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The view over the Liverpool region from the A55 in Flintshire, North Wales, is magnificent.
Welsh people started to migrate to Liverpool in the 18th century. In 1813 around 8000 people or 10% of the residents of Liverpool were Welsh.
They created communities around the city and Welsh was the dominant language in those places.
As in other British cities there are streets named after places in Wales such as Denbigh Road in Walton und Barmouth Way in Vauxhall.
But the most important symbol of the Welsh influence in Liverpool is the area called the Welsh streets in Toxteth, next to Princes Park, about a 10 minute bus ride south of the city centre.
The street names, and I’ll try and say them Welsh-style, include Wynnstay Street, Voelas Street, Rhiwlas Street, Powis Street, Madryn Street, Kinmel Street, Gwydir Street, Pengwern Steet, Treborth Street, Dovey Street, Teilo Street and Elwy Street.
These streets were built by Welsh building workers during the 19th century. The houses were designed by Welsh architect Richard Owens, who also designed many terraced houses in Liverpool as well as churches in North Wales.
Over the years the area became became run down. In the 2000s, there was plans to demolish the Welsh Streets, including the house where Ringo Starr was born – 9 Madryn Street. Local residents were generally in favour of refurbishment rather than demolition. The houses were vacated and prepared for being pulled down.
Beatles tours continued to the area, fans wrote messages on the front of the boarded up house.
The organisations SAVE Britain’s Heritage and the National Trust campaigned for the area to be renovated, especially because of its significance in the story of the Beatles.
A new plan was drawn up by Placefirst, a company based in Manchester that designs, builds and refurbishes homes for rent. Around three quarters of the houses in the Welsh Streets have been retained and renovated. Today, Ringo Starr’s old house looks almost new.
In October 2019 the Transformation of Welsh Streets by Placefirst was named UK’s Best Residential Project in the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors awards.
The Welsh influence in Liverpool declined during the 20th century. According to the 2001 census, around 1.17% of the population were born in Wales, but there are plenty more people in the city who have Welsh ancestors.
For me the clearest evidence of the Welsh influence in Liverpool is the accent. The up-and-down intonation of the Scouse accent is similar to the Welsh accent in English or with the Welsh language, yr iaith Gymraeg. In the Scouse accent, we can literally hear the influence of all those people who migrated from Wales to Liverpool in past centuries.
There’s also an Irish influence on the Liverpool accent but that’s another story.
The patron saint of Wales is Saint David, or Dewi Sant in Welsh. Saint David’s Day is celebrated every year in Liverpool, in Wales and around the world, on 1 March.