harriet-gilmour-liverpool-guide

Meet Harriet: a qualified guide for the Liverpool City Region, who shepherds thousands of the city’s visitors around our most interesting sites every year.

Tell us about Blue Badge guides.

The blue badge is a nationally recognised, professional qualification, A Blue Badge Tourist Guide is a guide who has been examined and accredited by the Institute of Tourist Guiding to lead site, coach and walking tours for a particular region.

Qualifying is quite a rigorous process. It’s a part-time course over several months and includes lots of lectures and site visits, finishing with seven different written and practical tests on both national and regional knowledge.

My background is in working for museums and galleries in the city. I saw the opportunity come up last summer and jumped at the chance as it’s the first time they’ve run the regional course in the area for 16 years.

Walking tours are great fun (in good weather) as you build more of a rapport with a group when it’s face to face. The variety is great, both in the different tours you do and the different people you meet from tourists to business trippers. I had a group of garden centre managers from Belgium on a staff trip recently!

What’s your patch?

My patch is all of the Liverpool City Region, that’s basically Merseyside and Halton. I work with groups usually, taking them where they’d like to go but a few recently have been walking tours of Hope Street, the Waterfront, William Brown Street, Port Sunlight, Eastham Ferry; site visits such as the Walker Art Gallery, Lady Lever Art Gallery and the two Cathedrals. I’m planning one on a combined trip to St John’s Gardens and the new Central Library at the moment.

Heritage Open Days happen nationally, once a year. They are a free programme of events, venues and tours designed to get people to explore their surroundings and get the opportunity to see some of the great buildings around that are not usually accessible to the public.

With two other colleagues I worked up a tour of Eastham Ferry – ‘the Alton Towers of the Victorian age’ – and as part of the joint venture I’m in, Liverpool City Walks (www.liverpoolcitywalks.com), we were able to offer two free walking routes around Liverpool.

harriet-gilmour-liverpool-guide2

What are your favourite buildings in Liverpool?

I’m increasingly drawn to Oriel Chambers by Peter Ellis on Water Street; it’s studied by architecture students the world over now but it was completely slated in its day. I love showing people the contrast of our two cathedrals and I enjoy doing a walking tour of Hope Street in between the two; it’s got tons of character and history.

What wows people about Liverpool?

Foreign visitors or people who don’t know Liverpool too well cannot believe that the Anglican Cathedral has not stood there for hundreds of years and that it is in fact a 20th Century building. There’s always a gasp of awe as you go in too.
Liverpool is really on the rise and one of the biggest factors is word of mouth – people are going away really excited to tell their friends and family that they’ve got to come too. I see it as both a challenge and opportunity to steer people to the nooks and crannies, the bigger picture we have to offer, not just the Beatles and football.

Find Harriet on Twitter at @ExperienceLpool
Photography by Pete Carr

  • ku15906

    Wow what a wonderful career Harriet. Oh to be your age again. Will look forward to the tours in a new light. when is the best time to visit Liverpool next year please?

  • Harriet Gilmour

    In terms of attractions and venues it’s not really too seasonal, you can visit the vast majority all year round but the few venues that operate part-year tend to start again in March. Heritage Open days where lots of buildings that aren’t usually open to the public swing open their doors are usually in September.