Following the Toxteth riots of 1981, areas including Granby fell into severe disrepair. But over 20 years ago, the community of the Granby Four Streets Triangle came together to do something about it. After establishing the Granby Residents Association in 1993, the community has worked hard to breathe life back into the area it loves.
In 2014 Assemble, an 18–strong cooperative, was appointed by Granby Four Streets to renovate its derelict houses. In 2015, much to the surprise of the community and its architects, the project was the first to win the Turner Prize, the country’s most prestigious art award, for something other than a specific work of art. Instead, it was awarded for the way the project had produced art made by local people to be exhibited in the community.
From thriving monthly market to unexpected art scene
Granby Four Streets has renovated eleven derelict houses, selling five and putting six up for rent. The houses that were sold are subject to a pricing covenant, meaning their price can only increase in line with the increase in wages in Liverpool, rather than the housing market, ensuring they remain genuinely affordable for local people.
Two houses that weren’t suitable homes have been turned into The Winter Garden. One half is a greenhouse that offers a place for local people to practice horticulture, while the other half operates as a B&B for tourists and artists in residence. The Winter Garden is well on its way to financial sustainability and the space is also used for community workshops and events.
Additionally, the organisation and Assemble set up Granby Workshop, where local artists created items like doorknobs and tiles from items discarded in the renovation. These items were showcased at the Turner Prize exhibition and the workshop lives on as a place for the community to purchase fantastic and unusual artwork.
The thriving Granby Market has also gone from strength to strength, selling everything from bric-a-brac, to arts and crafts supplies, to hot food and cakes – filling the space with the life it was missing for so long.
Coping with the Covid pandemic
The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic reduced income for Granby for over a year, from sources including The Winter Garden and its monthly market. Construction costs were also pushed skyward, rising by around 30%, meaning the organisation has had to employ a fundraiser to bridge the gap.
In response to the crisis, Granby started offering local traders with an online presence the opportunity to promote the organisation on their social media pages. The group continued spreading the word about the market and all Granby is working to achieve, even whilst operations were on hold.
The future of the project
Granby Four Streets has acquired four corner shops, one of which is already being rented out. Another will be turned into a community café with an affordable rented flat above it, generating more income for the project. Additionally, the group hopes The Winter Garden can be used more regularly post-Covid, bringing in a sustainable source of income for the group. Granby also hopes to extend its monthly market and increase the number of stalls.