Peter Taylor RIP

Peter Taylor worked for Maghull Town Council* for many years firstly as a maintenance engineer and then as head of its parks and gardens maintenance arm.

He was one of those people full of innovative engineering ideas that could come up with solutions to many problems but he was modest of nature and did not seek praise or recognition; a true behind the scenes man. However, give him some steel or wood and the appropriate tools and he could make virtually anything and he’d most likely enjoy every minute of the work too.

Here are a couple of postings of mine from quite a while back where Peter’s team at the Town Council got a positive mention:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2012/12/31/maghulls-meadows-leisure-centre-car-park/

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2014/12/28/maghull-grafiti-covered-boundary-sign-cleaned-up/

And here’s some photos of Peter’s handiwork:-

Entrance to Dodds Park Maghull

Entrance to Mersey Avenue Park Maghull

Entrance to Balls Wood Park Maghull

Indeed, anywhere across Maghull’s 13 parks, gardens and play areas where you see blue metal fencing there’s a good chance that Peter Taylor made it. Sadly some of the work he did is very much in need of a rub down and a coat of paint or the rust will see the fencing off. Let’s hope that this is tackled soon.

I only found out about Peter’s passing yesterday from my old friend Roy Connell who had bumped into one of Peter’s neighbours who lived in Scarisbrick a couple of doors away from him. It seems Peter had died earlier this year, aged 64, from heart problems. Coincidentally, Roy was himself a former Maghull Town Councillor and as Chair of the Council’s then Personnel Committee back in the day he was a part of the panel which interviewed and appointed Peter. Roy, a lifelong trade unionist like myself, has often commented along the lines of it was probably the best appointment to a job he ever made. He shares this view of Peter with fellow former councillor Andrew Blackburn.

I liked Peter and recall how his eyes would light up when a technical problem was presented to him; he was a really nice helpful chap. He may not have ever lived in Maghull but the work he did across all of its parks and gardens, together with his team of course, is a tribute to him.

RIP Peter Taylor

My thanks to Les French for supplying the photo of Peter

* Peter ceased to work for the Town Council around 5 years ago

Maghull – Vehicle chaos around L’pool Rd Nth shops

Having a friend who is blind and has the use of a guide dog makes me acutely aware of how those of us who drive vehicles make the lives of those with disabilities, the elderly and indeed Joe and Jane Pedestrian difficult and at times dangerous.

I took the two photos above on 16th October around 1.45pm because I just could not believe what I was seeing as I tried to navigate the section of pavement in front of these shops. One vehicle actually pulled onto and over the pavement right in front of me to access the private land which is actually the majority of what looks like pavement.

And thereby hangs the problem. The pavement is probably about 3ft wide from the kerb line, the rest of the hard standing is private land belonging to whomever owns the shops. Vehicles want to park on that private land as it’s free to do so and parking is very limited in the immediate area. To get to it they have to cross the pavement and with successive road resurfacings making the kerb level quite low it means that in reality vehicles bounce across the pavement wherever they can/want. In turn this makes a pedestrian’s life quite exciting and akin to running a gauntlet, at least it is for the abled bodied who can do that. The elderly, people with disabilities and the blind just have to hope they won’t be knocked over!

But in fact things are even worse than that because the pavement part is often parked upon too so there’s no clear footway at all as you can clearly see from one of the shots where there’s a parked car all but abandoned at an angle over it. A few days prior to taking these photos I had reason to walk in front of the same shops and I found a van parked pretty much the same way as the abandoned car. On that occasion there were a couple of blokes unloading the van and I decided to tackle them. That may not have been a wise thing to do but I stayed calm and simply said they should move their van because it was making the pavement dangerous particularly for people with disabilities. Half expecting some abuse in return they just looked at me and said nothing. However, when I went past again in the other direction a little later the same van was sensibly parked against the kerb. It seems they got what I was saying.

The black bollards you can see in one photo had to be put there to try to stop vehicles using the dropped kerb of the Pelican Crossing to access the private land about a dozen years ago so the problem is far from being a new one. However, it has got so much worse in recent times and I fear that there’s an accident just waiting to happen.

I’ve asked Sefton Council Highways to have another look at this area to see what can be done to make things safer.

‘Life on Board’ Exhibition at Mersey Maritime Museum

Yesterday we went to have a look at this new exhibition which has recently been put tpgether by curators at Merseyside Maritime Museum. I say recently but it should have opened back in March however a certain lockdown stopped that happening. But with the relaxation of Covid 19 rules the exhibition indeed the Museum itself is now open for public viewing again, although it’s wise to pre-book your visit. It’s all free I might add.

‘Life on Board’ is a look into the lives of both crew and passengers of merchant ships and passenger vessels and it tells a story, indeed many individual stories, via the people who experienced work and travel by ship over many decades.

Now having been shown around this new exhibition by our daughter (one of the team behind it) means that my view of it must be biased; that said both Sheila and I really did find it fascinating and well worth the visit. What’s more, clearly great thought has been given into trying to keep visitors and staff safe during this awful pandemic.

I’m no maritime historian so the best way I can illustrate the exhibition is via the photos I took while at it. So here goes:-

There’s quite a bit about the loss of this ship including video interviews. So sad but the families got to the truth in the end thankfully.

The medal above was interesting to see as I’d blogged about Samuel Plimsoll a while back – Here’s a link to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/06/21/plimsoll-the-man-the-mp-and-the-line/

I picked this shot of a Harrison Line poster due to it’s connection with my former home town of Maghull – Historic England says – Harrison Home [at the junction of Sefton Ln & L’pool Rd Sth] was named after Frederic Harrison, the President of the [Maghull] Homes in 1902 who operated a shipping line out of Liverpool. The home was constructed by Brown and Backhouse at a cost of £5421 and opened in June 1902.

To add to the photo above my Mum worked at the Harrison Home in the 1970’s and early 1980’s and I recall going into the building (which is Listed) at the time and thinking how beautiful it was and indeed still is. The Maghull Homes, as it was then known, was an epileptic colony and this was one of their buildings, it’s now known as the Parkhaven Trust.

I took a lot more photos as the exhibition covers many shipping issues and matters but the ones I’ve picked for this review are those which particularly interested me. Of course, other aspects will be of greater interest to others so if this review has piqued your interest it’s best to go see the the exstensive collection for yourself – I’m sure you’ll not be disappointed.

Please click on the photos above to enlarge them.

Maghull – Update on Stafford Moreton Way & Woodend environmental projects

Here’s an update on two significant Maghull environmental projects which are presently being pursued by the Friends of Maghull & District and which I thought were worth shouting about. I don’t have any direct involvement in either project [only so many hours in each day:-)] so any queries are best directed to Frank Sharp – woodendcwp@gmail.com – who leads on these matters.

Here’s the update:-

Thank you very much for your kind past support towards the ongoing Stafford Moreton Way Wildflower Project in 2019/20. We would like to take the opportunity to provide an update and to encourage you to support our latest project which is currently at 97% of its target total, leaving an outstanding £678.

Firstly, we hope you have been coping with the pandemic challenges and that our letter finds you in good spirits.

The Stafford Moreton Way Wildflower Project had two stages: (1) November 2019 involved removing turf in three areas and planting mixed wildlife friendly hedging, 12 trees, 1500 bulbs, covered with bark chippings as a weed suppressant, and (2) in April 2020 we had to postpone the installation of the recycling rhinoceros sculpture, the wildflower turf, and noticeboard, due to the pandemic restrictions. We are hoping to lay the turf on the 22.9.20, install the rhinoceros in October/November and following this install the noticeboard. We have had a terrific response from the community in collecting the plastic bottle tops for the recycling rhinoceros particularly from three local primary schools, the children of which we hope will proudly unveil the statue and insert the bottle tops. We had some small teething problems with the maintenance on site as London and Cambridge Property Management’s subcontractors (Marshalls) were unable to work during the pandemic and then this was compounded by new subcontractors (Spacecare) who were initially not fully briefed of their responsibilities which we hope to resolve this week. Continued updates are still available on our website at www.spacehive.com/stafford-moreton

The Woodend Community Woodland Project – www.spacehive.com/woodend – , is at Bobby’s Wood situated at the junction of Liverpool Road South and Northway, across the road from Lidl and the Alt pub and neighbouring Bumbles Children’s Nursery.

Rationale.

We are conscious that developers are seemingly keen to build everywhere in Maghull at the moment despite planning refusals by Maghull and Sefton Council’s Eg Damfield Lane was a blue plaque preservation area but central government overturned their refusals and the land is currently being built on. Consequently, we want to preserve the natural beauty of Bobby’s Wood but make it more user-friendly by improving upon the handful of dog walkers that currently use it. To achieve this we have focused on creating a (1) safe hedging and rail perimeter and (2) an accessible natural Cotswold path, which will be the springboard for all the other proposed natural improvements.

We developed the proposals earlier this year, consulted a variety of horticultural experts and stakeholders. Spent July undertaking a survey open to the whole of Maghull and also focused on door knocking on over 600 houses in the vicinity and received overwhelming support as can be seen in the online survey report, including Q&A and information sheets available at http://www.maghull-tc.gov.uk/news The survey also amazingly resulted in 30 respondents expressing an interest in becoming volunteers as part of a Friends of Bobby’s Wood group.

We started crowdfunding in April 2020 and will finish in late October 2020. By some miracle, during the incredible pandemic challenges for everyone, we have somehow raised £22,913 which is incredibly humbling and also perhaps an indication of how refocused people are now about nature. If we over fund we are targeting the first £3000 on populating the huge rear borders with community engaged planting.

We have provided further introductory information below and have created an introductory video on the crowdfunding website at www.spacehive.com/woodend

We hope you can help again with this new project and thank you once again for your past and hopefully future motivational support.

Best Wishes and Take Care,

Frank Sharp (Friends of Maghull and District).

Extra Information.

To reinvigorate an historic woodland entrance to Maghull, with a welcoming, accessible, iconic and engaging wildlife friendly space, focusing on enhancing the environment, history, community, legacy and economy.

Our Ambition.

Between April and October 2020, we are initially targeting funding to create a safe and accessible area as a platform for community led projects for years to come. This involves (1) ‘accessible’ 230m pathway (cost £6,500) for dis/abled, prams, elderly, to join together various future destinations that will eventually include the following:

RHS mentored community led designed and managed planted borders

Under-planting current trees with hundreds of free Mersey Forest donated tree whips and bulbs to future proof and enhance.

A 6m banqueting table and benches near Bumbles Nursery to act as a fun picnic table and community hub.

A wisteria arched tunnel

Signage to welcome and inform regarding the rich history (remnant of a 2×5 mile mediaeval wood belonging to a Saxon called Uctred referred to in the Domesday book (1086)).

The potential loan of a 15 foot Saxon warrior sculpture.

Our other initial target is to purchase and install (2) 92 m of diamond rail fencing (cost £4500) around the perimeter for the following reasons:

To protect the beautiful 1385 wildlife friendly mixed hedging whips we are obtaining from the Tree Council for free, that will form the 230m perimeter and will be planted in November 2020, during National Tree Week with the support of every aspect of the community eg local nursery, two primary schools, one high school, the local Scout groups and U3A etc.

To protect children and pets from directly accessing the busy roads

To provide habitat and food for wildlife, whilst providing a beautiful appearance.

To provide research evidence on how hedging can reduce 60% of the vehicle pollution, produced by the daily 20,000 vehicles, conducted between Sefton Council, the Tree Council and a professor & his team from Bangor University.

To protect from vehicle pollution and noise.

Through the planting activity we want to establish a specific friends of community group to care and support the wood.

Meccano – An introduction & a visit too if you wish

The Frank Hornby Heritage Centre within Maghull’s Meadows Leisure Centre.

As a Trustee of the Maghull based charitable group the Frank Hornby Trust I found the introductory video – linked below – from Sharon Brown (National Museums Liverpool’s Land Transport Curator) very useful.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bmwqnENVdA

As a 60+ year old I can of course remember Meccano, Dinky Toys & Hornby Railways very well but younger folk may not, so the video may help connect younger generations with a huge piece of both Liverpool’s history and the toys of previous generations of their own family too.

Another view of the Frank Hornby Heritage Centre.

The Frank Hornby Heritage Centre, which is within Maghull’s Meadows Leisure Centre, is presently open to visit each Tuesday and Friday (10am to 4pm) but only with a previously made booking. This is of course due to Covid 19 restrictions. If you want to visit please e-mail t3robertson@gmail.com so that a visiting slot can be arranged.

Frank Hornby lived for most of his aldult life in Maghull on Merseyside. His 1st house (The Hollies) in Station Road has an English Heritage Blue Plaque on it and his 2nd house (Quarry Brook) which is now the 6th Form block of Maricourt High School a Maghull Town Council plaque.

Maghull & Lydiate’s ‘Berlin Wall’ & the ‘Bible’ of cycling infrastructure

In response to a previous posting about cycling infrastructure in Sefton Borough a Twitter responder (Clive Durdle) pointed me (and indeed Sefton Council) towards something called CROW. Yes, I wondered what it was too but after some Googling I realised it’s pretty much the ‘Bible’ for building cycle friendly/safe roads. And surprise, surprise (NOT) it’s a Dutch publication.

Here’s a blog posting about it:-

therantyhighwayman.blogspot.com/2019/07/crow-flow.html

And here’s a link to the publishers – by gum it’s not cheap!

crowplatform.com/product/design-manual-for-bicycle-traffic/

The new Alt JUnction

Of course, the obvious question is what manual were Sefton Council using when they designed the new junction in Maghull – A59/Northway-Liverpool Road South-Dover Road (The Alt Junction) – as I struggle to see how cycling through this brand new junction was considered at all! Frankly, I’ve yet to hear a good word about it from the pedestrians, cyclists or drivers whom I’ve spoken to. Yes, I realise it’s new and we generally don’t like change so we’re often sceptical about many new things, but this junction could start to become almost as unpopular as its much bigger brother just a few hundred yards away from it – I refer of course to the now infamous Switch Island ‘Home of traffic Accidents’.

The reason this new junction is important is because there are few crossing places across Maghull & Lydiate’s ‘Berlin Wall’ otherwise known as the A59/Northway dual carriageway (and even fewer safe ones) for pedestrians and cyclists. These are they south to north:-

* South end of Maghull adjacent to River Alt – A good pedestrian/cyclist safe crossing with traffic lights.
* The Alt Junction – Brand new but in my view far from being cyclist friendly & it’s a long walk for pedestrians.
* Hall Ln Junction – Pedestrians have high-level bridge to cross but it’s disability/cyclist unfriendly(steps).
* Damfield Ln Junction – Another high-level safe walking bridge but it’s disability/cyclist unfriendly (steps again).
* Westway/Eastway Junction – A pedestrian subway which cyclists are discouraged/banned from using.**
* Dodds Ln Junc’ – A good pedestrian crossing with traffic lights separate to the non-traffic lighted junction.
* Kenyons Ln Junction – Traffic lighted but no pedestrian phase & lights often do not recognise waiting cyclists.
* Robins Island – Traffic island with no pedestrian crossing facilities or safe access onto cycle paths.

The distance between the most southerly A59 crossing and Robins Island is @2.25 miles the vast majority of which is through two highly populated suburban communities, except the Kenyons Ln – Robins Island section. What’s more a large proportion of community facilities – Town Hall, Leisure Centre, Library, Frank Hornby Museum, Police Station, Health Centre, Industrial Estate, Recycling Centre, Main Shopping Centre and Lydiate Village Centre – are all on the western side of it. Maghull’s 2 railway stations being on the east side together with 2 of the 3 local high schools*. My point being, there are many reasons why Maghull & Lydiate folk have to cross this busy major road each and every day and the crossing facilities for pedestrians and cyclists are far from adequate.

We all know we should be walking and cycling more to help us to be fitter/healthier and of course to save the planet but the way Maghull & Lydiate has been set up/planned in effect encourages vehicle use simply because of the lack of safe/accessible crossing facilities associated with it’s very own ‘Berlin Wall’.

On that basis why has the most recently rebuilt junction on ‘The Wall’ been built with cycling facilities all but excluded? Has Sefton Council got a copy of CROW and if so is it simply gaining dust on a shelf in some out of the way storeroom?

* The local primary schools are split 4 on the east side, 5 on the west

** The pedestrian only subway looks like this:-

It could be adapted for pedestrians and cyclists like this one in York:-

I would be interested to hear what others think about shared space subways in cycling unfriendly Maghull, Sefton Borough or elsewhere.