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Free Thinking : The community

From tenantspin, residents John and Margo

Lessons from the past

  • John McGuirk
  • 25 Aug 06, 02:38 PM

I recently wrote on this blog about the next 100 years and now I would like to comment on the past.

The past came to mind when I saw an advert in the Liverpool Echo August 23rd for Bedroom Furniture.

Each item was described as Victorian in style. I studied it and realised how pleasing to the eye it was.

On the same day a writer on the letters page spoke about the regeneration of New Brighton seafront.

A recent plan by developers caused an outcry among the public. The writer suggested the planners should visit Skegness to see how they approached the matter.

However if the planners studied how New Brighton looked in the past they could learn a lot.

In the 1950’s and before there was a giant open air swimming pool. Replacing it would be a good start. Both children and adults love nothing better than splashing around in water and the kids would soon leave their playstations for a day out there.

Also the words supermarket, high rise blocks and office spaces are becoming a huge turn off to the public. A few shops would suffice.

Among the things the writer mentioned was “A park, gardens, theatre, tennis, golf, bowls, a seal sanctuary and skate park.”

The writer is a person of vision and the public would embrace a plan like this wholeheartedly. A plan like this is the kind of leisure amenity built for the community in years gone by.

Also on the same day the issue of bringing the last surviving Isle Of Man ferry back to Merseyside was mentioned again, a longing to see a link with the past. Also HMS Whimbrel, Captain Johnny Walker's U-Boat hunter, the last navy ship afloat that was involved in the Battle of the Atlantic and was based in Liverpool.

The past has a lot to offer in developing the present. If I was a designer of any commodity at any level, I would always look to the past for inspiration.

Mind you a lot of discerning people do just that. Somebody with a lot of money buys a huge house and virtually furnishes it with items from 50 to 200 years ago. I know someone who has nothing manufactured after 1950.

We can’t live in the past but it would be lovely to go back and visit now and then. I think I’ll go and buy an Antique Shop.


  1. At 12:32 AM on 26 Aug 2006, Carole wrote:


    I just need to look at photos of myself from a couple of years ago to realise I looked far better in the past!

    But seriously, the present has much to offer. But there is also an explosion of unprecedented wickedness within our own communities.

    I was at a meeting tonight, and we were looking at photos of steam trains. We all agreed that there was a romance and beauty about them, and about many other things . Today, there seems to be so much ugliness-buildings,shop facades....and also in the human soul! Greed, cruelty, selfishness, atrocities, lowering of barriers, moral decline...I, for one, have never seen so much rudeness and vulgarity , or heard such insults or bad language or blasphemy,as is present on most high streets today.

    The thought of a late walk home alone, or the last train or bus, is enough to make me stay indoors!I certainly no longer feel safe when out at night.

    Yes the present has plenty of good points, but I believe that the past world was a far safer place to live in-poorer for many in terms of money, but richer in terms of morality and contentment.

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  2. At 02:24 AM on 26 Aug 2006, Fitz wrote:

    Yes - agreed - perhaps a modern day Soddom and Gommorah?

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  3. At 06:47 PM on 26 Aug 2006, Roger P Murphy wrote:

    Back in the late sixites we had a serious housing shortage.

    Strange how history sometimes really does try and replicate itself.

    Now, there is another serious shortage of affordable housing, and all those who own their own homes don't care (as they are doing very nicely out of the vast profits their property acquires).

    Housing associations once upon a time, used to build homes for people who were on low incomes.
    But now all they build are swanky apartment for Key Workers. It seems the rest of us are just not deserving enough for decent affordable accommodation.

    I would like to imagine a future without a housing shortage, with true choice of housing, and the freedom of choice of geographical location. But, that would only happen without the greedy and inept housing association movement.

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  4. At 06:03 AM on 27 Aug 2006, Fitz wrote:

    Socialist governments are often about providing for the populace who are not deemed able to provide for themselves.

    And so was spurned the NHS by Bevin in the 40's - a commendable model no doubt, and the rich could either use it also or pay for private treatment.

    The concept of housing for the working class produced those bland and boring 'council housing estates'. They are all built the same and look the same for cost reasons but it hurts the soul of man/woman I think.

    the non-socialist governments are less about providing all the time, but more about stimulating growth and industry. Let's encourage workers to be independent - take less from the state and do their own thing and by doing so stimulate more work, jobs and industry.

    There is of course truth and virtue in both models.

    But there is another model born from psychology, called the 'dependency syndrome' which in simple terms includes the concept of those who want to be dependent or have dependent personalities and those who want to provide or rescue 'dependent' people.

    The welfare model has been accused of doing this - keep giving to the poor and they will stay poor, keep providing everything to the masses and they will remain dependent and never grow.

    There is of course some truth in this too.

    But there is often the 'middle ground' that area that those with too high priniciples or perhaps too rigid principles often fail to recognize at all.

    Sure we need to encourage independence in our peoples, encourage them to be entrepreneurial
    if they so desire and create a better life with the sweat of their own efforts.

    but what about the weak and lonely and broken spirits? I always believe the quality of any society is not how well it is succeeding but how well it takes care of the lame, the elderly and it's young folk. That is the gold standard for me. And sometimes those very people aren't able to do it for themselves.

    And out of that is born the charities, commendable in themselves but do they point to a failure in our governments?

    So we can do both - encourage independence and care for the lame, we just need to get the balance right and providing too many council houses is wrong in my book and not providing any at all is wrong too!

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  5. At 04:00 PM on 29 Aug 2006, jason wrote:

    History teaches us that people forget the lessons of the past, and then realise it later on.

    To take the example of welfare, tis ok in moderation, but too much causes other problems.

    The general answer, to all social ills is 'moderation'.

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  6. At 03:17 PM on 30 Aug 2006, John McGuirk wrote:

    Thanks to all replies.

    The general theme seems to refer to middle ground in all circumstances.

    Rich people don't need the NHS nor do they need State Pensions, although they have a right to them.

    There will always be a section of society that needs state support. It is making sure that support goes to the right people.

    In housing matters, it will never be possible for every family to have spacious homes surrounded by huge tracts of greenery. We can only forge ahead until we reach a standard that keeps everybody happy.

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