“I hated being sent to collect me mum’s washing from the Kelton laundry. With a kid’s imagination it looked like Dracula’ s castle or maybe Colditz to my young eyes. You would knock on a huge door which was duly opened by a fearsome looking nun in full habit. Peering in as she went to fetch the wash, revealed a scene I thought was what hell must look like. A horrible smell of cleaning and lots of steam. Lines of women in pinafores and covered heads slaving away. A vacant expression of hopelessness on every face. I sensed evil even at my tender age.
The evil that was the Magdalene story”.
Phil Jones, October 2017
This comment turned up in my email early one Saturday in October 2017 about a blog post I’d written nearly four years earlier in December 2013. That post had been about a general walk around Aigburth in South Liverpool that had ended with me finding somewhere I’d almost forgotten from earlier in my life.
“Let me tell you a story, a true story, from half my lifetime ago.
It’s the mid 1980s and I’m delivering my beloved baby daughter to her nursery. It’s called Kelton and is just down the hill from a convent, called Kelton House. This morning I’ve noticed someone watching me as I drive past Kelton House. Someone who doesn’t look much like a nun. I ask one of the women who work in the nursery, an Irish woman as it happens ‘What is that place up there? I thought it was a convent.’ ‘Well it is’ she says ‘But it’s also a mother and baby home. It’s where the girls come to have their babies, off the Irish boats as often as not.’
So hurtful for them. Us bringing our much wanted and much celebrated babies to the nursery each morning, while they watch us from their hidden away lives.
I wasn’t sorry, then, when the nursery had to move to another place a few months later because the nuns, who owned the land, had decided to sell it off for housing.”
There will be a glorious sunset later on. But today’s follow up to Saturday’s Smithdown Stroll starts on an ordinary, grey sort of day. One of my favourite kind. So here we go, off out for more aimless & pointless wandering around Liverpool. It’s what I do.
Along Crawford Avenue and on to Penny Lane.
I buy my lunch from Rough Hand Made here. Best pastries in the city, I’d say.
Mushrooms and spinach in filo pastry, which I’ll eat when I get to the park.
A (splendid) late breakfast with a friend here, ended with me setting off on another of my random walks down the far south end of Liverpool. Previous Aigburth walks have featured the suspected Magdalene Laundry we didn’t want and the planned Aigburth Docks we never got. Let’s set off up a road I don’t think I’ve ever walked along, certainly not with a camera, and see what we find.
A long narrow road where, as you can see, they’re touchy about parking. It’s gently suburban now, but as you can see from the age of the sandstone walls, older and maybe grander houses have stood here once.
There are still echoes of age along the road. Pieces of near rural.
And lodges of the grander houses that once stood here.
Names like Kilgraston, May Bank, Elmhurst and Delfield we’ll see soon on an old map. Continue reading →
Thought I’d be working today but, to my own surprise I got something finished a day earlier than expected, so? It’s Friday, the sky is blue, let’s go!
Not a particularly long Friday Walk in terms of miles this one, but it covers nearly 40 years of my life.
The terraced house in Wavertree where I’ve lived for 24 years now, the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. On this walk we’ll be seeing where I first lived when I moved to the south of the city in the 1970s.
Down on Smithdown Antwakki’s are very proud of their chairs.
Thank you for the contacts about this through Twitter. Including from someone who was born here in 1967 and adopted the following year without ever being told about it by his adoptive parents. Secrets on secrets.
So, walking on now, downhill towards the river, arriving at another Victorian Merchant’s house.
‘Crofton’ – the Lodge first.
Just next to the main house. Derelict when I last passed, a few years ago.