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The One to Watch: Bold Street

It's the star of a big new show at FACT, but what else is there to know about the city's funkiest thoroughfare?

Published on June 27th 2007.


The One to Watch: Bold Street

Ah, Bold Street. Isn't it also known as the Bond Street of the north? Well, it used to be. But that turned out to be a typo.

Another myth shattered. Not quite. In its heyday of the 1930s, Bold Street was full of stylish shops like Bon Marche and Cripps selling garments to dandies about town. It were right posh.

What else makes it so special? Bold Street's fortunes are a mirror of everything that has ever happened in Liverpool. At the top, St Luke's church, a bombed out monument to the Liverpool Blitz. At the bottom end, The Lyceum housed Europe's first lending library, and was also a club for chaps who wanted an alternative meeting place to common merchants’ coffee houses.

Like the Blob Shop? They'd be spinning in their graves.

But Bold Street is still classy. A bit, despite there being a drinking establishment there called Klass and the country's loveliest Waterstones, a restored music hall which gave Concert Square its name, being turned into the L1 bar.

Move on will yer. Oh all right. These days, Bold Street really is the world in one street with a huge concentration of independent businesses to warm your heart. It's Eddie Rockets, it's Microzine, it's Mattas. It's Liverpool's oldest Indian restaurant, it's the city's only Afro-Caribbean restaurant. It's Christian's greengrocers. It's the Oxfam building owned by Alan Sugar. It's the hairdresser who does Miss World. It's the other hairdresser with the finest single blown glass window in Liverpool. It's Madame Foner's and the King of Norway's acoustic chair.

Er, remind me. Why are we having this conversation? Because Bold Street is the subject of a major new project at FACT, opening this week, involving hundreds of city people. A film has been made, The Bolder They Walk, starring Alex “Repo Man” Cox and Chris “Letter to Brezhnev” Bernard, and another by Pete Wylie. The Bold Street Project also includes a 3D model made up of photographs and people are being asked to upload their videos, pictures and memories to a special online archive.

Why can I suddenly hear the music from the Twilight Zone? Because, in recent years, the street has gained an eerie reputation as the location of a number of time slip phenomena in which people have claimed to have Boldly gone back in time to Bold Street as it was in the 1950s and 1960s.

Oh, do they get to see the Beatles? No. That's everywhere else in Liverpool, now and for the rest of forever.

Pete Wylie says: “If you go down Bold Street and don't recognise anyone you know, then you must be dead.”

Baz the Busker says: “Eh, can you sing that to the tune of Teddy Bears' Picnic?”

Bold Street Project, The Media Lounge at FACT, Saturday June 30-August 19.

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11 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousJune 27th 2007.

Tatty and lovely all at the same time. It seems to have defied the developers, the Christians stall being the monument to that. They do Liverpool's best plum tomatoes too IMHO!

ShirleyJune 27th 2007.

p.s. Accordian. Not Acordian.

Tam ScottJune 27th 2007.

What a phoney city! go to Glasgow if you want to see real culture and buildings with character and style.Liverpool is the joke of the whole country with its plastic statues and semi literate yobs on every street.Scots education is the best in the world.There are no crack addicted immigrants scrounging off the Scottish Parliament - we send them all to Liverpool.

A. E. ScousemanJune 27th 2007.

I was transfixed by a garish neon sign on Bold Street. It yelled "GET IN HERE!" and an arrow pointed to a window.I went over to the window for a look at this particularly celebrated get, but the place was full of all manner of gets.

Phil McCrackenJune 27th 2007.

I experienced a timeslip on Bold Street once. I went in the Newington at 12.00 telling the missus I would only be in there for a quick half. By the time I emerged it was after 7.00. Time semed to have disappeared as had most of the contents of my wallet. Strangely my head felt fuzzy and my legs were wobbly too.

AnonymousJune 27th 2007.

It's actually 'accordion'.

Ian MJune 27th 2007.

Who isn't a fallen popstar in Bold Street?

Fruit batJune 27th 2007.

Place I love most in Bold Street is Christian's the big fruit and veg place up at the top. It's a shed and the bloke in there scares me, but they can't be moved out, the trendy ropewalks planners tried and failed!

ShirleyJune 27th 2007.

I want to know a bit more behind the Bold Street Buskers. The 3 prominent characters I'm thinking of are: trumpet man, the old guy with the acordian (has been know to play flute) and the pony tailed greaseball who plays a mean 'summertime' on jazz guitar. He's actually very good. Does anyone have any info on these people? Are they fallen pop stars as rumoured?

AngieJune 27th 2007.

Baz is the trumpet player. He used to do a party piece in his youth where he would put a whole egg in his mouth, crush it, swallow the yolk and white and then remove the shell in one whole piece. But don't say I said.

Mr TJune 27th 2007.

I saw The Smiths playing on Bold Street. Not busking,but in a place called the Berlin which was too trendy to survive. I think it's that place with all the larvae lamps now. But the Smiths have moved on (obviously).

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