STORY

I was born in the Dingle in 1946. We lived in Emerald Street off Cockburn Street (pronounced Cock - as in a male hen, not Co as in the port wine!!). My playground was the street itself or, when I was a bit older, the streets like Badminton Street or Sandbeck Street which ran down to the railings overlooking the docks. These sloping streets were wonderful in winter when, snow permitting, we would career down snow covered cobbles on home made sledges, stopping only by crashing into the railings at the bottom. On Sundays my father would take me on my 3 wheeler bike on what seemed an endless journey to the nearest green space around -Princess Park.


On the way we would stop at a shop (the name of which eludes me now) to buy an ice cream. The delicious confection was home made, stored in small milk churns and dispensed onto a wafer held in a purpose made stainless steel contraption. Part of the fun was actually watching the process of flipping the ice-cream out onto a piece of grease proof paper. I remember my first day at Matthew Arnold School and the short lived feeling of being abandoned as my darling father walked away. Then the hectic preparations for Empire Day; a celebration destined never to be repeated as political correctness began to rear its head and British history obliterated. We all decorated our bicycles or doll's prams with crepe paper flowers and streamers and then paraded proudly around the playground. What fun! Were we children triumphant? Ranting colonialists? I don't think so.


I also remember Good Friday and 'Judas'; A religious celebration of sorts, peculiar to the Dingle and in retrospect possibly a bit irresponsible but never really subversive. Bonfires were lit in the streets and effigies of Judas burned. We danced around the fires and when the Fire Brigade turned up, we chanted “Oh waste the water!” Dreadful really and inevitably doomed to die out as the newly laid tarmac was melted each year. Of course, for anybody of my age born in the Dingle all childhood memories must include the Overhead Railway. We boarded at either the tunnel station by the Gaumont cinema or at the Iron Bridge station which afforded the additional thrill of possible walking sightless through the steam of a train passing below. The smell of the trains and the sweet grain being hauled up into the warehouses, the excitement and bustle of the docks behind, the men in flat caps walking and cycling beneath, the sense of delicious danger as we rattled along the dock road, then the glorious freedom of running down to the Landing Stage, racing across the gangplank and up the steps to procure a seat 'up top' on the Royal Daffodil.


New Brighton in the distance as exotic as the New World to which so many Liverpudlians departed, Ah Men! So many memories and so little time to put them all down on paper. I recently went to see 'of time and the city'. It was wonderful and it will form part of my family tree gift to my children. V. Benson (from the Of Time and the City website community) If this is your story and you would like to associate it with your People's Stories account, please let us know at users@peoples-stories.com



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