Friday, April 25, 2008

Digging Up The Past

The changing face of Liverpool down the centuries has been well highlighted by both Channel 4 & the BBC Digital Archive recently. Channel 4 sent its Time Team archaeology experts to the city's waterfront in an attempt to locate its first dock ( ).
The result was a stunning exhumation of a port's past. Not only was the "lost" dock located (under was was until recently Chavasse Park), but evidence of the first dockside communities was also unearthed; the cramped & condensed Nova Scotia area was located not far from the present waterfront.
To its credit, the programme did not overlook the slave trade & its transformative impact on the port. Local historian Ray Costello was on hand to point out the legacy of the trade in the buildings around the Fenwick Street & Chapel Street areas.
The BBC's archives, meanwhile, has thrown up a fascinating curio from the late 1950s ( ).
The Beeb's blurb for the documentary trills, "Shot by the BBC's Northern Film Unit, Merseysiders Frank Shaw and Stan Kelly worked on the programme which shows a city on the cusp of Merseybeat era."
Er, no, actually, it doesn't. This is very much a pre-Merseybeat Liverpool, & only the brief shots of older teenagers hanging around a street corner give a vague nod to rock n' roll. The film does, however, capture a lost world, the bombed areas of the city from World War II providing a playground for local children (the film mainly features the Everton district). The sight of the rag & bone man is another evocative image.

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