On either side of the turn of the twentieth century, two Liverpool historians, Leo H. Grindon and Ramsay Muir, published books on the history of Lancashire and Liverpool respectively. In 1907 Muir depicted a city that was building “twin citadels,” the University of Liverpool and the Anglican Cathedral, which would “look across the ship-thronged estuary, monuments of a new and more generous aspiration.”185 Grindon, however, writing a few years earlier in 1892, stated that:

183 McCord and Purdue (2007), British History 1815-1914, pp.492-493 184 Cannadine, D. (1998; 2000), Class in Britain, London: Penguin, p.89 185

The citadels to which Muir refers are the University of Liverpool, founded in 1882 and awarded its Royal Charter in 1903, and the Anglican Cathedral, with construction commencing in 1904 and being completed in 1978 (Muir, J.R.B. (1907), A History of Liverpool, London: University Press of Liverpool, p.340)

Much of the sprightliness of the Liverpool character – the perennial uncertainty underlying the equally well-marked disposition to “eat, drink, and be merry, for to-morrow we die”...seems to account for the high percentage of shops of the glittering class and that deal in luxuries. Making their money in the way they do, the Liverpool people care less to hoard it than to indulge in the spending.186

Grindon’s more cynical analysis of the Liverpool economy, and the suggestion that tomorrow could bring an end to the city’s good fortunes, seems, with hindsight, to be a more realistic vision of the city’s future, and although a historian could not have been expected to predict the magnitude of the turbulence ahead, Muir’s depiction seems rather naive by contrast. The British economy during the twentieth century not only fluctuated in terms of growth, but it also, at times, grew in some regions whilst it slumped and barely recovered in others.187

Although the start of the twentieth century witnessed a relatively buoyant economy, the First World War (1914–1918) “made unprecedented demands on the economy and on society” which altered its course considerably.188 British trade was particularly badly hit, as war with Europe interrupted its flow, and the end of the war brought increased competition and tariffs.189 The pattern of global trade shifted “from Europe and North America to the Far East, Latin America and, in the long run, Africa” 190 and, consequently, cities that had prospered through the transatlantic trade were suddenly on the periphery of trade activity. Liverpool, and other dock cities which had large numbers of unskilled labourers in casual employment, were suddenly in a position where these dockers could no longer find work. Furthermore, by the Depression of the 1930s, Liverpool’s population was at a peak of 850,000191 and with the decline of the docks, the city was left “with a hole that


Grindon, L.H. (1892), Lancashire: Historical and Descriptive Notes, London: Seeley and Co, p.56 187 Lee (1986), The British Economy Since 1700: A Macroeconomic Perspective, p.255


Peden, G.C. (1991), British Economic and Social Policy: Lloyd George to Margaret Thatcher, Hemel Hempstead: Philip Allan, p.34

189 ibid., p.54 190

Goldsmith, M. (1988), “Social, Economic and Political Trends and Their Impact on British Cities” in

Regenerating the Cities: The UK Crisis and the US Experience, eds. M.H. Parkinson et al, Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp.27-38 (p.28)


nothing else has filled.”192 The economic difficulties of the Depression were further compounded by being immediately followed by the Second World War which inflicted extensive damage on Liverpool’s economy and, notably, its urban fabric. No redevelopment strategy was employed in Liverpool as it was in other Blitzed cities,193 and areas of the city centre still bear the scars of bombings today. Consequently, Liverpool entered the second half of the twentieth century in a state of sustained decline, and in the following decades, despite a brief economic upturn in the 1950s and early 1960s which saw much improved employment opportunities and slum clearance following the construction of new towns such as Speke, Kirkby and Skelmersdale, Liverpool consistently had higher levels of unemployment than the national average.194

(L) Fig. 1.2.2 Slums being demolished during the 1960s, Scotland Road, Liverpool

(R) Fig. 1.2.3 Model of the Speke estate, planned in 1936 and completed in 1957

By the 1980s, the economic situation in Liverpool had become a key political issue, compounded by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s opposition to Trade Unions in a city where trade unionism had a long history. For a number of years the government had offered incentives to manufacturers to open factories in the region, including the Ford car manufacturing plant at Halewood,195 and some public services were transferred to Liverpool. Consequently, public sector unions took the place of the unions for dock


Parkinson, M.H. (1988), “Liverpool’s Fiscal Crisis: An Anatomy of Failure” in Regenerating the Cities: The UK Crisis and the US Experience, eds. M.H. Parkinson et al, Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp.110-127 (p.117)


Todd, S. (2008), “Affluence, Class and Crown Street: Reinvestigating the Post-War Working Class,”

Contemporary British History, vol.22, no.4, pp.501-518 (p.502)

194 See Selwood 2009; Belchem 2007; Belchem 2000; Belchem 1992; Parkinson 1988; Parkinson 1985; Waller 1981


Ford opened their factory in Halewood in 1963, with manufacturing ending in 2000. From 2001, the factory was operated by Jaguar, and since 2005 by Jaguar Land Rover (Jaguar International (2012), Jaguar Locations (Online)

labourers, and in opposition to the Conservative government, shifted the city towards the political left.196 However, the absence of a long-term manufacturing base in Liverpool was problematic and the new factories brought new dilemmas to the city.197 “Far more than in other cities, [Liverpool] is dominated by a small number of very large absentee employers,”198 or perhaps more accurately, multinational corporations with headquarters outside Liverpool and, therefore, the employers’ responsibility to the local area was less engrained. Consequently, when economic difficulties emerged during the 1970s and 1980s, these newly opened factories, operated by companies with no traditional base in the city, were often the first to close. By the time the first Thatcher government formed in 1979, Liverpool was in dire financial straits, with the government providing 62% of the city’s income, and despite rates rising from 37–55% during the early 1980s, by 1983 central government support had reduced to 44%.199 Liverpool’s voters voiced their opposition during general elections, and whilst the 1979 election results were largely consistent with national voting patterns, in 1983 the city swung 2.4% from Conservative to Labour whist the national average was a 3.9% swing the other way.200

In document The art of regeneration: the establishment and development of the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, 1985–2010 (Page 70-73)