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Thread: King Street Garston 1930s to 1970s

  1. #1

    Smile King Street Garston 1930s to 1970s

    Hi -- what a great site
    (you can cut to the chase by scrolling to the bold bits...)

    I am trying to get a few of my parents memories from Liverpool of old, down on paper. At the moment I am working on Dads stories.

    He was born in 1936 in Garston, the youngest of 11 kids.

    He tells stories about:
    the poverty;
    being catholic in a street where one side was catholic and part of the other side was protestant;
    the strong sense of community;
    the street gambling, pubs, sing-songs;
    bomb-raid stories;
    the difference between those under the bridge and those not...etc

    These days he is greatful for a plummed bathroom, heating and a more varied diet than jam butties at home and bananas pinched from the docks when opportunity knocked.
    He thinks perhaps, however, his childhood made up for in (some kind of) culture and community, what it lacked in money and opportunity.

    After childhood came the teens of course, and the 'King Street Cowboy' label, knocking round with the boys, then conscription...

    After teens came slotting in to the life of the average scouser, getting married, kids, getting kicked out of Garston because their house was getting demolished, moving to speke, working at Dunlops for 10 years or more, an odd bevvy at the peggi...

    In the 70s with all the forecast instability of the docks and industry, my family got out and moved to Australia.

    At the moment I am writing a short story about a small event that happened in the 40s (I think). I will check with dad for a more specific date.

    The story goes that there was a huge mound of coal dumped near king street, the industrial/dock area.

    The way dad remembers it, the king street community pretty much decimated the mountain in a night!

    Dad recalls the community, kids and adults alike, doing relays to the coal pile in the dark, carrying coal back by hand or in prams, barrows and baskets.

    It was a big deal, as most could not afford enough coal to keep them warm all the time.

    Dad recalls the event vividly through a childs eyes. His memory doesn't tell the whole story because I dont know who put the coal there, how the police dealt with it, what the adults of the community thought of the event...

    None of that matters, his recollection is a fab story which paints an important picture of growing up under the bridge back then.

    It would be great to hear from anyone who remembers the event, who has heard of it, or can track down any facts about it!

    Anyone here that old or got great/grand/parents from Garston?

    All help gratefully received, any other memories of that time? I would love to chat!

    THANKS in advance

    MM -

  2. #2
    Creator & Administrator Kev's Avatar
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    Hello there, what a fantastic post, thanks very much. My nan and grandad are sadly both no longer with us but were both Garstonians, my nan working in the Bobbin Works from the age of 12 I think. I will have a word with some people I know and get back to you.

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  3. #3
    Guest scouserdave's Avatar


    A cracking read Merseymay. Thanks for sharing it

  4. #4

    Default Thanks

    Thanks for replying! Looking forward to hearing of any leads.

    Will share the finished story here once its ready to go.

  5. #5
    Senior Member john's Avatar
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    May 2006
    In the Big Village


    Great story, my folks where from Garston

    and have fond memories.
    My extended family all lived in a couple of streets in Garston until they were knocked down and my family and friends all moved

    out to pastures new.
    They went from two up two down, outside lav to a modern house with bathroom inside lav, I think that my parents could not believe

    their luck.

    Have you seen the Garston book?

    " If you know your history, then you would know where you coming from".

    "I could have been a footballer - but I had a paper round"..Yosser Hughes

  6. #6


    First to Kev - I forgot to say - my Granny worked at the bobbin works too.

    It sent her deaf which was a blessing of sorts.
    With 11 kids (10 because one died as a child) and a grumpy husband and no money, you'd think it would

    be a stressful life. But she was always smiling and had barely a wrinkle on her face when she died in her 80s. They all reckon its because she was deaf so

    she never knew what was going on in their lives, so couldn't worry.
    Her kids would take her to the pub each arvo, sit her down and get her a bloody mary.

    She'd sit there nodding her head at the conversations and grinning away.
    Occasionally she'd pipe up and say 'Its good stuff this tomato juice'.

    Now to John
    hi, thanks for the reply

    Don't think I've seen the Garston Book. I think my mum has mentioned

    it. Or I could be thinking of her frequently saying 'Garston is mentioned in the Doomsday Book' LOL.

    We have a copy of 'over the top from under

    the bridge' (I think its called).
    Its the story of a fellow who lived off king street. It has a copy of a census (50s)in it which is brilliant to read

    with folks who once lived there. Every name they recognise sparks an avalanche of memories. I think its avail thru the Garston Historical


    Vulcan Street and Thomas Street were two Garston Streets where my relos lived that are now kaput - demolished in the 60s I think. Is that where

    your relos were? Outside loos, 2 up 2 down - miniature houses, pretty much slummys thrown up to house factory workers in the late 1800s I think.


    mum was happy to get out like your relos, but dad was a Garstonian born and bread so it gutted him to leave.

    He knew almost every person

    in Garston from a few generations. His mental map of garston and where everyone lived is amazing. he can just about do his own retrospective census of the


    Let us know what book you were referring to?



  7. #7
    Senior Member Norm NZ's Avatar
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    Sep 2005

    Default Re: Garston

    Hi Merseymay, Welcome to this great site, I too, recommend the book 'Garston' compiled by Margaret and Bernard Brett of

    the Garston and District Historical Society. You would probably get one from the society.
    I too, lived 'under the bridge' in Byron St, Mum also

    worked in the Bobbin Works in her early years (lots of Garston girls did!) in 1939 my family moved to the Tenements in Speke Road, so I lived both 'under'

    and 'over' the bridge.
    Garston was a great place to live in the ealier days, can't say what it's like now, but Kev will keep you informed I'm

    sure. Lets know your dads name, I may have known him! Regards,

  8. #8
    Too old to suffer sweetpatooti's Avatar
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    Jan 2006


    Hilarious Merseymay - what a great post - I still live in Garston like Kev and I will see what I can find out from some of the oldies

    in Church on Sunday - they love a ramble down memory lane - it's like therapy to them.

    (Don't tell'em I called them old!!)

  9. #9



    Thanks Norm for the book details.

    Family names avail by PM if anyone wants to ask

    relatives if they knew us.

    sweetpatooti I wont let on that you called them old folks old LOL. That would be great if you could ask them

    what they remember.

    The story I am writing just now about the disappearing coal mound wouldn't rate a mention next to the blitz and the beatles

    It is important to get it down on paper as maybe there is no record of it yet. Its a picture of everyday life and survival in Garston.

    People outside Garston thought they were rogues, and their own religious backgrounds and morals made them think that themselves to some extent. But we know

    differently. They had a big heart and a sense of community hard to rival even in L'pool.

    Nothing romantic about pinching coal, but through his

    childish eyes, it was a magical night of happiness and hard work in the community. It just had to be done, logic dictated it.

    Freezing to death, no

    coal, no money, suddenly a magic mountain of coal appears just round the corner...were they supposed to ignore it?

    These were the people that under

    old overcoats, each night, slept. My dad slept in a bed with a handful of his siblings and a couple of old army coats to keep them all


    Okies thanks to both of you


    Edited to put the this info in the relevent thread
    Last edited by merseymay; 10-13-2006 at 06:37 AM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Norm NZ's Avatar
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    Sep 2005

    Default King St Garston.

    Hi MM, Thanks for reply, afraid I don't recall the names! but many years have past since I left Garston. You should have a look at the site done by the "Woodcutters Club" in Garston, this club was founded by workers of the 'Bobbin Works' It may be worth your while to put a message on the club notice board. Regards.

  11. #11

    Default Update

    Hi, thanks Norm

    Here is

    an update:

    some more details about the coal pile event for those still in Garston:

    The coal pile was put in the light industrial area above the

    docks at the end of Hughes street. It was behind sheets of corrogated iron, of which someone had remove a couple of pieces to expose the booty. He

    said the pile was as big as a house (Australian bungalow...pretty darn big) at least.

    Dads family lived in an old former club (now demolished) right

    next to the Vic between Sinclair st and Hughes street. Just up from the green grocers at the time.

    The pub on the corner of hughes st

    was then known as Nellie Mallans (spelling?) as she was the propriator at the time. It was officially called the Kings Vaults at the time Dad

    thinks. Now known as the King Street Vaults.
    Nellie Mallans pub was an ?? and allsops brewery at the time.

    Dad said the memory

    of the coal pile event is surreal. He doesn't remember the King St community talking, just industriously gathering the coal in a relay, doing what they HAD

    to do.

    A steady stream of dark faceless figures moving back and forth between the coal and their homes. The was a sense of logic and grand

    opportunity about it, but mainly, just a sense of getting on with the task at hand.

    Prams and hand carts were employed to carry the coal where

    possible. When the bathtubs were chockas and there was nowhere left to stash the coal, they stopped.

    The next day the opportuity was gone. For

    some reason no more magic piles of coal appeared for the King street community.

    A hand cart was a home made barrow, using a banana crate

    and adding wheels and handles.

    Most people could afford two bags of coal a fortnight, if they were lucky. That amount of coal lasted 3 days. The

    rest of the time they scrounged around for wood or anything that would burn - or went without.

    Can you imagine what the coal pile meant for them?

    All their christmases come at once!

    It must have happened after the 2WW, in the mid-late 40s. The only chance of getting more information is to find

    someone who was a teenager or adult at the time it happened (so now in their late 70s, 80s, 90s), and perhaps finding a report in the Echo or a police


    Last edited by merseymay; 10-13-2006 at 03:20 PM.

  12. #12
    Senior Member lindylou's Avatar
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    Sep 2005


    Hello MM, very interesting and amusing posts. I get a mental picture of the kids getting the coal from the pile

    .... aahh ! Times must have been hard.

    Welcome to the forum. Hope you stay and continue to post such interesting tales.

  13. #13


    Hi lindylou

    thanks for the warm welcome.

    Yea, I can see the kids too, slipping and struggling

    on the side of this great wall of rubble.

    Its harder to get inside the heads of the adults of the time. How did they feel? Was there any anxiety

    about the morality of the event? Or was it as Dad recalls, just something that had to happen. They had a strong sense of right and wrong. Their

    circumstances meant it didn't always mesh with the greater communities morals. In a battle between right and wrong, it might have seemed wrong to those

    under the bridge, to leave the coal sitting there, while their children went cold.

    I can imagine the elders in the community directing the show!

    'Up the stairs lad, inter the bath with that lot. Move it.'

    'yes dad.'

    'right, leg it back down the street quick-smart

    before the so and so's round the corner take the lot!'

    'yes dad'

    'but dont look desperate, we've got pride yer know.'


    dad, I wont run, I'll 'fast walk', like this...'


  14. #14
    Creator & Administrator Kev's Avatar
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    You might be interested to see King

    Street these days: Click here
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  15. #15


    Kev, thanks for the links and pics.

    Are there any links to the development plan?
    Whats it

    going to be?
    Whats happening to all the pubs on king street?
    Does anyone live there at the moment?

    Its great that things are going to be nice

    and shiny in the south

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