Hope Street in Liverpool has long been a place for celebrations.
The street, deservedly famed for its music and theatre, links Liverpool’s two cathedrals north-to-south, and its universities and colleges, east-to-west. It is inevitable therefore both that the Queen should visit Hope Street many times – not least in 1977 for her Silver Jubilee – and that the Olympic torch should be paraded along Hope Street (today, 1 June) as part of its three month tour of the UK before finally reaching the 2012 London Olympiad.
The Liverpool Everyman Bistro on Hope Street is amazing – a hub of the Hope Street community, that exotic collection of performing actors and artists, students and academics, musicians, hospitality professionals, faith leaders and more. The Bistro has stayed true to its intention (initially thought very bohemian) to offer wholesome local food. And today sees its 40th birthday….
The regular calendar of Farmers’ Markets in Hope Street has at last begun. From now on the third Sunday every month is scheduled as Market Day for Hope Street Quarter. Farmers’ Markets are something different to look forward to: a great day out for adults and children alike, with fun opportunities to learn where our food comes from and who grows it.
After a false start in October, yesterday was the long-awaited commencement of the regular calendar [see schedule at the end of this article] of Hope Street Farmers’ Markets. At last, with luck, we have lift-off, and not a moment too soon.
And we were incredibly lucky with the weather, brilliant sunshine for the duration, not even really cold. The atmosphere of the event was cheerful and relaxed, just the right ambiance for a happy family Sunday outing – though I have to say I was surprised just how few children were actually around….
It’s really good to see the grown-ups enjoying themselves in such a time-honoured and positive way, but are we missing a bit of a trick here if we don’t bring the kids? Perhaps someone will begin now to think how this could be an occasion for them as well. It’s not often the opportunity arises naturally in the city centre for youngsters to meet people who have themselves grown the food and prepared the produce displayed before us.
Varied and fresh
Having said that, here was produce for everyone. Vegetable and fruit – including a variety of cauliflower (romanesca, a brassica with stunning tiny, spiral green florets) that I’d never seen before – plus cheeses, food of all sorts to eat right now, and much else, including candles and preserves for the coming festive season. Judging from the public response, everyone loves this sort of browsing and shopping.
One of the many attractions of farmers’ markets is that much of this produce had been grown or made by the actual people who were selling it – not a connection which is often so direct these days, when much of what we buy comes shrink-wrapped and complete with a fair number of attached food miles.
This was an opportunity for locally-based people to purvey their wares; hand-made goods and food which may well still have been in the field a few hours before.
The people running the stalls were pleased to be there, trade was brisk. I suspect that over time the current size of the market will grow considerably, if the regulations allow – already it stretches all the way along the Hope Street wall of Blackburne House.
We know of course that, locals though some of the growers and sellers may be, Geraud Markets, the organisation behind the venture, is big business; but someone has to organise all the detailed arrangements which these events entail. It seems Geraud now have a contract with Liverpool Council to do just that on several sites around the city.
Knowing more and feeling good
That however is only part of the story. This is the sort of enjoyable meeting-friends event that offers, especially, young people in the city a chance to see that fruit and vegetables don’t of necessity arrive covered in plastic.
It gives us a feel, too, for seasonal food. It reminds us, walking out in the open air as we make our purchases, that there is a cycle to things; we can eat for a whole year without bringing produce from across the world, should we decide to do avoid doing so. We can be ‘eco-‘, and enjoy, at the same time.
The market reminds us about nutritional quality – seeing produce presented so directly perhaps also helps us to think more carefully about what we are actually eating. Of course, food sold in supermarkets can also be fresh and nutritious – canned can be as good as ‘fresh’ – but the connection with its production is less overt.
Encouraging a healthy life-style
By a strange co-incidence, just today there have been articles in the local Daily Post about vegetables and health -the local Primary Care Trust has a Taste for Health campaign -and The Guardian, which offers thoughts by Zoe Williams on <a href="‘Vegetables and how to survive them’).
Liverpool people have the worst health in England and we owe it to our children to make sure their diet is as good as it can possibly be, encouraging them to understand the connection between what they eat and where it comes from. How better could we do it than by bringing them to a farmers’ market where they can see for themselves what it’s all about?
Liverpool City Council have contracted with Geraud to provide farmers’ markets. Perhaps they can now follow the example of the authorities in continental Europe (where Geraud began) such as Valencia and Aix-en-Provence, where, as I have seen for myself, the local markets make children really welcome?
It would do us all good, in every sense of the word.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Calendar of Geraud Farmers’ Markets in Liverpool [subject to change, please contact to check as below]:
Monument Place Farmers’ Market (Lord Street) ~ Every 1st & 3rd Saturday of the month
Lark Lane Farmers’ Market ~ Every 4th Saturday of the month
Hope Street Farmers’ Market (Blackburne House end) ~ Every 3rd Sunday of the month
Other Geraud Markets in Liverpool:
Broadway (Indoor) Monday ~ Saturday
Garston ~ Friday
Great Homer Street ~ Saturday
Monument Place ~ Thursday, Friday & Saturday
Speke ~ Thursday
St Johns’ (Indoor) Monday ~ Saturday
Tuebrook ~ Thursday & Saturday
Toxteth ~ Tuesday
For more information contact: 0151 233 2165 / email@example.com
The Farmers’ Market scheduled for Liverpool’s Hope Street today has been cancelled because of pressures on officialdom. This is not a new scenario when it comes to efforts to enhance the local community’s engagement and enterprise. What could those ‘in charge of granting permissions’ do to prove themselves, rather, as partners and enablers?
The Daily Post this morning reports that the intended monthly Farmers’ Markets in Hope Street (third Saturday of the month) willl now begin in November, not today. After two very successful test runs (last October and during this year’s Hope Street Festival – though why not as we suggested before then, I don’t know) there was a real head of steam for the event today. People just love markets, with all their variety and colour!
But it seems the authorities can’t cope… not enough time for the policing (in Hope Street? – probably Liverpool’s most sedate throughfare till now at least), not enough notice, and so forth…. and the Farmers’ Market organisers, Geraud Markets, are upset.
Not a new problem
Sadly, this ‘not enough notice’ and / or ‘can’t be done without big payments’ scenario is not new. It caused the delay of this year’s Hope Street Festival, originally planned for June, and it has been the undoing of several other events along Hope Street (as well, I suspect, as elsewhere).
It is fair to say that perhaps Geraud Markets, who have a joint venture arrangement with the City Council, might well have made appropriate contact with the authorities earlier – they are a big organisation – but that doesn’t really explain the history of City Council ‘can’t do’ which seems to overarch so many attempts to engage and involve people in our local community. The thwarted efforts are too many to list here.
Basic objectives put aside
Whether you look at the very worthy stated objectives of the Farmers’ Markets joint venture with Liverpool City Council, or at those of much smaller organisations such as HOPES: The Hope Street Association, you will find a serious intent to improve the health, environment, general quality of life and enterprise climate of our Quarter.
The City Council may well claim to endorse these fine words – and individually some of its officers certainly go the extra mile in doing that – but overall their actions speak don’t do much to demonstrate the commitment when it matters.
Supporting local communities – or not?
The question that perhaps those in charge at Council HQ have to ask is, ‘What are we actively doing to help? And is it actually enough?’ No private organisation or individual is obliged to support the enterprise and engagement of Liverpool communities, and some of us feel sorely tested. But it seems the message still isn’t getting through.
The Hope Street Festival in Liverpool, delayed from Midsummer, was on Sunday 17 September. This exciting milestone in Hope Street’s history, introducing of a start-of-season early Autumn ‘Feast’ to go in future alongside the Summer Festival, is however neither the beginning nor the end of the journey.
The first Hope Street Festival was in 1977, to mark the Silver Jubilee of HM The Queen. The next event, marking the Centenary of the Incorporation of the City of Liverpool, was in 1980. There followed a period of great concern for the cultural fortunes of Hope Street.
During the 19803 and into the ’90s Hope Street’s cultural institutions were in great peril. From this time of peril however, in the early 1990s, emerged a community-led campaign -The Campaign to Promote the Arts on Merseyside (CAMPAM) – to ensure that Liverpool kept its flagship organisations; and from CAMPAM in turn emerged HOPES: The Hope Street Association, the registered charity which was to seek renewal of the Quarter and which was later to resurrect the Hope Street Festivals.
The original Hope Street Festivals were organised in 1977 and 1980 by a group of people who included Stephen Gray OBE and Andrew Burn, then managers at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society, as well as the late Adrian Henri, one of the founding Liverpool Poets, and other local artists and restaurateurs such as Berni Start of Kirklands Wine Bar, and Paddy Byrne of the Everyman Bistro.
Talking to people in Liverpool today, many of them recall the 1977 event as tremendously exciting, taking part as school children in one of the most massive pageants imaginable – 17,000 participants enacting eight scenes depicting the four seasons along the length of Hope Street, from one cathedral to the other. (As those then involved will tell you, some children even had to run from one point to another, to enact different parts of the pageant!)
In both 1977 and 1980 there was much support from the business community. The list of sponsors contains names which sometimes take one down memory lane: Leighton Advertising of 62 Hope Street, Modern Kitchen Equipment of Myrtle Street, Ford Dealers J. Blake and Company of Hope Street, , WH Brady of Smithdown Road, Girobank, Littlewoods, Radio City, and Higsons Brewery amongst them, alongside further flung organisations like the Chester Summer Music Festival, Welsh National Opera, Theatr Clwyd and even Decca, who recorded much Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (RLPO) music during that time… Strange to say, the first three businesses are now lost to Hope Street; but most of the others of course remain as current concerns in Liverpool. As we shall see, it was in part an enthusiasm once more to energise the business community in Hope Street Quarter which led to the resurrection of the Hope Street Festival in 1996.
1977 – The Queen’s Silver Jubilee
The 1977 Festival was centred on celebration of the visit to Liverpool of Her Majesty the Queen, during her Silver Jubilee tour of the United Kingdom. Malcolm Williamson, Master of the Queen’s Music, wrote a pageant entitled The Valley and the Hill, to be performed in Hope Street on 21st June. (I know; I made thirty children’s ‘sheep’ costumes for the performance, whilst on a teaching practice!) This was recorded in 1983 with a choir of 2,000 local school children and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (my violinist spouse was there…).
The 1980 Hope Street Summer Festival
Then there was another Hope Street Festival in 1980, directed once more by Stephen Gray as General Manager of the RLPS, with his colleague Andrew Burn – again an impressive programme of concerts, talks and other events by leading performers and commentators, including the Allegri Quartet, Christian Blackshaw, John Cage, <a href%3
Liverpool’s Hope Street Quarter has just been refurbished, with an exciting and imaginative scheme of new public realm work secured by genuinely ‘bottom-up’ community engagement and local stakeholder buy-in. But this is only a beginning, for what could be one of the most important arts and cultural quarters in Europe.