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28 October 2014
BBC Liverpool - Local History

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Water Street

water streetWater Street was originally called - Bonk Street (it ran up the "bonk" in Lancashire dialact, the bonk of the river i.e. the bank), eventually became Bank Street and then Water Street. It’s one of Liverpool’s oldest streets and it was the main approach from the river, at the foot of which travellers landed on the sandy seashore of the town, from the monks’ ferry at Birkenhead, or from Ireland. Later, the Talbot, a coaching in, crowned the top of the slope where the Bank of Liverpool was later to replace it. On either sides, little lanes and alleys, forerunners of the town’s notorious courts, ran between wretched houses alongside butchers’ shambles.

At the foot of the street, guarding the place of embarkation, lay the strong thick walls of the tower, built initially as the residence of the powerful Stanley family but converted after 1413 into a place of strength. The Stanleys were also Lords of Man, a title granted after the battle of Shrewsbury where as Shakespeare’s Richard III tells us, Stanley’s troops switched sides at the last minute. The tower protected the Lord and his retinues, they came and went by sea. During the Royalist seige of Liverpool by Prince Rupert, the tower was used as the parliamentary headquarters and later as a prison for French captives during the Napoleonic wars, by which time it was "so ill suited and disorganised that debtors mixed with criminals in the grossest and most wretched conditions, and gaol fever was rarely absent".

It was finally demolished in l820 and a set of new offices - the Tower Buildings - erected in its place.

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