A SECOND CENTURY OF NEWSLETTERS
Looking Back with Mike Chitty*
Our October 1994 Newsletter contained an article entitled 'A Century of Newsletters', referring to the 100 issues produced since August 1977. It took 17 years to reach No.100, and it has taken another 20 years (almost) to reach No.200. What were the highlights? Reading through them has certainly brought back memories.
Sandown Hall was featured several times between 1994 and 2007. The article entitled 'The owner speaks' [Newsletter 101, Nov 1994] reported George Downey's appearance at our AGM, explaining why he wanted to demolish the building. The two public inquiries were described in detail [108 Feb 1996 & 121 Oct 1998]. The first was 'a victory' for us [112 Dec 1996] but ominously we reported that 'there are still considerable problems over the future of the building', and only a few weeks later [114 Apr 1997] it was severely damaged by fire. 'The final chapter' came when listed building consent for demolition was eventually granted [132 Sep 2000], though in later years we reported on moves to have the façade of the building re-erected in Cheshire [145 Apr 2003] and Lancashire [164 May 2007].
Changes in the High Street also featured prominently throughout the period. Barclays Bank was to be converted to a pub and Coffey's DIY shop to a takeaway [101 Nov 1994]. The Lamb, which almost became the Ferry & Firkin [109 May 1996] partly collapsed [166 Oct 2007], and was later converted to a solicitor's office, this being the subject of an excellent article by Bernadette McDonald [191 Sep 2012]. The former Smallest House in England was 'revived' [120 Sep 1998] and later 'reversed' [182 May 2011]. Wavertree Gardens was 'reborn' [137 Sep 2001] and 'sold out' [141 June 2002] - all 72 of the new Abbeygate Apartments having been reserved within a few days of going on sale. A Tesco Express store was planned [162 Jan 2007] and eventually opened [190 Jul 2012].
Not all of the proposals that were reported actually came to fruition. Attempts to build an Asda supermarket on the Holt School site [104 May 1995, 105 Jun 1995 & 106 Sep 1995] and the Olive Mount School site [117 Dec 1997 & 118 Apr 1998] were abandoned following objections from ourselves and others. The proposed move of the Blue Coat School out of Wavertree [129 Mar 2000] was also opposed by the Wavertree Society, and ultimately rejected [132 Sep 2000].
The Olive Mount area has been the subject of several Newsletter articles over the years. We reported the publication of a 'Masterplan' [136 May 2001], a 'chance to comment' [140 Mar 2002] and our opposition to the finally-agreed redevelopment scheme [145 Apr 2003]. Later, we reported that 'concern has been mounting' about the future of the former Manweb playing fields [185 Sep 2011] and this was followed up by later articles [194 May 2013 etc.].