Welcome again to Then and Now, where each week we compare images of Merseyside landmarks, buildings, streets and events from bygone days with how they look today.

Our main image this week shows children crowding round a Punch and Judy booth in Lime Street outside St George’s Hall in 1957.

Far more popular in the 1940s and 50s than now, the traditional show involves glove puppets operated by a puppeteer (usually known as the professor) hidden in the booth.

In the UK, the puppeteer voices the character of Punch using a device called a swazzle held in the mouth. It produces a distinctive squawk rather like a kazoo.

It’s believed Punch’s wife was originally called Joan dating back to the 16th roots of the show, but Judy was far easier to pronounce using a swazzle!

Punch and Judy Theatre, Lime Street, Liverpool
Liverpool 'Shines A Light' for National Day of Reflection on the Anniversary of the Lockdown to show support for those bereaved.
St George’s Hall looks distinctly mired by soot and pollution before its restoration. Opened in 1854, it is recognised as one of the finest neo-Grecian buildings in the world by architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner.

It was originally designed by architect Harvey Lonsdale Elmes as a civic setting for music festivals, meetings and concerts. But the plan was enlarged to include new assize courts.

This led to St George’s Hall becoming one of the biggest public buildings in Britain.

A major renovation project, costing £23 million, came to fruition in April 2007 when St George’s Hall was officially reopened by Prince Charles.

Our modern image, taken in March this year, shows the hall illuminated in yellow for the National Day of Reflection on the collective loss and grief caused by the Covid pandemic.

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