So, continuing my Sunday walk this week. It’s a beautiful, sunny day. And having walked to the Bold Street Festival, through Granby, Canning and down the hill from Hope Street, now I’m outside St George’s Hall.
I get off at Walton Lane and walk along Bullens Road to the first place I want to see.
This is the street of my earliest memories. We lived in two different shared houses here until I was three years old. I don’t remember any cars then, back in the 1950s. People like us just didn’t have them. But I do remember standing in the front window sometimes and watching thousands and thousands of people walk past the house.
For all of my life, though she died before I was born, Eleanor Rathbone has been around me.
When I got my first proper job working in Everton for the Liverpool City Housing Department, I would pass the Victoria Settlement on my way to work every day. Still going then, it had been Liverpool’s first women’s and children’s community centre, set up and run at the beginning of the 20th century by a group of enthusiastic feminists, including Eleanor Rathbone.
Then doing my social sciences degree at the University of Liverpool I was based in the Eleanor Rathbone building. She founded the department.
Working at Liverpool Housing Trust I once booked Greenbank House, owned by the University by then, for a Board meeting. And when we got there LHT Board member Margaret Simey said to me ‘You know, the last time I was here I was taking tea with Eleanor Rathbone.’ This had been the Rathbone family home from the 18th century until after Eleanor Rathbone’s death.
Margaret of course was a City Councillor representing Granby Ward for many years, as was Eleanor Rathbone from 1909 to 1935, Liverpool’s first female Councillor. And these last few years much of my own time has gone into helping the people in Granby work on the future of their place.