Galkoff’s tiled façade takes centre stage in new display on migration, community and housing, supported by the National Lottery
Roller-skating Victorians, gruesome murders, forgotten zoological gardens, a bustling kosher butcher’s shop and a vibrant community are just some of the elements in an eclectic history uncovered in a fascinating corner of Liverpool.
Supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), made possible through money raised by National Lottery players, Galkoff’s and the Secret Life of Pembroke Place is a new display at the Museum of Liverpool, in partnership with Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM). It is also the culmination of research, archaeological digs, a painstaking conservation project and the assistance of more than 70 volunteers.
Galkoff’s and the Secret Life of Pembroke Place opens at the Museum of Liverpool on Friday 26 October 2018.
At the heart of the display is the reconstruction of Liverpool landmark, Galkoff’s Jewish butcher’s shop frontage. The beautiful 1930s emerald green tiles have undergone careful conservation, or in some cases replacement where the damage, due to weather exposure, was too great. The result is an impressive life-size reconstruction of the iconic façade with the original gold Art Deco embellishments and Hebrew signage. Accompanied by detailed research into the Galkoff’s family, which led curators as far as Poland and New York, and featuring photographs, objects and personal memories, the display highlights the story of Liverpool’s Jewish community as well as its long history of migration.
Galkoff’s was located just a few doors away from the last remaining area of Liverpool court housing; back-to-back houses standing around central courtyards. This type of house was a prevalent type of working class home in mid 19th century Liverpool.
The new display includes information obtained from the geophysical surveys done in and around the vicinity, shedding new light on the realities of court house-living and the people who inhabited them.
The hard work of a group of dedicated volunteers has uncovered some fascinating research about the area from the 18th century onwards, stories rich in social history and wonderful eccentricities. One character who particularly caught their attention was Professor William Dawson Bellhouse, Professor of Electricity and Galvanism. Bellhouse was the centre of news reports in the mid 1850s when he was tried for fraud after persuading tenants to renew their leases at higher rents on the basis of his palm readings about their future. He also hand wrote a magic book containing spells, now kept at the New York Public Library.
Janet Dugdale, Director of the Museum of Liverpool said:
“Galkoff’s and the Secret Life of Pembroke Place has been a hugely rewarding project to work on with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. With National Lottery support, and the help of enthusiastic volunteers, we have been able to develop research with the existing local community in and around Pembroke Place, giving this display a strong sense of place and authenticity.
“The stunning tiled façade of Galkoff’s butcher’s shop is a significant addition to the Museum’s collection. The careful research into the Galkoff family and the Liverpool Jewish community enriches the display and forms a powerful legacy.
“The accompanying contextual display offers a unique spotlight on Pembroke Place.”
Nathan Lee, Head of HLF North West, said:
“I’m delighted to see this project come to fruition, and the stunning tiled shop frontage of Galkoff’s restored as part of the Museum of Liverpool’s collections. Thanks to National Lottery players, it will serve as a unique reminder of a bygone way of life for the city’s Jewish community in the city and provides a focus for the many stories this project has uncovered – which will now be preserved for future generations.”
LSTM’s Director, Professor Janet Hemingway, said:
“LSTM has been delighted to be part of this exciting project, and we are really looking forward to the exhibition opening so that the history of Pembroke Place will be accessible to the wider public.
“It has been a rewarding experience, working with National Museums Liverpool and the Heritage Lottery Fund to delve into the history of the area that LSTM calls home, and understand more about the communities that we have shared it with through time. We are grateful to all those involved, particularly the team of volunteers, the Jewish community and the Galkoff family themselves, who have helped us bring the project to life and preserve a vital part of Liverpool’s heritage.”