It was one of our original aims: mapping out the city’s streets, and the stuff therein. The clue’s in the name, we guess. Still, it seems there are some streets which we’d better get around to cataloguing sooner rather than later.
Take, for example, Quakers Alley. Is this the most ephemeral street in Liverpool? Save for the street sign and the dog toothed concrete, there’s nothing here but a strip of tarmac crossing two scrubby car parks. If it wasn’t for the sign, you’d never know this was one of our oldest thoroughfares at all.
The Alley, and Hackins Hey (laid out c1677, when Liverpool consisted of just 18 streets) were the Concert Square of the 18th Century. Trade directories show that between 1787 and 1805 victuallers were the most prominent residents. But Quaker’s Alley gets its name from the area’s earlier residents.
The Alley ran alongside the city’s first purpose-built Quaker’s Meeting House – erected in Hackins Hey about 1709. The Meeting House abutted Quaker’s Alley, with, closer to Dale Street, a Quaker burial ground.
And here’s where we demolish a widely held Liverpool myth…
City folklore says that the reason Ye Hole in The Wall (reputed to be the oldest pub in the city centre) has its beer ‘cellars’ above the bar, rather than in the basement, is because the cellar is, well, crowded out with punters who refuse to leave even after last orders, as it were.
Nice story, but sadly not true. In 1791 the Quakers left the city centre to move into their second site, on Hunter Street which runs along the back of the Liverpool Museum, between the museum’s staff car park and the flyover. All the human remains were removed and reburied on the new site – and, as Quakers traditionally buried their dead without a grave or marker of any kind, the task was made just that little bit easier.
Their meeting house became a school when the Quakers left. Now, dismally, it’s a pockmarked wasteland. When development kicks in again, what’s the chances this little slither of city history will disappear from the maps altogether?
If you know of a city street that’s in danger of being wiped from the map, let us know, and we’ll document it before it fades away…