When the roar of the internet and the crackle of the Cloud threatens to sap your soul all you need is a quiet corner, a good book and a cuppa. But where can you slink away, in this crowded city? Where can you sit, in silence, for a stolen half hour and some precious rebooting time?
Not an easy task, but here are ten spaces for us all to seek a little sanctuary this week…
Quite the suntrap on a balmy day, this sculptural space huddles below the 300 foot tall Beetham Tower. The space is dominated by the ‘Threshold to the Ends of the Earth’ 6.5 metre steel and wood art work, with Michael O’ Mahoney’s quote etched alongside a wooden ring, four metres wide, forming a view to the Mersey – through the round window. A link, you see, between old and new, past and present. See, spaces like this can bring out the poet in anyone. Oh, the Morse code relief reads ‘permission to come alongside’. Which, perhaps, you could use as a little icebreaker. Look for the small glass portholes, etched with a selection of Liverpool’s finest…
Bixteth Street Gardens
Left and main feature image
With its Teletubbyland rolling contours and sheltered barricade of benches, this is a spot familiar enough with office workers of Old Hall Street, but it’s still something of a hidden green space, overlooked by most who stride along Tithebarn Street, just yards away.
Britannia Pavilion Bridge, Albert Dock
Tucked away to the side of the footbridge linking Albert Dock with the Liverpool Arena is this sinuous stretch of shrubbery with a nice path running down the middle. Did the designers get their inspiration from the
Knights who say Ni
? Whatever, this really is a pocket-sized gem – apparently designed as a multi-sensory space for the sight impaired, its blooms picked for their heady scents.
The Quaker Quiet Spot
Liverpool ONE’s coffee stops aren’t restricted to Starbucks and its chain store bretheren – the Quaker Q Break cafe sits alongside the trim Quaker Courtyard Peace Garden which burrows its way between School Lane and the Radio Merseyside building. The Quakers love a bit of silence, so they’ll not trouble you, even if you’re tucking into a Dan Brown. Although they might have something to say about his slapdash metaphysics.
The Quaker Quiet Spot
This handsomely proportioned mini-square is hidden away between Victoria and Dale Street (and you thought those tiny streets and back alleys only led to
temptation and trouble
?) and is a rare space to breathe and turn your face towards the sun in the city’s Business Quarter.
Our Lady and St Nicholas Gardens, Chapel Street
Yes, we know, hardly a secret. But when was the last time you sat and watched the river go by from this gorgeous, elevated garden? For some, it’s in the grounds of this little church, not our grand cathedrals, that you’ll find the real spiritual heart of the city – on this grassy knoll, as old as the port, that’s remained a silent witness to our city’s turbulent history. It’s certainly a blissfully special place – and Ma Boyle’s serves a great pint next door, too. Beers and spirits, you could say.
Environmental artist, Kerry Morrison knows our city’s secret spaces better than most. And there’s more of them than you’d imagine. For the 2006 Biennial she spent the summer mapping out our city’s disused spaces.
“So-called brownfield land is in reality green space that is environmentally important,” she says. On her explorations, Morrison discovered wildflower rich pastures, butterfly meadows, hidden orchards and fascinating stories. They’re all recorded in her blog –
which is well worth reading.
“Healthy ecosystems are an essential component of the fabric of urban areas, yet they’re still given a low priority,” says Morrison, “I wanted to map them, and experience first hand the wide variety of nature within an urban environment.”
Some of her favourite spots include:
1. Cressington Heath – a nature reserve hidden by the new Redrow homes development.
2. Banks Lane, Garston – a true hidden garden amidst primary schools and a defined community (selected by L.C.C. as a potential local nature reserve.)
3. Laurel Rd, off Edge Lane – a Brownfield that has been used by the local children as a playground, and by the adult community as a cut through – for over 20 years
4. The disused old Speke airfield
A Bijou Riverside Pavilion, Waterloo Dock
Sick of reading about those beach huts down south selling for the
price of a semi in Garston?
Well, we’ve found something that’s more in within our budget. Sure, it needs a little TLC. But it’s nothing a tube of No More Nails and a lick of paint won’t fix. And the views are to die for (almost literally, according to the signs). Seriously, though, the wharfs and canal paths to the south of the city are breezily empty, and eerily atmospheric. Ideal for those ‘French Lieutenant’s Woman’ moments.
Joseph Williamson Gardens, Park Lane
A year in, and this rustling, sculptural urban garden is bedding in nicely. Built behind the John Lewis car park on the site of St Thomas’ Church, the garden’s commemorate the last resting place of the
Mole of Edge Hill.
He’s down there somewhere, but no-one’s quite sure where. Which we think is somehow fitting.
– Falkner Square, Canning –
Those who know it call this trim green space Sefton Park in miniature. It’s a handsomely designed pocket-sized park, of that there’s no doubt. It’s the closest Council run parkland to the city centre too (and quieter than Abercrombie Square); head up Huskisson Street and you’ll reach this little Georgian treasure.
Obviously, we love St James sunken gardens at the Liverpool Cathedral, and St John’s in William Brown Street – but they’re not exactly secret. And there’s an amazing rooftop garden above Liverpool Echo’s Old Hall Street offices, but it’s out of bounds: seems the tiled cladding of the tower building is prone to shatter off and spear the sunbathing staff.
So it’s over to you – are there any hidden, peaceful corners of the city we’ve missed? Let us know, and we’ll ruin them for you…