Speke Promenade. If only…

Liverpool Records Office

Does it sound like a fantasy?
We will never know how close we came to it being a reality. The plan of Speke estate from 1937 at the Liverpool Records Office, shows a roundabout at Western Avenue, and a major road continuing right through to the shore.

Tom who grew up in Speke has uploaded his second article on the development of the Speke estate.

https://municipaldreams.wordpress.com/2020/06/30/speke_liverpool_part_ii/

It is a fascinating read, with original photos. So please check it out. In the article Tom identifies the two main weaknesses of the estate as planned, and others, but the two main ones are; firstly the single exit and entry point being the Western Avenue junction with Speke Boulevard. In practice this made the estate a drive by place, with no through road. So in effect they only people who ever went to Speke were people who lived there. I’m sure many readers had happy childhoods in Speke, so this is not about the people who lived there, it is about the structural problems that could have been foreseen.

The second problem was that the estate was built without any recreational or social facilities. The Central Parade of shops was built later, the pubs were built on the outskirts because they were not planned for the estate. The Dove, The Peg, The Orient, all being on the perimeter roads.

My last blog, looked at the role of factory social clubs in helping to build a community in Speke.
https://jackbyrne.home.blog/2020/09/26/death-by-a-thousand-cuts/

But imagine if Western Avenue led directly to the shore and a Promenade? ‘Otterspool prom in Speke.’ It would have changed the atmosphere and culture of the whole area, not only the prom but the riverside use extended on either side.

Why didn’t it happen? Tom in the article is too polite to draw any conclusions other than post war austerity, but mine is pretty simple. It comes from ideology, whatever the Utopian ideas, or naivety of the planners- they or their families were never destined to live in Speke. The residents’ experience of life was secondary to providing labour resources for local industry, and resolving the overcrowding and slum issues in other areas.

When Speke was first built, there wasn’t a tree anywhere, some have grown since, and ‘environmental improvements’ have meant the planting of hundreds of trees along the Boulevard and Ford Rd, the main effect of which is to hide the estate from those who drive past. The Capital of Culture came and went, John Lennon Airport has expanded into the space once seen as access to the river, and wants to expand again, to cut Speke’s last remaining green space at Oglet Shore.

If the 1937 plan had been put into effect, I think the airport would never have expanded south, because people would have objected to the destruction an amenity for the whole of South Liverpool. If… a small word, but huge consequences for the estate and for the quality of the lives lived there.

To join the Facebook Group for My novel Under The Bridge go here;https://www.facebook.com/groups/522800758257136

To support the campaign to Save Oglet go here;

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-oglet-shoreline-1

Published by jackbyrnewriter

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