A visit to Bootle Town Hall leaves you with the impression of what was once a significantly wealthy Corporation of Bootle-Cum-Linacre. Despite the fact that the Town Hall was extensively damaged by bombing in the Second World War and went through major rebuilding the civic pride of Bootle’s Victorian representatives can clearly still be seen.
There is a battered clock on the wall in the foyer and the plaque with it says that it displays the time when the Town Hall was bombed, as it stopped at that moment.
Bootle, not surprisingly, is very much a maritime Town Hall with displays of naval and merchant flags and silverware cabinets that reflect the businesses that operated in and around the docks.
Of course Bootle Town Hall also reflects others of a similar era when those in power in a locality were also prominent and wealthy local businessmen (few if any women!) who displayed their wealth by erecting striking civic buildings.
Rochdale Town Hall, for example, is akin to a small cathedral such was the wealth of its civic leaders and it was built on cotton of course.
As a young lad I lived in Rochdale in the mid-1960’s and recall attending a party at Rochdale Town Hall which, if I remember correctly, was for the children of Police Officers in the Town. I was not from a Police family but my best chum back then (Nigel Collison) was so I must have bunked in as a ‘friend of’ so to speak. That visit when I was probably 8 or 9 must have had an effect on me as I always wanted to have a proper look at the building as an adult.
A Lib Dem conference held there gave me that opportunity some dozen or so years ago and the building was everything and indeed far more than I recalled from my childhood. It really does look like a cathedral inside with its magnificent organ etc.
Have we lost our civic pride or does it manifest itself in different ways these days?