June 22, 1865
A North Ender Wondering.
To the editor of the Liverpool Mercury.
Gentlemen. – A North-ender was lying cosy in bed, with his window wide open in this hot weather, when his majesty the sun stared at him bright and brilliant full in the face by four o’clock in the morning, awaking him up, to his great discomfiture.
His first thought was, he must surely be in France or Italy, where the sun shines in the early morn so lovely on corn fields and vines and terrace gardens and blue lakes and bluer mountains far away, soft and dim in the June air.
His second thought was to look out of the window, to see only bricks and chimneys in endless lines, with smells of brick-kilns and works, and streams of abominations not to be mentioned. Drawing in his head, a North-ender thought it was very bad taste of the sun, and a useless waste of expenditure, to be shining so early on slated roofs, chimney pots, vacant unproductive pavements, &c., when he might with more advantage have been slanting his rays amongst breeze shaken foliage, wandering murmuring streams, butter cup, meadows, and amongst lambs on mountain sides, and white washed cottages by the sea shore. But so it was . His majesty did not seem care a straw whether it was bricks or lambs he shone upon. His full morning glow might glance through a broken pane of glass on a drunken mother, lying in the profound death-like sleep of drink; or a dead baby, suffocated by its beastly parent in a furnitureless room, on some straw, every article having being parted with to the advantage of the dram shop; and a North-ender wondered if his majesty thought this a pleasant town-sight to gaze upon.
However, leaving these town horrors, the North-ender finding there were good three hours before he would have his coffee and the dear old Mercury, wondered what to do with himself. Go to Everton Park was the brilliant idea. The land was bought some time ago – it will be in charming beauty this fine weather. Accordingly the North-ender sallied forth. The only symptoms of life he saw being gin shops, open to tempt the early worksman to begin his day with wrong-doing, and a few brickmakers going to their long and arduous day’s work. Wending his way northwards, the North-ender indulged in plesant dreams of the gratifying sights he was about to see, and felt his heart grateful to the town council for their attention to the wants of the north end, and their promptness of execution. The first idea that presented itself was a noble entrance gate where the lodge of Bronte House was, and the stroll through the avenue of trees to the park. The next were a flood of ideas of nice walks and seats with prospects, and beds of flowers opening to the morning sun, velvet grassy mounds, and no little hoards insulting one with “keep off the grass,” as if heaven had provided this only for heats and not for men. Then the Northender thought how nice it would be laid out with a sheet of water, so that boys might sail their boats in summer and skate in the winter, and not get drowned in those horrid clay pits. Then the Northender thought these ugly stone walls will be taken down and the fair view seen with freedom, and that his eye should wander with delight over the beautiful meadows, and to the distant hills of Rivington, Wyersdale, the Lake Hills, and the glittering broad sea.
Then the North-ender thought how nice it will be for the poor pent-up people to come here in the evening and breathe the pure air, and listen to a band of music provided by the council, and how their health would be improved, and their moral nature benefited so much better than spending their money and wasting their lives in that abominable drink. By this time the North-ender had got to the gate of Bronte House and found in unchanged. Thinking that portion of the park was not ready yet, he hurried on to Anfield-road; but to his great disappointment, things were just as he had seen them all his life time. He called out, there being nobody to listen or answer, “Where is the North-end Park?” when to his surprise a wonderful echo answered, “Where is the North-end Park?” Then the North-ender rembered that just a few feet below Sleeper’s Hill, is the finest echo round Liverpool. Then a little fairy like voice (which surely must have been imagination) whispered apparently over the wall, “Come again in 30 years.”
The North-ender looked up and thought he saw something peeping over the wall and grinning at him with malicious delight. Putting his spectacle on and being afraid of nothing, he looked up and only saw a “sign” with “Trespassers will be prosecuted,” and it was the latter word in white letters that the North-enders had imagined to be a row of teeth. Pondering and sulky, the North-ender waded his way back again – the words “Come again in 30 years” sounding dreadfully suggestive. So that is the time it takes to get anything done in Liverpool! The North-ender, having fullfil ample time for observation, on his returning turned up St. Domingo-road. Now, he said to himself, this is going to be a great loading thoroughfare from Edge-hill to Kirkdale, and as it is only just getting built on, he thought to himself our authorities will have made this a good wide road, seeing than an immense population will in a few years teem their thousands into it.
Rising up the hill, he saw with sorrow and concern that not a single foot had been got to widen this narrow road. Let any of the town council go to the top of Atherton-street, and see if it is not a disgrace to any civilised community to build up an important road as this is now building. Why, there is not a breadth of five yards left. A little lower down, at the top of Devonshire-place, the road is only four yards wide, if the same neglect goes on, the landowners will of course build it up so, and in a few years a large sum will have to be spent in taking all these buildings down. That is the way we do things here.
Then a North-ender wondered how it was there was no comprehensive plan laid out by a properly authorised person, so as he saves the town this ruinously expensive work of allowing what any one may see will be crowded thoroughfares in ten or 20 years to be built up in their narrow plate, when a trifle would do all that is wanted, instead of the thousands that will have to be spent in a few years. Our local governors never seem to think the town will be any bigger.
The North-ender went back to his coffee and Mercury a sadder but not a wiser man. He saw there had been a meeting of the town council, but not a word about the north-end park, and he thought of the whispering voice, “Come again in 30 years,” and still remains a wondering.
(Source: Liverpool Mercury: June 22, 1865)