Glyndŵr University academic backs bid to save Liverpool's historic Welsh Streets
Photos: Liverpool's Welsh Streets (above) and Gareth Carr (bottom right)
29 June 2015
An academic who has spent almost a decade studying the legacy left by a Welsh architect on Liverpool’s landscape is playing a key role in a campaign to prevent hundreds of historic homes from being demolished in the city.
The High Court is set to make a final ruling on whether Liverpool’s Welsh Streets, built in the 19th century by architect Richard Owens, can be demolished to make way for redevelopment.
Gareth Carr, from Glyndŵr University’s Built Environment School, is supporting the quest to preserve what he describes as a “major contribution” which the Welsh have made to the development of Liverpool.
He was called upon by Save Britain’s Heritage, which is fighting to keep the Toxteth estates where Ringo Starr spent part of his childhood, to give evidence at a public inquiry into the issue.
This was set up following the former Secretary of State for Communities Eric Pickles’ decision to overturn a Planning Inspectorate order that the homes be knocked down.
Liverpool City Council and developer Plus Dane group are pressing for the new development to go ahead, rather than converting and modernising all of the existing houses.
Gareth, a lecturer at Glyndwr University and a registered architect, has recently submitted his PhD thesis entitled ‘The Speculative Housing of Richard Owens 1863-1891.’
He said: “There’s no doubt that Richard Owens was a major player in the development of Liverpool in the 19th century.
“The development of these streets was a sophisticated exercise in laying-out workers housing and they are of great historic value in telling the story of the urban development of the city.
“Richard Owen’s achievements were remarkable. Originally from Caernarfonshire, he arrived in 1850s Liverpool with just his set of joiner’s tools but through evening study at Liverpool Mechanic’s Institute had,
by 1862 established his own architectural practice in the Everton district of the city.
“By 1891 he had set-out more land in Liverpool than any other architect of that period and was the Victorian equivalent of a modern-day millionaire by the time of his death in 1891, such was his success.
“The Secretary of State has recognised the importance of the Welsh Streets in the context of the historic development of Liverpool and it would be a great loss to the heritage of the City if the streets were now demolished.”
The existing streets feature names such as Rhiwlas and Madryn, reminders of the long Welsh association with Liverpool.
“I was an architectural student in Liverpool when I found out about Richard Owens and I’ve been fascinated in his work ever since,” added Gareth.
“The Welsh streets are one of the surviving memories of the Welsh contribution to the development of Liverpool and are without question worth saving.”