Birkenhead – It’s rather lovely Williamson Art Gallery & Museum

I recently visited this art gallery and museum with daughter Jen and a fine place it is too. Sadly, due to austerity and money troubles for Wirral Council, it’s had more than a few threats to its continued existence but thankfully it is safe for now. Here’s a link to its website:-

williamsonartgallery.org/

I took quite a few photos of the exhibits and here are my personal favourites:-

Trams at Woodside by George Anthony Butler 1927 – 2010 – Painted in 1988

Winter Twilight by James Thomas Watts 1853 – 1930 – Purchased 1913

A beautiful display of pottery. The wooden and glass case is as beautiful as the exhibits

There are some cracking lasrge scale ship models such as these Mersey Ferries

An interesting former Birkenhead Corporation ferry poster

Well worth a visit I’d say. Can’t really understand why it’s taken me all these years to have my first visit, but glad we went.

Lydiate – Our canal towpath

I don’t cycle the towpath of Leeds Liverpool Canal through Sefton and West Lancashire often for two reasons. It’s narrow and rough to ride on and the narrowness means I need to stop frequently to let pedestrians pass. However, the other day I decided to cycle the section from Greens Lane swing bridge in Downholland through to Bells Lane swing bridge in Lydiate.

The ride was pretty much as I expected i.e. only really suitable for mountain bikes due to its rough and uneven nature. I would add that as the weather had been dry for quite some time I didn’t encounter any of the usual boggy areas that can, during winter months, make the towpath all but impassable in places north of Lydiate Hill Bridge/Billy’s Bridge.

Joining at Greens Lane the swing bridge was just closing as I got to it from the Aughton direction:_

Greens Lane swing bridge

You arrive in Lydiate on the towpath when you cross Sudell Brook (it forms the Lancashire/Merseyside & Lydiate/Downholland boundary) which flows under the canal just north of Jackson’s Bridge where Pygons Hill Ln/Hall Ln cross the canal. This is the view from atop Jackson’s Bridge looking northwards towards the Lancashire boundary. This section of the towpath is reasonable, in dry weather:-

Looking north from Jackson’s Bridge

The towpath southwards from Jackson’s Bridge, past Lollies Bridge, Pilling Lane Bridge, and through to Bells Lane swing bridge is variable but mainly poor especially if the weather has been wet.

This is where the ong-term collapse of the towpath into the canal has been diverted past – Between Billy’s Bridge and Lollies Bridge.

The repairs required to the collapsed section of towpath were, when I last asked the Canal & River Trust, due to take place during the 2021/2022 financial year i.e. any time soon but I don’t have an update on those works.

One of the problems with the same section of towpath between these two bridges is that the land abutting the towpath is higher and there’s a continual run-off of groundwater across it. This photo illustrates the problem but after weeks of virtually no rain. It’s not hard to imagine how the situation deteriorates after heavy rain or through the winter:-

Finally a nice view of Pilling Lane bridge with a narrowboat traveling towards the camera:-

The Maghull/Lydiate boundary is roughly halfway between the Bells Lane swing bridge and the Green Lane swing bridge. It is this section of towpath that is down to be resurfaced with the Canal & River Trust gaining the money to do it via the new Rose Hill Gardens housing development at the end of Maghull’s Turnbridge Road. The new houses are all in Lydiate, not Maghull. I still have no news as to whether the Canal & River Trust is prepared to use some of this money to address worse sections of the towpath through Lydiate.

Why is England’s Covid messaging so all over the place?

I was in a local shop a couple of days ago and the chap in front of me asked, when he got to the front of the queue, whether he should be wearing a mask (he did have one on) in that particular shop. The answer was that whilst the Government says you don’t have to we really do want all our customers to wear masks to help protect each other and the staff. The chap agreed but then went on to make a more general comment. He said that he could not get his head around government messaging on the subject as it seemed all over the place to him.

That comment made me think back to something I’d seen or heard, only a few days prior, on a media platform (can’t recall which) where a journalist had been tracking what differing Ministers had been saying about Covid and the ‘freedoms’ we were supposed to be getting. The conclusion was that the messaging was in fact all over the place and Ministers were in effect contradicting each other by giving out sometimes significantly different information/opinions. When you add into that the deliberate misinformation that can be circulated on social media, is there any wonder folks struggle to know what the powers that be are actually saying to us?

On many matters, the bad information, the misinformation, and even the deliberate lies don’t actually cost lives but with Covid they do! So why can’t our leaders at least sing from the same hymn sheet? To me, the answer is that Government Ministers don’t actually have an agreed message to give out; they really are just doing their own thing, giving personal opinions, or pieces of propaganda based on what their own political sect thinks. It’s like Brexit all over again but this time people’s lives are at stake! I really am beginning to wonder if the Conservative Party is slowly but surely turning itself into a political force akin to the US Republican Party where real facts mean nothing but opinion, no matter how ill-informed or off the wall, is treaded as fact.

I really can’t think of a previous UK Government, of any colour, that would have treated this Covid crisis as the present one has been doing. I would go so far as to suggest that incoherent chaos has been dominating Government thinking. Can you seriously imagine Tony Blair, John Major, Ted Heath, or Harold Wilson running a government so badly through such a massive national crisis? No, neither can I especially when you look at the more sober and considered messaging coming out of the Welsh and Scottish Governments. I might not personally agree with the Welsh or Scots leaders but I can credit them with being pretty consistent and clear in what they have been doing and saying during this crisis.

Liverpool – World Heritage status lost

The ‘3 Graces’ on Liverpool waterfront taken from the new Museum of Liverpool

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link below –

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/liverpool-stripped-world-heritage-status-21104465

Well, as being struck off has been flagged up for quite some years now, the actual removal of World Heritage status almost comes as no surprise. However, I don’t think this backwards step for Liverpool and indeed the whole City Region can be looked at as an isolated matter because for me the governance of Liverpool, which has been so criticised of late, must be a factor (if not a significant factor) in how the city has found itself on the naughty step.

Paul McCartney Concert at Anfield 2008

The heady days of the 2008 European Capital of Culture seem to be a lifetime away, yet it was only 13 years ago! My feeling is that the leadership of Liverpool City Council during recent years is at the heart of this matter. Inward investment is of course crucial for any major city but has Liverpool made the right choices at the right time and with the right investors? I suspect not and the recent governance report (Caller Report) on the City Council may well be a pointer to the failings.

Also, as a regular reader of Peter Kilfoyle’s blog – KILFOYLEONPOLITICS, which has been predicting for some years the mess Liverpool was getting into, has been and indeed still is a sobering experience for me. And I say that as someone who is not of the same politics as Kylfole yet realises that what he has been shouting from the rooftops for a very long time has been all but ignored until turning a blind eye and a deaf ear was no longer possible for the powers that be.

No, looking at the loss of World Heritage status in isolation will lead to the wrong conclusions in my view. Getting the prestigious award back needs to be part of solving the far wider troubles in which the City Council finds itself.

RAF Woodvale – A history talk and some great memories

The other day I spotted that The Atkinson in Southport was advertising an online talk all about the history of our local airfield and thought it would be interesting to know more about it. The talk was at 1 pm today.

My connection with it came during my time as Leader of Sefton Council (2004 – 2011) when I attended the yearly Battle of Britain event held there by the Station Commander. In fact, the great thrill of going to this event was taking along my very good friend Charles (Uncle Albert) Walker who had served with the RAF during WWII as an aircraft electrician, mostly in Gibraltar.

Here’s how The Atkinson advertised the online talk by Military Historian and ex Formby resident Aldon Ferguson:-

‘RAF Woodvale opened in 1941. It was designated to provide fighter cover to protect Merseyside but was too late for the blitz. It did, however, continue to house fighter squadrons for general protection against the Luftwaffe and was a Sector Control Station with responsibility for northwest England. At the end of the war, it became a Royal Navy Air Station prior to a failed attempt by Southport to claim it as Southport Airport. Post-war it housed a large number of support and training squadrons and achieved fame in being the last RAF base to operate Spitfires on routine RAF duty. Still active, RAF Woodvale is currently home to three training units and a Royal Auxiliary Air Force unit.’

And an excellent talk it was too, really enjoyable.

Now back to Uncle Albert at RAF Woodvale, where he must have visited with me half a dozen times. He loved it as the Cadets made such a fuss of him. Having a wartime veteran in their midst was clearly a treat for them as much as it was for Charles who had a new audience for his war exploits. I look back now and smile about those events which made my old friend so happy with this RAF tie proudly on display. Charles died 4 years ago so you can guess that listening to the excellent talk brought back memories for me of a Maghull chap whom I admired so much.

Thank you RAF Woodvale you did him proud.

Maghull – New Damfield Ln/A59 junction under pedestrian fire

I commented on this newly traffic-lighted junction back in April referencing it to Maghull’s ‘Berlin Wall’ i.e. the A59 which splits the town in half and makes getting from one side to the other on foot or on a cycle hard going. Here’s a link back to that previous posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2021/04/11/cycling-and-crossing-maghulls-berlin-wall/

And here’s a photo I took back in April whilst the new junction was being constructed:-

Firstly, let me say that that this junction really did need upgrading as there have been some really bad accidents associated with it. After completion, I tried crossing it from the western side by bike and I found it OK as the pedestrian phase accommodates cyclists too and unlike the newish ‘Alt’ junction the route is direct.

I thought no more of it until I approached the junction from the south by car wanting to take the Damfield Road slip road to Liverpool Road North. What immediately struck me was that the traffic lights guarding the pedestrian crossing over this slip road have a shroud/filter over them so that drivers don’t confuse them with the new junction traffic lights. The trouble is you can’t see what these shrouded lights are showing until you are quite close to them. Couple this with vehicles leaving the A59 at high speed and I wondered if things were set up safely. Those thoughts lay there until the other day a Maghull resident raised the very same issues with me and indeed other local councillors.

It is the red outlined traffic lights which are difficult to see until drivers are on top of them.

So there you have it. Beware of the pedestrian crossing over the slip Road at this junction as it certainly concerns both myself and another local resident who has told me that ‘In my own case I have now opted to resume taking my grandchildren to school over the footbridge as a safer albeit more time-consuming option.’ Let’s hope Sefton Council reviews the set-up of this new junction as a matter of urgency.

Click on the photos to enlarge them