Today the Otterspool Promenade is one of Liverpool’s finest features forming part of the total esplanade stretching around 8 Km along the Riverside from Garston Docks to the City centre. A truly wonderful promenade for walking, jogging, cycling and now a place where Anglers place their rods.
But its construction history has always been a grubby one synonymous with rubbish, millions of tons of it. The massive landfill necessary was taken from the the Cities domestic waste and earlier on from the excavations digging out the Queensway Road Tunnel. During the late 50’s the promenade’s second stage extension was started from Jericho Lane to Dingle Jetty taking with it the ‘Cassie’ or Cast Iron Shore. As a young teenager I remember lying at night in bed in nearby Aigburth listening to the sounds of ‘Bonk’ ‘Bonk’ ‘Bonk’ …. No ! not that but the sound of Steam Hammers driving vertical pylons into the seabed forming part of the new prom.
But there arn't many who know what also lies at the bottom of the reclaimed land of the new extension. With absolute certainty I know my 1938 Rover 12 is down there somewhere. My very first car when I was only 18 and couldn’t drive…well I did when no-one was looking. Bought for 3 quid and a Moore & Wright micrometer it was an absolute bargain. Then one day someone was looking out the window when I decided on a little excursion around the back streets. Yes … my Dad spotted the great static machine moving off the drive into the road and was too late to stop me as it took off down the road. Of course after that he had to put his ‘foot down’… It had to go and so sadly I was forced to sell it to a delighted lad up the road who did have a driving licence for 9 quid… So not a bad profit I thought and it was at least going to a good home.
Then I learnt the new owner…..toerag.... found the car had a little carburetter problem and got sick of it stalling. Now at that time around the mid sixties the Liverpool Corporation was running a scheme to get older vehicles off the road with a £10 incentive. Yes, the lad who bought it from me made a £1 profit, so no wonder he sold it. He just drove it down Jericho lane and into the dump and got paid. That lovely old Rover with running boards, leather upholstery and huge headlights and a wind-up windscreen too, ended up in the graveyard for cars still alive. It joined hundreds, if not thousands of others with a similar fate. Singers, Triumph Mayflowers and Renown’s and even the odd Humber and Jowett all met with no discrimination with mainstream Ford pop’s, Hillman’s and Morris minor’s in their droves.
Not only was it confined to vehicles but also to old and worn out and sometimes perfect but just ‘ in the way’ pianos. Many of these came from Cranes music shop from part exchanges . They were launched off a compacted rubbish chute into the mellee of groaning and crushed autos with an eerie swansong of cacophony, chimbing and clanging all the way.
It was also a great place during the evenings to take 'yer bird' when it was all shut up but getting inside the compound was so easy where dozens of cars would be lined up ready to be added to the hundreds, maybe thousands of others compacted on top of each other. There were piles of removed batteries and tyres everywhere together with huge sleeping machine diggers. Wearing my best winks and the bird in her best pink coat we used to rip the best badges off with a screwdriver... trophy ones like 'Rapier' 'Snipe' even 'Jupiter' were all down there years before popularity of vintage and classic car restoration. Oh! in hindsight for that large barn filled to the brim.
Driving slowly in recent years along Riverside Drive right over that 60's dump I'm sure I heard that somewhat sweet united chorus of purring engines and quiet beeps in harmony with far away gentle piano music...or was it just me!