In my book Under The Bridge, Vinny and Anne are talking, she’s picked him up from Huskisson St in Liverpool Eight and is driving him to Garston.
She pulled out into the street, moved up the gears, slowed, and turned into Catherine Street.
As they moved through the lights into Princes Avenue, Vinny asked, “Remember the pub, the Alex?”
“Yeah, I knew it. Can’t say I ever went in, though.”
“It’s a crime what they’ve done round here.”
“What are you on about?”
“The pubs and clubs, especially the clubs: The Nigerian, The Casablanca, The Gladray, The Silver Sands, the Yoruba, Stanley House…I could go on.”
“Yeah, and what’s your point?”
“They’re all gone, all of ‘em. There used to be clubs all over here. They shut the whole lot down, in the 90s, one by one they disappeared.”
“All right, there is such a thing as progress, you know.” Anne paused for a minute, concentrating on getting through the junction. “Look, can we just do what I need now, much as I sympathise with your…” she struggled to find the right words. “Obsession…depression.”
“It’s got nothing to do with depression. It’s true.” He played with the heating controls.
“All right, sorry. Can you leave that?”
“Has this thing got air con?” Vinny asked.
“No, stop pressing things.” She changed the subject. “We’re going to The Dealers—do you know it?”
Princes Avenue is being renovated and a cycle lane and walkway are being added. As part of this they are celebrating different aspects of the area. One photo shows a plinth and the location of clubs around the Avenue with accompanying text about the musical and cultural history, how Liverpool Eight and its musicians influenced The Merseybeat. A look through the names of some of the clubs that were closed and are now memorialised on Princes Avenue, gives you an idea of the community that was destroyed. In the Echo story I couldn’t see the names but some of the ones I knew of were Jamaica House, The Yoruba, The Nigerian, The Sierra Leone, The Casablanca, The Gladray, The Silver Sands among others.
The Echo article celebrating the renovation with pictures is here;
One question screams out to me;
If it was so good, why did you destroy it?
Is it only safe to celebrate it, after its gone?
In the 1990s every single club was forced out, a combination of licensing authorities, police and the council combined to shut them down. All this in the years before the ‘Capital of Culture’. You know celebrating the ‘World in One City’.
I am torn, any recognition of the black community that was ignored for so long is a positive, but the cynic in me could say they are showing off this history to the people who have invested in the expensive new units in The Georgian Quarter ‘look how lively this place used to be.’ While a campaign to save The Caribbean Centre around the corner struggles to make progress.
The novel Under The Bridge will be published in January 2021
Check out this great film by Leroy Cooper to get a sense of what was lost https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-myX3XqVtBg
To learn more about Leroy and photography;
My blog is here https://jackbyrne.home.blog/
Join the FB group for the Novel Under The Bridge;