Liverpool’s Dock Road and its Role in Bombed Out!
Above Photo: Stanley Dock, Liverpool, at Night (© Alan Dow). The photo of a barge being loaded in the 1800s, featured at the end of this article, takes place at the warehouse on the right hand side of this photo.
As readers of Bombed Out! will know, the book is in part a band memoir of my time in two of Liverpool’s popular New Wave bands of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
But the book is about much more than that. It also deals with growing up in a city and a country being economically decimated by the policies of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government in the early 1980s and having no foreseeable future. It also documents what extremely unlikely aspirations in the face of sheer adversity can sometimes bring about.
And of course the book’s action takes place in a specific time and place in the history of the city of Liverpool (and another British city). It takes place on streets, in clubs, pubs, warehouses and shops which are mostly still with us, even when they have been renamed.
One of the most memorable locations in the book, especially for me, is along Liverpool’s Dock Road, which features many times in different contexts in the book.
Walking home along a totally deserted Dock Road in the early hours of the morning back then, after punk club Eric’s had closed, or after gigs I’d played at, are some of my strongest memories of the period. It felt like a privilege, and I vividly remember the feeling of timelessness – and tiredness – as I trudged along it after many nights out.
And the Dock Road was also where I got a job as a night watchman – even when I was in one of the bands, and from where I could observe first-hand the economic decay of the docks and its hinterland during those difficult years.
I recently discovered some superb photographs of the Dock Road area at night, by a local photographer, Alan Dow, who has kindly allowed me to use some of them to illustrate this article. Most of them, especially the headline photo of Stanley Dock, which holds special memories and is specifically mentioned in Bombed Out!, remind me of those atmospheric, nocturnal walks home all those years ago, wondering what I’d do next…and of the people who’d gone before me, working on Liverpool Docks in a busier time in a bustling city.
You can see more of Alan’s superb Liverpool photos at his Twitter account: @alandow74