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Memories of growing up in post-war Liverpool

Posted on 30 June 2016

Preserving the pennies was just a way of life…

We hear so much about austerity these days. Many of us have to keep a sharp eye on our budgets to make ends meet. But after the war, in Liverpool and across the country, making every penny count was a way of life.

We thought the older generation of this great city could teach us a thing or two about how to make the best of what we have today. So we’ve been all over the Internet digging out first-hand accounts and recollections from local bloggers, historians and authors of growing up in Liverpool in the years after the war.

Here are some of our favourite Liverpudlian finds for you. We hope they bring back some special memories of your own.

young-boy-walking-across-the-square

Children made their own fun

Toys were scarce so bombsites, parks and the city streets became playgrounds. Sefton Park was a favourite haunt and climbing up the statue of Peter Pan was a rite of passage for many of the city’s kids.

a-group-of-delighted-children-climb-a-tree-in-sefton-park-1960s

Free firewood

These were the times when people had very little and nothing went to waste. As a boy growing up in the Courts housing, Jim Fitzsimons remembers collecting the broken planks thrown out by the warehouses nearby and taking them home for firewood.

schoolboys-adding-wood-to-a-bonfire-in-the-shadow-of-anglican-cathedral-liverpool-1950s

Cash for bottles

Enterprising kids could earn a bob or two by collecting up the full-swing lemonade bottles left on Crosby Beach. One Waterloo resident remembers taking the bottles back to the shop for a couple of coppers and then spending the money on the penny tray.

young-children-reaching-up-to-the-penny-trays-on-sweet-shop-counter-1950s

Make do and mend

Mums spent hours darning and according to local John Sumner, dads were kept busy too. “My dad used to cut our hair… He also mended our shoes and boots, they looked like new when he had finished...”

young-boy-pulling-a-face-while-father-cuts-his-hair-1950s

 

Meals from scraps

It goes without saying that food was never wasted. We’re told that on Wednesdays, mums across the city would get scraps of food together and cook it in a big pan to feed the kids on the street. Pay day wasn't until Thursday so those meals satisfied many a rumbling tum.

mum-tending-a-large-pan-on-stove-watched-by-her-young-daughters-1950s

The city’s timepiece

Few had a watch, so the giant clock of the Liver building was the timepiece for the whole city. Even the tram cars getting Liverpool’s workforce home in time for tea, ran according to it.

view-of-the-liver-building-pier-head-1950s

A trip to the seaside

We found countless joyful memories of day trips to New Brighton on the ferry or train. The fun of the fair; the thrill of the cable car; the Tower; hours spent in the arcades; paddling in the sea or the beautiful outdoor pool. And best of all? Eating candy floss on the prom.

2-young-sisters-in-their-sunday-best-eating-candyfloss-on-new-brighton-prom-1950s

And finally, the legend that is The Cavern

We couldn’t forget The Cavern! In the late 1950s and 1960s, Liverpool’s teens would spend dinner times (and dinner money!) in a dank cellar, watching the big names in the Mersey Beat scene. Marie Townsend remembers these sessions fondly: “Everyone would dance the legs off themselves until 1.15pm; then run back into school dead on 1.30pm”.

a-group-of-teenagers-watching-a-lunchtime-session-in-the-cavern

Has this look back at Liverpool in the years after the war brought back special memories for you? We’d love to hear your personal stories of growing up in this vibrant city.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like to read our look back at how we used to Make do and Mend or growing up in 1940s and 1950s Britain.

We’d like to say a very big thank you for all the memories we have collected from francisfrith.com, echoesofliverpool.com, PeoplesStories.com, 4.bp.blogspot.com (JPEG), BBC and the Liverpool Echo. It’s been a pleasure discovering such wonderful accounts from your inspiring city.

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