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Lizzie Christian

Elizabeth Christian (1898 – 1977)

Lizzie Christian
©Stephen Shakeshaft
When I was a young lad of 15 I worked in Liverpool city centre, at the time I was riding a bike delivering newspapers for W H Smith who had a bookstall in Central Station.  I remember well the cold winters the snow and the fog and the ice, I remember the traffic driving along Church Street Parker Street and Lime Street. There were days when I couldn't wait for 4pm to arrive so I could cycle back home. I would start work in Central station at 6am in the morning and on my way through the city I would see the barrow girls, the flower sellers and the newspaper vendors, laying out their wares ready for the commuters that would arrive by bus and train I would see Lizzie Christian on almost a daily basis, Lizzie was a stalwart among barrow girls in Liverpool.

Born in the Brownlow Hill  area, and the eldest of twelve; ‘Lizzie’ brought up seven children and was a legendary flower seller in Clayton Square trading six days a week. Lizzie Christian was a legend in Liverpool for more than 60 years,  her pitch in the city centre was as well known as Owen Owen or Lewis's . She was there from 9 to 6, six days a week, and on Sundays you would also find her outside the old Newsham General Hospital, in Belmont Road.

Lizzie was born in Hawke Street, Brownlow Hill, the eldest of twelve; she married at 20, and brought up seven children. She supported her family by scrubbing steps, then by selling flowers from a big basket, to "posh" people in the suburbs of south Liverpool, and then from her famous flower stall in Clayton Square. Lizzie Christian was a tiny woman, with her trade mark headscarf, boots coat and shawl, working in rain, hail, snow or sunshine.

Lizzie knew everyone - from judges to "working girls", from local MP’s like Bessie Braddock to local villains, and most of the stars - and they all knew her. Lizzie was no stranger to controversy, having to move from her regular spot outside what was then the new St. John’s Precinct, to Cases Street, she was always worried her customers wouldn't know where she was. But of course she didn't need to worry, the regulars came to find her and she probably found some new customers as well.

Lizzie’s place in street trader folklore was chronicled in Mike Kelly’s book, Mothers of the City, in which he picks out 20 outstanding women from Ethel Austin to Liverpool’s first female judge, the beautiful Dame Rose Heilbron.


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