A LITTLE piece of Liverpool’s maritime history has finally returned home after an absence of 60 years.
The ornate Henry Pooley gates which once stood outside the long demolished Liverpool Sailors' Home, have been installed just a few yards from their original home which opened in 1840.
They’ll act like a new gateway to Liverpool One, standing in Paradise Street outside the John Lewis store.
To bring the gates home to Liverpool has taken months of delicate and diplomatic negotiations, particularly in Sandwell where the Grade II-listed gates were treasured.
As an irony, the gates, which feature a glorious Liver bird, arrived on the back of a lorry on the day job losses were announced at Royal Liver's Pier head headquarters.
The gates were created at a Liverpool foundry seven decades before the Liver birds perched themselves down on the waterfront.
The ironwork also show mermaids, dolphins and maritime paraphernalia such as rigging, capstans and ships’ wheels.
Back after 60 yearsAccording to campaigners for the gates to be brought home, it was ex-Liverpool man John Smith who first noticed them at the Avery factory where he was working. He quickly realised the significance.
Enter campaigner and well known thorn-in-the-side of politicians Gabriel Muies. Ex-mariner Gabriel decided to put pressure on local councillors, and those who know Gabriel realise he doesn’t take no for an answer.
He regularly attended council meetings to badger people like Joe Anderson and other leading politicians, pleading for their help.
And help they did. Liverpool’s World Heritage Officer John Hinchliffe was put on the case and spent months making the arrangements.
The gates had also fallen into a state of disrepair and had to be moved some months ago on safety grounds.
Luckily the Wolverhampton foundry, Barr and Grosvenor, tasked with the rescue mission, is owned by Rock Ferry born Dominic Grosvenor (no relation to the Duke!).
The restoration of the gates became a labour of love for Dominic who spent his boyhood days admiring the architecture of Liverpool. He brought in restoration experts Dorothea Restorations of Bristol to help return them to glory.
Mr Hinchliffe was there to greet the gates and re-patriate them to their birthplace.
“We had to overcome the problem of the gates being listed and then convince the conservation team at Sandwell the gates would be well looked after and given a new home. Their Conservation officer even came to Liverpool to check out the proposed site.
“Luckily there was an acceptance the gates should rightly be returned to their historic home of Liverpool.”
The gates will not serve any function other than a monumental one and will remain sealed.
Missing from the homecoming was campaigner Gabriel. He missed the excitement as he was enjoying an afternoon scoop, aptly in The Blob Shop drinking den.
Inside The Sailors HomeArchitect John Cunningham designed the building. Influenced by Elizabethan great houses such as Wollaton and Hardwick Hall, the foundation stone was laid by Prince Albert in July 1846.
Cunningham modelled the magnificent five storey interior upon ships'quarters with cabins, in galleries around the internal rhomboidal court.
The home was a philanthropic venture erected from the subscriptions ofshipowners and merchants to provide good, clean and inexpensiveaccommodation and give seamen a refuge from the grog shops - "drunk for 1d and blind for 2d"
The two outer panels were fixed whilst the two centre sections rolled behind them on rails where they were hidden from sight while the home was open for business.
As part of the repair to war damage following the Liverpool Blitz it was decided to remove the gates. In 1948, W & T Avery who had swallowed-up Henry Pooley's successful weights and measures company, Pooley's and Sons, were offered the gates by the Sailors' Home Committee.
The home was finally demolished in the mid 1970s and John Lewis now occupies the site.
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