Vintage film and old photos of Liverpool bring the Merseyside city’s history to life. The facts about Liverpool history, including the impact of poverty and child welfare, gain new meaning when you see barefoot children standing in the street.
Although King John’s letters patent of 1207 announced the foundation of the borough of Liverpool, the population remained low for many centuries. Liverpool gained city status in 1880, following 50 years of significant growth, and its university opened a year later.
The population in Liverpool in 1901 was 700,000 people. Today, the city is home to less than half a million residents, despite the English population having more than doubled.
Old Photos of Liverpool’s Barefoot Children
Old photos of Liverpool’s barefoot children reminds us how harsh childhood was for poverty stricken kids whose families could not afford shoes, yet alone decent family homes.
YouTube channel Our Scouse Family brought together a large collection of old photographs showing the poverty of Liverpool in the olden days. It’s pulled together into a video, accompanied by a tender song.
There is a common theme running through these old images of Liverpool – that of extreme poverty. Everyone’s clothing is worn and usually dirty, and almost all the children are barefoot.
From the very start of this video, small barefoot children smile at the camera as they hang out in industrial areas and cobbled streets.
There are no lovely play parks, bikes or toys appearing. Instead, the children have to make do with cobbled streets, muddy areas, doorsteps and unsupervised places to swim. Despite the many smiling faces of these children, who were probably delighted that someone took an interest in them, it’s clear their lives were very hard.
At 4.14 minutes in, a young barefoot girl stands on the rough table of a pub. She appears to be performing to the ground of men sitting around her.
The very next image shows a room in a slum. How could anyone keep themselves and their children clean in rooms such as this?
Difficult Lives For Adults
Some adults also appear in the street scenes with children. They too wear shabby and dirty clothes, and look like times are hard for them. At 4.01 minutes into the video we see a woman walking along a pavement, as barefoot as the many children around her.
The adults pictured in institutions are clearly kept under firm discipline which squashes all individuality and freedom.
You’ll notice nearly all the older adults were women and they were photographed in institutions. From Edwin Chadwick’s seminal ‘Report on the Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Poor’ in 1842 to the 2018 study performed by Mark A Green, Danny Dorling and Richard Mitchell, Liverpool’s life expectancy rates remain low in comparison with prosperous areas.
Wealthy Households in Old Liverpool
Travel back in time to see how the wealthy city life of old Liverpool was a time for adventure and pleasure – for those who could afford it.
This is a Liverpool Echo and Pendragon production film showing the life and times and memories of Merseyside in the olden days.
It brings together a wide collection of black and white vintage films. Many of the locations you’ll recognise, but the busy industry has mostly disappeared.
There’s also a very informative commentary, which explains many of the activities on screen and is packed with facts and figures.
The city streets seem to be constantly busy with people walking and travelling. There’s an abundance of transport to get around.
The scene of people rushing round the ferry to keep fit is funny to see. So too is the moment a car gets lifted to shore from the cruise liner.
The home movie of the society wedding and the footage of the cruise liner passengers show the opulence and opportunities available to the wealthy. It’s a different world to the barefoot children of Our Scouse Family’s video.
Liverpool Through the 20th Century
Enjoy this video showing locations around Liverpool as photographed through different decades of the 20th Century.
Tom Brown brought together an interesting collection of old photos showing Liverpool across the early twentieth century. Then he carefully labelled each image included in the video.
Because of the labelling, you see the location identified, and the year of the photo.
From the horses and carts of the 1900s, the trams of the 1950s, through to the green buses of the 1970s, familiar streets are given a new context.
There’s a traffic policeman standing at his station in the 1960s, while Lime Street’s The Futurist is showing “Demetrius and the Gladiators”.
A wide array of shops and businesses appear.
Hundreds of people appear on screen too. The Everyman Theatre has quite a crowd waiting in line.
It’s a carefully paced and thoughtful video.
Liverpool Anglican Cathedral
In 1924, Britain’s biggest Cathedral was consecrated. King George V and Queen Mary attended the ceremonial events.
Liverpools’ Roman Catholic Cathedral
In 1966, construction of the new Roman Catholic Cathedral was nearing completion. It was hoped the durable materials would see the place of worship last for 500 years, and the space allow vast congregations. The structure included an underground car park.
The initial budgeted cost of £1 million had become unrealistic, despite being such a vast sum for the age.
Liverpool in the 1960s
The opening of the Tuebrook Bowl was so exciting the newsreel cameras turned up! The purpose-built facility for this new leisure craze was constructed on stilts over the ABC cinema car park.
There’s actually someone standing in the control room to stop people playing when their time is up.
Liverpool from the 1970s Onwards
Enjoy this video as it takes you back in time to the Liverpool of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.
This video uploaded to YouTube channel Madmont is a fascinating collection of vintage film clips showing the people of Liverpool going about their daily lives in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
Sometimes that involves a bit of morris dancing, a Punch and Judy show, or sitting in a long line on a bench watching the world go by.
It was a surprise to see so many people walk through the Liverpool – Wallasley bridge before it opened to the traffic.
Monty Lister’s narrative is highly informative, explaining so much about the people and places on screen that could easily be lost to history.
The final scenes show celebratory events in the city to mark the Year 2000.
The video is a Pleasures Past Production and was produced by Angus Tilston.
It includes clips from:
- Liverpool Victorian Days 1897 – 1920s
- Liverpool Memories of a Vibrant City 1920s – 1930s
- Liverpool Echoes of the 1940s – 1950s
- Liverpool The Swinging Sixties
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