Please Help Bring a Mersey Memory back to Life
is true that many of Liverpool’s architectural treasures have disappeared
along the rocky road of our past. These 1840 Sailors’ Home Gates may provide
one of the few remaining opportunities for the City to tempt home one of its
How The Sailors’ Home
Gates Were Nearly Lost Forever
The Sailors Home was a philanthropic venture, aimed at providing safe, clean, cheap lodgings and rest from the long journeys for the thousands of sailors deposited for a while in Liverpool. It’s architect was John Cunningham.
The foundation stone to this palatial refuge was laid in 1846 by HRH The Prince Albert, KG., Consort of HRH Queen Victoria who graciously accepted Patronage of the Sailors Home in the 10th year of her reign, during the mayoralty of David Hodges.
This was an attempt to provide a sanctuary from the grog shops and the willing arms of ‘judies’ such as Harriet Lane, Blooming Rose, Jumping Jenny and The Battleship.
The building was demolished and
forgotten to most, but remembered by many in 1973/4. The RLSOI and The Sailors
Home Trust charities provide a testament to its memory. However it is
‘claimed’ that the Gates were removed in 1934, if true, why were they ? who
gave permission ? was their removal legal ?
Many years later in 1999, John
Smith, an ex-pat scouser was working at Avery Berkel in Smethwick, West Midlands
when he happened to pass by a fantastic set of iron gates, 4 meters wide by 5
They were iron cast of maritime
buntings, trumpets and ships’ wheels, surmounted by the crowned insignia of
the legendary Liver Bird, 70 years older than those two copper titans gracing
our magnificent Liver Buildings.
What John had discovered was
John Cunningham’s, international masterpiece, as described in the eminent
Quentin Hughes’ book on Liverpool architecture called ‘Seaport.’ They were
indeed those which once graced the entrance to The Sailors’ Home. The very
gates, which welcomed so many colourful sailing souls, who played a starring
role in constructing the rainbow character of Liverpool.
It is written that these gates
were handled with tremendous virtuosity, by all passing beneath. How many
sailors could that be? Sailing out to adventure to change the world forever.
They say that history has a
habit of repeating itself, and hopefully that will be the case, when these are
Gates once more be erected in Liverpool welcoming visitors.
My colleagues (Don Evans and
Frank Carlyle) and I have received
written confirmation from Avery, the Gate’s owners, which indicates their
willingness to return the Gates. However, they were grade 2 listed by Sandwell
MBC in 1987, and if they are to be moved they will insist that a proper site is
proposed beforehand. This is where you can help, unless sufficient funding and
planning is acquired we will be banging on a door which may not be opened.
Where that site should be I know
not, but in this City these Gates belong. Just look at the nautical theme of the
Gates, capstan wheels, mermaids, dolphins, rigging etc. What are they doing
sitting, hidden from the general public located in a car park in what is,
probably, the most landlocked location in the UK?
This crowned Liver Bird should
overlook the River, maybe as part of the new terminal. Standing above its people
once more, whilst gazing up to its young cousins. One can only wonder of the
tales they may tell one another.
put these Gates into historical context, below are some events which occurred
AFTER they were manufactured
Phil Griffiths, Don Evans & Frank Carlyle are running a campaign to bring the Henry Pooley Gates back to Liverpool
These Gates are still static, in landlocked Smethwick, rusting and wasting away.
The higher echelons of the council are about as static as the Gates too.
The figure of 25 thousand pounds is the target.
If you can
please send a donation, cheques only,
Send them to:
RLSOI (Royal Liverpool Seamans Orphans Institute)
Copyright © Phil Griffiths 2005
explanation of the Liverpool/Birmingham/Smethwick link with the Pooley
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| Article by Phil