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Fight to bring historic gates back to the city; But move could be a heritage headache.

Byline: by CATHERINE JONES Culture Reporter

LIVERPOOL is moving a step closer to recovering a lost piece of the city's history.

The gates to the city's Sailors' Home have stood at the entrance of a West Midlands foundry since the Canning Place building was demolished in the 1970s.

The city first appealed for the return of the Victorian gates four years ago.

Now, a formal application could pave the way for the grade II listed cast iron gates coming home.

The people of Liverpool are being urged to write to the council in Sandwell.

The move would cost pounds 30-35,000.

It is not yet clear how the move would be financed - but sponsorship has not been ruled out.

The 15ft gates - which feature Liver birds, dolphins and other nautical themes - were cast in the Henry Pooley foundry in Dingle and hung on the Sailors' Home in the mid-19th century.

Pooley's was later taken over by a Smethwick firm, now called Avery Weigh-Tronix, and somehow the gates ended up at its foundry.

A Liverpool council spokesman said: "The owners of the factory have agreed for them to come back to Liverpool. The next move is to submit an application for listed building consent to Sandwell council."

Liverpool's executive member for heritage Cllr Berni Turner said: "We've got our conservation team looking at the best way to move them.

"The only sticking point is conservation at Sandwell.

"We need everybody to write to explain they're our gates and we want them back."

But Sandwell's cabinet member for regeneration and transport Cllr Bob Badham said: "My job is to try and protect Sandwell's heritage as it exists at the moment and I must take into account everyone's views.

"The truth is, if they'd remained in Liverpool they would have been scrapped in the 1970swhen the mission building they stood in front of was knocked down for a road that was never built.

"I've now asked officers to draw up a full report so we can sit down with representatives from Liverpool and discuss the gates' future in a civilised manner.

"The gates are stable in their current position but would need considerable conservation work to dismantle and move them."

The Sailors' Home foundation stone was laid by Prince Albert in July 1846.

It closed in 1969 and the building demolished in 1974.

If you want to back plans to bring the Sailors' Home gates back to Liverpool write with your views to the conservation officer, historic environment team, PO Box 42, Development House, Lombard Street, West Bromwich, West Midlands B70 8RU.

CAPTION(S):

FIRE: A copy of a drawing by E A Heffer dated 1860 from the Illustrated London News of the burning of the home. Inset: the gates, now in Sandwell in the West Midlands
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 30, 2008
Words:464
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