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What do 17 year old students honestly think about Liverpool?

Brilliant Liverpool Tour Guides were booked recently for an Educational Tour to show 17 year students why Liverpool had to rebrand during the 1990’s and how and why the city has changed since then.

This was a curriculum based Educational Tour in Liverpool – OCR AS and A Level Geography; “Changing Spaces; Making Places”.


Above are students from Urmston Grammar school learning about spaces and places in Liverpool.

Liverpool Blue Badge Tour Guide Neil McDonald and Marketing & Branding expert Claire Rider delivered a fun educational tour in Liverpool & branding lecture for 17 A level students from Urmston Grammar School for the second year running.

The tour uses the childhood homes of the Beatles to help understand the “inequality” aspect of the course & how and why there is inequality between places within any city. It examines areas of regeneration as well as looks and questions how and why Liverpool decided to rebrand as a City and asks the students if they think that Liverpool has been successful!

The first stop was the former house of Sir Paul McCartney one of the Beatles who was brought up in a very large council run estate at 72 Western Avenue Speke, built as a new town or overflow area in Liverpool in the 1930’s. You can see that this house is a “Mid Terrace” with a small front and back garden.


Above is one of the childhood homes of Sir Paul McCartney on the Speke council estate.

We then travelled around 10 minutes in our Mini coach to a much more affluent area in the suburbs of South Liverpool. This house at 251 Menlove Avenue is called Mendips. This was the house where John Lennon who formed the Beatles lived longer than anywhere else during the rest of his life and he lived here with his Aunt Mimi & Uncle George from 1945 to 1963, after he was taken away from his birth mother Julia by her own family as she had met and was living with another man. You can see from the photograph below that this house is a Semi-detached house with a larger front and back garden and on drive parking. John Lennon’s room was a small room above the front door. This house was purchased by John Lennon’s second wife Yoko Ono who then donated the house to the National Trust and it is now open by appointment as a museum tour.


Above picture is Mendips – the childhood home of John Lennon between 1945 & 1962

Next the students visited the Birthplace of Richard Starkey better known as the Beatles Drummer Ringo Starr. This area is called the “Welsh Streets” & has been subject to controversy with compulsory purchase orders and plans to demolish the area and for property developers to rebuilt the estate. The High Court was eventually called in after intervention from a Heritage Organisation called SAVE & much to the dismay of the leader of Liverpool City Council who exclaimed that the decision was the worst example of abuse of power in Whitehall the streets were saved and are currently being beautifully regenerated. The Tour Guides showed the students the stark contrast between the bordered up houses and the way they are being sympathetically put back in to perfectly good use which everyone agreed was the best outcome for the area and for the city and not to mention the fact that the campaign had managed to save the home of a Beatle!

The birthplace of Ringo Starr is shown here with the windows boarded up as number 9 Madryn Street Liverpool 8 which will soon be restored to the condition shown below of the adjacent street and we understand it is to be operated as a small Beatles museum which will be perfect as an additional attraction on the Liverpool Beatles Walking Tour www.Beatleswalk.com


Above shown picture is of Madryn Street in the Dingle where Ringo Starr was born in 1940.


Above is the regenerated Welsh Streets in Liverpool 8

Next we took the students to the North Docks and explained that the Titanic Hotel was a flagship destination and it was one that had to be refurnished from an old warehouse in to a themed boutique hotel in time for the International Festival of Business in the year 2016.  This was to be a showcase and was used as a critical example to kick-start the regeneration of the North Docks. Here you can see two of the students looking from the Titanic Hotel to the adjacent Grade One Listed former Stanley Tobacco Warehouse which is also currently being regenerated.

The future of the north docks is looking good with more high rise buildings planned alongside the existing docks and the original dock wall which itself forms part of the World Heritage Site, Everton Football Club are set to build a new stadium on the Bramley Moore dock using a funding deal with Liverpool City Council to buy the land from Peel Holidings.


Above is the Stanley Tobacco Warehouse viewed from the Titanic Hotel


Above is the view from the Radio City Tower which is 138m above the city.

Next we took the students on a fabulous Radio City Tower Tour “St John’s Beacon” and we used the free panoramic map (which you are given on the tour and which is daily for the general public) as a mapping exercise and in particular we focussed on the new £1billion retail and leisure development called Liverpool. This was redeveloped in time for the European Capital of Culture which was almost 10 years ago in the year 2008. This was the site of the first commercial wet dock in the world which was opened in 1712 and it was this dock that then enabled Liverpool to overtake London and Bristol and by 1750 Liverpool became the largest slaving port. This is reflected in the large Georgian area of Hope Street and Rodney Street which are close to the two cathedrals. The dock and the Custom House were subsequently destroyed in May 1940 blitz during WW2 when the German Luftwaffe wanted to destroy Liverpool & Bootle docks which were bringing in around 65% of the UK’s supplies. The view from the tower 138m above the city enables us to show the students how the redevelopment of this area has beautifully reconnected the Albert Docks to the Old Town and we now have a wonderful compact and clean city which is easy for visitors to explore.

Liverpool has more listed buildings than anywhere else in the UK outside of London and in 2004 parts of the waterfront and the Town Hall were designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO an accolade the city is keen to preserve. The Liverpool Tour Guide Neil was keen to show that the development of the city has resulted in a mixture of new and old buildings, not all have been welcomed and some have been criticised as damaging the integrity of the World Heritage Site status. However, unlike London which is prohibitively expensive to live in for many people, Liverpool has a heady mix of people living, working in the city centre as well as around 65,000 students in three Universities and lots of visitors resulting in a modern vibrant city. Other places are planned to change with former railway stations near to the cathedrals and are planned to reopen to enhance the Baltic Quarter regeneration. Also another new railway station is planned close to the new Hospital.

The Beatles were all born in Liverpool and have left a huge legacy and that along with the phenomenal success of Liverpool Football Club have put Liverpool on the map which together is an irresistible tourist magnet. People simply do not realise how great Liverpool is until they get here and they soon realise that there is far more to this place than just the Beatles or Football.


Above is Claire Rider, explaining to the group in Ziferblat in the regenerated commercial quarter on to why Liverpool had to rebrand.

Students were able to see for themselves what had been achieved, from both the site visits and the field trips as well as with a presentation from Claire Rider, Msc, Cert Ed,  from Brilliant Liverpool Tours, who worked as Marketing & Tourism Manager at National Museums in Liverpool for 14 years, and is also a freelance marketing, events and branding consultant.

It wasn’t always like this, in the 1930’s the slum areas were cleared and the overflow estates like Speke (where todays tour started) and Kirkby were created and although Liverpool was extremely important during the second World War, (for example the movement of all the ships during the Battle of the Atlantic was plotted in secret in an underground bunker called the Western Approaches (which is now a museum) which after the war the industry largely moved to the east of the UK and Liverpool was forgotten.  Coal fires for heating the houses created smog and dirt and the buildings in the city were blackened and the future for Liverpool looked even blacker.

In 1979 Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister and the Conservative government were unable to stem the increasing number of people unemployed which in the UK rose to over 4 million. Riots ensued including Toxteth in Liverpool (close to the Welsh streets in the photos above). Michael Hesseltine was sent as a special envoy from the Whitehall and then a consortium of businesses formed the Merseyside Development Corporation and by 1984 the Albert Docks were reopened.  However, as explained above there was not enough to do at the docks at that time to sustain visitors for a full day, as opposite the docks was a derelict area destroyed in the blitz, a Beatles themed museum was tried in the city centre which failed and this shows the importance of the time and the place as the Beatles Story Museum now open in the Albert Dock is one of Liverpool’s major attractions and is now one of the most popular experiences for visitors to the region.

In 1984 Liverpool as part of their attempt to rebrand and revitalise tourism, created an International Garden Festival along the waterfront along a derelict promenade which has been created with rubbish tipped in to Landfill for many years. Many countries created a garden to represent their own culture for example a Japanese Water Garden and the number of visitors totalling nearly £3.5 million people demonstrated that perhaps there was a future for Liverpool as a tourist hotspot.

The most recent economic regeneration of Liverpool from 2006-2012, developed in parallel with re-branding of Liverpool for a bid to be the European Capital of Culture.  The branding for that was “Liverpool a World in One City” which beautifully encapsulates the spirit of Liverpool.  The bid was successful and Liverpool was European City of Culture in 2008.

The Liverpool City Council's strategy was to re-launch the city, with 6 years of events which would spread optimism and confidence across all sectors of business, with tourism at the heart of the new positioning.  

Hand in hand with the re-branding quickly came public realm investments, with the £920 Million Liverpool One Shopping and Leisure area, and on the waterfront the building of the new Museum of Liverpool at £72million.  Also the Leeds Liverpool canal link across the historic Pier Head at £22million.

There is no one who could deny that the re-branding paid off both for locals and tourists, with Liverpool now in the top 5 most visited cities in the UK most of the years.


Above is the Liverpool Central Library Victorian Round Reading Room

We showed the students the regenerated Central Library and Victorian Round Reading rooms in William Brown Street which was the highlight for the students when we did the same tour last year. However, things have changed this year in William Brown Street as we now have the Terracotta Army exhibition which has totally transformed the footfall of this location with thousands of visitors queuing for limited tickets, it’s now a totally different destination and Liverpool hosting which is an important exhibition has completely changed this place. 

It’s not just William Brown Street that has changed, in 2015, Cavern City Tours paid £250,000 to install 4 larger than life statues of the Beatles at the Liverpool Pier Head. The area which despite having the new Museum of Liverpool, Liverpool’s principle buildings “the Three Graces” & the Mersey Ferry was struggling. Yet it’s now hardly possible to visit the Pier Head without finding many people taking selfies at the statues in front of the iconic Liver Birds, the whole area has also been changed into a destination in its own right and it’s difficult to imagine that this effect was caused simply by erecting statues of 4 lads born in Liverpool.


Above are the new Beatles statues that have transformed the footfall at Liverpool Pier Head.

So we asked the students what their perception of Liverpool was prior to their visit and they as students from nearby Manchester not surprisingly did not have many good things to say about it and as parents of a 19 year old lad from Liverpool its very likely he would say something similar about Manchester if he was asked a similar question. However, it cannot be denied that Liverpool is now a very different place. It’s not without much money coming in to the city from the European Capital of Culture and is perhaps surprising to remind ourselves that Liverpool a historically typically left wing city recently voted “remain” in the UK’s Brexit vote which perhaps at least reflects some of the gratitude of the city for the contribution that European Capital of Culture had made and how that has accelerated the growth of the region.

Finally the students (again remembering they are from Manchester) passed the home of Liverpool Football Club at Anfield. The purpose of this was not to rub their nose in Liverpool’s success but was to show the recent regeneration at the ground with a new stand at the stadium increasing its capacity to 54,074 and the deal struck between LFC and Liverpool City Council alongside residents and compulsory purchase orders to help them regenerate the area immediately surrounding the ground and across Stanley Park. This is another area imminently about to change as it is currently the home of Everton FC at Goodison who as explained above are planning to relocate to the North Docks.

Hence Liverpool is a superb place to demonstrate in a fun way on how and why little and much more significant changes can have such an impact on a place. We look forward to seeing next year’s students from Urmston Grammar and we hope that many other schools will ask us to help design and deliver curriculum based tours and Liverpool City Region School days out

for their students










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