Narrowboat Tacet

Silent Movement - Our gap year travelling the inland waterways

Monday 30 September 2013

Leaving Liverpool


Not us, but Steve and Jane on nb Dulce Far Niente and John and his wife, (sorry can’t remember her name) on nb Bright Angel.  We have enjoyed chatting with these fellow boaters over the past few days here in Liverpool and watched their progress through the first docks onto the link this morning.

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Hope you like the pictures guys.

City Tower


St John’s Beacon was built in the 1960’s, towering  above all the other buildings in the city at the time at 138 metres above sea level. Its main purpose was as a ventilation shaft for the shopping centre below.  The top of the beacon was a revolving restaurant during the 70’s until it was closed down for health and safety reasons.


Now the ‘crows nest’ is home to Radio City broadcasting three stations across Liverpool and the North West.


Yesterday on yet another gloriously sunny day we took the lift, for a speedy 40 second ride to the viewing gallery at the top. It makes your ears go pop, it’s so fast.

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Then we spent a long time just enjoying the views out across the Mersey and the city, spotting places we could recognise and trying to work out where the MSC entrance is.

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We could see Albert Dock and Salthouse Dock quite clearly but not Tacet, the Hilton Hotel got in the way!

P1050080A ground level view, on our return.

Sunday 29 September 2013

Cathedral City


The two cathedrals of Liverpool stand out among the other city buildings. They are striking and contrasting in style, yet both create a feeling of awe and wonder when you get to visit.


We first of all went to the Anglican Cathedral built up on St James’ Mount. As cathedrals go it is a modern building, designed by Giles Gilbert Scott and was finished in 1978, after some 60 years work. It is renowned for its size and dimensions: the fifth largest Anglican Cathedral in the world,  highest and widest gothic arches; heaviest and highest peal of bells, largest organ amongst others.

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To be truthful, I find it all a bit too big and intimidating to feel comfortable there.  It would be good to hear choirs singing though and what that sounds like here.  An organist was playing quietly, which was nice.

I do think it lacks scripture verses and biblical references, a bit disappointing for that.



We walked along Hope Street which links the two cathedrals to the Catholic one, known affectionately here as Paddy’s Wigwam after the large number of Irish immigrants who settled here.

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King (its more proper name) sits on Brownlow Hill, the site of a former workhouse. This very modern style building was designed by Frederick Gibberd and  completed in 1967, in just 5 years, making it older than the Anglican Cathedral.


Once inside, it again fills you with awe: it is light and set out in a circular pattern with the altar in the middle, and coloured glass from the lantern tower illuminating the glittering ‘crown of thorns’ sculpture underneath.

There are chapels around the outside of the main area, quiet areas focussing on Remembrance, Unity, Reconciliation, Amnesty, a Children’s chapel and the ‘Way of the Cross’ is marked on the walls with sculptures too.

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There wall hangings and carvings and sculptures depicting various Bible stories and themes.  I like the one of Abraham with the ram caught in the thicket, a substitute for sacrifice, in the place of Abraham’s son Isaac.

The organist was playing here too, and I enjoyed listening to the music as we wandered round. I think I prefer this church really, they are both inspiring, but this one less intimidating, more intimate.

Saturday 28 September 2013

Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey

Friday dawned bright and sunny, so was deemed to be a day for the seaside.  Question was which one, Crosby Beach or across the river to New Brighton.
New Brighton won the toss, so after Ian had done a bit more of the painting jobs, we set off to Pier Head to catch the mid-day ferry. 

The trip takes us up the estuary with views of the docks and New Brighton beaches before coming back to Seacombe where we then got off and started our walk along the promenade to New Brighton about 2 miles away.

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The river view of the Stanley dock and the Tobacco Warehouse and Docker’s Clock marking the entrance to the Leeds and Liverpool canal and the way we came on Tacet to the Link along the docks.

Walking along the promenade we passed the Wallasey Town Hall, originally opened as a military hospital on 12 August 1916. It is now used as the Council Offices for Wirral Council.
A very grand building facing the river, so most people enter it via the back door!

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New Brighton was named by the Liverpool Merchant who bought a large part of the Wirral peninsula in 1830, with plans to make a resort to rival the south coast seaside towns like Bournemouth and Brighton.   Hotels and grand houses were built along the front, a pier was put in and the promenade was built.   There was at one time a tower to rival Blackpool, with ballroom, but it was demolished when it became unsafe after the first world war. It is still a popular seasidey town with lovely sand beaches, and today endless blue skies!
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Perch Rock Fort and Lighthouse make for some arty shots, I must say it’s preferable to photographing ventilation tunnels!
Whoops! the panorama shot must have been a bit jerky.
In good old British seaside tradition we had fish and chips on the beach, well on a bench actually, but very nice it was too.

A ship-wrecked pirate ship on the shore!

A place for young imaginations to play and have fun.


In the ‘old days’ the bell here on the Seacombe harbour, would have guided the ferry in foggy weather.


It wasn’t going to be needed today…..

As we boarded the ferry again the river was busy with large ships coming and going to various places along the river;

large container ships with tugs in attendance,


and this enormous rigging platform, probably going out to the wind farm construction site out at sea.

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Views of Liverpool from the river; the Anglican Cathedral behind Albert Dock, the Three Graces and Albert Dock again with both cathedrals visible at each end of the picture.

Mersey Tunnels Tour


This trip may not be high on the list of glamorous destinations, but even I found it quite interesting. There are three tunnels under the Mersey, one railway and two roadways.  The tour took us to explore the ventilation shaft of the oldest of the roadway tunnels, the Queensway tunnel,which was finished in 1935.

The outside building is art deco Egyptian design, and is really quite smart for a chimney!





There are 6 of these ventilation shafts for the Queensway tunnel, this one was also the offices and control centre, so there’s a bit more to it than the others. We shall have to keep a look out for the others, one is clearly seen on the Seacombe side of the river.





Our guide Diane, was full of information and made the tour interesting and fun, kitted out with hard hats and high-viz jackets we were ready to set off.


First stop the control room which is manned by two people 24 hours a day.  There are rows of  computers all along the desk area where the different functions can be monitored and big screens showing live pictures from many,many cameras all along the tunnel.

They are ready to spring into action if there is a breakdown, accident, or as recently, a lorry fire.  In which case they would have to perhaps shut off the ventilation fans or turn on extra power, to keep clean air moving in and foul air out. Which of course is what the ventilation system is all about.

There is also a police monitoring centre, keeping watch over the traffic situation and of course the two are linked.



Behind the operators today lie the vast bank of the old electronic system for operating the fans and power to the tunnel, now defunct. The manual switches and dials all replaced by a mouse and computer screen.  They told us that soon they will have another whole new, system,keeping up with the latest technologies available.





Going further into the building we passed through lots of these metal air-lock doors, being clanged shut and secured behind us, it felt a bit prison like.






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A glimpse of one of the massive fans in action which the building has been built around. They are original and still work very effectively meaning the air inside the tunnel is cleaner than the air out on the street!






Here we are under the road deck inside the large tube of the tunnel, this part underneath the road was built big enough to carry double-decker trams, a plan which never materialised.  The area is used now for running through communication and electricity cables.


Also down on this level there are 7 refuges constructed to create a safe place in an emergency, there is room for 150 people in each one, with fresh water, space blankets and live link to the emergency control room so you can speak to an officer and they can give instructions and help viewed on the screen in the corner.

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A bare, unexciting room, but would serve the purpose if needed.  This was a recommended improvement following the investigation into the Mont Blanc tunnel disaster a few years ago.

It wasn’t the most picturesque of places to photograph, so I apologise for the pictures. And not being very technically minded, the lack of detail for some of you.  Even so it was interesting to go down and explore what goes on under the river, enabling the traffic to keep flowing.