Tuesday, 13 March 2018

62 Falkner Street


























Recently on TV (BBC2) there was a wonderful programme called: 'A House through Time', presented by David Olusoga. It traced the history of a house in Liverpool: No 62 (formerly 58) Falkner Street, and the stories of its inhabitants from when it was built in the 1840s right through to the present day. Of course, I went to find the house.

Built as a home for a well-to-do merchant, when Liverpool was a great trading port for the British Empire, the presenter traced its owners and tenants and told their fascinating stories. There was a customs clerk with a taste for fine furniture and a lavish lifestyle, who went bankrupt; a young couple who rose from being servants, through hard work and clever financial deals, to having great wealth. There was a cotton broker who made a fortune from the slave trade, ended up in a debtors' prison and then fled to America, abandoning his family to the workhouse. Then it became a boarding house and there were many tenants, as the house and area (and Liverpool) suffered in the Great Depression. The series uncovered divorce, family violence, honourable people and ne'er-do-wells. The house was almost flattened by a bomb in Liverpool's Blitz during WWII and then almost demolished in the 1970s. Saved by an enterprising group of local activists, the house was converted into a home where creative people lived: a successful playwright and a young, gay restaurateur who died of AIDS/HIV in the 1980s.  Nowadays it is a single dwelling once again, home to a middle-class family, as the area has been cleaned up and gentrified. The research involved was amazing and I found it a most educational and enjoyable programme, a very painless way of learning history.

I hope they do another series about another house somewhere. If you get chance to watch the series, do. I'm sure it will be repeated sometime.

6 comments:

  1. I saw this program on BBC2, interesting.

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  2. A primary school on the outskirts of Cambridge did a project to find out who lived in the houses of one street 100 years ago. They then made their own blue plaques (from cardboard and featuring some interesting spelling) for each house to display in their windows. There were a lot of "gardners" and "taylers" living there in those days.

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  3. What a great show that must be, and a lot of work also! Thanks for showing us the house, even if I never get to see the show.

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  4. Quite an unusual focus for history, but I like the idea.

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  5. I would love to see that show. I hope they broadcast it on BBC Canada one day!

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  6. The builder who changed out the window above the first blue door has destroyed the beautiful architectural symmetry of the whole street.

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