University recreates Liverpool overhead railway for the Museum of Liverpool

Overhead Railway

The University of Liverpool has used original film footage and a series of digital animations to recreate the experience of the Liverpool Overhead Railway in its heyday of the 1890s for a new exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool.

Dr Richard Koeck, from the School of Architecture, said: “By using forensic investigative techniques derived from architectural practice, I was able to produce a series of animations that reflect precise geographical references between where the original films were shot on an historic ordinance survey map and the historical film themselves.”

The original Lumií¨re film footage was shot from the railway along the waterfront and was taken sometime between June and October 1897 by Jean Alexandre Louis Promio, a valued and prolific cinematographer who worked for the Lumií¨re company. The footage was shot when he visited Liverpool as part of his tour of Britain and shot eight films. They are thought to be the first motion pictures shot in Liverpool and capture an exceptional moment in space and time of Liverpool as ‘the gateway to the Empire’.

The exhibition is on display in the Liverpool Overhead Gallery and tells of the remarkable story of the ‘Dockers Umbrella’ as it became known, which was the first electric elevated railway in the world built along seven miles of docks in 1893.

It explores why and how it was built, who worked and travelled on it, why it was pulled down in the late 1950s and the legacy it left behind.

Dr Koeck, who is also Director of the Centre for Architecture and the Visual Arts (CAVA), said: “My interest in the Liverpool Overhead Railway originated from working on the AHRC research project, City in Film: Liverpool’s Urban Landscape and the Moving Image which explored and mapped the relationship between film, landscapes and cultural heritage.”

Dr Koeck was presented to the Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh when they visited Liverpool to officially open the Museum.

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