Friday, 11 May 2012

Goree Piazzas, Liverpool

Goree Piazzas on right of photograph

Located on the Strand, The first modern warehouses to be built (at the same time as George’s Dock) in 1787 and rebuilt 1802 after fire. Named after a slave prison in the Gambia, West Africa. Damaged during WW2 and demolished between 1948 and 1950. The piazzas had magnificent arcaded pavements which may have been the inspiration for the lines Lowry’s “I haunt the gutted arcades of the past” (Poem 233.2 Collected Poetry 185).

Goree Piazzas 1947 showing war damage

Local stories say that iron rings set into the walls, and into cellar walls throughout the city, here were used to secure slaves, but in fact few Africans were brought to Liverpool. Lowry must have heard these stories as he refers to them; “ Goree Piazzas where they used to chain the slaves: Father showed me a bill of lading for one before he went mad.” (Ultramarine Pg. 63); later Dana Hilliot sees an old copy of the Liverpool Express blown by the wind “rumples and whisks it down the Goree Piazzas.” (Ultramarine Pg. 69), which echoes Joe Passalique’s experience 'Goya The Obscure' (Pg. 278).

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