It was with a little trepidation that Firecrest cruised through Crosby, to Litherland. It is the very last stop before we reach Liverpool. Why? Because Crosby is where I started life’s big adventure over 50 years ago. And I had such a happy childhood. Unlike Eric in Leeds, I was reluctant to go and see if the palacial mansion with a 100 rooms that I knew as home, was really just a Victorian red brick semi, like everyone else’s. It’s also where I first ventured onto a canal when Dad thought it would be a good idea for me and him to build a Canadian canoe in the cellar of our home. I was about 7 or 8. He built a wooden frame, then my job was to staple and glue on three layers of mahogany veneer strips. She was a beautiful boat, big enough to take all 4 of us and a tent. We launched her on the Leeds and Liverpool canal, probably somewhere around Lydiate, though I can’t be sure. But who would have thought that over half a century later I’d be living on a narrowboat with a man born in Leeds, reminiscing about my early years.
Of course so much has changed, these southern Lancashire towns have been swallowed up by the borough of Sefton and become part of Mersyside. And what I remember being grand and palacial is now littered with run down boarded up eyesores. And ironically what I remember as being dodgy areas, including the flotsam strewn sandunes of Crosby beach and the Liverpool Docks have been revitalised, made accessible, and are now the place to go.
Crosby Beach has now become quite a tourist attraction because of a permanent art installation called “Another Place.” It consists of 100 cast iron figures placed over 2 miles of sandy beach, all looking out to sea. Initially they caused some controversy as they are modelled on the artist’s, Antony Gormley, naked body, but nowadays they are adorned with barnacles, rust and occasional dressing up clothes provided by concerned passers by.
I’m a great fan of installation art. I don’t like it all, but I do like that it makes me stop and think, and look at the surroundings. I do like this piece.
Crosby beach has always been a vast open space, facing west so commandering spectacular sunsets, (clouds permitting) and on clear days you can see across to Wales, and I’m sure I remember the Blackpool tower being pointed out to the north, but perhaps that was from Southport. Today it’s an off shore wind farm and drilling platform that dominates the horizon.
And looking south takes you towards the mouth of the Mersey, its the towering cranes of the modernised dockland.
Firecrest was moored in Litherland, on the official visitor moorings. waiting for our booked passage through the Stanley flight. Not the most salubrious of places but with a giant Tesco right next door and boaters “facilities” certainly very convenient.