Pat Moffat remembers a female coal merchant on Tunnel Road
Resource Type: Audio | Posted on 9th September 2011 by Liam Physick
Pat Moffat remembers how it was only men who worked on the railway: even the cleaners were all men. Thus, the existence of a female coal merchant on Tunnel Road was very worthy of note, though even then she had to register the business (which she had inherited from her father) in her husband’s name. Pat remembers the woman’s office and her children. In 1973, however, she sold her premises to the Co-Op. Pat then mentions a man in the railway cottages who grew flowers, but her story is interrupted as the batteries run out
Interviewee: Pat Moffat
Interviewee Gender: Female
Pat: When we came to live on Smithdown Road, me mum would come up here, because Earle Road was – oh, it was a lovely shopping area . . .
Jenny: Oh, really?
Pat: . . . because all, all of the railway cottages were still up then . . .
Pat: . . . at Spekeland Road, where it was predominantly railwaymen, there was no railwaywomen at all.
Jenny: Like, no . . .
Pat: No . . .
Jenny: . . . no women worked on the railway?
Pat: No, no, I never ever, not even in the ticket office . . .
Pat: . . . you just didn’t see women, even the men done the cleaning and everything . . .
Jenny: Yeah, yeah . . .
Pat: . . . and, yeah . . .
Jenny: . . . somebody came down to the station once and their father used to embroider the seats.
Pat: Yeah, yeah, the men done . . .
Pat: . . . everything, it was one of the industries where women were only allowed as a passenger . . .
Pat: . . . I mean, you couldn’t trade or anything else, because one of the shops on Tunnel Road, it, it was in a man’s name, but a lady owned it, but they wouldn’t let her open up because she was a woman, and she had to put it in, in her husband’s name . . .
Jenny: Oh, right!
Pat: . . . but she was one of . . . coal, the coal . . .
Jenny: She was a coal merchant?
Pat: Yeah, yeah, she was a coal merchant, because when it closed down from Tunnel Road, she went on to Spofforth Road, facing the gas works, and then, she sold her house . . . where was that?
Jenny: Did she have a family then?
Pat: Oh, yeah . . .
Pat: . . . yeah, the kids would be in the office up here with her, because they used to pull tongues at us as we were walking past (Jenny laughs), and we used to think they lived there, but it was only a room, with steps going down to the railway lines . . .
Jenny: Yeah, yeah.
Pat: . . . yeah, if, it, no, there was no toilet or anything else, it was just a, a small room with two windows and two doors in it . . .
Pat: . . . one out to the street on Tunnel Road . . .
Pat: . . . and the other one going down the railway lines.
Jenny: I mean, it’s amazing, cos you can still see them, I mean, it’s a bit . . .
Jenny: . . . cos it’s a, the green, sort of, come up, but you can . . .
Pat: Can, yeah.
Jenny: . . . you can still, when it’s in the winter here, you can, they look so small . . .
Pat: Yeah, they are, yeah.
Jenny: . . . so, that, that’s really interesting . . .
Jenny: . . . cos, and you can see them from Tunnel Road. . .
Jenny: . . . as well, can’t you . . .
Jenny: . . . the, some of the signs are still, sort of, holding up, aren’t they?
Pat: There’s a, yeah, yeah, can, kind of, visible, why they’ve never opened them up to anyone . . .
Jenny: Wow, it would be amazing to, wouldn’t it, to . . .
Pat: . . . I’ve don’t know . . .
Pat: . . . I’d love to go and see what’s left inside . . .
Pat: . . . because they had coal fires . . .
Jenny: Within the, yeah.
Pat: . . . I think the two end ones have coal fires, because, the lady who owned the, the coal yard, her youngest son used to come with us to the Mystery park because they lived up Picton Road . . .
Pat: . . . and he used to have to go and get the coal, and it was in a big, black bucket, and he have to go up all these steps, to deliver the coal, but I think they were all coal merchants, I don’t know, I could have been wrong, but, I know she went from there, she went to Spofforth Road, and then she sold house about 1973, to the Co-Operative, and then they took over and . . . it’s gone now.
Pat: Yeah, it was a hire place, you know, where you could go and hire vehicles after that . . .
Jenny: Oh, yeah.
Pat: . . . but she kept a lot of men in work round here, an awful lot.
Jenny: Yeah. It’s rare to hear the stories of women, sort of, leading businesses like that, isn’t it?
Pat: But, the business was in her husband’s name, yeah, because I don’t think they would have accepted her otherwise, it was . . .
Jenny: And had her husband died, do you know?
Pat: No, no . . .
Pat: . . . no, her husband worked in the TSB bank at the top of, at the top of Wavertree Road . . .
Jenny: Oh, right!
Pat: Yeah, he worked there.
Jenny: So, they must have been a wealthy family, then.
Pat: I think she inherited the business from a, a, a relative, her dad, maybe, I don’t, I don’t know, I never ever asked, but her husband worked in . . . was it the TSB . . . just as you come round by, by St. Mary’s Church, there’s a building there . . .
Jenny: Oh, right!
Pat: . . . that the RSPCA used to have . . .
Pat: . . . prior to that it was a bank . . .
Jenny: (simultaneously with Pat) It was a bank . . .
Pat: . . . her husband worked in that bank.
Jenny: Do you remember their name, their surname, no?
Pat: No, no. I know Philip was the boy we used to go to the park with, and he went to the Blue Coat School, and the last time I saw him . . . oh, God, I must have been in me 20s or something, he was in the park smoking dope! (both laugh)
Pat: (in a stern voice) “Don’t I know you?” “No!” You’ve been the Liverpool Show, cos a lot of the railwaymen that worked here had allotments . . .
Jenny: Oh, yeah, yeah.
Pat: . . . at the back of the cottages, and there was one man, a Mr. Wright, now his name is on the Corporation Cup, cos I remember Uncle Jackie used, used to get flowers off him, used to grow beautiful flowers, but couldn’t tell anybody where they’d come from, it was, like, all hush-hush . . .
Jenny: Oh, really.
Pat: . . . like Gardening Secrets and (Jenny laughs) everything else, probably cos me grandad . . .
Jenny: Was it quite competitive, then?
Pat: Yeah, yeah, I don’t think they had many hobbies, to be honest with you.
Categorised under: The Station & Railway Pioneers