MERSEY TUNNEL | 'THE QUEENSWAY' | CITY & BIRKENHEAD ENTRANCES
There are three tunnels that run under the River Mersey and connect Liverpool with the Wirral Peninsula.
The Mersey Railway Tunnel (opened 1886), and two road tunnels: the Queensway Tunnel (opened 1934) and the Kingsway Tunnel (opened 1971). The Queensway Tunnel connects Liverpool with Birkenhead—as does the railway tunnel.
It's the prewar Queensway Tunnel that Neil Aspinall, Gerry Marsden, and hordes of Liverpool beat fans would have used to get to 'the Tower' at New Brighton. Better late than never—the 'more modern' Kingsway Tunnel now runs to Wallasey.
LIVERPOOL IS UNIQUE | AND NOT JUST BECAUSE IT'S THE ROCKIN' CITY THAT GAVE BIRTH TO THE BEATLES
There's something very different—even magical—about Liverpool. It doesn't need to look up to any other city—or pay court to one. Not Manchester. Not Birmingham. Not London—especially not London. In its long and storied history, Liverpool never has gone cap in hand to anyone. I doubt it ever will. It's always been self-sufficient and proudly so—always preferred its own counsel to that of outsiders. Made its own way—found its own fun.
Liverpool has its own very special brand of humour—made beat music distinctly its own. When it speaks—it sounds like no other—Scouse, they call it. And as with all great port cities it is vehemently cosmopolitan in nature—with an extraordinary inner strength to look out at the world without ever losing sight of its own special place in it. And even if you weren’t born there—you can lose your heart to Liverpool—many times over—and ever afterwards think of it as a home away from home.
Railway Stations | Adelphi Hotel | St George's Hall | Theatre | Cinema |
Department Stores |
Mersey Ferry & Tunnel
LIME STREET RAILWAY STATION | LIME STREET
The main line railway terminus that served the London-Midland Region Line and connected Liverpool to Manchester and Crewe—and then London—arriving at Euston Station.
Lime Street also acted as a hub for local-railway services and was always extremely busy.
It boasted a cafe on the grand scale to serve passengers for the main-line platforms, although the Punch and Judy cafe, just outside the main Lime Street entrance, did roaring trade as they not only stayed open longer, they also didn't seem to mind as much if you lingered longer over a cup of coffee.
Ah…those were the days.
In 1971, the local rail network—now dubbed Merseyrail—required existing routes—including Liverpool Central to Manchester—to be electrified. This called for new underground lines to be built in the city centre and required a complete re-configuration at Liverpool Central so that a new underground loop line at a deep level and a link line at a sub-surface level could be constructed.
One of the results of all this was that the site of the original Cavern Club had to be demolished—in the name of progress.
Time to take The One After 9:09? Everything happens pre-“Beeching’s Axe” when trains and train travel still had some romance.
ADELPHI HOTEL | RANELAGH PLACE
A Liverpool landmark for years and the Hotel where anyone who was anyone would stay at. Large enough to be described as 'a great Cunard liner stranded in the middle of the city'—which reflects the class of people it was initially designed to accommodate and attend to. Many famous people, including The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Gregory Peck, and George Martin have stayed here. (Even I've stayed there).
ST GEORGE'S HALL | LIME STREET
Built in 1842 in Greco-Roman style—a statement of civic pride the world over—it's still one of Liverpool's most impressive buildings and still very much privy to prestigious events and gatherings of the social elite. It's not exactly a place to find beat groups—but there's invariably a policeman proceeding on his beat, somewhere, near by. (Something a young couple might have reason to be very thankful for should they ever find themselves accosted by a gang of Teddy Boys on a cold wintery night.)
THE EMPIRE THEATRE | LIME STREET
The city's biggest and best theatre—undeniably its most glamorous. Part of the Moss Empires chain it was designed by Frank Matcham—the architect who designed the London Palladium—and opened in 1925. It has the largest two-tier auditorium in Britain and can seat 2,350 people.
Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran performed at the theatre in 1960. The Beatles appeared here—with the great Little Richard topping the bill—on the 28th October 1962. They also played here on several occasions afterwards—some of which were televised.
THE ODEON CINEMA | LONDON ROAD
A real picture palace—and a long-standing Liverpool institution—or at least it was. Opened in 1934 as The Paramount—with seating for 2670. Renamed the Odeon in 1942. In 1954 it was the first Merseyside cinema to be equipped for CinemaScope, and then Todd-AO, which made it the perfect place for young lovers to go see such big-hits as South Pacific, Lawrence of Arabia, and The Sound of Music.
The Beatles performed here in the early 1960s. In 1964—the cinema hosted the northern premiere of A Hard Day's Night. And none other than Bob Dylan played here—live—in both 1965 and 1966. The cinema was later modernised and split into two—losing almost all of its unique art-deco design features. After which it was split into even more screens. The cinema has since been pulled down. Progress, I think it's called.
LEWIS'S DEPARTMENT STORE | RANELAGH STREET
A landmark shopping destination, as much for Jacob Epstein's (no relation) statue of a well-endowed naked man—arms raised to heaven—that towered over the main entrance, as for the store itself. The statue's official name was 'Liverpool Resurgent'—though most Liverpudlians referred to it as 'Nobby Lewis'.
A well-known meeting place for courting couples because of its proximity to the city centre and that nobody could miss the statue's location. John Lennon used to meet his girlfriend, Cynthia Powell, under it. Paul McCartney once worked as a 'second man' in one of the store's delivery vans (not the only time he was 'second man in').
BLACKLER'S DEPARTMENT STORE | GREAT CHARLOTTE ST.
Yet another landmark shopping destination—everyone shopped at Blackler's. The young George Harrison even interviewed here as a window dresser and instead was offered a job as an apprentice electrician. He took the job for a short time and then pulled the plug on it, as he found he really wasn't very good at it—something he refers to in The One After 9:09.
What Paul did for Penny Lane and John for Strawberry Fields, Gerry Marsden (of Gerry and The Pacemakers) did for the Mersey Ferry. You can't even think of the words without hearing the song in your head. Passengers would board at the Liverpool 'Pier Head' and be taken across the river to either Birkenhead or Wallasey.
In The One After 9:09 Spike takes M.V. 'Royal Iris' to Wallasey to go visit 'the Tower' at New Brighton. (Top photo: The New Brighton Tower can be seen on the left)
The ferry service has been a 'Heritage' attraction since 1990—the 50-minute round trip from the Pier Head still the only way to see the wondrous Liverpool skyline. (It still tickles me that when 'the boys' set sail on the Yellow Submarine—for The Sea of Dreams—they depart from the Pier Head.)
THE MERSEY FERRY | "FERRY 'CROSS THE MERSEY…"
CENTRAL RAILWAY STATION | RANELAGH STREET
Former mainline terminus. The three-storey building in the city centre fronted onto Ranelagh Street—that ran east–west from the main entrance to junctions with Church Street and Bold Street—boasted a magnificent 65 feet high, arched shed behind.
The railways were nationalised in Britain in January 1948. Liverpool Central became part of British Railways’ London Midland Region. Yet despite the high level of traffic from Central’s main line platforms—at 'High Level'—the station was listed for closure in the Beeching Report (1963) and in September 1966 almost all services were diverted to Liverpool Lime Street. Platforms 1, 2, 5 and 6 were taken out of use. Platforms 1 and 2 became a car park. Only platforms 3 and 4 were retained for service to and from Gateacre. The concourse of the station remained heavily in use, however, as 'Lower Level' platforms continued to be extremely busy.