We are nearly four years into the second Great War of the century. Many thousands are dead and large areas of all sides cities and docklands are in ruins. Already though, thoughts here are turning to the longed for ‘afterwards.’ The Beveridge Report has been published the previous December, enthralling hundreds of thousands at home and at the front with plans for making a better world. A world that will deal with the ‘Five great evils’ of squalor, ignorance, want, idleness, and disease by, amongst other things, creating a National Health Service. And wartime Education Minister Rab Butler will soon be bringing his Education Act to Parliament. Creating a new education system for all and raising the school leaving age to fifteen.
Well Joe Hughes, our guide to wartime Liverpool today, has avoided that and left school at fourteen. Largely because his family needs the income. Born in Chisenhale Street, just off Vauxhall Road in 1928, and now living in Owen House in Kirkdale, close to the North Docks, Joe is in Liverpool to start his second full-time job.
Having begun as a gas-welder close to home Joe has now managed, at just fifteen, to get his first office job. At Exchange Flags, just behind the Town Hall. Joe is starting as an Office Boy, running errands for the Liverpool Exchange Company.
Joe Hughes is my Dad. And today we are walking round wartime Liverpool together.
Walking through the warren of tiny alleyways young Joe frequents in his new job. The Exchange Company are the agents for many of the buildings round here, full of firms engaged in shipping and insurance work. War there may be, but goods and armaments and food are still being moved around the world. And Joe is running between offices with messages about them.
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