Brian Willcox remembers growing up in Liverpool

Resource Type: Audio | Posted on 21st September 2012 by Liam Physick

Although Brian Willcox’s family moved to Weaveham when he was young, he still has some memories of life in Liverpool. He produces a photograph of his younger self, and then tells of how he and his friends would jump onto trams and hold onto the sides - however, the conductor pulled down the rope and whipped Brian, causing him to fall off and break his teeth, something he explained to his mother by claiming he had fallen on a brick! However, such pranks were made impossible by the introduction of the streamlined Green Goddess trams (nicknamed after a film popular at the time) in the 1920s and 1930s, which remained in service until the Liverpool tramways closed in 1957. After the closure, 36 Green Goddesses were bought by Glasgow’s tram system, but all were withdrawn by 1960, and Glasgow’s own tramway system closed two years later. Three of them have been preserved. No. 869, one of those which was sent to Glasgow, was preserved after a tour of Glasgow’s tram system organised by the Liverpool University Public Transport Society. After several years at Leeds and Crich, 869 returned to Liverpool, to be based at Green Lane depot, in 1967. Over 12 years, it was restored by the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society (MTPS), and in 1979 returned to Crich Museum, from where it operates to this day. No. 293, the last Liverpool tram to be withdrawn from service, was sent to the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine, United States, where it has been ever since: it is in a poor state, but the Museum is apparently considering restoring it. The third surviving Green Goddess, No. 245, was bought and preserved by Liverpool Corporation Transport and is currently being restored at Birkenhead by the MTPS. Brian also remembers watching cowboy films at the famous Cameo cinema, bunking in by pushing a bent wire through the crack between the emergency exit doors in order to push the bar to open them!

Interviewee: Brian Willcos

Interviewee Gender: Male

Interview Transcript

Brian: But I’ve not many memories of Liverpool, we went to live up in Weaveham . . .

Jodie: Oh, right!

Brian: . . . I was in the army for two years.

Jodie: There’s a photo that you’ve brought in as well, is there, that little photograph . . .

Brian: Yeah.

Jodie: . . . so you’re the, the child on the right, and who are the other two?

Brian: Couldn’t tell.

Jodie: Oh, yeah, like kids that you were playing out with, yeah?

Brian: Yeah.

Jodie: Aw!

Brian: Yeah, and me mum was, said, always said I was the best-dressed child in the district! (both laugh) And I turned out on that photo to be the scruffiest! (they laugh again)

Jodie: Aw! Anyway, yeah, it’s a nice photo. So, is there anything else that you’ve got, anything else that you can think, think of, about this area or any memories of Edge Hill?

Brian: I went skipping on the side of tramcars! (laughs)

Jodie: What, what are they, tram . . . tramp . . . tramcars?

Brian: Yeah . . .

Jodie: OK.

Brian: . . . the old-fashioned tramcars.

Jodie: Oh, yeah.

Brian: There . . . broke ’em.

Jodie: Oh, yeah (indecipherable)

Brian: They had a bumper belt on the back of the car, and we, as kids, we used to jump on and hold on to them, but the conductor held the line, he had a rope, to pulley, to the electric wires up there, and he pulled the rope down and started whipping me . . .

Jodie: (gasps) Aw!

Brian: . . . and I fell off and I got dragged along like that and I just went (claps his hands together) on me face . . .

Jodie: Oooooh!

Brian: . . . and broke me teeth.

Jodie: Oooooh!

Brian: Me mum said, “How did you do that?”, I said, “I fell, I fell on a brick”! (both laugh)

Jodie: “Fell on a brick”!

Brian: Whether she believed me or not, I don’t know.

Jodie: Yeah. Sometimes you, you know when you’re a kid, you think they believe you and then you realise . . .

Brian: Yeah.

Jodie: . . . that actually they never did! They always knew . . .

Brian: Yeah. I used to go to the Cameo cinema, watching the old cowboy films, come out (slaps his hands against his thighs), as though you were riding a horse!

Jodie: Aw! (Brian stamps his foot on the floor like a horse) Yeah, I, I believe there was quite a few cinemas in this area, and, and people would queue up to, to, to get in . . .

Brian: Yeah. You used to bunk in, you used to have a wire with a hook on, bent wire, coat hanger, you know these push bars . . .

Jodie: Oh yeah, yeah.

Brian: . . . on doors, you used to pull it through the crack and pull the bar and open the doors . . .

Jodie: (sounds intrigued) Oh, yeah!

Brian: . . . and hope there was some seats vacant! (both laugh)

Jodie: Aw! Yeah, I think (indecipherable)

Brian: Yeah, they put a stop to us jumping on the back of tramcars cos they brought they old Green Goddess in, that was the more streamlined one . . .

Jodie: Oh, right!

Brian: . . . called the Green Goddess.

Jodie: OK. So is that more like the trains that we have now, was it, like, not . . . Was that more like the trains that we have now?

Brian: No, these were tramcars.

Jodie: Yeah, yeah, but, like . . . yeah, more streamlined?

Brian: Yeah, yeah.

Jodie: Did the trams, were, did the trams come in, were they, was there tramlines on Tunnel Road?

Brian There was tramlines all over Liverpool . . .

Jodie: Yeah.

Brian: . . . they just tarmacked them over.

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