Sunday, 12 April 2015

Garden Festival

Here's me standing by some rocks 

A beautiful spring day and a lesuirely midweek stroll around the newly re-opened Garden Festival site.  All very minimalistic, neatly manicured lawns, water features and rockeries.  Lots of windy pathways, bridges and places for kids to climb.  Lots of people just relaxing on the grass and kids running around with ice creams.  A great little place.  Not always thus...

Liverpool's Garden Festival 1984.  The brainchild of then Environment Secretary Michael Heseltime, in the face of his government's unofficial policy, to inject some investment and pride back into the city of Liverpool following long years of "managed decline" which led up to the infamous Toxteth Riots of 1981.  My welcome into the world! 

Built on specially landscaped dockland, in it's glory days it was home to sixty different gardens, a massive dome-like exhibition hall and lots of children's adventure playground, all of which attracted millions of visitors.  It even had a Blue Peter Ship and a massive Yellow Submarine which I think is still knocking about the city somewhere, along with the obligatory John Lennon statue.

I have one very vague childhood memory of visiting here one day with my mum, my friends and their mums.  It was packed to the rafters, very sunny, insanely hot, sticky and gaudy; I'm afriad my poor little brain fritzed out.  I never went back... until today.

Glory days 

By the early 90's the bubble had burst and the site had been sold on.  The festival hall briefly became 'Pleasure Island', a massive indoor theme park.  After that closed in 1996 the entire site fell into disrepair

Part of me really wishes I'd thought to visit during the wilderness years and been able to explore the debris scattered throughout the wasteland.  But I'm pleased that what some might have written off as a flash in the pan vision of utopia has ultimately had a happy ending.

Oh and I wore clothes - but nothing very exciting :D


Vintage pics found here here, here and here


  1. That Festival Garden site looks good and so do you in your vibrant Spring dress and woven dolly shoes. My Mum met Michael Heseltine several times and wouldn't have a word said against him. That was one good thing to come out of the Toxeth Riots which I remember well, I was studying for my O Levels at the time!
    I love the photos from the days it was neglected. That rusting car through the archway reminds me of Block 9 at Glastonbury. xxx

  2. I'm glad to see you out and about, and to see that the gardens are coming back to life. It always amazes me when money and effort are ploughed into projects, but then they are allowed to slide into disrepair. Seeing that lovely circle in the wall all broken along with the wrecked car comes as quite a shock after the earlier photos of it in its heyday, and now. xxx

  3. Oooh, what an exciting place to visit and I'm excited to hear you mention the Yellow submarine which features in my Amazing Mazes book as it had sa water maze around it. Lovely to see you out in the sun!!!x

  4. I hate to see places fall into disrepair when they used to be so vibrant, so it's nice to see life coming back to the place. You look lovely x


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