Everton FC confirmed yesterday that after 125 years at Goodison Park, they would be moving to a £300m+ riverside stadium at Bramley Moore Dock.
This is great for the club – Goodison has served Everton well, but there is only so much that could have been done with what is locally termed as “The Grand Old Lady”. So it’s time to move onwards and hopefully, upwards and on to success.
But what about the area that surrounds Goodison Park? What will become of Walton and Kirkdale – two areas that depend on the passing trade of loyal football supporters on their way to and from the match.
Locally, and just across the park from Everton’s present stadium is Anfield – Liverpool FC’s base of operations.
The main stand at Liverpool’s ground has been rebuilt to accommodate a further 8,500 fans. It now towers over the nearby streets. These are the streets which are benefitting from a £260m regeneration project in joint partnership with Liverpool Football Club, Your Housing Group and Liverpool City Council.
As part of those ongoing plans, new homes will be built, derelict properties will be demolished, and streets will be given new paving and will be greened. It’s looking good for that area.
Liverpool FC has chosen to stay at it’s home, but Everton will move 2 miles away to the waterfront and Bramley Moore Dock.
Local shops in Walton and Kirkdale depend on passing trade from Everton fans to stay afloat. Every two weeks there is a surge in revenue as match goers buy food, go to the local pubs and even stay at guest houses in the area.
39,572. Thats the capacity of Everton’s home. Take that away and what will happen to County Road – the main centre for shops that serve the ground. Dotted along it’s long street are various independent retailers. These aren’t the likes of your artisan bakeries, cool coffee hangouts and concept bars serving the latest craft beers. These are places that are essential to everyday life in the area – green grocers, butchers, chip shops, cafes and launderettes.
So as one area might recede, another may prosper. This is the area around Bramley Moore Dock where the new £300m stadium will be built on the waterfront.
So many of the pubs and cafes along the long stretch of Regents Road have closed down – the dockers used to provide plenty of custom to those establishments up until the mid nineties. Now, abandoned in most parts, the relics of that long lost era serve as a reminder that this was once a vibrant community.
Of course there has been progress in the area – Drop The Dumbulls is an arts and entertainment venue which has opened up in the old Bull pub on Dublin Street. These budding leaves of labour are for the team who were forced out of their city centre home by property developers looking to build student and residential buildings on the footprint of their success – the reason people wanted to be there in the first place. Moving venue won’t stall their resolve to just be – it’s a reminder that culture comes from people and not properties.
Furthermore, The Kazimier team have also opened a massive new club nearly facing Bramley Moore Docks. The era-defining Kazimier was an epoch in Liverpool’s culture, and their new venue The Invisible Wind Factory will allow them to spread their wings further than they ever have before.
Exciting news was shared on social media last week of the Kazimier team’s plans to open a semi-permanent attraction likened to Disney Land on Central Docks facing their venue. No details have surfaced exactly what this will entail, but it will certainly add weight to the fact that this area is about to switch on.
And so we will see a certain transference of business back to the waterfront-skirting roads. The pubs and cafes will reopen. More variety will be injected. More people will surface the water here to breathe the air of a new chapter in the city’s history.
But we need answers as to what will happen to Kirkdale and Walton. We need to know they will be alright.
25th March 2017 by