Don’t mention ‘Merseytram’ as modern streetcars could make a welcome return to the Wirral

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/trams-set-return-merseyside-operate-15262163#ICID=Android_EchoNewsApp_AppShare

Any politician who lived through the Merseytram fiasco (I did) must wince when they hear that there could be plans to reintroduce modern streetcars on the Wirral. Merseytram was Merseyside politicians shooting themselves in both feet!

But hey lets try to be positive as streetcars/trams/light rail are the future for urban transportation especially over shortish routes and I’m a fan of them having recently experienced the excellent NET tram system that runs in and around Nottingham.

A Nottingham NET Tram at the Phoenix Park terminus.

What’s more inter-political party co-operation on the Wirral with both the Lib Dems and Greens co-sponsoring the matter on their Council. Not usually a very British way of doing politics because political parties are expected to oppose the ideas of other parties, even when they agree with them, simply because the ideas are from another party. Whatever next? I bet the national press will not want such political cooperation to bed in into our adversarial political culture as it’s the pointless party political battles they love to report upon.

Also Wirral Transport Museum and the tramway which runs from their Taylor Street premises to Woodside Ferry Terminal gets a mention in the Liverpool Echo article. The museum is well worth a visit and you can ride on old fashioned trams there too, like this one:-

‘Baby Grand’ Liverpool Tramcar 245 at Woodside Ferry Terminal.

With thanks to Keith Page for the lead to this posting

Mid Wirral Railway Line – Will it ever become a Merseyrail Line?

Upton Station

www.railwaygazette.com/news/passenger/single-view/view/vivarail-d-trains-for-wales-borders.html

The Railway Gazette has the story on its web site – see link above

What made me wonder about this piece of news was more what it did not say than what it did.

Has it not been the long-term ambition of Merseytravel to bring the Mid Wirral Line into the Merseyrail fold? Yes it has and it has been talked about in Merseytravel for as long as I can remember. So does this announcement mean that aim has been dropped, forgotten, sidelined, shunted into the sidings? I hope not as it has always been a rather obvious addition to the Merseyrail network that needs getting on with rather than just being talked about.

Goodbye Uncle Albert

I have mentioned Charles (Uncle Albert) Walker many times on this blog site even though he was not my Uncle nor was his name Albert. He was though a close personal friend over the past 20 years+ and sadly he died this morning at the age of 95.

Charles and I at his 91st Birthday Party in the Punch Bowl Pub, Sefton Village

Charles and I at his 91st Birthday Party in the Punch Bowl Pub, Sefton Village

Yes he was old, he had been admitted into hospital yesterday and he was physically frail but his death came as a huge shock bearing in mind Sheila and I had visited him yesterday afternoon and had been laughing and joking with him up until 5pm. It seems that pneumonia crept up and took him very quickly despite the great care he got in Aintree Hospital A&E and later on Ward 1.

I first came across him when at the age of 74 he decided to get involved in Liberal politics. He soon got himself elected to Maghull Town Council and even had a lady offer to marry him when he was out canvassing in his first election! He served as a Town Councillor until he was 90!

Charles completing a form to protest about building on Maghull's Green Belt.

Charles completing a form to protest about building on Maghull’s Green Belt.

He got his ‘Uncle Albert’ nickname because he would often tell stories about his days in the RAF during WW2 when he had been an aircraft electrician working in the UK, Gibraltar and in Italy. The Only Fools and Horses character seemed to fit Charles so well that the name stuck and he even changed his name badge at one conference we attended to read ‘Uncle Albert’ rather than Charles Walker. And that kind of summed Charles up in that he was game for a laugh about anything.

He was very fit until he reached his mid 80’s and would regularly be out delivering Lib Dem leaflets with a group of us called ‘The Nutters’; we had a quiz team of the same name as well. The core members were Uncle Albert, Andrew Blackburn, Andrew Beattie (sadly now passed on as well) and myself.

I recall so well the visits we had to the Littleborough and Saddleworth by-election not least because uncle Albert would start to sing RAF songs in the car. If you know what rugby songs are like you have got my drift!

Charles Walker with his Grandfather in Vale Park Wallasey-1923or4.

Charles Walker with his Grandfather in Vale Park Wallasey-1923or4.

Charles was born in Egremont on the Wirral and he lived there until he married Margaret when they moved first to Bootle and then in 1960 to Maghull. His Poverty Lane bungalow had been his home since the day it was built.

He worked at George Henry Lees in Liverpool up until he was called up in WW2 and he was in the Home Guard as a lad. Yes, he got called ‘Private Pike’ as well when we were teasing him. His stories of fire watching on top of GHL’s during the Liverpool Blitz were astonishing to us as he seemed to have little concern about the danger he had been in. And he saw St. Lukes Church go up in flames from that dangerous vantage point too.

He clearly loved his time in the RAF and could still rattle off a long list of aircraft he had worked on, how he had met and spoken to Field Marshal Montgomery (whose brother was a Vicar in Wallasey at the time who Charles knew) and been close to Winston Churchill.

After the war he worked in both the sugar and metal plating trades in Liverpool and he only retired when in his 70’s. He was also a regular attender at Goodison Park as an Everton supporter until the early 1970’s. Only last weekend we were exchanging texts as both Everton and my club (Mansfield Town) had matches on.

He had a life-long interest in aircraft, railways and ships so being a railway buff myself Charles and I got on very well, often exchanging books, videos and magazines with each other.

In recent years Charles suffered mobility problems but until about 3 months ago he was regularly getting a taxi to The Square in Maghull to visit shops there. He was well known and liked at Waterfields, Home Bargains, Superdrug and TSB.

Charles Shaking hands with Wing Commander Greg Smith at RAF Gibraltar in 2013

Charles Shaking hands with Wing Commander Greg Smith at RAF Gibraltar in 2013

His wife was taken into care in 2013 because of dementia but later that year his daughter Carole and son-in-law Phil took him on a cruise which took in Gibraltar where he had been stationed for around 3 years during his national service. What’s more they had arranged for him to visit RAF Gibraltar and meet the Station Commander. His grandson also took him, only 3 months ago, to the RAF Museum at Cosford where he had been twice before with Andrew and I. Of course he loved all these outings.

Particularly since 2013 Sheila, Andrew and I had taken Charles under our wing and helped him as much as we could alongside his loving family. Indeed, Charles was considered to be a part of our family and indeed Andrew’s. Wednesday night would always be beer and chips night at Uncle Albert’s for Andrew and I (and Jen would pop along as well sometimes). He then decided to name his bungalow ‘Poverty Pub’.

A trip out to the Stanley Arms was a favourite of his and Sheila made sure he went about once a month. He loved their omelette and chips.

Charles will have known countless people in Maghull during his 66 years living there and he treated virtually everyone he met as though they were his friends. A kind generous man indeed who rarely had a bad word to say about anyone. I so recall after the Brexit vote how upset he was about Polish people being told to get out of the UK by ignorant people. To Charles the Poles were WW2 heroes and he was disgusted at the way some had been spoken to since June 2016.

I have lost a close personal friend who enriched my life immeasurably and I will miss him terribly.

Will Joe or his Labour challengers just suck the life out of Liverpool’s surrounding borough’s?

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/labours-three-metro-mayor-candidate-11503354

The Liverpool Echo has a story about Labour’s potential candidates for Lord of Merseyside – see link above

Readers of this blog site will know that I am in no way a fan of Merseyside having a Metro Mayor to lord it over us all, indeed I think the whole carry on will potentially be the death of Liverpool’s surrounding council areas.

But whether we want a Metro Mayor or not this wretched Tory Government, whose bed Merseyside Labour has all to firmly jumped into, is making us have one.

So who will the Metro Mayor be? Just look at the potential Labour candidates – see link above! They are all from the Liverpool City part of Merseyside, a real worry here.

My concern all along has been that the City of Liverpool may well prosper by pulling everything towards it but that could well be at the expense of Sefton, St. Helens, Knowsley, Halton and Wirral council areas. Indeed, it has started to happen already as poor old Bootle is being stripped of over 3,000 civil service jobs three quarters of which are to be resettled again in Liverpool City Centre!

If we have to have a Metro Mayor (at least until hopefully a new government abolishes them) then surely we need one who clearly has loyalties outside of Liverpool City? Could this be a way of ensuring that the City does not suck the life, economic or otherwise, from the surrounding areas?

Mersey Tunnel (Kingsway) – 75 miles of new electric cables!

This is the front page of the booklet produced to celebrate  of the opening of Kingsway Tunnel in 1971 when my family walked through it the day before it opened.

This is the front page of the booklet produced to celebrate of the opening of Kingsway Tunnel in 1971 when my family walked through it the day before it opened.

Kingsway Tunnel rewire has begun

75 miles of cable– the equivalent distance of Liverpool to Leeds – will be installed as part of a major £7.5million project to rewire and replace the lighting in the Kingsway (Wallasey) tunnel.

The work started on Tuesday 3rd May is part of an on-going 10 year tunnels investment programme and is expected to take 18 months to complete, with the majority of work taking place overnight, causing minimal disruption to tunnel users.

The existing lighting will be replaced with more efficient LED units with a lifespan of at least 20 years, reducing Co2 emissions by around 450 tonnes per year and making up to £90,000 savings on the electricity bill per annum.

The existing electrical infrastructure will be replaced with modern cables which will be installed in the tunnel invert below the road surface. This will allow easier maintenance, minimising the need for the tubes having to be closed in the future – again maximising convenience for our customers.

Interesting facts

• 75 miles of cable will be installed

• 1600 light fittings will be replaced

• 6.5 miles of cable tray and baskets will be used

• 4.5 miles of steelwork and brackets will support the new installations

The Liverpool City Region approved the investment for the re-wire project in November 2015.

The 1.5 mile (2.4 km) Kingsway tunnel opened in 1971 and was built to accommodate the rise in traffic when the Queensway Tunnel, which was built in the 1930s to carry vehicles between Birkenhead and Liverpool, was unable to cope with the rise in post-war traffic.

My thanks to Sefton Councillor John Dodd for spotting this story

Lady Lever Art Gallery gets a welcome refurbishment

24869120040_956c1ae439_o

www.itv.com/news/granada/update/2016-03-24/historic-art-gallery-shows-off-results-of-3-million-makeover/

ITV/Granada has the story on its web site – see link above

Now here is a project to celebrate art on Merseyside, not least because Maghull resident Jen Robertson was a part of the project team and can be seen cleaning a rare Wedgwood fireplace in the video.

You can visit the Museum’s web site via the link below:-

www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ladylever/

logo-nml-white