|Dock Waters removed without protest.
Concrete arena was built on a historic infilled dock dating from the 1700s - with few protesting.
|Why Liverpudlians Do Not Appreciate Their Water Heritage|
City Centre Has An Inland City Feel
The city centre was a triangle in shape with only a small section facing the river at a triangle point - this river exposure being only a matter of a few hundred yards in length at the Pier Head, which is quite a distance from the major shopping area. The city centre had an inland city feel, and could have been Leeds, Birmingham or Manchester. There was little to indicate a strong maritime history and heritage.
Outsiders entering Liverpool and walking around the centre were unaware that a massive stretch of water was near – as were the locals too. Liverpool only had a slight nautical feel to it, which was strange for a city that was one of the largest ports in the world, and at one point the largest.
Dock Waters Removed With Little Protest
When proposals are forwarded to fill in docks creating land to build upon, there appears no real strong objections by the people of Liverpool. Many of the developments on the infilled dock waters have been second rate to say the least. In cities like Amsterdam and Hamburg such proposals would be an incitement to riot. About half the south end docks have been filled in and much of the Central Docks too, and few Liverpudlians batted an eyelid. Yet strangely there is masses of brownfield land available to build upon in Liverpool without touching the water spaces at all. Building land shortage in Liverpool is not an issue.
People Isolated From The River and Water
Below: The collosal Dock Wall isolated the people from the water.
Why do Liverpudlians have this apathy towards their dock waterway, river history and heritage? The reason is that Liverpudlians generally have never had an affinity with the river, the water as it was called. The term Mersey or river was never openly used by the people, it was mainly termed The Water. Something distant that they rarely saw.
Only those who worked the dock estate and seamen tended to have an attachment to the river, ships and dock complex. The city was effectively isolated from the water by a 20 foot high Dock Road wall stretching 7.5 miles except for a small break at the Pier Head. The public were excluded from this dock area and could not even see the ships, only their masts above the dock sheds. This exclusion of the population to river and dock waterway access was noted by architectural writer Ian Nairn in his 1960s BBC urban planning series Nairn's North. He considered this a major planning error.
Concrete Arena Built on Historic Dock
An arena was built on an in-filled historic dock dating from the 1700s at Kings Dock – yet few protested. Strangely it was generally regarded as a good thing. The much needed arena complex could easily have been built on the adjacent Baltic Triangle site opposite, on the land side of the dock waterways with a dock water frontage. The site is a superior location for such a project with the adjacent historic 1829 Wapping rail tunnel, built by Stephenson, emerging ready to be reused with a Mesreyrail station, to cope with the large volumes of people attracted to the arena.
If a project on 1700s waterways was planned for Hamburg or Amsterdam there would be mass protests. Why do Liverpudlians have this apathy towards their dock waterway, river history and heritage?
Road and Rail Tunnels Isolate People from The Water
The two road tunnels and underground rail tunnel isolate people even further from the river, and the water. Travelling by road from Liverpool to the Wirral no water is seen giving the impression both sides of the river are as one. Having bridges instead of tunnels, as most major cities with rivers have, the people of Liverpool would have greater affinity with the river, seeing and travelling over the water on a regular basis.
Below: The Queensway under-river road tunnel entrance.
Below: Other cities have bridges crossing water spaces bringing the population in closer contact with the surrounding water.
Below: A proposed massive Mersey crossing bridge in 1898 that was rejected.
Wirral Has A Strong Attachment to Water
People on the Wirral have a firm attachment to water and the river, moreso than Liverpudlians, as they were not excluded from the Birkenhead docks system or the river itself. Wallasey is bordered on three sides by accessible water.
Dock Waterway Value Needs Awareness
The value of the dock waterways systems, on both sides of the river, should be instilled into the people of Liverpool. They should know the value, history and what they can bring in a massive way to the future of the city. Then when incompetent planners, politicians and developers want to fill in docks and waterways mass protest would kill the notion at birth.
People Should Force The Water-City Issue
The city on the water, on the redundant dock waterways, we were promised - an Amsterdam, a Hamburg, a Venice. The potential of the intertwining waters should be appreciated by the people of Liverpool who then would clearly force the issue to realise the vision.