Coronavirus Liverpool: eerie photographs show city centre on lockdown


The Jacaranda and Shipping Forecast on a deserted Slater Street due to the coronavirus lockdown

Liverpool city centre was near abandoned due to the coronavirus, Getintothis photographers capture the city streets on an eerily quiet night on Merseyside. 

Liverpool on lock down. The very words sound like an imaginary John Carpenter film.

But there was no soundtrack accompanying our photographers when they ventured into Liverpool city centre on what usually be a vibrant Saturday night.

For this was the first weekend of a Government enforced closure of pubs, nightclubs, restaurants, theatres and social spaces.

The coronavirus and the effects of COVID-19 were being felt more clear than ever before in the UK – and Liverpool, the UNESCO City of Music, was near silent.

Earlier in the week go-to music staples The Kazimier Garden and Phase One had announced crowdfunders as coronavirus closures meant their survival was under threat.

On this Saturday night every single music venue followed suit with The Zanzibar, Jimmy’s, 24 Kitchen Street, Sound on Duke Street, the Jacaranda and the characteristically bouncing Heebie Jeebies all on lock down.

All around the city, giants of the Liverpool music landscape, O2 Academy, Invisible Wind Factory, Arts Club, Liverpool Philharmonic, the M&S Bank Arena and Camp & Furnace stood silent.

For a couple of hours three of the Getintothis team – Billy Vitch, Chris Everett and chief photographer, Warren Millar – traversed Liverpool city centre capturing the deserted streets – the usually bustling bars all shut and stillness of an empty city on what would usually be it’s most exhilarating and characteristic best.

Not this night. The music was on definitively on pause.  – Peter Guy, Getintothis editor.

McCooley’s, Concert Square

“I make the trip into Liverpool most weekends to visit one of the many live music venues in the city. 

I usually look for a parking space on the streets around Seel Street as you have all the key venues within a few seconds walk: Arts Club, EBGB’s, Shipping Forecast, Phase One, Zanzibar, Jacaranda to name just a few.

Friday and Saturday nights I usually end up driving round the block a few times before a space is found due to the high number of people out and about drinking, looking forward to the gig, going for a meal, out on a stag or hen do, out celebrating a birthday or anniversary or just enjoying the weekend ahead.

I’m normally unaware of the many people milling around as I have a gig to photograph, I have things to think about: will the lighting be okay, will the band be on time, when do I have to file my images.

I’m also looking forward to maybe seeing and photographing a band I have never seen or photographed before – and also looking forward to seeing fellow photographers at the venue.

Saturday March 21, 2020.

The first night of the enforced closures of pubs, venues, theatres, cinemas, cafes and restaurants.

I was excited to go and have a look and take some images but also sad at what I may find in the very place I call home most weekends.

The drive to town was much the same, maybe a little less traffic but nothing different. I only noticed just how much of a strange night this would be as I turned into Seel Street.

Concert Square during the coronavirus lockdown

Wow it was so empty. I could park up anywhere and did so at the top near the Arts Club.

Not a soul in sight and hardly any cars except for the odd empty taxi.

It all felt very surreal, no people and even more disturbing – it was very quiet – you always hear music above the sound of people chatting, laughing and shouting.

I made my way down Seel Street taking a few images as I went – and then reached the Zanzibar.

Just one lone car opposite and the car park totally empty.

I felt like I was in some sort of zombie film and a crowd of blood thirsty dead would come round the corner for me.

Still I had my tripod so could knock their head off with that.

Outside Phase One, which was in darkness I set up my tripod right in the middle of the road and spent at least five minutes taking a few images from the middle of the road.

This was at 8pm on a Saturday night. No cars came past and I think I saw one Deliveroo cyclist pass by.

Crossing Concert Square from Seel Street was just the same, very quiet and hardly anyone about.

Bold Street – a few more people but not many and the same at Central Station and the Bus Station down near Liverpool ONE.

This was a Saturday night in Liverpool I will never forget.

Very surreal, strange and very sad.

I must admit to feeling a little down on the drive home.

That was until I got to a red light on Aigburth Road and pulled up behind a car with a notice in the back window that read “No Toilet Rolls Or Pasta Left In This Vehicle Over Night” this cheered me up and reminded me that no matter what happens the good people of Liverpool will never lose their sense of humour.

I hope the next time I’m in Seel Street at 7.30pm on a Saturday Night I’m there with party goers. Hen Nights, Stag Nights, Gig Goers and my good friends, all the local gig photographers”. – Warren Millar, Getintothis chief photographer.

The Caledonia

“Walking into town from Liverpool’s Georgian quarter, nothing really seems amiss until I walk past a rarely silent Caledonia Pub.

Usually a bustling hive of activity, there is nothing to indicate to a stranger that this place, at this time, on a Saturday evening is alive with the beating heart of a community encased within its 150-year-old walls.

Turning the corner and walking past the Philharmonic Music Room, I am subjected to a dark foreboding back road with no sign of anything that would tell me that this street has had some of the biggest names in showbiz unload their tour buses there.

Sadly this solitary walk continues until I round the corner on to Berry street to see a usually vibrant neon lit Jimmy’s stood alone in total darkness and the magnitude of all this really hits me.

The mood is depressing to say the least.

I continue my walk on to Bold Street where I meet the equally stunned photographer Warren Millar and we continue our walk of this new ghost town and discuss our fears and hopes for the future of the city’s music scene.

I truly hope things go back to how they once were and maybe this time around we will all love a little more, live a little more and care a little more deeply.” – Billy Vitch

The Beer Engine on Hardman Street

“Having graced these streets many a time over my life – from the craziest parties and live music to city-wide celebrations of culture – I have seen them in every shape and colour.

But tonight I have seen them in a different light. Seeing these streets tonight felt like a once in a lifetime situation.

The feeling of calm around Liverpool’s busiest tourist attractions and most famous streets was very unsettling.” – Chris Everett.

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Images by Getintothis’ Warren Millar, Billy Vitch and Chris Everett.