Monday, February 11, 2008

Memories of Liverpool

Thanks to a Scottish virtual colleague of mine for passing on her memories of her childhood in Liverpool. This is going to be something that will develop further, and I am grateful to Liz for this input. I would welcome any comments from readers who recognise the places mentioned here, or who had similar experiences (whether in Liverpool or not...)

Liverpool reminiscences

I was born in the Wirral in 1959 and remember spending time in Liverpool as a youngster in the 1960’s / early 70’s.

Social activities

Kardomah café – the only opportunity we had to eat out – beans on toast was real treat !

We occasionally travelled to shop in Liverpool – George Henry Lees ( now part of John Lewis) was the very posh department store. My mum always took us to use the toilets there because they were very clean !

Buildings

I recall the RC cathedral being built and our first visit to what then was a very modern and unusual building no one had seen anything like it before. It was light and airy and round. I can still remember seeing the sun coming through the stained glass and being enthralled by it. I had never been in a building like it.


The Anglican cathedral is a huge sandstone building and there was a story about it still not being finished after hundreds of years of building !

The street between the two cathedrals is called Hope Street which many people feel is very appropriate.

St John’s tower and shopping precinct were very radical when built especially as the restaurant at the top rotated once in an hour. It was very grand and expensive and I still have never been there.

Royal Philharmonic Hall – a very famous concert venue and home of the Liverpool Philharmonic orchestra. The held concerts of many types there – a very grand hall.

St George’s Hall – a huge building used for many cultural activities – I think there was an Art Gallery there too.

Liverpool Empire – theatre venue – we went to see the ballet Copelia there one Christmas and I think some pantomimes too. There were lots of cinemas and I recall standing in a very long queue to see the new film "Mary Poppins" and then going to the Kardomah Café for tea.

I think the main shopping street was Bold Street which always seemed a strange name to me.

Transport

Lime Street station the main railway station – always sounded so grand and seemed so huge and busy.

With living on the Wirral we had to use either the “ferry across the Mersey” or the road tunnel under the river to get to Liverpool. There was always a great thrill of travelling on the ferry as this was very exotic. (Foreign holidays were not commonplace so this was a real treat for us,) As the Liver building came closer there was great excitement. Many people commuted by ferry as it was possible to buy a cheap day return and the times tied in with buses.

The tunnel was built (I think) in the 1930’s and I recall the new tunnel opening – it was a very strange sensation going underground in a car – it always seemed quite smelly from the fumes. My Dad commuted by motor scooter and he always wore a scarf to cover his mouth to prevent him breathing in the car fumes.

Industry / Jobs

In the 1960’s the Old Dock Road was a busy place but as the decade wore on it became very run down and by 1970’s many derelict buildings/ boarded up shops. You no longer saw the huge ships in the port and the river was far less busy. As you drove through there were many more people hanging round on street corners – I now assume they were unemployed dock workers. The Ford factory at Halewood ( built in the 60’s ??) was seen as a new source of employment and was welcomed.

Education

A large student population and a popular choice for university with a variety of course available at the various centres of Higher Education. It was my second choice of university – but I found the temptations of the bigger city of Manchester too much to resist !

Regeneration

In the 1980’s we returned to live on the Wirral and we visited Liverpool on a few occasions in 1984 for the Garden Festival. It was a successful event when views as a visitor but in the long term some people argue that little remains that was of benefit to the city ( for the amount it cost).

Around that time although we did not attend there was great excitement as the Pope visited and held a huge outdoor mass which was attended by vast numbers of people.

2 comments:

Nick said...

Wow, Kardomah cafes! In the early to mid-50s I used to live in Manchester. Most summers, my brother and I used to stay with my father's parents in Wavertree. To get there, my parents used to put us in the care of the guard of a train at Manchester Central. Our grandmother used to meet us at Liverpool Central. The ritual was to go out of the side entrance, cross Bold Street and into a Kardomah for beans on toast and GREEN JELLY!

Nick said...

My grandmother used to the secretary of the Liverpool Bridge Club, which was very near the Anglican cathedral. My brother and I used to play in the cemetery behind it. We particularly liked running up and down the ramps on the Hope Street/Gambia Terrace side and peering into Huskisson's (the first railway fatality) tomb