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Sixties Day Out: Across The Mersey To New Brighton
A Day In New Brighton: Ferry Across The Mersey
I was a child of Sixties Liverpool, in a family with little money. We didn't have holidays but we did get days out - and our favourite was to go across the Mersey to New Brighton, funfair, beach and gorgeous-smelling street food (or hamburgers, as we called it then).
Up early, butties made -- sandwiches that is -- cheese, jam or fish paste. Orange squash in odd bottles, bottles of Dandelion and Burdock lemonade if Dad had had overtime recently. An apple or two and a promise of something more exciting "when we get there".
On the bus, sometimes pick up Grandma along the way -- BOOOOO -- and into town, (Skelhorne Street Bus Station in the centre of Liverpool, that is), Walk to the Pier Head and there it is -- The Mersey Ferry Terminal.
Image: New Brighton Lighthouse at low tide By Lukasz Lukomski (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Have you been to Liverpool?
Ferry Across The Mersey
Yes, the one Gerry Marsden sang about
Liverpool was a working port in those days -- and it was long before containers were heard of. Huge liners docked here, the Royal Iris and the Royal Daffodil went back and forth to the Isle Of Man (wherever that was to this little urchin). The boat we'd come for though was the one that mattered to me. The Mersey Ferry! It probably looks ancient to you now but for me it was every ocean-going ship I'd ever read about, it was smells of tar and brine, it was seagulls mewing, it was winds like I'd felt nowhere else, it was a playground for the imagination that couldn't be bettered.
Stow Grandma, Mum and sisters in the covered area -- brother and me up on top deck. "Don't fall overboard, you two." "No, Mum". Not for want of trying anyway: those railings were begging to be climbed. Even the wobbly gangplank at either end of the voyage was scary and exciting.
Gerry Marsden's Classic Song - Ferry 'cross the Mersey
Ferry 'cross the Mersey - Classic Sixties pop
Lovely DVD with 17 songs: Gerry and the Pacemakers were the Liverpool band for a while, setting chart records that lasted years. Very much like the Beatles, they were working class Liverpool lads, with musical roots in the Skiffle era, and they produced some classic songs, from I LIke It to Ferry and the lovely Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying. Lack of ambition kept them from developing - mind you, Gerry today is short and fat and never stops smiling - he still sings his songs and audiences still love him.
New Brighton Fairground
And amusement arcades - hooraaayyy!
And on to Part Two of the day: the funfair. Now, all you younger viewers, you'll be thinking Alton Towers or Disney here -- you'd be surprised and perhaps horrified if you saw a Sixties funfair. To me though it was fantastic. Again the smells: diesel and candyfloss and more hamburgers (we weren't spoiled for choice in those days) and the ultimate -- deep-fried doughnuts, hot and greasy and sticky with enough sugar to give an elephant diabetes.
The rides -- garish and loud and bright and strange. The monster ride -- the Rollercoaster (yes, that's its proper name). No space-age theme, just a very rickety wooden structure that looked like a good wind would move it a few miles down the coast to Birkenhead. Health And Safety people would condemn it on the spot these days -- to a small boy it was the ultimate experience -- it was supposed to sway like that, the cars were supposed to clank and shudder and feel as though they were falling apart.
Okay then, Grandma's flagging - find a bench or sit on the beach and have a couple of butties and a swig of warm orange. Eat quickly cos the amusement arcade awaits -- beg a couple of shillings from Mum, race over to the arcade and change them (at a booth, no machines in those days) into pennies -- old pennies. On to the waterfall -- knowing you'd never win but you still had to try. The crane to win a tatty little toy -- never, ever seen anyone win on this!
Gambling habit well instilled, back to the matriarchs. If Grandma can last a bit longer, buckets and spades out and sandcastles to build. Then a spit and hankie wipedown (yuk) and back to the ferry. Knackered, grubby, happy.
Some websites that will help
VisitLiverpool.com: Everything from accommodation to food to theatres -- excellent site, well maintained
What's On LIverpool: Similar to VisitLiverpool, also well maintained
TrainLine: Train journey info throughout UK: best site for good prices and booking
Mersey Travel: Local bus and train info, including details of travel passes
LIverpool Museums: Museums plus major art galleries - the Walker Art Gallery is one of the most underpublicised gems of the nation
Liverpool Confidential:LIverpool Confidential - rough and ready local site, great restaurant reviews
If You Want A Cathedral - We've got one to spare
Liverpool has two cathedrals (see below). In the famous line "we've got one to spare" you'll often hear a few scallies (naughty people) singing "two".
The Anglican Cathedral
The Anglican Cathedral is a beautiful edifice fashioned in the local red sandstone. Gothic in style, designed by Sir Giles Scott, it was built in the 20th Century yet commands the heights as though it was centuries older. Inside is even more majestic - have a look at the cathedral website for some wonderful pictures and details for visitors. (The cathedral does casual and guided tours.)
Image copyright Diocese of Liverpool, used with permission.
The Catholic Cathedral
Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ The KIng
Walk along Hope Street from the Anglican Cathedral and you'll come to a hugely different building - the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ The KIng (the Catholic Cathedral for short). Another 20th Century building, this is radical in design and implementation material - concrete. It continues to arouse very mixed feelings, it's locally known as the Mersey Funnel, yet it has won the affection of many. The vast open space inside and its unique layout form a perfect area for worshippers, bathed in the light shining through the huge stained glass lantern window.within the tower.
Image copyright Archdiocese of Liverpool, used with permission.
The Grimy Sixties - Liverpool has definitely changed!
What Else Happened In 1966?
My tenth birthday was a major event.
In other parts of the world:
- Ronald Reagan became governor of California and Indira Gandhi was elected Prime Minister of India
- England won the World Cup
- Luna 9 and Surveyor 1 landed on the moon
- USA put health warnings on cigarette packets
- First episode of Star Trek
- Dr. Zhivago released
- Pampers introduce the disposable diaper
What Bus Did We Get?
Actually been asked this! The L85, Ribble. Red double decker -- they all were for Ribble. Corpie buses didn't come out Crosby/Thornton way.
(Corpie = Corporation, from calling the then local government authority the Corporation). Their buses were green and cream and looked manky compared witt Ribble's red.