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Liverpool Blitzed and Merseyside Blitzed

Neil Holmes and Sheena Gaskell
from Wirral Libraries
My name is Neil Holmes and I am the author of two local books, Liverpool Blitzed and Merseyside Blitzed. I was born on the Wirral in 1979 and still live there today, but work in Liverpool as a civil servant. My interest in local history and photography led me to research Liverpool’s wartime experiences, culminating in the publication of my first book (Liverpool Blitzed) in 2011. This just covered the city, but I knew that the surrounding area had suffered badly too, so was eager to tell that story too. I therefore spent the a year in the local archives, collecting wartime images and travelling around the region taking modern photographs for my second book, which was published in 2012. 

Since then I have set up a Facebook author page, Flickr account and twitter account which I use to raise awareness about the affect the blitz had on the region. This is done through a few methods, including a series of "on this night" updates, wartime photographs, side by side "then and now" comparison photographs and general updates related to the blitz. I also have an ongoing project at the moment to create a series of "ghost" photographs where the modern and wartime images are merged together to create one seamless image. 

There are a few sample images below:

Crossing Point: People from the 1940s and 2013 share a pedestrian crossing on Castle Street, whilst in the background a tram passes into Lord Street where only buses and cars travel now. Most of this area in the background was devastated by the raids and extensively rebuilt after the war. One of the few survivors was the Victoria Monument on the right

Queen's Pub: The view along Grey Street from near the junction of Knowsley Road in Bootle. The large building on the left is the side of the Queen's Pub which survived the raids. The premises on the right are part of the damaged remains of the Scotts Bakery site which is no longer standing. 

Devonshire: The premises of George Bolton's Garage and taxi firm on Devonshire Street in Birkenhead, which was hit on the night of the 12th/13th March 1941. Although the main building survived the raids intact it is no longer used as commercial premises.

Imperial: The Imperial Cinema stood at the corner of Stanley Road and Merton Grove, just before where Stanley Road crosses the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. The building, had been at the forefront of the borough's cinemas. It became one in 1906 and was the first to show exclusively animated pictures, until that point it was common for films to be shown alongside other live entertainment acts. Two teenagers were killed in the immediate vicinity. The cinema closed in 1959 and the building was demolished in 1970. In recent years a bingo hall was built on the site.

Malakand: The SS Malakand was berthed in Huskisson Branch Dock number 2, loaded with ammunition and explosives. At around 11pm on the 3rd May 1941 a barrage balloon came down on the ship, closely followed by a series of incendiaries which set light to the balloon. Even though these fires were put out fires from the nearby sheds spread to the ship and made it untenable, forcing the crew to abandon her. Although both the crew and local fire-fighters fought a hard battle against the fires from the dockside the ship exploded at 7:30am the next day scattering debris throughout the area and devastating the dock. This can be seen in the top photograph which was taken from the Overhead Railway on the Dock Road. The official death toll for the explosion was given at 4 but the incident was played down and the likely figure is closer to 20 or 30. As a direct consequence of the event instructions were issued that in future ships would maintain the minimum crew and auxiliary steam to move their vessel away from the quay if it became necessary. After the incident Huskisson Branch Dock number 2 was filled in and is now used as a storage area. The dock sheds on either side belong to Huskisson Branch Dock 1 (left) and Huskisson Branch Dock 3 (right) As the Overhead Railway is no longer in existence this comparison was taken from ground level to the left of where the original photograph was taken.

Town Hall: On the night of the 31st August/1st September 1940, Wallasey town hall suffered heavy damage to its South Western corner, battering the organ and concert hall. The building survived the war and is thankfully still standing today. If you ever get a chance to have a look around it, do so, its a truly amazing building with a beautiful interior.

I'm constantly on the look ou
t for more information or photos about the blitz and welcome comments, stories and questions from people. I love researching people's family stories, finding out the facts behind them and helping people to learn more about what their friends or relations went through. So if you have an interest in Merseyside's history, any information or questions just pop along to one of the links below and I'll do my best to answer them.


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