It’s Liverpool 1969: Growing Up In Granby

cleaning the pavement outside her homeA while back something precious arrived in the post in Granby from Nick Hedges. A CD full of photographs he’d taken in 1969 and soon after of life in Granby and around Liverpool 8 in those years. He said we could make whatever use of them we thought best, so I’m going to use a selection of them on this post today, as I continue telling the evolving story of Granby.

As you can see in these years Granby is full of people looking after their homes and the streets where they live. And in the years leading up to 1969 Granby Street, the main street through the middle of the area, is lined with all kinds of shops on both sides of the road.

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68.granby4

Corner of Selborne Street.

A sign there pointing along to the public baths on Lodge Lane that still existed then.

Corner of

Corner of Harrowby Street.

70.49-59 Ganby St

Corner of Northbrook Street.

Everything looking settled and thriving enough to keep all these shops going.

Corner of Eversley Street.

Corner of Eversley Street.

And as I type out their names I’m aware that these are not street names you’ll recognise if most of your knowledge of Granby comes from this blog. Because these are the gone streets of Granby, entering their late days here as the late 1960s arrive.

In these days Granby Street still flows onto Upper Parliament Street, one of the main roads into the city centre a mile or so away. And through the 1960s there’s been talk of the M62 Motorway coming into the city along Upper Parliament. By 1969 we know this won’t happen, but it has been decided it will form part of an inner ring-road. Thus beginning the blighting that large scale engineering works can often cause once announced in an area where people are living their lives. Look:

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Canning, Upper Parliament and Granby, early 1970s.

In the middle of the photograph Upper Falkner, Canning and Huskisson have already gone. Granby Street is the one running into the bottom corner of this demolished area, with its own residential streets stretched out either side of it in a triangle towards the bottom right corner of the photo along Princes Avenue (‘Granby 4 Streets’ as we’ll come to call them, are the last four streets as the triangle reaches Princes Avenue).

Though not much demolition has yet happened in Granby (though some blocks of shops have already gone in the photograph) it has now been classified, in the charmless vernacular of the time, as a ‘twilight’ area. One with an uncertain but clearly not very bright future.

As with blighting everywhere a good many of the people who can leave do so immediately. Those who can’t or won’t then find the empty houses around them being sold or rented cheaply by sometimes unscrupulous landlords out to make some quick money while they can by exploiting people. Creating the living conditions I’m about to show you in the Granby of the end of the 1960s. These are the Nick Hedges photos and I’m going to stick with his own captions on them, again redolent of these times of growing up in Granby.

'Window of a shop on Granby St'

‘Window of a shop on Granby St’

'Keeping an eye on the street'

‘Keeping an eye on the street’

'3 friends on Granby St'

‘3 friends on Granby St’

'Mr Owen and his family'

‘Mr Owen and his family’

'Mrs Ditchfield in her cellar flat'

‘Mrs Ditchfield in her cellar flat’

'Mrs Ditchfield and daughter in cellar flat'

‘Mrs Ditchfield and daughter in cellar flat’

'Doorway of a Liverpool multilet'

‘Doorway of a Liverpool multilet’

'Latchkey children Liverpool'

‘Latchkey children Liverpool’

'Liverpool sisters slum bathroom'

‘Liverpool sisters slum bathroom’

I don’t know about you but these pictures make me cry, particularly the ones of the children of Granby. Indeed, after he’d used some of them for Shelter, who’d commissioned him, Nick Hedges embargoed the photographs for 40 years, until all the children in them were grown up.

So anyway, this is where Shelter enter the Granby Story.

The Shelter Neighbourhood Action Project.

The Shelter Neighbourhood Action Project.

To their immense and abiding credit Shelter decide to see if they can do anything about what’s just happened in Granby. And I’ll be telling you the full story of what they did one of these days.

But in short they get Liverpool Corporation to co-operate on an experiment where they work with all of the people of Granby to see if the area’s multiple deprivations can be tackled in multiple ways.

Many large gatherings of residents are had.

Many large gatherings of residents are had.

Special events organised for all. 'On board the playbus'

Special events organised for all. ‘On board the playbus’

Money is spent on the houses.

Money is spent on the houses.

Babies are born.

Babies are born and LFC keep on winning things.

These look like Cairns Street to me, but they could as easily be a gone street.

These look like Cairns Street to me, but they could as easily be a gone street.

The transport, policing, health, kerb crawling, greenery, landlord issues, benefits and much else is also looked into and discussed along with the housing. And many newsletters get produced.SNAP4

In the sketch map of Ducie Street above we see the small local housing associations getting involved. LHT (Liverpool Housing Trust) where I’ll start working a few years later, getting going with some of its first properties here. Gradually taking over the multi-lets (‘M’ on the map) from the unprincipled rogues who were piling as many families as they could get into them.

The worst overcrowding LHT ever find is in one large house in Ducie Street where every room, including the basements as pictured above, is let to a separate family. Eleven families in all in the house. Even now I can never stand in Ducie Street without feeling the rage and unfairness of that.

But houses get done up here in Jermyn Street. 'When Ken Dodd opened the showhouse'

But houses do get done up here in Jermyn Street. ‘When Ken Dodd opened the showhouse’

'Ken Dodd opening a show house'

‘Ken Dodd opening a show house’

The inviting of Ken to do this is done by the people themselves, as you’d expect.

'The Old Police Station'

‘The Old Police Station’…

Becomes the new Housing Aid.

Becomes the new Housing Aid.

And the streets of Granby survive the threat of ‘twilight’ days. Though as the children in these photographs grow up their Granby will not turn out to be the quiet home they might be expecting.

'Front path of a SNAP house'

For now ‘Front path of a SNAP house’

This house is 61 Cairns Street. And like a couple of other houses at that end of the street it still has this mosaic frontage.

Like here at 55, one of our Community Land Trust houses.

Like here at 53, one of our Community Land Trust houses.

But clearly Granby goes through many adventures since 1969. And time has not yet been kind to 61 Cairns.

Here I am inside the hall one day last summer.

Here I am inside the hall one day last summer.

61 and 63 Cairns Street now.

61 and 63 Cairns Street now.

We’ll soon be starting work on 55, 57 and 59 Cairns. So we might yet get to these two. We’d certainly love to.

Frank Horton in 1970.

Frank Horton in 1970.

But for now, goodbye to 1969 and thank you to Shelter, Nick Hedges and everyone who worked on the Shelter Neighbourhood Action Project. Particularly remembering in this post the team’s sociologist. From Liverpool University’s Architecture Department, Sarah’s Dad and my future father in law, Frank Horton.

I think I was always going to end up working in Granby.

Postscript: I’ve been contacted by Michael Simon, who works with us as part of the 4 Streets Community Land Trust, and he tells me the small boy in the centre of the ‘Playbus’ photo above is himself. He also knows a few of the other children pictured, though I’ll only reveal their names if they should ever see the post and tell me that would be ok.

28 thoughts on “It’s Liverpool 1969: Growing Up In Granby

  1. Westengland

    Yes, these photographs would make most decent people tearful, as do the similar ones from the same time in other parts of the country. For those who have a *sense of place*, the *sense of betrayal* grows stronger as the years pass. Please try and identify as many people in the photographs as possible, to help to give them their place in history. Thank you very much for this post.

    Reply
  2. Stuart Fitzgerald

    Ronnie, I should just thank you, sincerely for this stunning piece. Informative, raging and unsentimental, it’s a fascinating indictment of the state of our city less than 50 years ago and even more damning, it’s an indictment of the shocking malaise that existed in far too many local authorities even then …. A total silo mentality with Corpy departments seeing their domains as self-fulfilling and self-serving fiefdoms where total deference to senior managers was far more important than the role for which the Corporations were created – to serve the people of their towns and cities.
    What superb and moving photographs too.
    Your work deserves, nay demands, much wider exposure ! The fact that you’ve needed, 45 years on, to establish a CLT to try and cure some of the remaining ills of the area is testimony to how many of our city’s communities are still being failed.

    On behalf of all our communities, Ronnie, thank you for all that you’re doing, mate.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Thanks for this Stu. If I ever do write the full story of SNAP you’ll hear about the problems Shelter had dealing with the huge number of Corporation departments. A process not made easier by the fact that they were all being reorganised at the time. This of course making them even more protective of their silos.

      I’ve had these photos for a while. Waiting for the right words to do them justice I suppose. Then recent experiences in Everton and Anfield and a long conversation this Friday with a friend who grew up there, reminded me that the blighting of urban places by large corporates, government and civil engineering often follows a similar pattern of long term attrition. In the middle of which are children, growing up with this attrition as a way of life, and in homes they always know will some day be taken from them. Growing up in pain, and yet still being children with friends in gradually closing down streets. So I wanted to reflect some of that here.

      Thank you for ‘raging and unsentimental’ – some things just have to be said.

      Reply
  3. David Sakho

    Wonderful to see these old photos. I moved to 60 Canning Street with my late Parents as a 13 year old in June 1969, and my Mum regularly used to go to Granby Street to do the shopping. I particularly remember an Asian gentleman who owned a food shop by the junction with Parliament Street on the left side of Granby as you looked down from Parly. My Mum used to get red chilli powder there and Kola nuts, which my Dad liked to chew. Back in those years, such foodstuffs weren’t as easily available as they are in today’s more globalised and multi-cultural society. In spite of the poverty, Granby Street was buzzing and vibrant with shops and businesses then – whatever happened to that? By the 1990’s and 2000’s, it was so run down.

    The aerial photo was taken sometime after 1970, because the new housing estate is under construction, and I remember the land being fenced off and work beginning on it in about September of that year.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Thanks for these vibrant memories David. We’re doing our best now to bring some buzz back to Granby Street. As the houses are well on now, we’re working on the shops next. Helping and hoping to get as many back open as possible as our streets fill up with new people. Also we have plans to bring our Street Market out onto Granby Street pretty soon.

      And thanks for getting us closer to the date on the aerial photograph.

      Reply
      1. David Sakho

        Ronnie,

        I have a good memory for past dates and events. I went to live on that estate in September 1973. If you have the photo available in greater resolution, I think I could give a more exact date.

        David

  4. memoirsofahusk

    Wow. A couple of those could have been refugee camp pictures from 2016 – which in itself raises all sorts of other questions, thoughts, unsolvable problems. One of the most difficult things about poverty today is the relativity of it here – especially for people who have seen the kind of poverty of that mother and daughter in a basement flat. Life is complicated, but .. onwards.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Life is indeed complicated. It also doesn’t necessarily keep getting better. So in writing a piece of history like this I felt I could have been writing about today.

      Reply
  5. Alin Saeed

    Amazing photos – I was born and bred in Hatherley St, Liverpool 8 in 1965 before it became widely known as ‘Toxteth’. Went to school Granby St, primary and junior school and loved every minute of it, despite the endemic poverty. A LOL moment was seeing the Ken Dodd photos, I was one of the kids in the crowd (but not in shot) and had completely forgotten about it. Delightful nostalgia.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Lovely to hear from you Alin and glad you were there in those Shelter and Ken Dodd days. The remaining original side of Hatherley Street? It would be great if we could all sort out a future for it, now we’re so far on with the 4 Streets.

      Reply
      1. Alin

        Hi Ronnie

        indeed the original side, number 25; the house is “shut-up” and it’s such a shame to see it in that state. The street was very lively – all us kids playing hide-and-seek or 20 boys playing footy at the Princes Avenue side. I’d like to see the surviving houses saved.

  6. Keith briwn

    Great article except Liverpool FC were not winning things in 1969 -70
    Everton were the champions of the football league. Just for the record of course.

    Reply
  7. June Heyes

    Such Memories! I went to Granby Street School from 1965-1969, and loved it there. I can remember my headmistress Mrs Pallow, a lovely lady.
    Our School was diverse, multi cultural and I have fond memories.
    I lived in Roseberry Street just in front of Granby School and can remember Playing on Kingsley Road collecting pennies for Bonfire Night, with our Guy Fawkes ( A friend dressed up as the Guy)

    Reply
  8. Jacqueline Tillyer

    I came to Liverpool 8 in Winter 70 and lived firstly at 153 Upper Parliament Street. I was seventeen years old and had ‘run away’ from London to be close to my then boyfriend who wanted to go to Liverpool Art College.

    Many fond memories, unforgettable characters who lived, some only surviving, in that part of forgotten Liverpool,( to the authorities abandoned). I learnt many ‘life’ lessons in the time I was in Liverpool 8 and was protected and shown such kindness by those who had really nothing. I never forget those times and always consider the debt I owe as I don’t think I would have survived in London.

    Never, never forgotten and always grateful.

    Reply
  9. FlorenceOconnor

    Hi my name is Florence Oconnor my maiden name was Scott I went to Granby st school from 1944 to 1954 I remember lots of names June Dennett Norma and Maureen Parr Loretta OHare Ruth Kawalski Juanita Noel Maureen Marshall Pat Lewtas(passed 11plus went to Grove st high school)Christina Eyo Lily Robinson Roma O Shea RobertaCurran the girls and boys school were seperate but we had one Headmaster Mr Coppack. I remember Lita Rosa coming to visit the school she was in a light blue car and she looked very glamorous.We lived together with my auntie Flo and uncle Will at 10 Mulgrave street It was a lovely area and I could walk to school on my own go with my friends to Princes Park get a penny return on a tram along the boulevard in Princes avenue are doctor was Dr Dunsby He lived and had his surgery on Parliament st I have happy memories of those times

    Reply
  10. Michelle

    i lived in house opposite the cafe window. Never thought id ever see that house again . Thanks for this precious photo.

    Reply
  11. David

    I was bought up in Granby Street during the 60s. My dad ran the Chinese Laundry at no 14 and then we moved to the chippy at no. 42. It’s my brothers Singer Vogue that you can see parked near Tescos. I went to school at Granby Street CP. I remember going to the old flea pit next to school and having a soda at the soda bar. We were a community back then and everyone looked after each other.

    Reply
  12. Bernadette Akpan

    Lived at number 12 Normandy street after I was born then we moved to 220 upper parliament street we’ve moved to help place May 1964 I went to Saint Bernards school remember my first day remember Granby street like it was yesterday remember the shops especially mr prices going with my mum or dad to buy Parfin can still smell that smell. I remember Goodalls harolds the fish shop the cake shop hallets for the custard slices bought once every blue moon Hildas Remember me mum buying a doll for Christmas those were the days should never of knocked it down never had to go into town because Granby was town

    Reply

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