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Liverpool Sailors’ Home Gates

Liverpool Sailors’ Home opened in Paradise Street in 1850 to provide accommodation for visiting sailors, safe from the  “…land-sharks, land –rats, and other vermin, which make the hapless mariner their prey.” (in the words of Herman Melville in Redburn). A magnificent pair of wrought and cast iron gates were made in Liverpool in 1852 and installed at the main entrance, resplendent with maritime iconography around the centrepiece of a Liver Bird. The gates killed two people at different times when they slipped off their rails, were removed in 1952 and sent to Smethwick, near Birmingham where they were re-erected as a feature in a private car park. The Sailors Home was demolished in the 1970s and is one of Liverpool’s most-mourned losses but even though the gates were displaced, they were not forgotten. Gabriel Muies, other former merchant seamen and John Hinchliffe (on behalf of Liverpool City Council) campaigned for and ultimately organised the return of the gates in 2011, close to their original location in Paradise Street.

The task involved:

- securing community and political support

- persuading the owners in Smethwick to give back the gates (the scouse Elgin Marbles!)

- obtaining listed building consent (they had been listed by English Heritage in Smethwick as part

   of its cultural heritage)

- finding a suitably imposing location and securing the consent of the landowners

- raising funding to repair and re-erection the gates, expertly undertaken by Barr and Grosvenor of Wolverhampton

- designing a setting and unobtrusive supporting structure (to ensure that they do not fall and kill again!)

- writing and designing an information board