A forgotten Liverpool estate recreated in a Lego-style model
A stunning recreation of 1970s Liverpool could soon be presented to a wider audience.
Model maker Gerard Fagan originally made the model of his childhood playground in L3 during confinement. The 59-year-old grew up in his namesake, Gerard Gardens, which was a building across from what is now the main building of John Moores University.
Over its 50-year history, the town center estate has been home to many generations of families and also featured prominently in the 1958 Liverpool film Violent Playground. The buildings were finally razed in the late 1980s.
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Gerard, who now lives in Ormskirk, said of the buildings in his exhibition: “They were built in the Art Deco style of the 1930s, but I obviously wasn’t there then. I lived there in the 70s. But they were freezing in the winter, they had no central heating!”
Gerard made a smaller version of his new model in 2003, which was just the building he grew up in. It was so successful that it is now on permanent display at the Museum of Liverpool.
Gerard’s new model encompasses more buildings and streets in the L3 area, including Hunter Street, Christian Street and Byrom Street. He was able to recreate the look of the streets from memory and using photographic references from the records office.
When asked why he decided to recreate this part of Liverpool from that era, Gerard said: “I lived there in the 70s, and they stuck with me to that point, growing up as a child. In 1976, they had that extremely hot summer. You’re 14 and the world is your oyster.
“And people still think fondly of those communities and wish they had been preserved the way the bullrings were preserved. I don’t know why they were called gardens because there wasn’t a blade of grass, it was just all concrete in the middle of the square, but it gave the kids a place to play.
The incredibly detailed buildings are made of balsa wood and cardboard, and the entire model measures 6 feet by 4 feet made up of four separate boards. Throughout the confinement, Gérard spent several hours of an evening and his weekends working on the project.
Explaining his love of model building, he said: “I always had Legos as a kid and Matchbox cars. My older brother had a model railway and everything, and he tended to be on trains and the track and I was doing the decor. I’ve always had an interest in that.”
Photos of the replica on local Liverpool history Facebook group Inacityliving sparked a “fantastic” response, Gerard said.
He added: “People who saw it said things like ‘I’m almost crying here’ and ‘it brings me right back’. That’s the reaction I wanted.”
A filmmaker friend asked Gerard if he could display the model to the public after the screening of his own film Gardens of Stone – a documentary about Liverpool city center living in the 20th century. It is now planned to show both the model and the film at a community center which is open on the site of the former Pontack pub in Christian Street, one of the locations featured in the model. The date remains to be confirmed.
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