct path up Falkner Street to the station took away a little of the exclusivity of the neighbouring Square, and when the coal yards and sidings took the place of passengers in 1836, it became even less prestigious? Conjecture of course, but interesting thought.
I’ll be talking at some length about the several vital connections between Abercromby Square and the creation of the Liverpool-Manchester railway in one of my chapters.
Talked to lots of lovely and interesting people at the LightNight opening for Life and Limb, but boy was I shattered at the end. Note to self, stop OFFERING to do so many tours!
Next on the list is the book launch for the companion volume this June and the online exhibition about Abercromby Square and the Confederacy ( details hopefully to follow soon), a new project on books written by occupants of the square, and very soon I'm getting back to proper writing up. I think I've decided to serialise for now, so it may be a case of tidying up the first couple of chapters ( the pre-Abercromby square being built sections) and release them as I get back up to speed on the meat of the chapters about the occupants themselves. Ooh, I'd forgotten what fun that can be! :-)
Why not pop along to the BBC website and get your free Road to MilkWood multimedia e-book on Dylan Thomas, complete with audio and video! And it don't cost a penny either.