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'when the smoke and dust had all cleared from the air...'

I’m sure that if you know Liverpool’s Crosby beach at all it is for the striking art installation by artist Antony Gormley which moved to the beach back in 2005 and thankfully is now a permanent addition to the coastline.  Another Place consists of 100 cast-iron, life-size figures based on the artists body spread out along three kilometres of the beach and almost a kilometer out to sea.

The figures stand on the beach, looking out to sea, staring at the horizon whilst they naturally weather - changing colour and attracting nature including barnacles, greenery and a constant stream of dogs who seem to like the smell of them very much!

We love Another Place. Every time you visit the photo opportunities change – the skies are different, the tide from the River Mersey could be anywhere (and please read the warning signs before you go wandering out too far), a very active shipping lane could bring you anything from the regular Isle of Man and Ireland ferries, cruise ships to occasional ships from the Royal Navy fleet and everything in between! At the Waterloo end you have the docks adding more excitement to your photos and people. There are always lots of people and personally I think they enhance your photos so much adding a definitely LS Lowry feel to your shots!

You might be able to tell we really love Crosby beach and visit often, so consider how surprised we were to find out that if we walk further up the beach there is a very poignant and unusual part that we knew nothing about.

Anyone who knows about Liverpool’s wartime history will know that it was bombed relentlessly in World War 2 thanks to its proximity to the River Mersey and its large port. Liverpool was also the base from which the Battle of the Atlantic was run. Now at this part of the story it begins to get very personal for me. All my family are Liverpool born and bred although thanks to my Dad’s job me and my sister were both born in Manchester and our part of the family never returned to Liverpool. Anyway, both sides of my family experienced the horrors of WW2 Liverpool with my Dad’s family closely experiencing two bombs which thankfully were just far enough away not to cause any damage to them – although one blew my Grandie up the hall as he opened the door to find out what was happening (one of those stories we were all bought up on- I’m sure you have them too!). My Mum’s Dad was a merchant seaman serving on ships which were responsible for bringing in much needed food and supplies to the country. He was torpedoed twice during his service once turning up on his doorstep dressed in someone else’s clothes with nothing else as everything had gone down with the ship. Both of my parents remember seeing the bomb damage surrounding the city, streets lost, houses just rubble.

At the start of May 1941 Liverpool was bombed relentlessly for 8 days. 1,900 people were killed, 1,450 seriously wounded and 70,000 made homeless…. in just 8 days. 8,000 out of 17,000 houses were destroyed or damaged in just one area of the city, Bootle.

Liverpool, like many other towns and cities in many other countries were left with tonnes of rubble from derelict streets and houses and churches. At some point the decision was made to move the rubble to shore up the coastal defences in Crosby and create what is one of the most poignant and moving beaches we have ever visited.

Nothing prepares you for the rubble stretching along the coastline. Decades old, worn and smoothed by the tides of the Mersey, bricks, masonry, tiles, parts of peoples lives and probably even deaths all piled up with the River Mersey washing over them each day. Tiles from houses still brightly coloured, parts of churches which remain recognisable and grand and apparently (although we didn’t see this) there are parts of gravestones scattered around.

In Chris’ words…” The effects of the sea and tide over 80+ years has created a unique landscape - man made but now gradually becoming naturalised and shaped by the elements. All shapes and sizes and all with a story to tell, a place that's poignant and completely fascinating that's prompted us to do some more research into the history of the place and what you find there. It's also somewhere that, despite temptation is most definitely a place we should leave as we found it for nature to continue to do what it does.”

So, take a trip out to Crosby. Park by the Coastguard building and go down to the beach. Turn left and you’ll see the Antony Gormley’s stretching all the way to the docks. Turn right, watch your footing and wander among the rubble of people’s lives destroyed by war. A moving and thought-provoking experience.

'Way back in the forties, the world had went mad

Mister Hitler threw at us everything that he had

When the smoke and the dust had all cleared from the air...'

In My Liverpool Home

Peter McGovern

You can read more about the bricks and the statues just click below...



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