The living history of Liverpool and Merseyside is rediscovered in a brand new book for Christmas published by the Liverpool Echo and iNostalgia.
Entitled Liverpool and Merseyside Then and Now, it’s a fresh compilation of compelling archive images compared with how the same locations look today.
The new book features a selection of the favourite Then and Now articles published in the Echo every Sunday.
Subjects cover the rich kaleidoscope of life on Merseyside, ranging from children playing around the newly built houses in Dinesen Road in 1922 to models striding down Rodney Street in 1976.
We see walkers enjoying a winter wonderland after a fresh fall of snow in Sefton Park as well as soaking up the August sun at Perch Rock, New Brighton, before World War II.
There are poignant echoes down the years. Images of bewildered children trying gas masks on for the first time in 1938 resonate with wearing masks today in the Covid pandemic.
There are moments of sadness too – not least in the photos of the destruction wreaked by the Luftwaffe on Blacklers and Lewis’s department stores.
Striking a brighter note are unforgettable images of the Beatles bringing most of Liverpool on to the streets for the 1964 premiere of A Hard Day’s Night as Merseybeat took the world by storm.
Prominent Liverpool landmarks now vanished are also remembered – including the towering waterfront grain silo (nicknamed the Dockers’ cathedral) and Garston gasometer.
The book also includes historic images of the opening of the Queensway tunnel and Walton Hall Park in 1934, and the Queen and Queen mother at the 1956 Grand National.
Inevitably, some of the modern photos reflect the restrictions and hardships we’ve all had to face during the Covid pandemic. The grief it has brought has been felt deeply – in all areas of the community.
As a brief taster, here are a few Then and Now comparisons from the 96-page book which retails for £12.99 and is available for pre-order now.
We start with the unforgettable night of Friday July 10th 1964 when the Beatles flew back to Liverpool for the Northern Premiere of their film A Hard Day’s Night.
Fans packed London Road and Castle Street near the Odeon hoping for a glimpse of the Fab Four.
More than 200,000 people lined the streets of Liverpool as the police cavalcade slowly made its way to the cinema from Speke Airport.
There were crowds of a different kind at the Perch Rock Battery, New Brighton, in August 1938. Holidaymakers had turned out in their hundreds to enjoy the Bank Holiday sun.
The Perch Rock Battery or fort was built in the early 19th century during the Napoleonic war. There were fears that the Port of Liverpool might be under threat.
The fort’s guns were only fired twice in conflict – the first time on a Norwegian ship which failed to answer a signal in August 1914 and the second at a fishing boat in 1939. Neither craft was damaged.
Luftwaffe bombs gutted Lewis’s department store in Ranelagh Street in May 1941. It was a burnt-out shell by Saturday May 3rd – the distinctive round arches of the first floor charred and blackened by fire.
Liverpool was the first Lewis’s store in the UK – opened by entrepreneur David Lewis as a men’s and boys’ clothing store in 1856. More departments were added over the next 20 years, including an early Christmas grotto in 1879.
The roots of Chinatown, pictured in November 1933, date back to 1834 when trading in silk, cotton and tea started at the port of Liverpool.
Mothers and their babies are watching from their front doors as shouting and laughter echo down the street. The modern scene, from the midst of the Covid pandemic, is much quieter.
Liverpool’s Chinatown, renowned for its restaurants, shops and supermarkets, is the oldest Chinese community in Europe.
Finally, the vanished landmark of the Garston gasometer completely overshadows St Michael’s Church in our image from August 1988.
There was high drama at the site in November 1940 when a Luftwaffe parachute mine struck the gasometer but failed to explode.
The Royal Navy bomb disposal unit defused the device which had come to rest in seven feet of oily water at the bottom of the gasholder
Temporary Lieutenant Harold Newgass worked for two days in freezing cold stagnant water to make the mine safe. He had to use oxygen cylinders to breathe.
Newgass was awarded the George Cross for his bravery in tackling what was described as one of the most dangerous assignments ever undertaken.
*Liverpool and Merseyside Then and Now is available for pre-order at £12.99 on inostalgia.co.uk or on the order hotline 01928 503777.