A Tram Ride From The Pier-Head to Dovecot.The tide of time has flowed and ebbed but the memories remain.
No more can I jump a number ten tram at the Pier Head, upstairs for Dockers and smokers and downstairs for mothers and children.
Steel on steel as the wheels on lines sang their way around the curves … sitting there watching familiar shop fronts and streets … the clang, clang as the driver stomped on the warning bell to clear the line ahead, the tram making its bone shaking way along the lines to my stop.
The Green Goddess, a familiar sight in the green and cream livery of the Liverpool Corporation, always welcoming and once aboard I knew I could relax until we arrived at Dovecot.
It was an interesting ride along a familiar route, watching people going about their business and admiring the young judies, sometimes fantasizing about one who had caught the eye … might bump into her one day, the imagination was stimulated … there was always something to look at and in some cases stir the memories.
I would catch the tram at the Pier Head and make my way upstairs to sit with the smokers and I relaxed as I sucked on a Woodbine, enjoying the familiar sights along the way.
I was about fifteen year old and soon to travel south to Gravesend to start my training for the Merchant Navy … I felt like a man of the world, so grown up with five woodies in the pocket of my fashionable gabardine Mac, the favourite attire of young bucko’s and Dockers, although the Macs worn by the Dockers were soiled and shiny having seen better days.
Trams were noisy, a familiar friendly noise punctuated by the coughs and splutters of the older smokers … No one was aware of the dangers of smoking, it passed the time, it relaxed you and besides it was something men did … ignorance was bliss!
Up towards Dale Street, the Town Hall on the left and on the right the door to some old office building that had the head of a roaring lion as a handle … that brought back a very early memory of when I was a five year old.
We were living in Holborn Street, Low Hill and one of the Carbury kids, an older lad, had taken us into the city to play around the fountains opposite the Liverpool Museum – soon to be bombed with Nazi incendiary bombs.
The tram had meandered further along Dale Street until we reached the door, with the head of the roaring lion.
I recall being fascinated by it, when one of the other kids lifted me so that I was able to fit all of my head into the lion’s mouth … Thereafter the memory flared whenever I passed by that door, on Bus or Tram.
A five year old, the other kids couldn’t have been much older, and we were alone in the city. Nothing worried us, we were ignorant of danger. However, as young as we were we were street smart … Today you would die if you thought your kids were wandering alone around the city!
The tram would shake, rattle & roll along Dale Street.
Past places that would become familiar just a couple years later when I was old enough to drink … We would pass the Temple-Bar and Rigby’s pubs. They would be among my favourite watering holes in the city.
At the time they went un-noticed.
Moorefields, home of the ‘Wizards Den’ was more my scene; a school boys Aladdin’s cave, a fascinating place.
Soon we would be passing the Legs of Mann, another place I would visit in later years … Up London Road past the Odeon which was on our right, Burton’s Tailors and Peter Pells menswear on the left.
Not many would know that London Road was paved with creosote soaked wooden blocks, then a surface of tar.
When the road was ripped up the blocks were burnt during a coal shortage?
Next we would be passing T.J. Hughes, that swish department store which looked a little worse for wear the last time I passed it.
The tram line then followed on up Prescott Street cutting between Low Hill and Hall Lane into Kenny (Kensington).
On the left, next to the Coach & Horses pub, was Holborn Street where I’d lived as a little kid.
On the right at the corner of Hall Lane was the Sacred Heart Church and School; that was my first school.
I was enrolled at the school just as it was being was being evacuated to Gresford, North Wales - at the outbreak of the Second World War … Miss Green was my teacher, I was in the Infants class.
I will never forget the first day with Miss Green - Each child was issued with a tin musical instrument, Tin drums, Gazoo’s, Tambourines and Triangles and the noise we made was a cacophony of sound reminiscent of the Air-raid’s yet to come.
I was in Gresford for about twelve months and unlike many evacuees it was a happy time for me … I was with a wonderful family, the Edgar’s, there was Father, Mother and eleven year old daughter Doreen; for the short time I was with them they treated me as one of their own … About three years ago I searched for and, after sixty five years, found Doreen Edgar, she now lives in Tasmania … When we first spoke on the phone she called me her little brother which I thought was really nice, and it brought a tear to my eye.
My parents came and took me back to Liverpool just in time for the May blitz in 1941.
As the tram passed into Kensington we would pick up the aroma of pipe tobacco coming from Ogden’s Tobacco Factory… like the aroma of roasting coffee, that came from Cooper’s in the city.
I always loved the smell that came from Ogden’s tobacco factory … Just a year later I was on a South American Saint Line ship, the SS Saint Arvin’s on my way to South America.
The third mate used to smoke his pipe on the bridge … it was just like Ogden’s all over again … I loved it.
The tram would follow Prescott Road through Kensington … past the Kensington Picture House, on the corner of Holt Road, past the top of Sheil Road, the Casino Picture House and the Ice Rink on the right, then on past the Liverpool Police Club at Stanley Park, the Stanley Abattoir on the left and down towards Green Lane Tram Sheds and Old Swan.
Opposite the Abattoir used to be the Stanley Speedway, home of the Liverpool Chad’s.
That was a great Saturday night at the speedway … the Chads badge was the little head and big nose looking over a wall … the sort of ‘Kilroy was here sign’ that kids would chalk on walls … the name of the head was not Kilroy as many believed, it was ‘Chad’.
On the left side, at the corner of Green Lane was another small picture house, The Embassy, that’s where I saw Garry Cooper and Grace Kelly in “High Noon”…. The film was memorable but it was the theme song of the same name that got me and my mates there.
In the movie it was sung by Tex Ritter but it was Frankie Laine who made it a top ten song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XX0RakvyZ1I
After passing Green Lane the tram would rattle along, past Greenberg’s Ironmongers, and Saint Oswald Gardens into Old Swam proper … I always considered it to be the real Old Swan but that was just me.
Soon we would be passing the Curzon, on the left, and diagonally across on the right was the Regent … Even though I lived at Dovecot I always considered these two picture houses to be my locals because they were within walking distance.
My mates and I, or a girlfriend would often go there on Sunday afternoon if there was nothing good on the Granada at Dovecot, if I was with a girl we would get the tram but if it was just me and the mates we’d walk.
Once across Queen’s drive the tram now moved into a dedicated strip with privet hedges on either side of the tracks … we were getting into the new area that twenty years earlier had been out in the country… We were rattling along towards Eaton Road where Alder Hey the Children’s Hospital was.
There was a big park on the left just before Eaton Road.
I believe it was Springfield Park but I am not certain about that?
It was a big area and opposite was a quaint little pub called the “Lord Nelson.” A was a lovely little character pub that I liked to take my girlfriends to.
It was handy if you lived in Dovecot.
Even though it was tree lined suburb, each house with a privet hedge, you didn’t have a big choice in pubs.
There was the Boundary, Farmers Arms and the Bird and the Bastard (Eagle & Child), or further afield there was the Bowering Park Hotel, so the Lord Nelson was a good choice to take someone you were trying to impress … it was a posh little establishment.
The tram was now getting closer to home.
We passed Eaton Road and down towards the Harold Davis Swimming Baths, or Dovie Baths as we called it.
I’d spent a lot of my school boy days at the baths and won a few prizes swimming for the school … I loved the place and once almost pulled a lads arm off as he was reaching up, under the cubicle partition, to see if he could pinch something. I was standing on the seat, so he didn’t see my feet under the door.
I was the one who was thrown out of the baths for fighting, there was no justice in those days either.
The Baths have gone now, so have the prefabs that were opposite, in fact the Dovecot I knew disappeared a long time ago with the trams … some of the houses are still there, the privet hedges and trees lined roads went years ago, my old school has gone but not the happy memories.
Now Dovecot is full of strangers who call it home … and in a few more years, when the tide of time washes over the place once more, others will return seeking memories of their youth and they too will find only strangers … none will know how it was in the past, they will be totally unaware of the ghosts that wander the streets and roads searching for the youthful happiness they once knew … Perhaps, on a balmy summer evening, if the strangers take the time to listen they will probably hear the echo of childish laughter skimming past the houses, or the plaintiff cry of some young boy singing out reaaallllllyyyyyoh!!!!! as they sprint through the den to release his pals.
Addendum To The above PostReallyo! Was a game in which 2 sides were picked and a den was chalked on the footpath, about 4 x8, ,feet that is.
1 side would be chosen to be 'It' and they would take off in a determined area and the other-side would chase them.
When one was caught they would be put in the den, under the watchful eye of a guard.
If one of their team managed to run through the Den, without getting stopped by the guard, and shouting 'Reallyo!'
the prisoners would be released until caught again.
When a whole-side had been caught the other side went running off.
It was a fun street game that usually broke-up when the serial, "Dick Barton Special Agent" came on the radio at 6-45PM.
Your memories and the way you wrote them are to say the least amazing!
I felt like i was on that tram, seeing all them sights as you passed by.
Are you up to date with Old Swan?
St oswald's, the flats are no more, there now stands a Tesco! The abattoir is still there but no animals are now killed there. It's a collection of shops selling meats and fish. The Curzon was demolished a few months ago after being a host to a few different shops over the years. TJ Morris bought it last year, demolished it and build his new and very large Home bargains store! At least TJ Morris is a scouser! The Regent is no more, that too was a list of different shops over the years, it was demolished few years back but nobody has bought the land as of yet. The Dovecot picture house is still there, that has been a few different things over the past few years, mainly a bingo hall. Oh the tram sheds have gone and there now stands an Asda and a bookies on the land.
Alder Hey has a new building, built on Springwood park, it only opened a few months back and I have no idea what is going to happen to the old building. The pub, the Lord Nelson is still there and still in use as a local favourite pub. the Boundary and the Eagle have both gone.
Dovie baths have gone, there now stands a few bungalows in a little close called Gala close.
Going back to town, Rigby’s pub still there, but not the Legs Of Mann which was pulled down and The Empire extended on the land. T.J. Hughes, still there! Coach & Horses pub, is no longer a pub, i think it is an office for an accountant....I think....
Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories with us, I truly love reading them.
Is your wife an Australian?
|Barbie wrote: |
|Is your wife an Australian? |
Yes Barbie, my wife is Australian of Fiji/Indian origin.
She is still as beautiful today as she was the day we married.
This was a photo for the local newspaper.