Way back in December, I promised to keep you updated with regular missives on the redevelopment of Lime Street station. It sort of didn't happen, for two reasons:
(a) I couldn't be arsed; and
(b) see (a).
The new constructions occupy the old Cab Road for the station, and the area has been nicely tiled with limestone-esque flooring. Platforms 7 and 8 have also been blocked off with glass fencing; this leaves Platform 9 as the only one at Lime Street which is still accessible without some sort of potential ticket check (though there was no-one from Virgin checking the morning I was there).
All the units are ready for letting; there doesn't seem to be any sign of occupiers yet, and I haven't heard on the grapevine any rumours about potential occupiers, but it's early days. Lime Street has the problem, as a terminus station, that there aren't a lot of people hanging around with nothing to do between trains, so the market for retail is reduced. Manchester Piccadilly's like an Arndale Centre now. It took me twenty minutes to find a platform last time I was there, and even then I'm not entirely sure it wasn't a railway-themed retail experience. Those purple Northern Rail trains look like they could be selling pick 'n' mix on the sly.
I'm hoping for a Starbucks, because I like pretentious coffee, and maybe a Pret a Manger, because I like pretentious sandwiches. Basically I like anywhere that has at least one black and white close up photograph of a mug on the wall and rocket in the paninis. However the last time a new retailer opened in the station it was a Ladbrokes, so I'm not holding my breath.
It's a nice development, well done - nothing too exciting, but it fits the location and doesn't jar with its surroundings (cf Chester, for example). My only complaint is that platform 8 gets the back view of all the shops and their metallic gubbins. There are a few doorways there, but these looked like staff entrances. Poor platform 8 people. I snapped a few photos of the empty shops, no doubt triggering a couple of alarms in the CCTV rooms.
I was at the station with the Bf, as he had to go to London for work and therefore actually got to use the facilities (I'm not jealous). He insisted on taking a pic of me in the station, which I'm putting on the blog even though I'm awkwardly posed so you can see my New York Subway J Line t-shirt. Yup, I even wear metro-related clothing (I'd left my Merseyrail badge and flip flops at home). It's actually the logo for the J line which, as the t-shirt says, is "Queens to Manhattan", a camp little pun which amused me when I bought it in the MTA store at Grand Central Station a couple of years ago. (For a train station buff like myself, Grand Central Station is beyond hallowed ground; I had to be refrained from dropping to my knees and kissing the marble floor, like the Pope).
At the end of the Cab Road development, replacing the old Virgin Customer Service cabin, is the piece de resistance, the crowning glory, the climax. A new sculpture was commissioned to act as a greeting for new arrivals from That London. Entitled Chance Meeting, and sculpted by Tom Murphy, it depicts an encounter between legendary Liverpudlian comic Ken Dodd and firebrand MP Bessie Braddock. Let's have a look at it, shall we?
It is, not to put too fine a point on it, arse. I stood in front of it, slack-jawed, unable to conceive the circumstances under which this piece of "art" was approved, paid for and made. Ken Dodd is an unusual looking person at the best of times, and even Michaelangelo would have struggled to make him look, well, human. The best you can hope for is that children don't cower behind their mothers. But this statue makes Ken look like an over-enthusiastic janitor, proudly displaying the loo brush he just used to dislodge a particularly stubborn blockage in the third floor gents. And
Beryl Reid Bessie Braddock is trying to stop him going into details about what was causing the blockage by showing him that party trick where you try breaking an egg by pushing on the top and bottom. It's a bizarre meeting of characters - I'd love to have heard left-winger Bessie's opinions on Ken's tax indiscretions - in thoroughly odd poses. I mean, the egg.
It's just not very good at all. In fact, it's so not very good, I'm actually embarrassed it's there. This is the first piece of art people are going to see when they step off the Pendolino. This is going to be their first impression of Liverpool: a city that celebrates its finest sons and daughters by making them look like idiots on train station concourses. I'm tempted to sneak in one day and chuck a sheet over it. Or perhaps I should pay for a permanent advert on that massive screen you can see from inside the station: "WE HAVE GOOD PUBLIC ART HERE TOO. JUST PRETEND IT'S NOT THERE".
Still, at least it's not the bloody Beatles again.