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Liverpool, Forgotten Landscapes, Forgotten Lives

Forgotten Landscapes... Despite the proud boast of the Liverpudlians of today that there has always been a Liverpool and always will be a Liverpool, the truth is that for many centuries the world got on quite well without us, and as cities go Liverpool is only a recent newcomer compared with most others across Europe. The granting of the much-vaunted Charter of 1207 and the presence of an imposing castle were all well and good but the fact remained that the town was little more than a fishing village with a nice beach for the following 450 years. The event which awakened Liverpool from its slumbrous backwaters was the British colonisation of the West Indies which triggered a trade in slaves, an occupation which Liverpool shipowners took up with alacrity and made fortunes from throughout the following 150 years.The slave-trade was the catalyst for the building of Liverpool and it was from 1650 onwards, throughout the shameful years of the enforced African diaspora and beyond, that the architectural and cultural framework of modern Liverpool was formed; much of it has now gone and much of it is falling into decay but with a little imagination the fragments of that forgotten landscape can still be glimpsed. Forgotten Lives...The natural corollary to envisaging Liverpool's lost landscape is to wonder what the people were like who inhabited the city; were they tougher than us? They had a whole host of diseases to cope with, harder lives and primitive living conditions; were they cleverer than us? Victorian engineering was breathtaking but it is more than remarkable that Llangollen's Pontcysllte aqueduct was begun as early as 1795; were they as cultured as us? Some of their art works have never been surpassed. The facts speak for themselves and given the obstacles they faced our ancestors were a remarkably resilient and hardy lot. Although the lives of many Liverpudlians have been documented there are far more whose stories lie mouldering in the city's archives and in this book I have tried to bring some of them back into the light of day to enlighten our lives and wonder at theirs.


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