Monday, 31 January 2011

Lascar House, Waterloo Road/Vandries Street Liverpool

Our first De Quincey dérive on Saturday 22nd January took us past the above building which stands on the former North Shore - the "resounding shore" which was the destination of a walk by De Quincey on the Sunday May 1st 1803 and the inspiration for our dérive.

The above building on the corner of Vandries Street and Waterloo Road was called "Lascar House" and was the offices until 1971 of the Beldam Asbestos Company. The building has been in a state of dereliction for a number of years and partially collapsed in 2009.

The Bedlam Asbestos Company may have been using the building for a considerable time as I came across this snippet from the Rubber Journal:

Ernest A. Beldam The death occurred recently at his home near Woking of Mr Ernest Beldam, MIMar.E., senior director of Beldam Asbestos Co. Ltd., and Auto-Klean Strainers Ltd. In 1899, Robert Beldam founded the firm now known as Beldam

In the photograph below you can see the name of Auto-Kleen is visible:

The Who's Who of Engineering 1921 has Directors : George Wm. Beldam and Cyril Asplan Beldam. Manufactures. — HP asbestos packings and jointings ; all kinds of packings.

Interestingly, in a the Dairy and ice cream industries directory 1954 has this entry:

Beldam Asbestos Co. Ltd., Lascar House, Hounslow, Middlesex. Hounslow 6441

That one did worry me - asbestos and ice cream!!

In 1970, The Institute of Marine Engineers magazine Transition had an job advert addressed to: PERSONNEL MANAGER BELDAM ASBESTOS CO. LIMITED LASCAR WORKS, HOUNSLOW, MIDDLESEX.

Why use the name Lascar House in both locations? Did they move up from Hounslow or was the office on Waterloo Road a subsidary? I thought Lascar may refer to the name for Eastern seamen but I am not too sure as I came across this description in a magazine called Fairplay in 1996: Beldam Lascarite Green Jointing Beldam Lascarite Reinforced Jointing. Therefore Lascar House may have nothing to do with the term for Eastern seamen but something to do with an asbestos product or did the term originate from the company's original premises? However, there is a certain irony using the name of "lascar" as the building is right opposite docks where many Eastern seamen sailed in and out of the port.

A lascar was a sailor or militiaman from the Indian subcontinent or other countries east of the Cape of Good Hope, employed on European ships from the 16th century until the beginning of the 20th century. The word comes from the Persian Lashkar, meaning military camp or army, and al-askar, the Arabic word for a guard or soldier. Wikipedia

I came across an interesting website dedicated to the "publication and exchange of information about the history of lascars. i.e. the forgotten Asian, African and other 'foreign' seamen serving on British ships" - sadly it was last updated in 2003.

I also came across a site with extracts from a book entitled The Merchant Seamen's War Sons Of Empire concerning seamen in the merchant navy during world war II. The extracts demonstrate the inherent racism in the ship owners and authorities to African, Indian and Chinese sailors during WW11:

'In September 1942, eighteen West Africans were jailed for one month after refusing to withdraw their demands for higher pay. Nine men, each from two ships, had been originally engaged in Lagos for what they believed to be a regular run between West Africa and the UK. But while in the UK they had found their ships being altered for use in a different trade and argued they should be paid higher wages accordingly. When their demands were rejected the men went on strike. They were found guilty by Liverpool magistrates of disobeying the masters' lawful commands and offered the option of paying a £6 fine each. The press reported the men as appearing to resent the decision of the magistrate and said they could not pay. On being asked by the clerk if they were willing to go to sea without persisting in this demand for higher wages the men replied with an emphatic 'No'. [The presiding magistrate] thereupon said, 'We are sorry to hear you adopt this attitude. . . The fine will be withdrawn and you must all go to prison for one month with hard labour.'

Here is another extract:

'Private reports were more mixed. Major-General Gleadell, a passenger aboard the Llandaff Castle when she was sunk, wrote that he was 'eventually picked out [of the water] by Bil Dames, a big Liverpool negro and a first class man for the occasion' and that Dames had also pulled into the boat a 'Lt. Brigstocke, complete in white naval topee'. J.K. Gorrie, 3rd mate of the Athelking, was on watch when the ship came under fire from the German raider Atlantis.

He recalled that he was 'scared stiff' but seems to have been surprised that the West Indian helmsman defied stereotypical expectations by sticking to his post: 'One thing that sticks in my mind is that when he opened fire, we had a big West Indian called Bodin at the wheel and he just stayed there. We had steel flaps to let down over the wheelhouse windows and we dropped those down but this West Indian just stayed at the wheel.'

Returning to De Quincey, the above painting by William Mulready called Train Up A Child featuring Lascars is thought be some commentators to be based on De Quincey's dream of the Malay in his Confessions of An English Opium Eater. See High anxieties: cultural studies in addiction by Janet Farrell Brodie, Marc Redfield 2002.

I am currently reading a book entitled Thomas Burke's Dark Chinoiserie Limehouse Nights and the Queer Spell of Chinatown by Anne Veronica Witchard. This books details De Quincey's rabid sinophobia and how his reading is permeated with lurid racism as can be seen below in an extract from his essay 'Murder As One Of The Fine Arts':

"Every third man at least might be set down as a foreigner. Lascars, Chinese, Moors, Negroes, were met at every step. And, apart from the manifold ruffianism shrouded impenetrably under the mixed hats and turbans of men whose past was untraceable to any European eye, it is well known that the the navy (especially, in time of war, the commercial navy) of Christendom is the sure receptacle of all the murderers and ruffians whose crimes have given them a motive for withdrawing themselves for a season from the public eye."

I will return to De Quincey's racism, sinophobia and Chinoiserie after a dérive I have planned for later this year to be called "De Quincey Goes to Chinatown"

The original purpose of "Lascar House" was a pub called "The Anglo-American Hotel" which symbolises both the connection of Liverpool to the USA and perhaps the more friendly welcome the port gave to white cousins?

Loggerheads Tavern and Causeway-lane

Click on above map to enlarge

On the first De Quincey dérive, we discussed whether De Quincey would have been walking over open field to the North Shore on his trips to the river from Everton where he was staying in 1803. I discovered the above map which shows that he could have walked down a lane from Everton which corresponds to today's Everton Brow called Causeway Lane. Herdman's painting below shows such a lane out of the village:

The photograph below of Everton Brown taken on the dérive is a present day view looking towards where Herdman painted the above picture of Everton Village:

If you look at the above map you will notice a building called Loggerheads which would have been located below the present-day Everton Brow on Richmond Row which still exists. Below is Richmond Row which I will return in more detail in a later post:

The tavern no longer exists but would have been a feature which De Quincey would have seen on any walk from Everton down to the North Shore. Here is a description of the Loggerheads Tavern from Richard Brooke's Liverpool as it was During the Last Quarter of the Eighteenth Century 1853:

The Loggerheads Tavern is also mentioned in a book called Recollections of Liverpool by a Nonagenarian. The author refers to the Liverpool born poet Felicia Hemans being friendly with the author's friends The Nicholsons who ran the tavern. Felicia as a young Ms Browne was encouraged to write by Mr Nicholson. Mr Nicholson eventually turned the tavern into a private residence but by the 1830's it had reverted back to the "Loggerheads Tavern Revived".

The above is detail from a painting by W.G. Herdman of Liverpool from Everton 1774. Kay Parrott in her excellent book Pictorial Liverpool: The Art of W.G. & William Herdman states that the dome in the wood in painting is possibly a summer house in the garden of the Loggerheads Tavern.

This is what Robert Syers says about Causeway-lane and the Loggerhead Tavern:

The road called Everton-brow has, from time immemorial, been the main passage from Liverpool to Everton; its first known name was Causeway-lane, afterwards it long went by the name of Loggerhead-lane, and for the last forty years it has been styled Everton-brow, until recently, the lower or west end has been honoured with the more dignified title of the Crescent. This road was formerly narrow, and in poor plight. It may serve to give an insight into its former state, and also to shew some other points connected with the neighbourhood of that thoroughfare, to use the words of an elderly gentleman, who well remembered the circumstances of which he treats; "The communication (from Everton) with Liverpool was through a deep sandy lane, the cops or hedges on each side not being many yards asunder, nor was there any parapet or foot path to accommodate pedestrians : just within the limits of Liverpool, at a long low house, where the late Mr. Nicholson long resided, was a small ale-house, near to a dyer's pond the latter surrounded with willows. This public-house was called the Loggerheads, and was of much celebrity in former days, which it first obtained from the civility of the landlady, and the choice and nourishing qualities of the viands and beverage she dispensed; the sign was two heads, the motto, ' We three logger- heads be.' " The informant somewhat cynically goes on to say, " Whether or not the sign was intended as a perpetual monitor to the nobles of Everton, history has left us in the dark." The same house has recently been again licensed, and is now open to the public under the name of "The Loggerheads Revived." The History of Everton 1830.

The name Loggerheads used to be common name for taverns and is alluded to in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night Act Two Scene 3. The tavern sign would have shown two wooden heads with the inscription; "We three loggerheads" as can be seen in the above sign at the present-day pub in Loggerheads in North Wales. According to the Dictionary of Pub Signs; "The visitor was supposed to fall into the trap of asking where the third one was, immediately falling into the trap of becoming one himself. A variation was to say that the third man was inside having a drink. Picture of two asses were sometimes used instead of the thick log like heads." See also The Pub in Literature: England's altered state By Steven Earnshaw page 57 for mention of loggerheads in Shakespeare's Henry 1V.

I came across an interesting article on Richard Wilson in the Somerset House Gazette and Literary Museum dated 24th July 1824 which discusses the above Loggerheads sign from the North Wales pub which he painted.

Another take on the meaning of the sign can be found in Reuben Percy, Thomas Byerly, John Timbs The Mirror of literature, amusement, and instruction: Volume 28 - Page 194 1836; "The sign of the Three Loggerheads, is two wooden heads, with this inscription : — " Here we three loggerheads be ;" the reader being the third."

Below is an extract from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night edited by Horace Henry Furness which has a detailed note on the meaning of loggerheads: Click on image to enlarge:

Hoaxing Mania Liverpool Chronicle Nov 4th 1807

I came across an amusing item contained in the above publication while researching Chisenhale Street bridge. You can read the item below:

The attractions:

Angelica Catalani

Angelica Catalani (1780 – 12 June 1849) was an Italian opera singer, the daughter of a tradesman.

At Sinigaglia, she was educated at the convent of Santa Lucia at Gubbio, where her soprano voice soon became famous.

In 1795 she made her debut on the stage at Venice. For nearly thirty years she sang at all the great houses, receiving very large fees; her first appearance in London being at the Kings Theatre in 1806. She remained in England, a prima donna without a serious rival, for seven years. Then she was given the management of the Opera in Paris, but this resulted in financial failure, due to the incapacity and extravagance of her husband, Captain Valabrégue, whom she married in 1806.

In 1827, she visited Sweden, during which she heard Elisabeth Olin and Brita Catharina Lidbeck sing; during her stay, she was inducted as a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts.

Her continental tours continued to be enormously successful, until she retired in 1828. She settled in Florence in 1830, where she founded a free singing school for girls; and her charity and kindness were unbounded. She died of cholera in Paris.
Catalani's greatest gift was her voice, a soprano of nearly three octaves in range. Its unsurpassed power and flexibility made her one of the greatest bravura singers of all times. She also worked as a singing teacher. Her pupils included Laure Cinti-Damoreau and Fanny Corri-Paltoni

Stephen Polito's Hippopotamus

The Royal Menagerie at the Exeter Change, The Strand London was run by Stephen Polito, an Italian ex-patriot from 1810 to 1814, when he died prematurely, at the age of fifty. Visitors could see the animals being fed, and, if they were lucky, hold a live lion cub.

The most famous of the residents was Chunee the elephant. After a visit, Lord Byron wrote in his diary that Chunee 'took and gave me my money again—took off my hat—opened a door—trunked a whip—and behaved so well, that I wish he was my butler.'

Sadly Chunee was killed in 1826, when he went into an elephant rage or 'musth' (a Hindi word for madness) and crushed one of his keepers. Bishopsgate

Stephen Polito also operated a travelling circus with the animals spending the winter months at the menagerie.

Lord Stanhope

Charles Stanhope, 3rd Earl Stanhope aka Charles Mahon, 3rd Earl Stanhope FRS (3 August 1753 – 15 December 1816) was a British statesman and scientist. He was the father of the great traveller and Arabist Lady Hester Stanhope and brother-in-law of William Pitt the Younger. Read more on Wikipedia

I cannot find any information as to what the "new plan" referred to.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a friend of De Quincey's, actually wrote a poem about Lord Stanhope - "To Lord Stanhope"

98 Gun Warship

One possibility is the 98 gun warship Neptune. HMS Neptune was a 98-gun second rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy. She served on a number of stations during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and was present at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The painting above depicts Neptune engaged at Trafalgar, 1805, by John Francis Sartorius. HMS Neptune, seen in bow profile, exchanges broadsides with the Spanish Santísima Trinidad.

Chisenhale Street Bridge

One of the principal aims of our first De Quincey dérive was to cross the site of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal using the former Chisenhale Street bridge. De Quincey would have had to use this route to cross the barrier to his walks from Everton to the North Shore in 1803. The route over the canal, as can be seen from the Herdman view above was still rural even in 1814, a pleasant almost rural lane in 1803 before the onset of industrialisation which consumed this area in the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Originally the Leeds and Liverpool Canal stretched to the outskirts of Liverpool near to present day Old Hall Street as can be seen on the map below (Click on map to enlarge):

By the the 1960's the canal had been truncated at Pall Mall. In the 1960s the Pall Mall terminus basin was filled in up to Chisenhale Street Bridge (Bridge A). In the 1980s the Eldonian Village housing estate was built for the community which was disrupted by the building of the Mersey Tunnel and the demolition of the Tate and Lyle sugar refinery. This meant the canal was filled in between Chisenhale Street Bridge (Bridge A) and just north of Burlington Street Bridge (Bridge B). Below is a photo from our dérive showing what the crossing looks like now. The existing bridge is a later one to the original stone one used by De Quincey:

The street is currently a quiet one at the edge of the Eldonian Village in a hinterland between the 21st Century inner city and the outskirts. Below is a photo of Tate & Lyle's site developed from 1857 onwards, which once occupied the area north of Chisenhale Street bridge. Chisenhale Street can be seen in the bottom right-hand corner (click on photo to enlarge):

We intend to pursue further dérives in the area and I will return with more on the surrounding area of Vauxhall.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Everton in the late 20th Century

Below is You Tube video of an evocative set of photos of Everton in the late 20th Century. I spent quite a bit of time working in this area during the 70s and 80s. The photos of all the tower blocks brought the memories flooding back!

We covered several of the locations on our first De Quincey dérive. Again, like the Liverpool Morning In The Streets documentary posted before this one, you can see the destruction of the arcadia created by the Liverpool merchant classes in Everton by industrialisation.

Everton Lock Up or "Prince Rupert's Tower"

Our first De Quincey inspired dérive took us past the only feature in Everton which De Quincey would have been familiar to him in his various stays in the village between 1801 and 1808.

"Prince Rupert's Tower"
"Prince Rupert's Tower", or The Roundhouse, is an old Bridewell or lock-up that is still located on Everton Brow, in Netherfield Road, Everton, Liverpool. It is used on the crest of Everton F.C.. The tower takes it name from Prince Rupert of the Rhine who stayed in the village a century earlier.

It was built in 1787, and was used to incarcerate wrong-doers until they could be hauled before the magistrate the following morning.

An early print of Everton Brow by Liverpool artist Herdman in 1800 shows the small round house with a conical roof in the middle of the penfold (cattle enclosure) which had been constructed to incarcerate drunks and deviants for the night.

Also going by the nicknames "Stewbum's Palace" or the "Stone Jug" in its day, there is a display about the lock-up in the Liverpool Museum.

Here is what it looked like in 1927

Used primarily these days by council workmen to store their tools, the tower itself has fallen into disrepair recently but in May 1997, then-chairman Peter Johnson announced a plan to spend £15,000 on renovating what is one of Everton FC's most enduring symbols. In 2003, a plaque was added to the site stating its importance to Everton Football Club

Lock ups in England and Wales

Village lock-ups are historic buildings that were used for the temporary detention of people in rural parts of England and Wales. They were often used for the confinement of drunks who were usually released the next day or to hold people being brought before the local magistrate. A typical village lock-up is a small structure with a single door and a narrow slit window or opening. Most lock-ups feature a dome or spire shaped roof and are commonly built from brick, large stones or timber. The village lock-up can either be round or polygonal in plan and minor variations in design, materials and appearance do occur although they were all built to perform the same function. Village lock-ups have acquired a range of local nicknames including blind-house, bone-house, bridewell, cage, jug, kitty, lobby, guard-house, round-house, tower and watch-house. Wikipedia

Here are extracts from Robert Syers's book The History of Everton1830:

One thing that struck me whilst reading the 1803 Diary was that De Quincey and his friends where wandering around Liverpool and Everton late at night. This freedom of movement seems to go against our 21st Century perception that it might have been highly dangerous to walk around at night in the early 1800s's and begs the question whether they were protected by servants or were they armed?

I did come across the mention of crime in Syer's book:

North Shore Liverpool Early 1800's

The aim of our first dérive based on De Quincey's 1803 Diary was to walk in his footsteps to reach the North Shore - "the resounding shore".

Below is an extract from Ramsey Muir's Bygone Liverpool 1913 describing the above plate of the North Shore from the book:

Here are 2 extracts from James Allanson Picton's MEMORIALS OF LIVERPOOL: Including a History of the Dock Estate 1873 describing the North Shore in more detail:

Below is a detailed section of the North Shore from the wonderfully named "Liverpool. Published under the superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge". Reduced & engraved by T. Starling. Printed by T. Starling. Published by Baldwin & Cradock, 47 Paternoster Row, Septr. 1836. (London: Chapman & Hall, 1844. The map shows the rapid development of the area described by Picton which occurred in the immediate years after De Quincey's visits to Everton between 1801 and 1808. (Click on map to enlarge)

Thomas De Quincey Dérive Number 1: “To the resounding shore!”

Sunday, May 1, 1803.

“-went to the woodlands after return to Everton and thence to the resounding shore”.

Saturday 22nd January 2011

De Quincey’s entry of visiting the “resounding shore” was the inspiration to a group of “drifters” to embark on a similar walk to follow in his footsteps. A cold, murky and dank day did not deter us from taking a walk to the “resounding shore”

The question arose amongst the “drifters”: which route would De Quincey have taken from Everton to the shore on the banks of the River Mersey?” His route from Everton Terrace to the North Shore, Liverpool could have been achieved in an almost straight line back in 1803 across fields down to the river as Liverpool had no reached much further than Richmond Row ( See map below - click to enlarge).

The only major obstacle on his potential route was the Leeds to Liverpool Canal, which could only be crossed at the bridge at Chisenhale Street. If he continued in a straight line then he would have reached the shore by Vandries House on the North Shore.

Our derive took a few hours following this route:

Village Street – Brow Side – Across Netherfield Road South – Everton Brow – Richmond Row - St Anne Street - Cazneau Street - Juvenal Street - Across Scotland Road - Wellington Street - Over Kingsway via walkway - Limekiln Lane - Bevington Street - Eldon Grove - track back down Ennerdale Street - Burroughs Gardens - Limekiln Lane - Bond Street - Tichfield Street Summer Seat - Eldon Street - Across Vauxhall Road - Chisenhale Street - Little Howard Street - Across Great Howard Street - Vandries Street - Waterloo Road - Bath Street - Brook Street - Old Hall Street.

We reached the former North Shore at Vandries Street making our way along the former docks to Old Hall Street were we stopped outside the former Leeds and Liverpool Canal Offices - the only edifice beside the Lock Up in Everton which De Quincey would have recognised on our route.

See North Shore Liverpool Early 1800's

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Guy Debord On De Quincey

Ralph Rumney – Psychogeographic map of Venice, 1957

The hopeless condition of very large numbers of people -- experienced at the same time that the power of human society over nature had increased immensely -- appeared from then on in the culture of the innovators as an even-more acute contradiction between the affirmation of superior passionate possibilities and the reign of a certain kind of nihilism. In Thomas de Quincey, these tendencies were tempered by the recourse to classical humanism, which the artists and poets of the century that followed would subject to an even more radical demolition. Nevertheless, we must recognize in Thomas de Quincey -- that is, when he wandered in London, always vaguely in search of Ann and looking at "several thousand female faces in the hope of seeing hers," that is, between 1804 and 1812 -- an undeniable precursor to psychogeographical derives: "On Saturday evenings, I have had the custom, after taking my opium, of wandering quite far, without worrying about the route or the distance (...) ambitiously searching for my Northwest Passage, so as to avoid doubling anew all the capes and promontories that I had encountered in my first trip, I suddenly enter a labyrinth of alleys, some of them terrae incognitae, and I doubt that they are marked on the modern maps of London." Guy Debord 'Psychogeographical Venice' September 1957 Read full article here

Last Saturday, the above was partly responsible in inspiring a dérive searching for the spirit of De Quincey in Everton!