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Transcript of 'Global City' public forum podcast

Janet Dugdale: Good evening everyone and welcome to National Museums Liverpool. We’re here in World Museum. Thank you for coming to the Global City public forum. It’s the second in a series of public forums that we’re putting on to look at some of the main themes that are going to be developed as part of the Museum of Liverpool project. This is the second one in the series, there are two more still to go, on People City and Creative City so I hope you come back for those. But tonight we’re here to look at Global City.

The Museum of Liverpool as a project, we’ve already started building it right on the waterfront on Mann Island and actually you can see a number of the lift shafts are almost full height at the moment, in fact one of them, the goods lift, is actually full height for the building. The building itself, you’ll start to see it really come out of the ground over the next two to four months as the steelwork starts to be put on the site. At the moment all the concrete work’s more or less been finished.

The building will be ready towards the end of 2008, beginning of 2009 and then we’ve got to take the long process of fitting it out, which is something that is quite a major task I think for some of the people in this room who are working on it. We’re working on a whole range of exhibitions that will deliver around 5000 square metres of exhibition space, so a similar size of exhibition space that there is in this museum for instance or in the Maritime Museum down on the site.

The museum itself will open in 2010 and the content of the museum, there are a number of spaces in the museum but what we’ve decided to concentrate on on these public forums are the four main galleries that are looking at four really big themes that help to understand and explore Liverpool’s history, Liverpool’s place in the world. They are Port City, Global City, People City and Creative City.

Tonight we’ve got three people here to help us think about Liverpool as a global city. You’ve got some information about some of the speakers so I wont go into a lot of detail as I want us to spend the time listening to them and responding and discussing the subject. We’ve got Dr Ron Noon here, Dr Graeme Milne and Dr Jon Murden. Graeme’s going to kick the evening off and talk about Liverpool maintaining that it’s a world city and what does it really mean by this. Then Ron’s going to continue and look at whether Liverpool is an outward looking or an inward looking city and having spent an evening in his company last week looking at a project that he’s been working on in relation to Tate and Lyle and the sugar industry I think that he’s probably got a lot that he’s worked on over the years that links to that. Then Dr Jon Murden who’s actually part of the team developing Museum of Liverpool.

Thinking about Liverpool as a global city makes us think outside the city beyond the bounds of the city and all the things that have shaped the city. Just before I finish, I was at a book launch last night for the last of the ‘Mersey Minis’ called ‘Leaving’ and a lot of that is about Liverpool and its connections and Liverpool as a world city. So I just wanted to read a very very short quotation from this book, something that George Melly said in 1969. He said “The departure for the sea of dreams is from the Liverpool Pier Head.” I just wonder whether we should think about tonight, as we are listening to the speakers and thinking about what we want to talk about afterwards during the debate and discussion, about what that sea of dreams really means and who is it a sea of dreams for and who might it not have been a sea of dreams for, just thinking about all those external connections. After we’ve heard the speakers Georgina Young who is from the Museum of Liverpool team is just going to talk us through the basics of our Global City gallery to help us think about what we’ve heard tonight in relation to a new museum and how we’re developing that. Graeme, would you like to start?

Graeme Milne: Thank you very much Janet and thank you to NML more generally for the invitation to be here tonight. I think this is an incredibly important project. This museum is going to alter the way we think about Liverpool for years to come, I think also perhaps the way we think about cities more generally because this sort of urban history museum on a grand scale is not something that many cities are doing. My job here really for ten minutes is to some extent not to talk about Liverpool really but just to give you a bit of background, a bit of context. Think about what we mean by world cities, by global cities and then perhaps think about a couple of questions that will lead us into talking more specifically about Liverpool and where it fits in these ideas.

The idea of a world city, the idea that there are such things as world cities has been around for quite a while now but it really began to coalesce in a meaningful way at the beginning of the 20th century. So we need to go back about 100 years to the work of a rather remarkable individual by the name of Patrick Geddes who was a sociologist and a town planner, a philosopher but the thing that really interested Geddes was the changing nature of the city.

Geddes lived and worked at a time at the end of the 19th century, beginning of the 20th century when the city worldwide was going through quite remarkable change. Geddes is the man who invented the word conurbation because he recognised that industrial cities like Birmingham, and Dusseldorf was another place that he knew very, that these industrial cities were changing. They were no longer the self contained manufacturing towns that they had been in the middle of the 19th century; they were expanding out into the countryside to become huge industrialised urbanised regions.

Geddes also recognised that on top of these conurbations there was another level of city that was beginning to assert itself at the beginning of the 20th century. These are places that he called world cities. Geddes’s idea was that world cities are a places that have a disproportionate share, whether it’s of population or economic power, political decision making. In Geddes’s time he was really only thinking about London, thinking about New York, but he was already recognising that this was a trend that was going to accelerate in the future.

Later on in the 20th century in the 1960s and 1970s when there was a new boom in urban development especially in the developing world, sociologists, historians, urbanists of all kinds began to revisit this idea of world city, began to ask themselves what this meant in a new context.

There are really two definitions that people came up with. The first is all to do with networks, it’s all to do with the idea that the whole point about world cities is that they’re connected to other world cities. There is no such thing as a world city in isolation, it’s completely pointless. The whole idea is that transport, communications, financial markets, migration, labour, mass media, all these things are connected and they’re connected through world cities. The world cities are the hubs if you like in the global network.

The other definition that has become more common perhaps still more recently is very closely related to this It’s the idea that there is such a thing as an emerging, evolving world culture and that this world culture is again expressed and manifested through a network of world cities. And this is where you get the fairly common criticism of world cities, that they have more in common with each other than they have with their own hinterlands. The great criticism of New York city if you talk to Americans who are not from New York they will quite often tell you that New York city is seen as a strange un-American alien place that doesn’t belong in America. It’s seen as a place that has much more in common with Tokyo or Shanghai or London than it has with Atlanta or Philadelphia or Cleveland. So this idea that this cultural vision of the world city, the global city, in our own time is beginning to become the definition that you hear most often.

So we’ve got three ways of thinking about cities. Patrick Geddes’s original idea about disproportionate power and influence and population. Then the network concept, then the cultural vision. So lets go back a hundred years again and ask ourselves in the early 20th century when Liverpool in some ways is at its heyday as an international trading port city. Is Liverpool playing in this world city league at the beginning of the 20th century? I think you can argue that it is, by all these definitions. The Liverpool of 1907, in population terms it was smaller than the biggest cities in the world but not by that much. The biggest cities in the world in 1900 are New York and London, they have populations that are about five times the size of Liverpool’s. Liverpool was about the same in population terms at that time as the great trading cities of the East, Calcutta, Shanghai, the great trading cities of Western Europe. Liverpool is the headquarters to major international transport logistics information companies and organisations. The big steamship companies, they don’t only operate from Liverpool, they’re based here. Major international markets, the Liverpool cotton market dominates world trade in that commodity. And it has culture as well, it has this maritime mercantile culture that everybody talks about. This free trading, cosmopolitan outward looking vision of what a city is about.

Fast forward a hundred years to our own time, to 2007 and apply these tests now. The biggest cities in the world are no longer five times bigger than Liverpool, they are 25 times bigger than Liverpool. The likes of Shanghai, Calcutta, Tokyo, London, New York, Singapore, these are cities that are now in population terms and in sheer critical mass terms very much in a different league from Liverpool. Liverpool’s no longer an economic hub in the way that it was. The shipping companies are no longer based here. The major commodity markets are no longer based here. So although we’re very proud of Liverpool in all sorts of ways we do have to inject a little realism into the argument in some senses, in that if you look at the statistical hard facts of the case, Liverpool is no longer in the league that it was at the beginning of the 20th century.

But that still leaves us with a very interesting question which I think is the one that we are going to address this evening. That cultural internationalism, that cosmopolitanism, that world city world view. That sense that Liverpool is a city that has a relevance beyond its boundaries. That very real sense that we have that you can go virtually anywhere on the face of the earth and you will meet somebody who has a strong opinion about Liverpool. They may not know of any other British cities apart from London but the chances are they’ll have heard of Liverpool. This place has a reputation that goes far beyond its current economic standing and a reputation that’s in many ways extremely positive. It’s about music, it about sport, it’s about cosmopolitanism, it’s about openness. It’s about humour.

And that I think is the question that I want to leave us with really. We’ve got this big background, we’ve got all the definitions, we’ve got all the ideas about world cities. We’ve got the sense of realism I think about where Liverpool sits but we’ve also got that fascinating question; once you’ve been a world city in some senses, do you stay a world city in others? Can we preserve that positive cultural aspect into the future? And that’ll do me, thank you very much.


Ron Noon: Thanks Graeme, thanks Janet for the introduction. My name’s Ron Noon. I’ve been teaching history in Liverpool now in higher education since 1971 which actually increasingly qualifies me to be a walking, talking, increasingly animated primary source in terms of opinions and views about my city, the city that shaped me, the city that gave me attitude. But above all else the city that gave me a passion and a commitment to always look outside, to recognise the big Liverpool, the cosmopolitan Liverpool. The city in fact that my father came from. The obvious, if you like, logo of my father like many other Liverpool dads or granddads was this [holds up an ID card and reads the text on it] ‘Alien seaman, New York, 1945’. That was my father, as comfortable in a bar in New York or Buenos Ares as he was in the Throstle’s Nest in Scotland Road.

Now that might seem, if you like, the caricature because the city’s working class was comprised disproportionately in terms of dockers and seamen, casual workers. Everything linked in with the imperative of trade. And it’s important to recognise when we talk about, as Graeme has, Liverpool as a global. A city which, actually tonight I instinctively went down to the river. I obviously qualify as a spatial dyslexic, I realised belatedly that the forum was up here but I went down to the river. That shapes attitudes, it shapes people’s views and imaginations.

And I want to come back to that later on because there are many people who don’t have fathers who went away to sea, who are none the less finding, as my friend Tony Wailey often argues that the sea and those other places and those Antony Gormley representations always suggest there are other places, there are other people. That’s the big Liverpool. Not the little Liverpool where tragically Anthony Walker ended up with a pickaxe in his head. Not the little Liverpool of racism with the oldest indigenous Black population. And there’s a lot that we have to do to ensure that in 2008 the big Liverpool, the Liverpool that we all identify with, eclipses that little Liverpool.

But what I thought I’d do, that’s my introduction, I thought I’d actually provide you with some handout material [download handout 'Is Liverpool an inward or an outward looking city?', text format, 54kb] and therefore we might be able to look at some of the quotations and perceptions that people have of Liverpool, of this global city. I mean, quite clearly, Graeme has provided me with a good cue because although there are other world cities which are, if you like, objectively 25 times bigger than this aspirant ‘world in one city’, if you look at the first page of the handout which I’ve given you, ‘Is Liverpool an outward or an inward looking city?’, what Graeme also emphasised is that Liverpool still to this day has a relevance beyond its boundaries. Halfway down the stairs you’ll notice that I’ve picked out, very arbitrary, not the only person to have done this, an extract from the Illustrated London News. And there it is:

“Liverpool…has become a wonder of the world. It is the New York of Europe, a world city rather than merely British provincial.”

Now Liverpool spawned more millionaires than any city outside of London. And yet the other side of Liverpool, the Liverpool that we should always bear in mind today in 2007, in 2008 is that although it spawned more millionaires than any other city outside of London it also had a working class that suffered from the blight of casualism. And what was endemic to that working class life and culture was poverty and insecurity. And obviously other people know more than I do but it’s something which I think even today especially in this so-called post-industrial society, the era of flexible labour – it’s an amazing word isn’t that? Flexible. I mean Liverpool dockers were hired and fired according to the whims of the trade. And of course today that word ‘flexible’ trips off the tongues rather like Dennis Potter once suggested, that the trouble with words is that you don’t always know whose mouths they’ve been in before. And flexibility sometimes can be rigidity in terms of our lifestyles and choices or lack of choices.

But I want to make people aware of the fact that there were two cities in that world city. A working class in which if you look at and read the testimony of people like Jim Larkin, testimony given in New York state after he’d been arrested, he talks about conditions in this city in which he found, he went along with the American Dr Root and they investigated, this is the kind of outreach work that he was involved in at that stage, they found a dead woman with a child on her breast. That was in Christian Street, in a Christian city, in the richest provincial city by far.

So what I want to suggest is that sometimes when we talk about the global city, when we talk about a city which has a relevance and resonance way beyond its boundaries, never forget, and hopefully with this handout material you can follow up on some of these issues, that there is the world of Norris Green, that there is the world of Croxteth which actually I’m proud to say I come from. And yes of course there are parts of Liverpool associated with the tragic assassination of Rhys Jones. There are places associated with the noggers and the street gangs, where instead of movement and rhythm, instead of the kind of edgy city that Tony Wailey and Steve Higginson talk about, there is stasis, there is bleakness and we have got to address, like people started to address at the end of the 19th early 20th centuries, the fact that poverty is still all around. Maybe it’s not so conspicuous but look outside. Look beyond the logos. Look at those blighted crippled lives and then think about how important education is.

So that’s the kind of thing I want to, if you like, agitate, because that’s one of the best things about giving handouts. I always suggest that lectures are the means whereby the lecturer transfers his notes to the students’ notepads without passing through the brains of either. So I make sure that the students have the notes and they can look at them. Because my basic forum, if you like, is one to agitate the ideas, to use those years since 1971 right down to today. Because I suffered from a stark amnesia in terms of my own city, in terms of my own class. I hope that I’ve redressed that to a large extent. And the job of the museum, the job of the university, the job of the teachers, the librarians is to reach that bigger Liverpool, to make it a world city through our, if you like, ‘teach one and pass it on’ approach to knowledge.

But anyway at the end of the page you’ll notice that I’ve actually pointed out that the image, the identity and continuing vitality of Liverpool has always been inextricably related to its position in the changing world economy. Liverpool throughout its history, remember this insignificant fishing village eclipsed for 400 years by Chester, for god’s sake! Liverpool’s revival at the end of the 17th century was based on sugar and slaves. We know about Liverpool as the epicentre of the slave trade. This is 2007, we’ve got an opportunity to introspect, to reflect on the fact that Liverpool was at the centre of that particular chapter of world history. We know that Liverpool was a barometer of national, international events. We know that Liverpool adjusted to the era of capitalism and the Manchester men and the free traders. And of course that’s why when that particular extract from the London Illustrated News, that kind of freeze frame, was obviously taken at the end of the 19th century, Liverpool was a world city rather than being merely British provincial. But we know about its 20th century rundown. We know about the little kind of gaps. When I was actually growing up, when I went away to be a student for the first time, because we know about the 60s. But we also know that 25 years ago, 25 years ago exactly, the last episode of Alan Bleasdale's magisterially bleak 'Boys from the Black Stuff' was seen on British screens. And do you remember the manic pub redundancy party in the Green Man? But do you also remember – I didn't realise at the time, I do now because people have accused me, even my children who will not follow me round supermarkets any more because of my sugar-centricity. But I didn't realise that Alan Bleasdale quite by accident was filming the actual physical destruction of Love Lane refinery, which symbolised over 300 years of sugar refining in Liverpool, linked with African, Caribbean, Pacific countries. That's the Liverpool where social relations, cultural relations, attitudes, poetry, dreams have never been hemmed in by the hinterland, never been hemmed in by the river. And so as I see I'm getting towards the end and I've not even started, let me just turn over the page to page two. I've included an extract from Ray Costello which you can have a look at later but I want people to remember this and I'm not being patronising, of course they do, but I want people to realise that I still think there's a lot to be done in terms of how we address this point. We know, I've pointed out that in this bicentennial year of the abolition of the slave trade the key fact is that more systematic and scholarly work needs to be undertaken on one of the oldest indigenous Black populations in Britain. Yes, still needs to be done. Ray Costello has produced this work. He's produced more work this year. But the point that I think is so important is when you look at quotation 5, that extract 5, “A people without a past is a people dispossessed”. Towards the bottom of that page you'll notice I've made reference to the Earth Summit in Jo'burg in September 2002. The Namibian leader Namibian leader, Sam Nujoma, departed from his prepared speech, this is on page 2, and he accused the British Prime Minister, who was it? Phony Bla, sorry Tony Blair. I hope this isn't going out on podcast. Obviously it is, that's why I say it again, Phony Bla. Anyway, he accused, Sam Nujoma, of being a colonialist in the same breath as he reminded the world of Britain’s role in the slave trade. Quote:

“We, the African people, have suffered more than other nations in the world from the slave trade coming from Liverpool in the UK to West Africa – Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria and even Angola.”

That is some historical inheritance. History is the raw material of the present. “A people without a past is a people dispossessed”. Now, there's about two minutes left is there? Right, so I've got two pages done, that's not bad that is it? You know the French actually in terms of their Annales School, they actually have the great sweep, the longue durée and of course it's summed up by that little anecdote when Chairman Mao was asked "What do you think about the French Revolution?" "Well it's too early to say isn't it?" Sometimes I think historians are too much topic bound, we need to take the longue durée the big sweep, not tonight of course. But anyway, you'll notice I've actually put on page three and I think this is great because this takes me back to when I was a kid when, nobody could folliclely challenge me then, and of course it's something that I've transcribed and it's from a series that came out and Daniel Farson, can you imagine this chap from London who traverses strange latitudes and heads north to Liverpool:

“The voices from that group belong to the Beatles but this is not a programme about the Beatles, nor about the latest Liverpool sound coming from beside me", [actually, I transcribed this, there was a dog barking on a bench in the cemetery grounds of the Anglican Cathedral] "but rather about the place the Beatles came from and the people they left behind. The place of course is Liverpool, to my mind the strangest of all cities of the North. Not the nicest for nice is hardly a word one can apply to Liverpool but  hard drinking, hard living, hard fighting, violent, friendly and fiercely alive. Indeed if one has to sum up the so called Liverpool sound in one word, a sound that has swept south and become the musical sensation of this year, I'd choose the word vitality, sheer staggering vitality, and this is characteristic of the whole background of Liverpool."

So even though objectively the port, the sea that's crashing inside of us, was being relocated to Seaforth as he spoke, nonetheless, what I'm trying to suggest is that that's the Liverpool that Graeme was referring to which has a relevance beyond its boundaries. Through the Beatles, through the music, through the rhythm and dare I say it, I'm going to suffer from what some people would call selective historical amnesia, Everton Football Club. [laughter]

Now they're the kind of representations but what I want to conclude on is the fact that all these representations, I want to talk about Liverpool as a global city but I'm also reminded of the fact that, we turn over to page four, that we have quotation ten:

“He forged direct links with the cocaine cartels of  Columbia, the heroin godfathers of Turkey, the cannabis cultivators of Holland and Eastern Europe. His drugs went around the world, from the clubs of Manchester, Glasgow and Dublin to the golden beaches of Sydney. He ran a global business, spanning five continents, juggling orders, purchases and sales totalling hundreds of millions of  pounds with clients who spoke a plethora of languages.”

Curtis Warren. Now of course Liverpool is still at the epicentre of many things, like this infamous trade in drugs. But what I wanted to suggest and what I want to conclude is that, at the bottom of page four, I've left some really profound and interesting and very well expressed thoughts from two really devout scousers. I use the word scouser with emphasis because Tony Wailey for example, ex-seaman, he actually wrote his first article for the history workshop journal three months after he went on his first ever strike in 1966. I think he was trying to bring the country down, do you remember that? Harold Wilson? The seaman's strike in 1966. But anyway, Tony Wailey and his friend Steve Higgo have written the lovely book called 'Edgy City' and they talk about time and rhythms and music and how for example in the middle of the 19th century, think about this quirky river, about this unique tide and the confluence of rivers. Somebody would have said "Eh pal, what's the tide?", not what the time is and he still argues that in terms of music, in terms of rhythm, Liverpool is a city of movement. But unfortunately, what's happening in Norris Green, what's happening in Croxteth defies that movement, that rhythm, that global city where Liverpool had more in common with Barcelona or New York than it had with Blackburn Lancashire. I hope I'm not stepping on the emotional toes of anybody here from Blackburn. But that's what I want to try and conclude with, the idea that we've still got a long way to go. We can all party, that's one thing without a doubt, unequivocally next year and that's the legacy of the seamen where it's only today that counts, not yesterday, not tomorrow, lets party. I think we've got quite a good brand image in terms of party time. But if we want the Capital of Culture to ripple on lets rediscover our roots, lets rediscover that river and lets rediscover that sense of everywhere and nowhere which is better than stasis and Noggsy and all the rest of that wasted deprived existence which unfortunately - somebody once said we either build more schools or we build more prisons. I think I'd rather build more schools in Croccy and Norris Green and everywhere else. That's where we're coming from. Thanks very much.


Jon Murden: Well, follow that!

Well I was asked to talk about 'What do I think about when Liverpool is called a world city?' It's quite a personal perspective really and I'm sure we all have our own views. I'm sure that hopefully some of the thoughts we've heard from Graeme, from Ron will help us frame that.

But just sitting down this afternoon to scribble my thoughts down, when I'm asked to think about world cities I think about grand cities, I think about elegant cities, I think about historic cities, cities of the very first order.

I think about cities that have shaped society, shaped economies, shaped people and shaped history. I think about London, New York, Shanghai, Tokyo, Paris.

And I think of Liverpool, that 'Sentinel of the Mersey', that 'Second City of the British Empire', a place where the world’s sea-lanes converged.:

  • It was a city that thought terms of global business networks before the term globalisation had even been dreamt of!
  • It was a city that played a crucial role in shaping world politics.
  • It was a city that, through its involvement in the slave trade and the mass migrations of the 19th century, helped transform the demographics of the world.
  • It was a city that, when most towns in England were mono-cultural coketowns, had a population that was polyglot, cosmopolitan and diverse.
  • It was a city that changed popular culture forever, and whose legacy is known the world over.

Even if you think just in terms of anecdotal evidence, as Graeme began to allude to, the case for classifying Liverpool as a world city is strong. Just think for a moment about some of your own foreign holidays – an idle moment in a bar or café, where you get chatting and someone asks you where you’re from? You reply Liverpool and perhaps 99 times out of 100 the conversation move in one of the following directions:

  • Firstly, they’ll have heard of Liverpool – not something you can necessarily say if you come from Derby, Leicester or Nottingham, as I do. These are relevant examples because they are all cities of a comparable size that became cities in the same decade as Liverpool became a city in the 1880s.
  • Secondly, they’ll know something about Liverpool. They’ll have heard of the Beatles, they’ll know of city’s prowess in the footballing world – and I'll equal the score here by mentioning Liverpool, not that I'm a red but there may be some in the audience and it's best not to split them at this stage. And sometimes they'll talk about the Grand National and other times, depending on whereabouts you are in the world or who you are speaking to, they might tell you about how they are descended from migrants who set out on an epic journey to a new life in the new world from a ship that left from Liverpool

Now theses are clichés maybe - but every cliché has a grain of truth in it somewhere, and these stereotypes give Liverpool a reach, a resonance and a standing with people all over the world that few other English cities could hope to match.

If you start to dig deeper, the case becomes ever stronger.

Think of Liverpool’s global reach in trade – and this has definitely already been alluded to by both Graeme and Ron. From this insignificant fishing village in 1660 the involvement in sugar, tobacco and the human traffic of the transatlantic slave trade, meant the local Liverpool economy was soon in touch with a world-wide market.

It was involved from the very start of Britain’s industrial revolution in the early 1800s, importing cotton and exporting finished manufactures to become by the end of the 19th century Liverpool, alongside London and New York, one of the three greatest cities on the world economic stage – and between them they had successfully spread industrialisation, capitalism and free trade across the globe. Concepts and ideas that continue to underpin the way world economies, world societies and world cultures are structured today.

Think of Liverpool’s achievements in maritime engineering, transport technology and science - developments which ushered in the modern age and have made the world a much smaller place:

  • Think of innovators like Thomas Steers, the builder of the world’s first commercial wet dock. Man of the world, he had worked in Holland and used the technology he'd found there to build first commercial wet dock in the world and a model that was used throughout Liverpool and became a model for dock builders around the world.
  • Think of entrepreneurs like the Duke of Bridgewater, whose canal began the transport revolution and George Stephenson, whose development of a timetabled passenger railway between Liverpool and Manchester created the modern railway and propelled the industrial age forward.
  • Think of engineers and risk takers like Alfred Holt, whose improvements to the steam engine increased shipping efficiency, thus making this world much smaller, and whose Blue Funnel shipping line was able to link the Far East, China and Japan with Western Europe in an economical and sustainable way.
  • Think of scientists like Dr Duncan, the world’s first public medical officer of health, or Alfred Jones of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, whose discoveries helped shape the practice of public health both nationally and internationally.

Think of the British Empire for a moment, with Liverpool as its proud, self-proclaimed ‘second city’.

The Empire was, at its peak, a vast conglomeration of disparate dominions and colonies held together by Britain’s naval dominance and mercantile strength. Its development and that of Liverpool in the 18th and 19th centuries went hand in hand, they fed off one another, gorging themselves on the exploitation of colonized lands and peoples in North America, Africa, Asia and Australisia – because, as the largest provincial port city in Britain, and the leading transatlantic port in Europe, Liverpool was key to the Empire’s growth.

Without doubt, the existence of the British Empire would change politics, demographics and geography around the world forever – and Liverpool was critical in this.

Building upon that idea of Liverpool changing world demographics, think about some of the people from around the world that have a physical and spiritual connection with Liverpool. Global communities with a legacy linked to Liverpool are found all over the world, in America, Australia, Africa, the Caribbean and India amongst many others.

Closer to home, because it was a place that continually attracted migrant peoples, transients, sojourners and settlers (even as early as the 16th century when French Hugenots refugees arrived on Merseyside), much of Liverpool’s character (as well as its accent) comes from a legacy of the mass movements of people.

We turn to look at the 20th century, we can see that this economic and imperial star was on the wane. By rights this should have been the end of Liverpool's global influence – a modern day ancient Athens. But of course it wasn’t – it was merely a change in direction. It was a change to look at world culture and export its own culture. It had always been receptive to cultures around the world, you only have to walk round this building to realise that there were collectors in Liverpool who embraced these ideas. But it then would become known on its own terms, known around the world for its creativity, sporting prowess and contribution to popular culture. It became as well known for those things as it was for its trade, wealth and power as Graeme said in 1907.

Therefore, whenever I think of Liverpool as a world city, I think of a contemporary, modern, relevant city, but one whose status amongst cities of global rank is underpinned by a tremendous, fascinating and varied history.


Georgina Young: Hello. As Janet said, I'm Georgina Young and I'm an exhibition curator working on the Global City gallery but also as part of the wider Museum of Liverpool team. This is a good impression of our gallery but this is only one part of a much bigger project, so there are things that wont be in this gallery but we assure you that doesn't mean they've been forgotten, I'll just say that to start with.

Basically the purpose of Global City is putting Liverpool in its global context and its historical context so we are trying to, a lot of the ideas that have been discussed today, we are trying to get that into a gallery form. The key messages that we are talking about for this gallery is that Liverpool has a dynamic relationship with the world, influencing it but also being influenced by it. So we're looking at a two way relationship here. We're also talking about how Liverpool is globally connected, that Liverpool's got a different relationship with the world than other British provincial cities which is something again that started to come out tonight. And that Liverpool's history is as a great maritime, a great port city that's given it this position and that we need to take account of that.

We also need to talk about the Empire. The British Empire provided the context within which Liverpool emerged and developed as a city of global importance, so we know that we need to get that into our gallery. And that people from Liverpool, as Jon's just been through actually, have and continue to contribute to internationally significant inventions, discoveries, developments and punch above their weight really and have a real influence across the world. So we want to get those personal stories in as well and tell some of those little stories that make up a bigger picture.