ABSTRACT

It strikes the visitor as an untenable relationship. It is difficult to reconcile the imposing, well-resourced and -maintained building with the literally crumbling and boarded-up community that surrounds it. House after dilapidated house, street after garbage-filled street, there is seemingly no end to the devastation. This is a community that has long since, even before it became vulnerable to the antipathies of Maggie Thatcher’s Tories in the 1980s, been battered by economic decline. With its historic dependence on the ‘docks and its ancillary industries’ (Williams et al., 2001: 5), themselves susceptible to the vagaries of the maritime business, Liverpool has always been a ‘city apart,’ a northern English city renowned for its culture – from the music of the Beatles to Echo and the Bunnymen to the fandom of Elvis Costello – and its football, yet seemingly in a perpetual economic downturn: ‘Even in the late 1940s, unemployment in Liverpool rose to two-and-a-half times the national average and it has been some way above the national average ever since, catastrophically so in the 1980s’ (ibid.; see also Lane, 1997). In other words, not even when the docks were more or less fully functional did Liverpool thrive as a city.