I started composing this letter over 18 months ago with a view to put it out there for debate (and hopefully some action from those who may be of influence) but, due to the roller-coaster issues we’ve been through in that time, I have held back on forwarding it until now as I was unsure if it would get the full focus of other fans whilst we were fighting to preserve our Premier League status and more recently, dealing with the ridiculously draconian points deduction for breaching PSR rules. But now, with the new stadium in its final year of completion, time is of the essence regarding the looming subject of the Goodison Park Legacy Project.

I am sure there are many like-minded people who may feel the same as I do about the prospect of the complete demolition of Goodison Park as part of the legacy project for the site which would effectively mean that no trace of any of the original structures of the stadium would remain.

I, like all Evertonians, am really excited about moving to our new home at Bramley-Moore Dock and also understand that we must move with the times and take our club into a new phase for future generations to enjoy and I for one, cannot wait for that first game in our shiny new riverside stadium to witness the start of a new chapter in our illustrious history. I am also realistic enough to realise that the legacy project for Goodison Park will mean that sadly, we cannot expect the Grand Old Lady to remain in its entirety and that we should embrace the important local community services, jobs, businesses and homes that this proposed redevelopment will bring.

However, what saddens me most is the fact that there is practically nothing in the new plans that will incorporate anything of the old stadium, particularly the most historic parts of the ground such as the 1920s Gwladys Street end and the Bullens Road stands, along with their Archibald Leitch latticework designs left for anyone to see what was there before. I also feel that just having a modern building that mimics part of the 1970s main stand on Goodison Road, or the proposed building earmarked to replace the Park End stand, which would only retain the more modern ‘Goodison’ sign in lights above it, or even a grassy centre circle in the middle of the development would come anywhere near enough in terms of a tribute to memories for what this site so richly deserves.

During the Club’s proposed move to Bramley-Moore Dock, a lot has been debated about the importance of retaining the heritage of the city and, to their credit, the Club have taken this on board to ensure that the original dock walls, hydraulic tower, cobbled areas and rail tracks etc have been preserved and indeed, showcased within the redevelopment so that future generations can physically see, experience and appreciate what went before and to fully understand how this city can evolve and be future-proofed so that past stories aren’t forgotten. But to my mind, if an old, derelict dock and let’s face it, a dock that the majority of people in this city hadn’t seen (or even heard of) before the stadium project came to light, can cause so much perceived love and affection for it, as if it were the local equivalent of Stonehenge or something, whilst another, even more historically important site in my view, known to everyone in the city and indeed millions of people across the world, can disappear without a trace and without a second thought, is quite frankly, beyond me!

I sometimes wonder what the mindset is of the likes of English Heritage and some of the desktop warriors in this city, who would kick up such a fuss over the infilling of an old disused dock, of which there are numerous (and better) examples all along the city’s waterfront, and when plenty of other docks have already been in-filled in the past for various reasons (a least 10 others to my knowledge, including one under the site of the water treatment works next door) without the enormous outcry that the Bramley-Moore Dock project has caused. But I will leave that to others to debate (as I think we all know the reasons why anyway…)

But my main reason for raising this is why has nothing been said about the complete demolition of such a historically important structure as Goodison Park which has been a part of my life for over 50 years and for hundreds of thousands of other people’s lives for nearly 150 years? Why is maritime history deemed more important than sporting or social history? But enough of my rantings on the mindset of others as it hasn’t stopped the new stadium build going ahead anyway and, at the time of writing, the erection of the new ground is well underway and already looking magnificent.

And so, back to the Goodison Legacy Project. First of all, let me be clear. I think the majority of the project is superb and no more than the local community of Walton and Kirkdale deserve for putting up with disgruntled (and occasionally, elated) match-going Evertonians over the years! As I mentioned before, the importance of this project regarding jobs, community services, education etc is immeasurable for this part of the city and it’s vital that they get it right. But for me, this can still be achieved whilst retaining a genuine piece of Goodison itself, for those of us from outside the L4 area to have an excuse to revisit occasionally and reminisce of bygone times at the Grand Old Lady.

I am realistic enough to know that the developers would not want to retain the whole structure of the ground and refurbish it for the community’s required needs. Nor even keep the entire Gwadys Street and Bullens Road stands, similar to what Arsenal have done with their old Highbury ground because, let’s be realistic here, L4 isn’t the first place most people would choose for a luxury apartment, is it? No, my proposal would be to just retain the corner of the ground where Gwladys Street and Bullens Road stands meet, maybe up to the first exit tunnels of each stand for example, and incorporate it into the proposed new buildings on either side. For me, this would leave a tangible and iconic slice of the oldest parts of the ground, which has witnessed countless memories from the times of Dixie Dean up to the present day. A ground that has also been graced with the likes of Pele, Eusebio and not forgetting our very own Holy Trinity of Ball, Harvey and Kendall.

Also, I feel that corner of the ground just happens to be not just the oldest, but the most unique and structurally interesting part of Goodison anyway, with its ‘higgledy-piggledy’ upper level facias that don’t quite join up with each other. That corner would also then retain both examples of the remaining Archibald Leitch designs, the criss-cross lattice work on the Bullens Road stand, compared with the solid vertical lines of the Gwladys Street stand. This, to my mind, could be a stunningly physical and historical focal point for the whole site rather than just a gentle ‘nod’ to what was there before. If history can be preserved at Bramley-Moore Dock, then why not at Goodison Park?

You only have to look at examples of other stadiums such as Sunderland’s Roker Park, Leicester City’s Filbert Street or even Spurs’ White Hart Lane grounds which have now completely disappeared, and all three of them being Archibald Leitch designs too. I for one know that many Sunderland fans for example, whilst proud of their new ground, bitterly regret the loss of their old stadium to a bland housing estate with nothing left other than a small piece of the old red & white steel latticework being on display at the entrance to a car park at the Stadium of Light. I know that Everton’s legacy plans are so much better than these examples with regard to the community facilities it will provide, but what a massively missed opportunity it would be not to have an iconic part of one of the most famous football stadiums in the world to be incorporated into such an important project.

That said, the question also needs to be asked: What would this corner structure be used for? As it would admittedly, pose an expensive and awkwardly-shaped part of the project to turn into something useful as well as compliment the surrounding buildings for the site without the architects having to start from scratch. And this is where my own limited knowledge falls short and would obviously need more ideas and examples from others to turn it into an attractive and viable proposal going forward. Having said that, I do have a few things in my mind's eye that may kick off a more thorough debate if enough interest can be generated. But for me, as this project has not physically started yet, it would need to be the new buildings complementing and showcasing the older, more historical parts, and not the other way round.

Given that this proposed corner plot would effectively be shaped like a ‘slice of cake’, the first thing that comes to mind is an amphitheatre-type structure if, for instance, at least some of the seats were to be retained. This may not be such a pie-in-the-sky idea as some may think, especially if there is a grassy park or stage area in front of it. I was fortunate enough to be present at the Tony Bellew fight at Goodison a few years ago which took place in that very corner of the stadium so I know it can be done occasionally. And I am not saying that every event would need to be on the same scale, but just to get an idea of what can be achieved if enough thought is put into it. And it isn’t just boxing. What about plays, concerts etc? And I would bet our late chairman, Bill Kenwright (RIP) would have loved the idea of a theatre on the very spot where his beloved Boys Pen used to be! Also, this theatre-shaped structure, with the right funding, would not always have to be an outdoor venue if it were enclosed with glass with a stage space at the front for events during the colder months.

And what about the inside of the venue? How about a local sports bar, named “The Grand Old Lady”? A cafe and retail space for official and independent EFC merchandise such as Toffee Art and fanzines or even a football-themed art gallery? A local market space under the stands among the existing girders and posts could be another option. Also, there could be office space above for meetings for the various Everton supporters groups or other institutions such as the Everton Heritage Society, for example. The list of possibilities is endless. I feel that such an iconic space would be a magnet for locals and visitors from further afield and ensure some real, tangible ‘life’ is continually attracted to the area in the absence of matchdays, bringing in much-needed revenue into the community which I feel that locals alone would not be able to provide.

Reader Comments (40)

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Dennis Stevens
1 Posted 12/02/2024 at 22:28:36
Interesting thoughts, James. I've no idea of the practicalities, but agree that it's that corner where the scope for saving a slice of history would be best served.
Peter Mills
2 Posted 12/02/2024 at 23:27:08
Very interesting thoughts, James.

The corner of Gwladys Street and Bullens Road was always the place my dad, my brother and I would meet my dad's pals after the match, and the debates would begin. I'd love to see part of the existing structure remain there.

Karl Masters
3 Posted 13/02/2024 at 02:36:48
I've had similar thoughts to be honest. If only the steel latticework could be retained above other structures silhouetted against the sky, it would be something.

Or as you say, create a theatre or cinema type building and encase that corner.

To maintain it as an outdoor venue would probably invite vandals and local yoofs, esp red ones, to desecrate it, so using the corner to create an indoor venue under glass would certainly be something that would stop a lot of that.

Don Alexander
4 Posted 13/02/2024 at 02:53:02
Quaint sentiments… but, given that our club has been led to current penury or much worse by those in charge (and especially that so-called "Boys Pen" shyster), I sadly say that all such sentiment is pointless.

We're in no way able to pay for any such memorial spec and there's no way of earth that the near-bankrupt city would even contemplate such a venture.

Maybe Kenwright's very own "Mozart of Money", Sir Phillip Green, will step forward by spending a fraction of the fortune he screwed out of BHS staff pensions however, in a once-in-a-lifetime act of give-away philanthropy though?

"Nurse, more tablets please!!!! I'm going delirious again!!"

Paul Columb
5 Posted 13/02/2024 at 03:25:31
Sadly, James, I don't think the Legacy Project will go ahead in our current financial state. It's likely the land will be sold to raise meager funds.

We no longer have Usmanov's kitty and we have no one left to blame for the catalogue of failures. When the plans are mothballed, to whom do we direct our fume? The room is empty.

Danny O’Neill
6 Posted 13/02/2024 at 05:24:09
I've mentioned before that I would have preferred to have seen Goodison's football heritage preserved.

I know that the Grand Old Lady is going to be demolished. That must be included in the entire stadium project plan?

Personally, I would like to have seen a downscaled stadium. One deck all around housing maybe 3,000, so the U21s and female team could play there.

It won't happen, but it was a thought I've held since the announcement of the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock.

Jerome Shields
7 Posted 13/02/2024 at 06:05:44
I tend to agree with Don regarding commercial considerations being prioritised, especially in Everton current situation. I have included what happened at Arsenal's Highbury,:

'After the club moved to their new stadium upon the conclusion of the 2005–06 season, Highbury was redeveloped as a residential development known as Highbury Square, with the Clock End and North Bank stands being demolished; parts of the East and West Stands remained and were incorporated into the new development due to their listed status.'

Is any of Goodison under listed status?

Danny O’Neill
8 Posted 13/02/2024 at 10:25:20
Another random thought as my mind thinks ahead of itself.

I'm no construction or demolition person, but I can't help thinking Bullens Road and Park End are fine. But the Main Stand and Gwladys Street are so close to the houses across the road.

That will be some feat of engineering.

Tony Abrahams
9 Posted 13/02/2024 at 10:51:38
I tend to agree with Paul C and think that, after all the money Usmanov has lost on Everton, he would probably love to borrow half a dozen bombs off Putin to demolish our beloved Goodison Park.
Allen Rodgers
10 Posted 13/02/2024 at 13:23:23
Jerome @7,

No I can't see any part of Goodison on the listed buildings register for L4.

As for the Goodison Park Legacy, I doubt this will happen under new owners (whoever they may be). They will just want to recoup some money by selling the land. The huge cost of demolition and clearance will affect the sale price.

Paul Hewitt
11 Posted 13/02/2024 at 14:40:27
I wouldn't knock Goodison down to quickly. We might not be able to afford the rent at the new place.
Jerome Shields
12 Posted 13/02/2024 at 14:57:01
Allen #10,

You are probably right.

Simon Jones
14 Posted 13/02/2024 at 15:17:50
Dale #13,

TBH the same thought had crossed my mind. It would so "Everton" to have a new ground built, go bust, and a phoenix club be left with Goodison as the only viable economic alternative.

It is a sad state of affairs that the way the club has been run in recent years that it makes fans' minds wander like this.

Jerome Shields
16 Posted 13/02/2024 at 21:37:52
I don't think there will be any going back to Goodison. It is probably mortgaged to the hilt.
Brian Williams
17 Posted 13/02/2024 at 21:53:41
A one bedroomed flat in the Highbury development would set you back close to half a million, depending on which block.
What would someone pay for a one-bed Goodison flat?

The plans in place, if they ever reach fruition, are really good.
Unfortunately Goodison doesn't lend itself to a development similar to Highbury in style, construction or location.

All being well we're getting a new state of the art, fourth grace. Let the long-suffering neighbours of Goodison have something new and state-of-the-art too.

Time to move on and move forward IMHO.

Eric Myles
18 Posted 14/02/2024 at 07:41:37
In England, to have a building considered for listing or delisting, the process is to apply to the Secretary of State; this can be done by submitting an application form online to Historic England. The applicant does not need to be the owner of the building to apply for it to be listed. (From Wiki)

When I approached Heritage England some years ago about having Goodison Park listed, they told me that the application must come from the owner.

Maybe time for Everton Heritage Society to take an interest?

Jerome Shields
19 Posted 14/02/2024 at 09:03:56
Eric, it is a pity you were not successful. Congratulations on the hindsight you had in trying. I fear that, after the Everton move, Goodison will take on an abandoned look.

The Goodison legacy project appears to be well-meaning, but probably was motivated to get planning permission and increase the value of the site. It would need to be immediately implemented on approval in 2025 to realise its value, but will probably be attempted to be moved on. If not successful, it will end up as a housing association development, which maybe more beneficial, though I would prefer Liverpool City Council involvement.

Brian #17,

The location of Highbury Park is beside Highbury Barn (moved up a lot), then Highbury Fields (formerly where Joseph Chamberlain lived) and then Islington. Hence the prices as you probably know. All very convenient to the City.

Danny O’Neill
20 Posted 14/02/2024 at 09:08:06
We are all going to get emotional over this subject and have different ideas and thoughts.

The Arsenal Highbury model; my downscaled stadium idea; affordable housing with parkland; leave her standing… that wouldn't fly, I would imagine the land is in the equation for the new stadium costs.

I don't really know but with Everton One, the People's Hub, the Winslow and the Brick, there is enough in the area to support a legacy.

Maybe a museum?

Jerome Shields
21 Posted 14/02/2024 at 09:18:47
Danny #20,

That is more realistic and actually a really good idea. It is something that all the fan groups could get behind in support of local development groups, a detention of Everton in the Community..

Joe McMahon
22 Posted 14/02/2024 at 09:57:09
Does anyone know if any part of Maine Road is still there, or acknowledgement that Man City played there? I haven't been to that area since it was knocked down.

Could the Dixie statue stay at the top end?

Paul Hewitt
23 Posted 14/02/2024 at 10:11:06
Joe @22,

Maine Road is now a housing estate. The only thing left remaining is the centre spot in the middle of the estate.

James Pankhurst
24 Posted 14/02/2024 at 10:13:55
Thanks for all the interesting and varied comments, especially those who have done a bit of digging regarding listed status etc (Allen #10, Eric #18) but to be honest, if Goodison were to be listed, I think any potential developers would probably run a mile!

My main hope was that someone of influence within the club would be interested enough to at least give this some consideration and I have written to them but so far, no response.

But I do get the feeling that there probably isn't the appetite for enough of the fanbase to get behind a campaign for proposals on the bigger scale anyway and maybe something along the lines of a museum (Danny #20) would still be an infinitely better tribute than what the current plans are proposing.

I will keep you posted on any views from the club if I hear anything back.

Danny O’Neill
25 Posted 14/02/2024 at 10:24:32
I had a quick look Joe.

Like Roker Park in Sunderland, Maine Road is almost entirely a housing development now, I believe. Some sort of memorial to the former stadium but mostly housing.

I don't miss that coach park outside the Kippax. It could get tasty there. And standing in that uncovered corner in the away section in the rain.

Forest back in the day was similar, but you could climb up the floodlight to get a decent view.

Allen Rodgers
26 Posted 14/02/2024 at 13:08:37
Seem to recall there was once a plan to remove some of the Leitch cross-members from Goodison once the ground has closed. They could be re-sited in the immediate area or at the new stadium.

To clarify, when I say 'cross-members' I'm referring to ironwork— not some of our fans!

Eric Myles
27 Posted 14/02/2024 at 15:01:14
Danny #20, it was as a museum that I had the idea to investigate the listing of Goodison. What better place to house the David France Collection?

And the ground could also be used for your suggested U18s and ladies games as well as testimonials and, as previously, schoolboy (and schoolgirl now I suppose) finals.

Jeff Spiers
28 Posted 14/02/2024 at 17:58:37
If Goodison was to be demolished, where does the it go. Landfill etc?

There was rumour of a gigantic souvenir sale of seating, old turnstiles, even bricks, any thing that could be salvaged. The proceeds from said sale would go into Everton in the Community.

An old wag suggested at least a fiver per brick!! I would want to know how many. Any guesses, and what piece of Goodison would ToffeeWebbers cherish?

Joe McMahon
29 Posted 14/02/2024 at 18:20:52
Thanks Paul and Danny. Thinking of open end of the Kippax, do you remember 'the ginnel'? – 80s football in every way!
Danny O’Neill
30 Posted 15/02/2024 at 11:30:27
I don't remember that Joe. In those days I used to get on and off the coach with my mates.

I do remember an unsavoury moment at Old Trafford as we came out and were encountered by United supporters. The police came in on their horses and pushed us into a corner.

They (the Manchester Police) called us Scouse bastards and were hitting people. I'll never forget an Everton supporter getting frustrated and punching one of the horses right on the chin!

I'm glad I get to go to these places now without all the violence and those types of scenes and mix with opposition supporters.

I've mentioned this before, the only time I got attacked was walking along one of those streets outside the Bullens Road as I was making my way to Priory Road to get to my Grandads. A Southampton supporter randomly punched me in the face and knocked me over a parked car for no reason.

Different times.

Geoff Cadman
31 Posted 15/02/2024 at 16:12:25
I seem to remember a Hotel group wanted to redevelop the Bullens Road Stand, but the club blocked it probably as the Legacy Plans where at an advanced stage.

I believe the statues are staying. Does anybody know what will happen to the plaques at the Park End?

Jeff Spiers
32 Posted 15/02/2024 at 16:48:36
Danny @30,

Unfortunately there are pockets of violence. Millwall away in FA Cup, for example.

Allen Rodgers
33 Posted 15/02/2024 at 21:45:28
Geoff @31,

About 10 years ago there was a plan by a developer to build a museum etc on the Park End car park and lease it to EFC. However, it turned out the club did not hold title to the land as it was already mortgaged.

As for the Goodison Granites, one of which is mine, the club said at the outset they would be moved to Bramley-Moore Dock. The latest I heard was they will stay in situ but that could change if new owners come in. In my opinion, the stones and the two statues would be better protected at the new stadium.

Jeff Spiers
34 Posted 15/02/2024 at 22:30:49
Allen, thanks for that info. Very interesting.
John de Frece
35 Posted 16/02/2024 at 05:34:52
Totally unrealistic, I know — but Evertonians usually are?

I had dreams of just demolishing 2 Stands, building good sustainable council housing, 10-floor blocks, in order to replace some really disgusting terrace houses in the area..

The Main Stand would be refurbished and be the home of Everton Women. Decent capacity and big upgrade for them.

Park End to be converted for Everton in the Community activities on a massive scale, the pitch available for local Sunday teams. Demolition of alternate streets leading off Goodison Road and refurbishing the remaining houses. That would be a serious regeneration of what is really a truly appalling part of the City.

No chance though, I suppose.

Jeff Spiers
36 Posted 16/02/2024 at 15:46:23
Allen @33. Forgive my ignorance, what were/are the Goodison Granites?
Allen Rodgers
37 Posted 17/02/2024 at 18:18:21
Jeff, I think you referred to them as plaques in an earlier post.
Danny O’Neill
38 Posted 18/02/2024 at 06:45:56
Geoff @31, I keep saying, I'm torn about the statues.

Leave them at their "home" or take them with us? I just don't know what the answer is.

New one at the Everton Stadium to recognise the '80s team. Overdue. And Kevin Sheedy of course. Southall in his prime carrying less timber. Reid. Ratcliffe holding up trophies, and the graceful Bracewell.

The new stadium is about the future but we'll never ever forget Goodison Park. Since my first day there as a 5-year-old I was a mesmerised as much then as I still am now as a 52-year-old.

Jeff Spiers
39 Posted 18/02/2024 at 09:32:11
Allen. I can't recall calling them as plaques. Sorry mate. I'm a senile 71-year-old!! Where were they situated and were they real granite? Cheers.
Allen Rodgers
40 Posted 18/02/2024 at 12:02:43
Sorry, Geoff, my mistake, it was another poster called them plaques. They were officially sold as Goodison Granites, confirmed by my own certificate from the club.

Pretty sure it's real granite that will stand the test of time. They are at the Park End behind Dixie's statue.

Jeff Spiers
41 Posted 18/02/2024 at 17:08:18
Allen, thanks for getting back. They will deffo stand the test of time. And beyond!!
Jeff Spiers
42 Posted 18/02/2024 at 17:16:48
Back to the football. Holgate sent off, shocking tackle.

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