Things to do in Ormskirk

By Ade Blackburn

Ormskirk is ideal for a family day out and to discover its unique mix of culture, history and a wide range of outdoor activities.

Rufford Old Hall Ormskirk Credit NT Rufford Old Hall Facebook Page
Credit: NT Rufford Old Hall Facebook Page

1. Cycling

Cycling is a great way of exploring West Lancashire’s countryside. Most of the area is flat and there are many quiet lanes, which are great to cycle on, with splendid views over the West Lancashire Plain.

Use your bike to get to attractions like Ainsdale Nature Reserve for a day out. West Lancashire also has some wonderful churches and monuments steeped in history, with the oldest, St Michael’s Church in Aughton dating back to around 850AD. This route offers an insight into the churches, their grounds and their history, riders can join the route at various access points, including Ormskirk, Aughton Park, Town Green and Burscough Bridge Railway Stations.

2. Chapel Gallery

Chapel Gallery’s diverse programme includes internationally regarded artists, such as David Hockney and Peter Blake, while bringing innovative contemporary art and craft from across the UK to the region, and supporting local artists in the development of their careers.

From art clubs and school holiday activities to adult learning music and cinema, there are plenty of ways to get creative, whatever your age or ability.

The gallery is also home to a cafe and their craft and design shop.

3. Farmer Ted’s Adventure Farm

Farmer Ted’s Adventure Farm is a large farm geared around children with plenty of fun on offer. They offer free tractor rides around the farm, Birds of Prey, pony grooming, ferret racing, guinea pig handling and a jungle themed mini-beast centre.

The farm is also the venue for the legendary Pumpkin Festival at Halloween, now running throughout October, and their Christmas Adventure walks.

4. Ormskirk Market

Ormskirk Market is renowned for being one of the UK’s oldest and most traditional outdoor markets. Granted a Royal Charter in 1286 by King Edward I, this popular and well-loved market has been held in Ormskirk ever since.

The market is now hosted every Thursday and Saturday, 8am-4pm. The pedestrianised streets around the famous clock tower offer around 100 stalls, attracting a variety of shoppers each market day.

The stalls offer everything from clothing and bedding to fresh meat and vegetables. They’re also well worth checking out for stocking-filler gifts that won’t break the bank!

5. National Trust Rufford Old Hall

Follow in Shakespeare’s footsteps and visit one of Lancashire’s finest Tudor buildings, Rufford Old Hall, which was built in the 1530s.

You can discover something different every day, from the changing fortunes of the family who lived there, to Shakespeare’s connections with the house. At the centre of the building there’s an enchanting cobbled 18th Century court to explore.

You can also enjoy a stroll outdoors in their formal Victorian and Edwardian garden, take a walk through the tranquil woodland or along the Leeds/Liverpool canal.

6. The Arts Centre, Edge Hill University

The Arts Centre at Edge Hill University offers a full programme of events, from cutting-edge drama and dance to poetry and some brilliant stand-up comedy nights.

Past performances include shows by James Acaster, Katherine Ryan, Joel Dommett and Russell Kane. The venue also presents talks by famous guest speakers and the latest cinema releases.

Hosting two theatres and a café bar, The Arts Centre provides a year-round programme full of diverse and inspirational performances for visitors to Ormskirk.

To discover events happening across the Liverpool city region visit our What’s On events listings.

Things to do in Southport

By Ade Blackburn

Southport has a wealth of things to do and see, the town has a year-round impressive cultural offer, as well as the more traditional seaside attractions.

The Atkinson - Southport

1. The Atkinson

The Atkinson is Southport’s home for music, theatre, art, literature and history. Situated in the middle of the iconic Lord Street and just three minutes’ walk from Southport train station.

The venue is a popular destination for families and arts enthusiasts alike. The nineteenth century buildings create a welcoming and accessible multi art-form venue.

The Atkinson is open throughout the year and presents a varied seasonal programme and changing exhibitions, events and lectures, so whatever time you visit, they offer a creative and varied day out.

The Atkinson
Lord Street

2. Hesketh Park

Hesketh Park is one of the largest parks in Southport. The Victorian Park has plenty to offer visitors, a mile walk away from Southport’s centre and with plenty of on street parking, this picturesque park is a perfect place to lose track of time.

The gardens and ornate fountains have been restored and reconstructed, to bring the park back to its former glory. There are numerous nature trails, varied wildlife, a large lake, and a children’s play area.

Hesketh Park
17 Park Crescent
Brentwood Court

3. British Lawnmower Museum

Southport’s British Lawnmower Museum has now become one of the world’s leading authorities on vintage lawnmowers and are now specialists in antique garden machinery, supplying parts, and valuing machines from all over the world.

They have created a unique ‘turfrific’ exhibition called Lawnmowers of the Rich & Famous including lawnmowers and garden implements by Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Brian May and Eric Morecambe.

British Lawnmower Museum
106-112 Shakespeare Street

4. RSPB Marshside

This fantastic wetland site is located north of Southport town centre and has some of the best wildlife in the region, with amazing year round viewing opportunities.

In the summer, you’ll see nesting birds like avocets and lapwings, while the skies are full with pink-footed geese and wigeons in the winter.

If you’re new to wildlife watching, they also offer special event days to learn more and help get you involved.

RSPB Marshside
Marine Drive

5. Southport Little Theatre

Southport Dramatic Club was founded in 1920 and the art deco styled Little Theatre became their permanent home just prior to World War Two.

By the 1960s, the club was putting on seven shows a season. Seasons now comprise of eight productions, including, a regular ‘Out-of-Season’ production in their bar.

They are currently presenting Gym and Tonic, a bittersweet comedy and honest commentary on the state of our times, 20-29 October, 7.30pm.

Little Theatre
Hoghton Street

6.Wesley Street

Wesley Street is affectionately known as the Village in the Town with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, the street hosts a string of unique, independent shops painted in pastel colours.

The traders run family-friendly events throughout the year, such as the Wesley Street Festival and Movember. They also recently decorated the street with miles of wool in a yarnbombing spectacular!

You will find a traditional sweet shop, celebration cakes, antique jewellers, cafes and gift sellers. With 22 locally owned shops, Wesley street has a truly unique feel.

Wesley Street

To discover more things to do across the Liverpool City Region check out our What’s On listings.

Legendary Liverpool Comedians

By Ade Blackburn

Liverpool has a renowned history of comedic talent, comedy that made us laugh and challenged the ideas of what humour could be. Here’s a selection of legendary comedians from the region.

Legendary Liverpool Comedians

1. Alexei Sayle

Best known for his cynicism and political awareness, Alexei Sayle also developed his own unique brand of physical comedy. Much of his humour is in the surreal tradition of Monty Python and his style led to various roles in the classic 1980s comedy The Young Ones. The success of the show was followed by appearances in Doctor Who and Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade.

Alexei Sayle also forged a side-career as an unlikely 80s pop star, his most successful single was the suitably unhinged Ullo John Gotta New Motor which made the Top 20 in 1984. The single was recorded with hit producers Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, who worked with Madness and Elvis Costello.

2. Chris Cairns

Chris Cairns has gained a reputation for being able to handle the toughest of rooms with his sharp put downs and a fine eye for a cutting remark.

He is a regular compere at Laughterhouse venues in Liverpool and is known all over the country as a friend to the audience but a deadly foe to the heckler. He was awarded Eric Morecambe Comedian of the Year and Liverpool Comedian of the Year in 2011.

As well as performing stand up comedy, Chris is also educating the next generation of stand up comedians as a tutor on Stand Out, the comedy course for 14-18 year olds in the North West.

3. Kenny Everett

From a Catholic family, Kenny Everett attended the local secondary modern school in Crosby, now part of Sacred Heart Catholic College. Born Maurice Cole, he started his career with spells on pirate radio in the mid-1960s and was one of the first DJs to join BBC’s newly-created Radio 1 in 1967.

The Kenny Everett Video Show was his big comedy breakthrough and a vehicle for Everett’s characters such as the infamous Sid Snot and Cupid Stunt. Various pop and TV stars made cameo appearances on the show, including Kate Bush and Freddie Mercury.

In the first three series, all the animated segments were created by the fledgling Cosgrove_Hall partnership, later responsible for the children’s cartoon series Dangermouse.

4. Faith Brown

One of the earliest female comedians to break into television in the 1970s, Faith Brown attended Walton’s St Francis De Sales School and was a singer in vocal group The Carrolls with her brothers, before using her talent for mimicry to switch to comedy impressions.

She became known for her impressions of Hollywood stars and eventually presented her own primetime show, regularly attracting millions of viewers. As her profile grew, she appeared as a guest on Blankety Blank and is another surprise veteran of Doctor Who, Faith played an alien in the 1985 story Attack of the Cybermen.

In recent years, she made a comeback on the reality show I’m a Celebrity…Get Me out of Here! and worked as a children’s presenter at the BBC.

5. Arthur Askey

Askey was born in Moses Street, Dingle in 1900, he was known for his short stature, distinctive horn-rimmed glasses, and his playful humour.

In the early 1930s, Askey appeared on an early form of BBC television— The Spinning Disc invented by John Logie Baird that scanned vertically and had only thirty lines. Askey had to be heavily made up for his face to be recognisable at such low resolution.

When television became electronic, with 405 horizontal lines, Askey was a regular performer in variety shows such as The Good Old Days and subsequently starred in several  comedy films as part of the Second World War effort.

6. Ken Dodd

No comedy list would be complete without the legendary ‘Doddy’. A lifelong resident of Knotty Ash, Ken Dodd’s career as an entertainer started in the mid-1950s.

His performances would run for several hours, frequently past midnight. He earned a place in The Guinness Book of Records for the world’s longest ever joke-telling session: 1,500 jokes in three-and-a-half hours (7.14 jokes per minute).

His surreal gags were supplemented by his infamous tickling stick and the legendary Diddy Men. He interspersed the comedy with songs, both serious and humorous, which led to several hit singles in the 1960s. He even appeared in some dramatic roles, including a part in the 1996 film of Hamlet, directed by Kenneth Branagh.


Visit the Uncover Liverpool Events Listings to discover up-coming comedy events and much more!

30 Years of Cream – Liverpool‘s Legendary Nightclub

By Ade Blackburn

2022 will be a landmark year for Cream as it celebrates its 30 year anniversary. Since its humble beginnings in 1992 as a small underground club night, it grew to become one of the worlds most recognisable youth brands and a global powerhouse in electronic music.

Here we look at some of the key moments and events in the club’s history.

Cream On The Waterfront 2021
Cream On The Waterfront 2021. Credit: Cream Official Facebook Page

1. Beginnings 

Cream originally began as a weekly house music night at the now demolished Nation (formerly Snobs Disco) in Wolstenholme Square. It ran from October 1992 to June 2002. Cream was viewed as a welcome antidote to the business-minded approach of London club, Ministry of Sound.

The club grew from being a small intimate venue catering for around 400 clubbers every Saturday night to being one of the UK’s first ‘superclubs’ regularly attracting thousands from all over the country.

The club was started by Everton-born James Barton and Chester’s Darren Hughes in the early nineties and within a few years had become one of the most famous in the UK.

Prior to Cream, James Barton was a resident DJ at Bootle’s legendary Quadrant Park during the acid house scene.

2. Success

By the middle of the decade, Cream had arrived. Clubbers were sporting tattoos of the distinctive Cream logo (which itself had won awards for its ‘propeller-style’ design), DJs from around the world were lining up to play in the main room, and one Liverpool couple even decided to get married at a Cream event.

In 1996, Cream was cited as the third main reason people applied to Liverpool University in a poll conducted by the university.

Many of the titans of electronic music played at a Cream event, such as Paul Oakenfold, Pete Tong, Carl Cox, Fatboy Slim and The Chemical Brothers.

People from New York were coming to the city week in week out and helped create a vibrant scene in Liverpool. Kylie Minogue even performed at Cream’s second birthday party in 1994. The brand had well and truly entered its Superstar DJ era.

3. Legacy

Cream capitalised on its success by launching merchandising and setting up its own record label in partnership with Virgin and Paul Oakenfold’s Creamfields (2004) was nominated for Best Electronic/Dance Album at the Grammy Awards.

Many of their compilation albums have also been commercially successful, Cream Anthems 2001 reached number 1 in the UK Compilation Chart.

Creamfields 2022 - Credit Creamfields Facebook Page
Creamfields 2022 – Credit Creamfields Facebook Page

4. Creamfields

James Barton helped the brand evolve and when Creamfields started it became the dance festival to go to in the UK.

The first Creamfields was at Winchester Bowl in Hampshire and had a huge line up including Run DMC. Creamfields has won the award for Best Dance Event at the UK Festival Awards a record six times and caters for around 40,000 clubbers.

As well as establishing Creamfields, they started successful club nights at Amnesia in Ibiza. The nights became one of the longest running UK club events on the island.

5. Legendary Status

Cream is still a very active brand in 2022. Never ones to stand still, in 2016 they launched Cream Classical in Liverpool Cathedral which has become an annual staple in the event calendar and yet another success story. The shows are fronted by the now-legendary 50 piece Kaleidoscope Orchestra and curated by DJ/Producer duo K-Klass.

To mark their 30th anniversary, the shows are making a return to the Cathedral for the first time since 2019, with two nights on Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd October. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster.

Liverpool Cathedral, St James Mt, Liverpool, L1 

Things To Do This Summer In Liverpool

There’s a wide range of things to see and do in our region this summer, including some great events for children. Many are free or relatively cheap and ideal for a family day out.

Liverpool Waterfront From Inside The Museum of Liverpool

1. Children’s workshops and events

Children’s events can be a real lifesaver and help to keep the children occupied and entertained over summer.

The Reader’s Storybarn has workshops to get the kids reading and there’s a range of family films showing at Crosby’s Plaza Cinema, such as current Marvel blockbuster Thor (12A). Williamson Art Gallery also has a full day of drop-in art and craft activities.

The World Museum has a host of Dr Who workshops linking to their new Worlds of Wonder exhibition, from building a TARDIS to making your very own sonic screwdriver.

Bluecoat have a special exhibition for children and adults this summer, Are you Messin’? features work by leading UK artists that are designed to be touched and explored.

2. Scenic walks

Merseyside has an abundance of trails and walks for a great family day-out. Some of the most scenic are on the coast, with walks and cycle trails along the Sefton Coastal Path, Otterspool Park and the Wirral Way.

The Dream statue loop walk in St Helens is a great day out, with easily-accessible paths and it’s suitable for any fitness level. The 20-metre high Dream sculpture was commissioned by ex-miners and St Helens’ Council to reflect the aspirations of the community.

If you prefer something more urban, there’s also some great historic walks around Liverpool’s city centre that cover key sites such as Mathew Street and the waterfront.

3. Summer festivals

There’s an excellent selection of festivals happening in the region over the summer, from local music and family festivals to larger events such as Liverpool International Music Festival. LIMF features sets this year from De La Soul, The Zutons and a host of upcoming local talent.

Brazilica Festival returns to Liverpool with a spectacular street parade on 6 August. Brazilica is the UK’s largest celebration of Brazilian culture. Creamfields, one of the biggest electronic music festivals, is also back this year from August 25 – August 29.

There’s plenty of one-day festivals worth checking out, Convenience Gallery are holding their Summer Festival in August, with a day of arts and culture at Bloom in Birkenhead.

4. Museums and galleries

The city’s museums and galleries are free for most exhibitions and a low cost way to spend a day out with the family.

Museum of Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery and Tate Liverpool all host free workshops as well as their regular exhibitions. The Wondrous Place Gallery at Museum of Liverpool is especially worth checking out for its showcase of the city’s cultural heritage.

The Lady Lever Art Gallery in scenic Port Sunlight is also excellent for a visit and explorer day. Their current Inspired by Lady Lever exhibition celebrates 100 years of the gallery and its history.

5. Get creative

If you feel like getting creative over the summer there’s plenty of inspiring adult art classes at a range of venues.

Classes include Life Drawing with Convenience Gallery, painting your own Starry Night over Liverpool at Shipping Forecast and weaving workshops from LazyKate Textiles at John Archer Hall.  

Make. also have Introduction to Tie Dye and Beginner Mosaic workshops for a chance to explore something new and discover a new hobby.

For more events happening over the summer and beyond check out our What’s On section.

More Hidden Gems To Discover In Liverpool

By Ade Blackburn

Liverpool has a host of hidden gems to discover, here’s a second selection of unique and culturally important venues and places that have helped shape the city.

1. News from Nowhere

News From Nowhere Bookshop Bold Street Liverpool

News From Nowhere is Liverpool’s not-for-profit radical and community bookshop – established in 1974, and run collectively by a workers’ co-operative.

The bookshop is strongly committed to social justice, from challenging the power of corporate capitalism to breaking down prejudiced attitudes. They focus on subjects such as feminism, anti-racism, LGBT+, workers’ rights and also stock many local interest books.

A lovely shop to browse and discover new writers.

News from Nowhere, 96 Bold Street, L1

2. 24 Kitchen Street

24 Kitchen Street

With a storming mishmash of house, hip-hop, techno, electro and garage, there’s something for everyone at Liverpool’s 24 Kitchen Street venue. Head down on a bhangra/dancehall/soca night, or look out for samba dance and drumming nights for something a little different.

24 Kitchen Street has developed a multi-purpose events space in the Baltic Triangle and one well worth discovering to get a true flavour of Liverpool’s nightlife.

24 Kitchen Street, L1

3. Probe Records

Probe Records Liverpool

The shop was founded in 1971 by Geoff Davies, a former carpet manufacturer who was fed up with not having anywhere to buy the kinds of records he liked. Quitting his job and pooling his £300 savings, Davies opened the first Probe Records on Clarence Street.

Due to its substantial stock of LPs and radical literature, Probe became a favourite within Liverpool’s alternative movement and relocated to Button Street. The new shop was close to the punk club Eric’s and became a hang-out in itself, gaining a legendary reputation as the cool place to buy music.

The shop is still going as strong as ever and is now located on School Lane, next door to the main Bluecoat building.

Probe Records, 1 The Bluecoat, School Lane, L1

4. Unity Theatre

Unity Theatre Liverpool

Originally known as the Merseyside Left Theatre, the venue was opened in 1937. The theatre’s name eventually changed to the Merseyside Unity Theatre in 1944, as part of a national movement of radical and experimental theatre.

Located on Hope Place, in a former synagogue, the theatre has expanded over time to accommodate touring companies, as well as continuing to give crucial support to local talent.

In 2004, their acclaimed Unity Youth Theatre was established and the venue currently hosts and collaborates on the biannual Physical Fest with Tmesis Theatre.

Unity Theatre, 1 Hope Place, L1

5. Kazimier Stockroom

Kazimier Garden Kazimier Stockroom

A one hundred capacity grassroots space for live music, comedy, film and more. The Kazimier Stockroom opened in 2019 and is a unique platform for the creative community in the city.

The space provides a safe little haven for local up-and-coming artists to place their shows, out of the open air and the busy surroundings of the Kazimier Garden.

Stockroom has also become a fixture of emerging talent on tour, featuring bands from all over the world, including acclaimed London art-rockers Snapped Ankles and the dark synth-pop of Los Angeles’ Riki.

Kazimier Garden, 32 Seel Street, L1

Doctor Who Worlds of Wonder Exhibition Preview: Our Favourite Doctors And Baddies From The Cult TV Show

By Ade Blackburn

The upcoming Doctor Who Worlds of Wonder exhibition ( at the World Museum promises to be a delight for both kids and adults. The thrilling new interactive exhibition explores the world of science within the universe of Doctor Who.

Doctor Who Worlds of Wonder Exhibition (27 May - 30 Oct 2022)

Doctor Who Worlds of Wonder will include contributions from stars across the fields of science and entertainment, along with the opportunity to find out more about the many links between Liverpool and the long running sci-fi show, National Museums Liverpool has revealed.

Game of Thrones star Mark Gatiss – co-creator of BBC’s Sherlock and writer of several episodes of Doctor Who – will narrate the exhibition, guiding visitors through space and time.

Visitors will also be able to delve into the classic set designs of the original series, as well as the incredible special effects and makeup design that bring the show to life – all from scientists, designers and producers who have worked on Doctor Who. NML can also reveal the inclusion of a special Liverpool Connections area within the exhibition – delving deeper into the links between the classic TV show and the city of Liverpool.

To celebrate the launch of the exhibition here’s a selection of some of the most celebrated Doctors and several of the Time Lord’s scary adversaries.

1. William Hartnell

The BBC show was first aired in 1963, it was originally intended as an educational programme, using time travel as a means to explore scientific ideas and famous moments in history.

The very first Doctor Who, William Hartnell, was a veteran of the stage and Carry On films, he approached the role as a cross between The Wizard of Oz and Father Christmas. Becoming the Doctor was a particular triumph for William as he’d left school at 16 with no qualifications and few prospects.

2. Jodie Whittaker 

The thirteenth and current Doctor Who, Jodie had appeared in BBC’s Broadchurch and The Night Watch before taking the part. The concept of a female Doctor was first discussed in 1981 but took until 2017 to become a reality, both Judy Dench and Helen Mirren were considered for the part in earlier years.

A female Doctor was quite a surprise and controversial for many fans and whilst some had doubts about ‘political correctness’, the majority agreed Jodie was a positive role model for young girls.

3. Jon Pertwee 

One of the best-loved and most flamboyant in the Time Lord role, Jon Pertwee had a penchant for fancy clothes and theatricality. He was famously described as ‘a dapper, technologically oriented man of action’ and perfect for the part as Britain entered the colourful Seventies.

Jon later became the star of children’s show Worzel Gummidge, playing alongside Una Stubbs, and hosted the sleuthing game show Whodunnit?

4. Daleks

Created by science-fiction writer Terry Nation and drawing inspiration from the Nazis, the Daleks are merciless cyborg aliens who demand total conformity to their will and rather famously, the extermination of inferior races.

The Daleks are led by mad Kaled scientist Davros, a dastardly character who is sure to get you hiding behind the sofa. For episodes involving armies of the aliens, the BBC effects team would use wooden replicas and even turned to using commercially available toy Daleks to make up the numbers.

Dalek in World Museum
Get up close to the Darleks at the Doctor Who Worlds of Wonder Exhibition (Photo Credit: Pete Carr)

5. Peter Capaldi 

Prior to taking over the lead role in Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi had played in a punk band, The Dreamboys, in the 1970s. He was best known for his acting role as the infamous spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in the BBC political sitcom The Thick of It.

Peter had been asked to audition for Doctor Who as early as 1995 but didn’t turn up for the audition, he loved the show so much but didn’t think he would get the part. In 2013 he finally took on the role and uniquely portrayed the Doctor as a spiky, brusque, and pragmatic character.

6. Tom Baker

The longest serving Doctor from 1974-81, Tom had served in the army and Merchant Navy before becoming a professional actor. He made the role his own with his eccentricity, very long scarves and fondness for Jelly Babies.

Baker suggested many aspects of his Doctor’s personality, he became known for making frequent and often comedic script suggestions, as well as ad-libs on camera.

The actor later went on to star in Monarch of the Glen, narrate Little Britain and is also fondly remembered for the children’s show The Book Tower.

7. Cybermen

In the 1960s, ‘spare-part’ surgery in hospitals began with the development of gigantic heart-lung machines. Cybermen creator Dr Kit Pedler discussed with his wife what would happen if a person had so many prostheses that they could no longer distinguish themselves between man and machine.

Dr Pedler got the opportunity to develop this idea when, in 1966, after an appearance on Tomorrows World, he was hired as a consultant by the BBC for Doctor Who. The Cybermen emerged on the show as emotionless cyborgs who, often painfully, surgically convert human beings to join their ranks.

Doctor Who Worlds of Wonder exhibition, World Museum, 27 May 202230 Oct 2022.
Book your tickets via the National Museums Liverpool website now.

Legendary Liverpool Venues

By Ade Blackburn

Liverpool is famous for its culture and nightlife, here’s a selection of some of the key venues that have shaped the city’s musical history.

1. Eric’s

Eric's Liverpool - British Music Experience
Eric’s Liverpool Gig Listings December 1979 – Credit The British Music Experience

Eric’s opened its doors in 1976 and quickly became the venue to play for punk and alternative bands. Launched by Ken Testi and Roger Eagle, the original club was given the name ‘Eric’s’ as an antidote to disco clubs with names such as ‘Tiffany’s’ and ‘Samantha’s’.

The first band to appear at Eric’s was The Stranglers on 1st October 1976 and entry was just 60p. The club famously went on to stage gigs by future stars such as The Clash and Talking Heads.

The venue also helped launch the careers of many Liverpool groups, including Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Echo and the Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes.

2. The Blackie

The Blackie (now Black-E) opened in May 1968 with a commitment to combine a contemporary arts centre with a community centre.

The team of inspirational artists, led by Wendy and Bill Harpe, began their cultural adventures in the former Congregational Church in 1967. They created a centre where all the arts could engage with local people, young and old, disadvantaged and privileged.

The Blackie also staged significant events by known artists, including an early Elvis Costello show and exhibitions by Mark Boyle and John Latham.

3. Planet X

Established by the legendary Doreen Allen and Kenny Dawick, goth/alternative hangout Planet X was most famously based on Temple Street in the city centre.

Black and neon-pink outfits, outrageous haircuts and brothel creepers were de rigueur for the club’s regulars in the 1980s. The venue hosted some of the alternative scene’s biggest bands, including The Mission and a pre-fame Stone Roses.

Planet X was a true haven for Liverpool’s misfits and weirdos and is still celebrated today via the internet.

4. Cream

Cream Liverpool - Photo Credit Mark McNulty
Liverpool superclub Cream hosting their weekly summer night at Amnesia in the mid 1990’s in Ibiza. – Photo Credit Mark McNulty

Cream was started by James Barton and Darren Hughes in the early nineties and within a few years had become one of the most famous clubs in the UK.

At its height in the mid-90s, the club attracted revellers from across the country, as well as celebrities and live performances from the likes of Robbie Williams, Pet Shop Boys, Kylie Minogue and The Chemical Brothers.

The success of Cream led to the first Creamfields festival in 1998, attracting 25,000 people and featuring live shows from Run DMC and Primal Scream.

5. Everyman Theatre

Founded in 1964 at Hope Hall (once a chapel) in an area of Liverpool noted for its bohemian environment, the Everyman built a reputation for ground-breaking work.

International stars and writers such as Julie Walters, Bill Nighy, Alan Bleasdale and Willy Russell, all considered the Everyman a home in their early years.

The downstairs Everyman Bistro was also an important hangout for creatives and hosted early gigs by the likes of The La’s and Levi Tafari.

6. The Kazimier

The Kazimier John Johnson
The Kazimier – Photo Credit John Johnson

Much of the appeal in The Kazimier’s events was with the venue’s underground mystique. Many people will know the name only as a gig venue but it was also renowned for its cryptic and curious one-off parties.

They staged some amazing New Year’s Eve events under ‘The Kronos’ banner, featuring an array of weird and wonderful acts and giant props.

The Kazimier could also be a theatre, a cabaret, a cinema, or just an inspirational energy source. They hosted many memorable gigs during their eight-year reign, including shows by Les Savy Fav and Wooden Shjips.

7. The Cavern

The Cavern Club opened on Mathew Street in January 1957, initially as a jazz club. The venue later converted to rock ‘n’ roll, with The Beatles playing their first gig on the Cavern’s stage four years later in 1961.

Less well documented are the original venue’s later years, Queen appeared at the Cavern Club in the seventies, as well as a youthful version of Status Quo.

Suzi Quatro was the last major recording artist to perform at the club before its final closure in 1973.

Celebrated Liverpool Artists

By Ade Blackburn

Sumuyya Khader
Sumuyya Khader

Liverpool has long been an innovative force in the visual arts, from film and street-art to book covers and naïve painting. We’ve listed a selection of artists that highlight the depth and variety of the city’s art.

1. Kiara Mohamed

A Queer, multidisciplinary artist, and one of Liverpool’s most outstanding filmmakers. Kiara Mohamed’s work deals with race, gender, sexuality and self-care.

She created the powerful and poetic 2020 film, Home, using spectacular drone footage shot above the artist’s L8 Toxteth neighbourhood.

The film examines notions of home, vulnerability and care during the coronavirus pandemic.

2. Gladys Cooper

Artist Gladys Cooper’s work went unrecognised until the age of 52. A naïve painter, she worked in oil paint, starting with a picture in a sketch book. She never had a drawing lesson and knew little about perspective and shading.

All her paintings, including 1964’s The Gate, are shot through with what she called ‘our sinister times’. She exhibited at London’s Grosvenor Gallery and Portal Gallery.

3. Paul Curtis

Paul Curtis is a Liverpool-based artist specialising in street-art and large murals. In his first 3 years as an artist, he has created more than 150 public pieces, largely in Liverpool and Wirral.

Paul came to prominence with his very first piece of street-art, For All Liverpool’s Liver Birds (2017). The piece was an instant success with queues of people eager to have the picture taken with the wings, forcing the council to temporarily close the road. In 2018, the mural was the nineteenth most geotagged place in the UK.

4. Sumuyya Khader

Sumuyya Khader is an illustrator and artist whose work explores place and identity. She recently set up Granby Press, a community-based organisation with a focus on printed material and design. Summuya has also developed an archive of Black culture and history in the L8 area.

A recent residency and acclaimed exhibition at Bluecoat, Always Black Never Blue (2021/22), helped bring her work to a wider audience.

5. Josh Kirby

Born in Waterloo, Josh Kirby attended Liverpool’s School of Art in the 1940s, developing his drawing skills and an eye for detail. He became a sought-after commercial artist with a career lasting more than 60 years.

His paintings have adorned book covers by authors such as Alfred Hitchcock and Terry Pratchett, as well as being featured on film posters including Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

6. George Stubbs

Stubbs, born the son of a Leatherseller, was brought up in Ormond Street, Liverpool, and worked as a painter in Knowsley. He began painting portraits and rural scenes from a young age but made his name painting horses.

The record price for a Stubbs painting was set by the sale at auction of Gimcrack on Newmarket Heath, with a Trainer, a Stable-Lad, and a Jockey (1765) at Christie’s in London in July 2011 for £22.4 million.

7. Adrian Henri

Although best known as a 1960s Mersey poet, Adrian Henri was primarily a painter, his work has been the subject of retrospectives at Walker Art Gallery and Tate Liverpool.

He was influenced by the abstract expressionists and pop artists but Henri’s work also had a strong personal signature – an affection for the urban landscapes and popular culture of Liverpool.

His most renowned painting, The Entry of Christ Into Liverpool (1962), depicts a host of cultural icons marching down Liverpool’s Hope Street, including The Beatles and jazz-singer George Melly.

Celebrated Liverpool Writers

By Ade Blackburn

Celebrated Liverpool Writers

Liverpool has a magnificent literary history, from novelists to poets and playwrights. Here’s a selection of some of our most celebrated writers.

1. Adrian Henri

Adrian Henri was a much-loved figure in the world of performance poetry, fine art and beyond.

Born in Birkenhead, he was part of the Liverpool scene in the 1960s appearing alongside Roger McGough and Brian Patten in the groundbreaking anthology The Mersey Sound. The poems brought everyday subject matter such as pubs and factory work to poetry and were more accessible to readers.

The anthology has sold over half a million copies and was highly influential in opening the doors to other performance-orientated artists who followed in subsequent decades including John Hegley, John Cooper-Clarke, Linton Kwesi Johnson and others.

2. Jeff Young

Jeff Young is a writer for theatre, radio and screen, including Eastenders, Holby City, CBBC and Casualty.

His 2020 biographical novel ‘Ghost Town: A Liverpool Shadowplay’ is brilliantly evocative of 1960s and 1970s Liverpool, tracing the path of the city’s cultural life up to the present.

He broadcasts essays for Radio 3, collaborates with artists and musicians on sound art installations and has worked on many arts projects in Liverpool and elsewhere, including a residency in Bill Drummond’s Curfew Tower.

3. Levi Tafari

Levi Tafari is a firm member of the Rastafari movement and saw it as his duty to reach a wider audience with his work. In the early 1980s, he started attending the Liverpool 8 Writers Workshop and decided to become a performance poet.

Levi has four collections of work published and has been included in many anthologies. He was the first person to use the term Duboetry, the title of his first book, and several of his musical tracks can be found on compilation albums.

He was also commissioned to write and perform a piece especially for the BBC’s Grange Hill programme, in which he appeared as himself.

4. Carla Lane

One of Britain’s most celebrated television comedy writers for television, Carla Lane was best known for her sitcoms The Liver Birds, Butterflies and Bread, but she was almost as well known for her animal rights activism.

Her first hit series, BBC’s The Liver Birds, was about the lives and loves of two Liverpool girls living on the city’s Huskisson Street, broadcast from 1969-1978.

Her greatest writing success was the 1980s series Bread, the classic sitcom about a Liverpool family scamming and surviving in Thatcher’s Britain.

5. Alan Bleasdale

Alan Bleasdale taught in various Lancashire schools and while teaching, he wrote a series of stories for BBC Radio Merseyside about a Liverpool teenage dreamer Scully. The stories led to a Granada television series.

His most successful work was the series Boys from the Blackstuff (1983), which dealt with the devastating effects of unemployment in Liverpool. The show’s humorous and cutting take on life on the dole featured the legendary  Yozza ‘Giz a Job’ Hughes.

He later went on to write the acclaimed series GBH, showing the takeover of a northern English city by a fascist organisation. The show was based on the controversial 1980s Liverpool City Council figure Derek Hatton.

6. Frank Cottrell Boyce

Frank Cottrell Boyce first worked as a television critic and then wrote for Coronation Street and Brookside. He also worked on films with director Michael Winterbottom, including the wonderful Tony Wilson biopic, 24 Hour Party People, starring Steve Coogan.

Frank started his successful career writing for children with 2004’s heist romp Millions. His children’s books have been praised as full of mystery, adventure and above all, laughs. The Unforgotten Coat, a story of cross-cultural friendship in a Liverpool school, earned him The Guardian Prize in 2012.

He later gained recognition as a writer for the inventive 2012 UK Summer Olympics opening ceremony, collaborating with director Danny Boyle.

7. Kevin Sampson

Widely known for his football terrace novel and subsequent film, Awaydays, Kevin Sampson began his writing career in the 1980’s with gig reviews for NME.

His second novel Powder (1999) covers his time setting up the Liverpool record label Produce with The Farm’s Peter Hooton. In the 1990s, Produce had chart success with The Farm, including the top five hit All Together Now and Powder depicts the trials and excesses of the music business.

More recently, Kevin was hired to write the new ITV mini-series Anne, which centres on Anne Williams’ crusade for justice after the death of her son Kevin in the Hillsborough disaster of 1989.