In February 2008 I led thirty students from Y7 to Y11   to Liverpool, European Capital of Culture 2008. From the moment the group arrived in the city centre they came across two themes which were to be recurrent during the following days: the importance of Liverpool as a maritime centre in the past, and the consequences for the city of the Second World War.

The Adelphi Hotel, our base for the week, was built for the launch of the Titanic in 1912, at the height of the city’s importance as a port and gateway to the USA.  After supper we made a short walk uphill and visited the remains of St Luke’s Church, where only the shell and bell tower remain: the roof and the interior were destroyed by bombing in the war, and the remains are kept as a memorial to this day.

 

On Monday we took a long walk through the city, stopping for photos at the Victoria monument before taking a cruise on the River Mersey from the Pier Head, site of the port authority’s offices, and the building crowned with the mythological Liver birds. From there we visited the Beatles Story and other attractions at the Albert Dock.

 

We spent most of Tuesday at the King David High School  where we rehearsed and performed a concert with the host school’s pupils and with students from our partner school in Tower Hamlets, Morpeth School, who had travelled by train from London for this project. We were kindly invited to lunch by the school.

The King David High School is a voluntary aided school for the Jewish community.

 

Alter the concert we moved on to visit the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA), a leading higher education institution which was founded with EU funding and a generous contribution of 12million pounds from Sir Paul McCartney, on the site of his former school, the Liverpool Institute. We met teachers, toured the building and heard some student rehearsals.  On the way back to the hotel we passed through Chinatown and saw the largest ornamental gate outside China.

 

On Wednesday we enjoyed a guided tour of Anfield Road stadium. The group were struck by the spartan conditions of the dressing room and took many photos, especially of their Spanish heroes’ shirts.

From Anfield we travelled to Formby High School, once again joined by our friends from Morpeth School. Formby High School has Specialist Arts status and is endowed with magnificent arts facilities, and is an IB World school. We all marvelled at the high standard of their singing under the direction of Head of Performing Arts, Steve Cook. We were kindly invited to lunch by the school. For our evening snack we walked into the village and afterward gave a concert, with approximately one hundred students from three cities in two countries taking part.

 

 

On Thursday we walked up Mount Pleasant, passing the Liverpool University and taking a look in at some of the laboratories visible from the street. With the recent addition of the Liverpool John Moore’s University, and the Liverpool Hope University, which incorporates higher education institutions such as the LIPA, the student population in the city is approximately 40,000, about 10% of the total population.

We performed our last concert at the Archbishop Blanch High School, a voluntary aided Church of England school for girls, several of whose pupils are choristers in the Cathedral choir. We performed for their GCSE music students and the concert, on our own this time, was a great success. After leaving the school and a brief interval for shopping we visited historic monuments which are symbols of the city’s past greatness: Lime Street station façade, the recently restored magnificent Great Hall of St. George’s Hall, the round Picton reading room at the library, and, from the outside, the Walker Art Gallery, the former law courts and the Empire theatre.

 

On Friday we began with a visit to the Philharmonic Hall, home of the city’s orchestra, one of the country’s longest established orchestras. Our guide explained that the current building was built in 1939, replacing the original which was burnt down, and that the locals regarded the new building’s survival of the war time bombings as nothing short of a miracle. We also saw a plaque dedicated to the memory of the musicians who perished on the Titanic honoured for playing up to the very last moment before the ship sank.

 

From the Philharmonic Hall we walked to the Anglican and the Roman Catholic cathedrals, enjoying their contrasting styles of architecture. Our walk took us past the homes which were previously occupied by traders who had profited from the slave trade: this made quite an impression on our students, who are studying the very theme in their History lessons.

After another brief stop for shopping and supper, we attended a performance at the Playhouse Theatre of Metamorphosis by Kafka.

 

 

 

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