FACT's Laura Yates on Bold Street
By Paul Coslett
An exhibition and online project at FACT looks at the role Bold Street has played in Liverpool’s development, from its origins as a home to merchants, a high class shopping street and its current mix of shops and cafes.
Bold Street is one of Liverpool city centres most recognisable streets. From the bombed out shell of St Lukes which marks the top to the once exclusive Lyceum at the bottom, the street has a thousand stories to tell.
Liverpool’s Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT) has been researching the history of Bold Street and discovering people’s stories which form part of an exhibition and an online blog.
FACT researcher Laura Yates has been delving in to the past of Bold Street, where behind every shop front lurks a wide variety of stories.
From the building where photographer Chambre Hardman once lived to the building, now a branch of Subway, where the doctor who delivered William Gladstone lived, each step down the street reveals another fascinating fact.
Liverpool blogger Stuart Ian Burns says the street is an integral part of his life, “It’s only recently I’ve considered how indispensable the Bold Street area has become, at least to me.
“At present, each Thursday, I have a routine. Before the weekly shop at the Tesco Metro, I get off the bus outside of St. Luke’s Church then stroll or rush down Bold Street depending upon how late I am.
Foner's one of Bold Street's older shops
“I’ll pass through Forbidden Planet looking for Joss Whedon written comic books and magazines about a certain timelord who travels in a police box; to Oxfam next in case they’ve something new about Shakespeare; on then to The Works to see if there’s a sale and to the shop formerly known as Home & Bargain to check if they have anything worth buying too; new arrival HMV perhaps on the rare occasion that a decent record that been released and possibly Waterstones if I’m looking for something to read and through to Church Street for WH Smiths.”
Laura Yates has uncovered stories from different eras, a representation of the way the street has changed with the city. The book shop News From Nowhere is on the site of the El Kabala Coffee bar where Liverpool sculptor Arthur Dooley celebrated his first commission by buying everyone a drink. Close by is the building which in the 1980’s housed Café Berlin, a hang out for Liverpool’s new wave musicians and where Dawn French recorded an episode of Channel 4’s Swank.
All this a few doors down from where famous department store Blackers relocated to in World War Two after its original premises where damaged in the blitz. The arrival of Blackers was seen by many as a mark that Bold Street had lost the exclusivity it was known for in the pre war years.
Agnes Curnow remembers working in Bold Street during the war, “In 1943 I started work at a high-class dressmakers in Bold Street. I was 14 years old and it was my second job. My first one had been for about eight months, in a printers in Wrexham, having been evacuated there on the 3rd September 1939 - the day that the war started.
"When most of the bombing had stopped we return to Liverpool in 1943 and thats how I arrived at my second job of apprentice dressmaker, at the tender age of 14.
"The dressmakers was very exclusive and called ‘Drinkwaters’ making top quality ladies’ wear and outfits for ladies who were going to be ‘Present at Court’ known in those days as ‘coming out.’”
Anyone with memories of Bold Street can contribute them at
last updated: 10/09/07