It’s Kensington Fields forever
IT WAS famed as a parade ground for volunteer soldiers of yesteryear, and a “dry” area of Liverpool with a notable absence of the usual pub on every corner.
It was also where The Quarrymen, who metamorphosed into the Beatles, recorded some of their first songs.
Now Kensington Fields is to become Liverpool’s latest official conservation area, joining an elite list including the Pier Head, William Brown Street and Woolton Village, which have been afforded conservation status.
The “fields” is home to a community of 1,200 Victorian terraced homes, built to enable working-class families to escape from back-to-back slums in the inner city.
The forward-looking council used innovative by-laws to lay down a minimum standard for the terraced housing. The aim was to design better homes for the city’s growing population at the end of the 19th century.
The move towards official conservation area status has been recommended by senior politicians after the proposal won backing from local councillors and the community.
The city council’s Executive Board is now being asked to approve the status which will mean greater protection for the 1,200 homes in the area.
Last night Bernie Hunt, secretary of the Kensington Fields Co-operative, said: “We have been campaigning for this announcement for four years. There are only three complete Victorian terraced communities in the country and the other two, both in London, are already conservation areas.
“We have watched as original fittings such as wrought iron railings have been removed as part of so-called regeneration schemes. Now we can restore our area to its original state.”
The Conservation Area will cover the area bounded by Kensington, Jubilee Drive, Edge Lane and Hall Lane. A consultation exercise this year found overwhelming support from residents and regeneration agencies within the area, as well as conservation groups. As a housing area, Kensington Fields was developed quite late. It had remained undeveloped as the city’s suburbs grew around it, containing the city’s volunteer parade ground and the Mount Vernon Priory.
However, it fell to development pressures and the terraced housing was laid out during the 1890s. The influence of the Priory explains why the area contains no pubs. This possibly makes it unique in the city’s 19th century suburbs, where a pub on every corner is typical.
The area also has a place in the city’s pop music history. In 1955, at the back of his shop on Kensington, Percy Phillips built a small commercial recording studio.
It was here that The Quarrymen recorded some of their earliest songs, including a Harrison and McCartney composition that eventually saw the light of day in a 1995 Beatles Anthology.
Last night Don Chapman, who opened one of the city’s first television shops in the 1950s, welcomed the decision.
Mr Chapman said: “I have been in the area for almost half a century, having trained as a radio engineer before moving into television. Edge Lane used to be a tree-lined boulevard and anything that will improve the area is to be welcomed.”
Ironically, Mr Chapman is planning to close his business in the next few months because of the Edge Lane road widening scheme.
Councillor Berni Turner, the council’s executive member for Environment and Heritage said: “This will be our 35th conservation area but none of them have a character like Kensington Fields.
“The move for conservation area status has been driven by local people. They were the ones who asked for this status and have supported the idea.”
What will a Conservation area mean for Kensington Fields?
Said a city council spokesman last night: “As a conservation area, its special character and appearance will be preserved. It does not prevent new development occurring but it means:-
Any proposed demolition of buildings is subject to council control, with a presumption that there should be no demolition of architecturally or historically significant buildings.
There is greater consideration given to the design of new buildings in planning decisions.