Uncovering the tale of Toxteth

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Toxteth riots in 1981

It was announced recently that Toxteth was to undergo another multi-million pound transformation. However, how much has really changed in the area since the infamous riots?

The Liverpool 8 area is in line for a major £45m revamp which will see the UK’s first monument to the victims of the slave trade, with the council hoping that that the site will be a “major pilgrimage attraction”.

But while the city centre has celebrated much investment and regeneration over the recent years, especially in the Docks and Liverpool One areas, Toxteth does seem to have been left behind, as Lee Kelly, Youth and Community Development Worker at Granby Development Trust, told JMU Journalism.

He said: “The capital of culture [in 2008] didn’t really touch here even though a lot of the culture comes from here. The culture comes from the root up and I don’t think capital of culture really touched Liverpool 8. If money has come into the area then we haven’t seen the benefits of it.”

Kelly aded: “We are a proud community; there are some great talents here, not least musicians but great people in general. We all know each other. Everyone who lives here knows it’s a great place, not without its problems but then what area doesn’t have its problems?”

Toxteth boasts a very multi-cultural and proud community past, with mass immigration throughout the 1950s to the present day, mostly from the Caribbean, bringing with them their own influences. Music was everywhere throughout the 1950s and ’60s which sparked off the ‘Merseybeat’ era. However, Toxteth will forever be known for the events of July 1981; the ‘Toxteth Riots’.

Although much has improved since then, ‘needs regeneration’ is still the recurring term when discussing Toxteth, which borders the City Centre, Wavertree and Aigburth.

I would give anyone who says they dislike Liverpool a guided tour of the city and in particular this L8 area. I would change the outside attitudes towards us.

Locals believe that change and growth is needed.

Lauren Taylor told JMU Journalism: “We moved here five years ago under the impression that the place would be regenerated and completed in two years. This was before the recession, however, and we have not seen any development since we have moved in.  All the houses on the opposite side of our road are derelict and I get very nervous walking down the street even in the day I will feel more comfortable when the other houses are occupied.”

Parts of Toxteth are derelict

The 28-year-old added: “There are plans for new builds that are replacing the old terraced houses but they are a block of modern flats. They look very isolated and characterless. They will only appeal to young professionals to get on the property ladder and probably will only stay in the area for a few years. This will not help build a much needed community.”

This, however, as Ian Kelly explains, is not the only change that is needed in the area where Beatle Ringo Starr was born and lived until the age of four, and also boasts a legacy of large Victorian houses.

Kelly said: “If I was in power I would change people’s attitudes rather than any bricks or mortar. It’s about respect. I would give anyone who says they dislike Liverpool a guided tour of the city and in particular this L8 area. I would change the outside attitudes towards us. But we also need to change the attitudes of people here that they can better themselves and realise their potential.”

A lot of change and history has taken place in the area of Liverpool 8, but clearly much more is required to restore Toxteth to its distinguished past.

About Scott Girling-Heathcote, JMU Journalism