Toxteth has had some rotten luck over the decades.
Neglected by a City Council more concerned by yuppie flats and adding to the Duke of Westminster’s fiefdom,than looking after its more run down places.
it is was always going to be a mammoth task to save anything in and around such a neglected area.
Wayne popped into the Florrie and was blown away by its rebirth which was a result of people power and the prolonged tenacity of a small group of local dedicated campaigners who have made something happen.
“When I was restoring listed buildings for a living it was always a disappointment when on completion of the task, it actually looked like nothing had been done".
I am afraid I was one of those people on Saturday last who had to compliment all concerned because it looked like it should have and would have.
But it is hard to believe that this place never had a roof and had water creeping into it for ages.
The saving grace was that it was built of such good glazed brick that did exactly what it should have done, and kept out the elements and protect the structure despite the roof falling in.
This wasn’t a council job in fact it is a shame that ex council leader Warren Bradley had been driving his fire applicance around his beat, which is Toxteth, probably turned the hose pipe to put out fires there on numerous occasions.
We lost Beaufort Street school just over the way as a direct result of Warren “warzone” Bradley’s ineptitude to be able to look further than his nose and comprehend the state of affairs that was Toxeth’s decline.
It is a breath of fresh air to know that there are people who get up off their behinds, believe in quality of community and put their energy and commitment into something that can give them the sense of satisfaction for being involved in a mammoth task that will probably not benefit them financially.
But how can you sum up a group whose dedication will benefit the whole of Toxteth.
The Florrie could be Toxeth’s Albert Dock, its turning point, its navigation out of the doldrums. Looking to the future but remembering the past. And more importantly showing a sense of community is at the heart of Toxteth, still, no matter what it has been through.
I bumped into Tom Calderbank, who I was as impressed today as I was with him years ago when I first met him. Though he is not the only one, he is typical of the people that have made this happen and I have to take my hat off to them. If this city has more people who understood the depth of their community can start from the ghosts of old buildings it would be on the path to greatness, stirring a course away from the recent homogenisation.
Thank God Urban Splash didn’t get their hands on this.
With the renovation of Toxeth Town Hall there is a now a key series of buildings that can make people believe again.
Maybe they could tackle the library in Lodge Lane now, which seems to have been ignored by Louise Ellman and co, while declaring the decimation of the central docks in the WHS would be of benefit to Liverpool, thus abandoning the need to infill those parts of the Dingle that desperately need bringing back to life. Transferring much needed Toxteth jobs up river.
Tom showed me around and showed me the Great Hall, with its beamed ceiling and its sense of history. There is a Heritage Centre showing scenes from the past. The Gymnasium is being restored where the likes of Alan Rudkin trained and generations before met.
The Cafe now has cream scones and tea and they hope to be supplying it from the allotments next door in the future. There is an overall feeling of friendship and enthusiasm. And I hope the trench lines have been drawn, and from now it is forward marching and forward thinking encompassing the spirit of Toxeth.
The Florrie can be held up as what can be achieved and give inspiration for other historic building in and around the Toxeth/Dingle area.
The grand opening on 18th July will be performed by Jimmy Tarbuck. More details can be founmd www.theflorrie.org.