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#408234 - 16th May 2010 11:42am The Merseyside Development Corp (MDC) 1981-1998
Neil_c Offline
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Registered: 27th Sep 2009
Posts: 417
Loc: birkenhead
I thought I'd put together a thread about the work of a former employer of mine, the MDC. This was a government quango set up in 1981 by Margaret Thatcher and Michael Heseltine on the back of the Toxtech riots.

The MDC was responsible for the redevelopment of Liverpool South Docks, New Brighton, parts of Birkenhead docks and the Garden festival site.


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Description: Toxteth riots

riot1.jpg

toxteth3.jpg




Edited by Neil_c (16th May 2010 11:42am)

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#408235 - 16th May 2010 11:47am Re: The Merseyside Development Corp (MDC) 1981-1998 [Re: Neil_c]
Neil_c Offline
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Registered: 27th Sep 2009
Posts: 417
Loc: birkenhead
The garden festival site was built on a former landfill site in Otterspool.


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mh.jpg

Description: Michael Heseltine on the yellow submarine. Local people gave him the name "Tarzan"

facepaint.jpg

Description: Facepainting at the garden festival site

map.jpg

Description: Aerial map of the site

drum.jpg

Description: drums

music.jpg

Description: Jazz and steel combo



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#408236 - 16th May 2010 11:49am Re: The Merseyside Development Corp (MDC) 1981-1998 [Re: Neil_c]
Neil_c Offline
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Registered: 27th Sep 2009
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Loc: birkenhead
Ricky Tomlinson with a yard of ale.


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#408238 - 16th May 2010 12:00pm Re: The Merseyside Development Corp (MDC) 1981-1998 [Re: Neil_c]
Neil_c Offline
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Registered: 27th Sep 2009
Posts: 417
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Albert Dock


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dock_clear.jpg

Description: clearing the Albert Dock

noel.jpg

Description: Noel Edmunds and Gerry Marsden

bill.jpg

Description: Bill the marina master. I think he's still working there now.



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#408240 - 16th May 2010 12:02pm Re: The Merseyside Development Corp (MDC) 1981-1998 [Re: Neil_c]
Neil_c Offline
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Registered: 27th Sep 2009
Posts: 417
Loc: birkenhead
Before the makeover in 1980.


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#408243 - 16th May 2010 12:07pm Re: The Merseyside Development Corp (MDC) 1981-1998 [Re: Neil_c]
Neil_c Offline
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Registered: 27th Sep 2009
Posts: 417
Loc: birkenhead
Aerial photo (before the Echo arena!)


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#408249 - 16th May 2010 12:19pm Re: The Merseyside Development Corp (MDC) 1981-1998 [Re: Neil_c]
Neil_c Offline
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Registered: 27th Sep 2009
Posts: 417
Loc: birkenhead
These are the lock gates into the Mersey that we used to open. My boss at the time was always terrified about them not coming back up after we'd let a boat through. If they didn't the tide would go out taking all the water out with it, damaging the moored ships in the dock.

Whilst we had emergency hydralic pumps that could be attached into the main lines, the dock didn't own an emergency gate that could be submersed into place (similar to the one that's tied up by the hydralic tower on Birkenhead docks).

The gate was also of different design that it lowered itself onto the river bed, instead of the traditional two open outwards gates. I guess my boss thought it was more likely to get stuck by virtue of its design.

Maintenace work was carried out on the pumps that sat in cages at the bottom of the dock. Divers were employed to carry out maintenace on them.


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Edited by Neil_c (16th May 2010 12:22pm)

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#408254 - 16th May 2010 12:56pm Re: The Merseyside Development Corp (MDC) 1981-1998 [Re: Neil_c]
Neil_c Offline
Smartchild

Registered: 27th Sep 2009
Posts: 417
Loc: birkenhead
Interesting article on the MDC:

Merseyside Development Corporation was one of the first of 13 Urban Development Corporations created by Parliament in 1981 with a "mission to secure, in partnership with others, advances towards self-sustaining regeneration on Merseyside". The work of the Corporation has been highly successful. Its flagship and best known project is the Albert Dock, home to the Tate Gallery and the Maritime Museum as well as to several retail units, restaurants and prestigious apartments. In 1988 the Corporation's designated area was expanded, reflecting past success and confidence in future achievements. The Corporation wound up at the end of March 1998 having transformed Merseyside's waterfront and provided the infrastructure and environment that should continue to attract inward investment and to provide for growth within the region.

Prior to the establishment of the MDC, several major problem areas had been identified. Population loss, economic weakness, poor quality housing, decay of the urban environment, lack of facilities for leisure and recreation, pollution, pressure on natural resources and shortcomings in both public and private transport.

The cause of these problems can be found in the decline of the importance of the port and docks. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the region had grown wealthy due to investment based on international trade as Britain became the world's leading economic power. Later, as Europe, America and Japan grew increasingly competitive, the region began to slip into decline. Various recessions and the aftermath of the Second World War accelerated this decline. Economic problems intensified and this led to a lack of investment. In 1972 this culminated in the closure of Liverpool's South Docks. The majority of the region's docks, which remained in use, were already in a poor state of repair.

The South Docks Estate, which was owned by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, was let out to small businesses on short-term lease basis. The Board did not spend much money on the premises they let, those occupying the buildings tended to lack money to invest and short-term leasing arrangements acted as a disincentive. Although some reputable firms operated on the Estate, many tended to be 'bad neighbour' in type. Some were engaged in the scrap-metal, waste-disposal or car-repair industries, primarily because the accommodation was cheap.

Merseyside Development Corporation's initial remit was the reclamation of land and docks owned mainly by statutory bodies, to provide the infrastructure to support private investment and public funding and to bring land and buildings into effective use. The Corporation was also to encourage the development of new and existing industry and to create an attractive environment to encourage people to live and work in the area.

The initial development area covered 865 acres, of which twenty five per cent were former docks. The Mersey Docks and Harbour Board held most of the land, with the rest being held by British Rail, local authorities and by private companies.

A board whose members were appointed by the Secretary of State for the Environment ran the Corporation. The organisation was funded by central government and the annual reports and financial statements were submitted for scrutiny by Parliament. Based at the Royal Liver Building in Liverpool, the Corporation employed approximately 60 people organised into 3 Directorates. In addition, the Corporation employed staff on short-term contracts to work on projects such as the International Garden Festival of 1984.

The Merseyside Development Corporation operated as a small executive body, purchasing specialised skills from the private sector and working in partnership with other agencies such as the three District Councils, Merseytravel, community groups like the Eldonians, the Department of Industry and various housing initiatives.

In the first instance, much of the Corporation's work lay in the reclamation of land and buildings. There was a degree of scepticism amongst local people and to the casual observer it must have seemed that the Corporation was concerning itself with projects that caught the imagination such as the International Garden Festival and the Albert Dock. However, much of the Corporation's time and effort was taken up with planning, engineering works and environmental improvements, not all of which were immediately visible. Examples of this work are the improvement in the water quality of the Mersey, concern for public health and safety and steps taken to improve this by provision of extra bridges in the dock area.

By 1988 the majority of the initial reclamation work was complete, the exception being in Wirral where the purchase of the land from the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board was not completed until 1989. At this point the designated area was expanded to 2372 acres and the emphasis in the nature of the work of the Corporation shifted. The new area contained a significant amount of residential property. The Corporation's remit altered to include the attraction of inward investment, the creation of conditions that would allow the expansion of business already established in the designated area, the improvement of housing stock and the development of partnerships with local community groups.

The Corporation now adopted the following policies for regeneration. Economic development and training, through the provision of advice, financial assistance and support. To improve the environmental infrastructure, by providing roads, public transport and through the restoration of buildings. To provide housing for local people and to attract new residents, whilst catering for the needs of the elderly and disabled members of the community. Community development, through the improvement of the environment and the provision of recreational opportunities. Marketing and public affairs, by promoting sites, services and events. Following the success of recent projects relating to leisure and tourism, the Corporation aimed to provide and to conserve sites as well as to give financial assistance.

The Corporation divided its area into distinct strategy areas comprising South Liverpool, Liverpool Waterfront, North Liverpool & Bootle, Birkenhead and New Brighton. Each of these areas had very different characteristics and the Corporation implemented or supported a variety of projects in each area. Merseyside Development Corporation dealt with planning applications and the co-ordination of various projects. It is also important to bear in mind that the Corporation worked hard on publicity, public relations and marketing, both at home and abroad. As a business, it adapted over time adopting best practice guidelines for regeneration.

It is not possible to describe every project with which the Merseyside Development Corporation was associated in detail. The Corporation examined the development potential of each development area and produced a strategy to meet its needs. In Birkenhead for example, the Corporation used Hamilton Square as a symbol. New waterfront housing was built, roads improved and the Twelve Quays development houses an International Technology Campus, which combines academic research, commerce and public sector finance. New Brighton received £15 M in investment to reverse the decline in housing stock, tourism and the local economy. Business has been encouraged into the South Liverpool area through the development of Brunswick Business Park, and likewise into North Liverpool through Sandhills Business Park. The North Liverpool and Bootle Strategy Area also includes the new hotel and conference facilities built at Princes Dock. Liverpool Waterfront remains popular and has many thriving new businesses and the Tate Gallery has been fully re-furbished. It is hoped the development of the Kings Dock and the surrounding area will add to its popularity.

The work of the Merseyside Development Corporation would not have been a success without investment from the private sector. The Corporation employed staff to market Merseyside and specific projects within the designated area. In the early years, public relations and publicity were important to the Corporation, but as work was centred on reclamation, the identification of a consumer for a specific product was not possible. In 1989 marketing began in earnest. The Board established a programme and by 1991 a strategy was in place which has been built upon, but remained in essence the same for the lifetime of the Corporation. The aim was to secure investment locally, nationally and internationally. Merseyside suffered from a negative image and needed to be sold. It was essential to encourage people to visit the region and to raise its profile.

Some examples of the marketing strategy are the production of videos and mail shots in the language and standard format of the target audience. Other examples are the Corporation's support for Manchester's Olympic bid, sponsorship, general advertising, outdoor signage, public relations and the effective use of communications.

In America the Corporation funded a tour of the East Coast by the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, establishing contact with business people interested in the arts. Consultants were hired to market Merseyside using marketing methods that were more advanced in America than they were in the United Kingdom.

In 1996 the marketing function of the Merseyside Development Corporation merged with the partnerships. Literature within the archive illustrates this transition and the Merseyside Partnership continues to market projects that were established by the Corporation. It is important to realise that the Corporation did not work in isolation and that its work is ongoing. It is hoped that all the work and investment which is now starting to pay off will continue. An example of this is the proposed development of the King's Dock, where it has been proposed that a multiplex cinema and leisure complex will be built.

Despite its success, the Corporation has encountered difficulties and not all of the schemes envisaged have come to fruition. However, the legacy left behind by the Corporation provides the heart of the region with a more pleasant environment in which to live, work and to visit. The economy is more stable and there is room for expansion within the designated area for industry, commerce, housing and recreation and a renewed confidence for investment.

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#408316 - 16th May 2010 6:47pm Re: The Merseyside Development Corp (MDC) 1981-1998 [Re: Neil_c]
buddy Online   content
Forum Veteran

Registered: 18th Sep 2008
Posts: 5015
Loc: South Wirral
Very interesting Neil - Thanks for posting - My first job was in Salthouse Dock in 1955 - Huson and Hardwick (consultant analysts)

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#408317 - 16th May 2010 6:59pm Re: The Merseyside Development Corp (MDC) 1981-1998 [Re: buddy]
Neil_c Offline
Smartchild

Registered: 27th Sep 2009
Posts: 417
Loc: birkenhead
Hi Buddy, It's strange to think that at one point they considered turing the Albert Dock into a landfill.

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#408318 - 16th May 2010 7:12pm Re: The Merseyside Development Corp (MDC) 1981-1998 [Re: Neil_c]
Neil_c Offline
Smartchild

Registered: 27th Sep 2009
Posts: 417
Loc: birkenhead
This a picture of a water witch. One similar (but much older) is used to clean the dock. Driven by a huge Perkins diesel engine, the craft was very powerful and had no trouble lifting sunken boats out the water (or scallies for that matter either).

The lift on the front couldn't get in corners very well so we used nets to supplement. My colleague would drive us round the docks on a floating skip that the Witch pushed. One time I was working the corner of canning half-tide dock and was caught off guard by the Witch as it pushed the skip. I fell into the skip and could not get rid of the algae smell for about a week, no matter how many baths I had. I honestly wished I'd fell in the dock instead.

Richard and Judy used to shoot with Fred the weatherman on a floating stage. They used to chase us away during filming as the last thing they wanted the audience to see was a smelly old boat with bits of women's sanitary products dangling on the front.

Scallys broke into the boat one night when it was moored in Brunswick dock. They didn't know that they had to release a value in the bottom of the boat for the water to cool the bearings; needles to say it packed in a few hundred yards later in the middle of the dock. They had to swim to the ladders, saved them right for trying.


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#408320 - 16th May 2010 7:26pm Re: The Merseyside Development Corp (MDC) 1981-1998 [Re: Neil_c]
Neil_c Offline
Smartchild

Registered: 27th Sep 2009
Posts: 417
Loc: birkenhead
This is the Brunswick lock. We used to have to grease the gates through various lubrication points that a grease pump would attach to. Pipes carried the grease to various parts of the lock gates.

A tunnel runs directly underneath the gates. We used to lower gas meter down the manhole first to ensure it was ok to enter. One of the workers set the alarm off as a joke when I was down there once. I'd never climbed a ladder so fast!

A large control computer was used to operate the lock gates and water levels. I remember it having a little dot matrix printer attached to it that recorded all the events (water levels, gate status etc) when the lock was operated. I'd imagine this was evidence should things go horribly wrong as there was big potential for a very expensive disaster.


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#408323 - 16th May 2010 8:04pm Re: The Merseyside Development Corp (MDC) 1981-1998 [Re: Neil_c]
TRANCENTRAL Offline

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some great info there mate thanks for shearing thumbsup
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#408328 - 16th May 2010 8:29pm Re: The Merseyside Development Corp (MDC) 1981-1998 [Re: TRANCENTRAL]
Neil_c Offline
Smartchild

Registered: 27th Sep 2009
Posts: 417
Loc: birkenhead
It was quite suprising how much land the MDC actually covered. On the birkenhead side I'd worked on pumping the water out of the basin where the submarine is now next to Woodside ferry. I spent a whole weekend hoovering shit out with the nozzle of a drain pumping lorry (similar to the Council use when they lift grids).

We also carried out maintenance on pumps under the Cheshire Lines buildings. The basement under there is huge.

Cleaning new Brighton marine lake was one of my least favorites as this was done in a set of waders with a net. Some of the lads refused to do it as the water came right to the top and they were worried about drowning if too much got inside. I used to wear a harness for some protection; another worker would hold the rope round the marine lake railings.

I've also opened up the great culvert which was pretty cool too. Shame I didn't have a camera with me at the time.

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#408920 - 18th May 2010 9:06pm Re: The Merseyside Development Corp (MDC) 1981-1998 [Re: Neil_c]
Neil_c Offline
Smartchild

Registered: 27th Sep 2009
Posts: 417
Loc: birkenhead
I started work just after finishing my A levels. The contract was run by an engineering company in Bromborough, they'd won it for two consecutive terms from the MDC. The lads were a good bunch, George the manager was an industrial electrician who was good at 3 phase motors and switch gear that you’d find round the dock estate. Ernie was a marine engineer, he’d been made redundant from Lairds the year before and was hot around anything boat. He would keep the Water Witch in working order and fix anything that went wrong with it. Tony the other lad was a welder and precision engineer by trade so he was good at fixing things and maintenance duties. Other lads would be brought along to supplement from the factory when the need presented.

Everyone who worked on site was pretty down to earth, even the accountants and Bill the marine master would come and chat to the labourers and maintenance crew. Occasionally there would be tricks and teasing between ourselves and other contractors on-site such as Sloyans. I remember one occasion when we’d just got a new fridge and went out to work; on returning some of the lads from another firm said they had ‘borrowed it’. When we asked for it back it was launched off a second storey platform. Fortunately, they had removed our lunch before trashing it.

I remember that there was an older guy who used to run a small generating station which used methane from the rubbish tip that was beneath the garden festival site. They used to generate the electricity and sell it back to Manweb. Whenever we wanted to know anything about what was beneath the water such as pumps and sluices, we went to see him. He was heavily involved in the regeneration of the dock basins and project managed the mechanical fit out. All the plans were kept in the little generating building on Otterspool promenade.

A little boat with an inboard motor was purchased to do dock wall inspections; it was left moored near Tranmere when we bought it. One of the big yachts from the Brunswick mariner towed it across the Mersey for us. The thing was in a bit of a sorry state when it arrived but Ernie fixed it up pretty good and off it motored through the South Dock system carrying men with clipboards.

Sometimes Tony used to forget the relationship between diesel and motion and whilst he was out driving inspectors around, the little boat ran out of fuel. I was sent to rescue it on the Water Witch, the inspectors weren’t too happy being towed back.

The summer of 1995 was long and hot and with it came some unwanted attention from the local scallies. Security guards were pretty much useless so the Corporation ended up paying full police officers to patrol the site which helped keep them at bay.

One night a huge boat moored in Brunswick took on water and sank. Only the mooring rope held the thing up. It was one of the largest boats in the Dock. One of the divers got very excited as the owner was between a rock and a hard place. He was faced with a choice, pay about £30K to have the boat lifted and fixed or sell it to the diving company for a pound. He went for the latter choice and the diver got himself a nice vessel for the cost of a portion of chips. The largest crane I’d ever seen came along and lifted the boat onto the quayside. We helped push and lift it into place which demonstrated the lifting power of the Water Witch.

This was one of those “good while it lasted” jobs for me, the pay wasn’t fantastic, but enough to tide me over until I went to Uni later on in the year. I’d imagine it would get pretty bitter doing a job like that in the middle of winter with the rain and the wind. I still look back on my time with MDC with fond memories.


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ice cream.jpg

Description: Ice cream in the Garden Festival site

warehouse.jpg

Description: The Albert Dock before renovation and the little bridge that we were due to open some years later.




Edited by Neil_c (18th May 2010 9:07pm)

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