- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Les Thomas
- Location of story:
- Waterloo, Liverpool
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 27 June 2005
I was born in 45 Sweden Street in 1934, and lived there until October 1941 when I was evacuated to Swansea with my three brothers. We returned 18 months later and moved to nearby Mount Street. However I still had friends in Sweden Street and continued to see them.
In 1965 I was working for Reece’s Dairies and delivered milk to the three streets. Living there were bricklayers, joiners, plasterers, plumbers, dockers, bookies runners, butchers, crane drivers, ship’s cooks, painters, postmen, tugboat men, lorry drivers, bakers, railway shunters, stokers, cowmen and beach-combers.
My dad was a tin-smelter. All the houses were terraced, two rooms up and two rooms down with a lean-to kitchen and outside WC. Every night we took a bucket up to bed with us for obvious reasons. Go out the back door and you were in a jigger (entry) which linked up to other entries leading into Denmark and Norway Streets. You could come from Oxford Road and reach Brooke Road or St. John’s Road through a series of jiggers and cinder tracks. At the top of Norway and Sweden Streets was a large field known as Fosters or Ropers. In the war three large underground air-raid shelters were excavated. These housed most of the residents in case of an air-raid (there were plenty).
I can recall emerging from the shelter after an air-raid, and the sky towards Liverpool and the docks was a huge red glow. It was as if the whole of Liverpool was on fire.
In those days there were very large families living in these areas. Our family of four lads was small compared to others of eight, nine, or ten, and even one family of fourteen living in a two bed-roomed house.
There was a lot of poverty around and families combed the beaches for driftwood to chop into firewood and sell. There were others who would wade up to their necks in the sea dragging or pushing big nets to catch shrimps or other sea fish. One family actually chopped the stairs down to sell for firewood, and had to use a ladder to go upstairs!
Sweden Grove is still standing today, and consists of about twelve houses. At each corner of Sweden Street (St. John’s Road end) was Thompson’s general shop and Uncle Bill’s (a chip shop). Half-way down on the left was another chip shop belonging to Doug Price, then further down was Carlies, as it was known, and finally at the corner was Draper’s sweet shop.
T.V. was unheard of then so we played street games, i.e. Rally Ho, skipping, ollies (marbles) Cherry Wags and conkers.
Sweden Street left side was numbered 3 to 83, and the right side was numbered 4 to 100. As I grew older I was allowed to play in Denmark and Norway Streets.
Norway Street had a large bombed site (debris) where a bomb demolished two houses. This site was used for bonfires on November the 5th, V.E. and V.J. nights and any other celebrations. Norway Street had a shop either end i.e. Gertie Roachers and Robbs at the bottom. Denmark Street had a barber’s shop on the corner, (Thompsons), and at the bottom of the street were Rimmer’s Stables and Hall’s Removals. By the time I was thirteen or fourteen, I was known as “Thommo the Terrible!”
One family in Sweden Street kept a donkey in the backyard, and on wet days it was allowed in the back kitchen!
One stormy day in 1948 a cattle boat ran aground in the river off Wellington Street.
A lot of cattle drowned, but some managed to float or swim ashore. Many residents of Scandinavia thought it was Christmas as they had chicken or duck for dinners that week.
I can still recall most of the families I knew — here are just a few:- Ashcrofts, Williams, Lords, Morris, Johnstones, Clay, Allcocks, Alty, McGlennons, Lees, Clarke, Corner, Butterworths, Bartons, Watkinsons, Dewsbury, Spencer, Newtons, Harwoods, and the Malones.
It was a very sad day when the bulldozers moved in. Every single house in all three roads had a story to tell.
Les Thomas. 2002
Sweden Street, Waterloo
1953 Coronation Day Street Party.
Almost a decade after the end of the Second World War and the ‘VJ’ Day celebrations, the youngsters of Sweden Street are enjoying their 1953 Coronation Day Street Party.
With tables of food and drink, bunting across the street and pleasant weather, this community lasted another decade before ‘Little Scandinavia’ face the bulldozers and its inhabitants moved on.
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