A review of our March meeting by Mary Champion

Peter Woolley gave us a fascinating talk and slide show on Tuesday 19th March. Peter is a deltiologist - a new word for most of us - meaning a collector of picture postcards. His interest in the subject began over twenty years ago, when he was in the Bootle police force. One day he came across an old picture postcard in an antique shop in Hawthorne Road - and discovered that whole albums could be picked up quite cheaply.
He told us that in the 1860s, when people went away and wanted to write home, they could buy photographs with room for a message.  Then proper postcards came in. Peter founded the Merseyside Postcard Club 21 years ago and became very keen. A publisher later wanted to turn his Bootle collection into a book. Further volumes followed - including postcards of Liverpool city and docks. Altogether he has written eight books on the subject.

Peter's idea was to take us on a journey by postcard from Liverpool Exchange station to Aintree. He showed slides made from old postcards, then slides of the same place today. There was a wonderful picture of Exchange Station with 8 or 9 platforms, with frequent trains to Southport and main-line trains to Scotland. Outside in the street we saw horse-drawn traffic and straw-hatted men. Today's shots showed endless cars - and more people.

Arriving at Aintree we saw postcards of the Cheshire Lines Central Station with wonderful sleek coaches. The site of the station - on a line closed down by Beeching - is today an industrial estate. We heard of a shop in Aintree made of corrugated iron, and saw a slide of Aintree Station with a full-length canopy for Grand National travellers. There was a good photograph of the old Sefton Arms pub with two police constables in the middle of the road directing traffic. We saw a postcard of a lovely tram, followed by a modern slide of a bus in the same place. We saw postcards of Prince Monolulu, the crowds heading towards the Grand National course, and one of the Railway Hotel - built for railway staff but later acquired by the Tophams to accommodate jockeys.

Heading in the direction of the Black Bull pub, Peter showed us a slide of a very old house on the corner of Melling Road, bought by Mirabelle Topham for her family, and a present-day slide of the catering establishment it has now become. We saw an old postcard of houses in Roosevelt Drive - prosperous looking and tidy - and a present-day slide showing them to be much the same. The modern slides, though, made us realise how very ordinary the shop-fronts in Warbreck Moor have become, in comparison with the old postcard scenes.

Reminders of the Grand National were never far away. It was good to see a postcard of St Peter's Church, Warbreck Moor, where tea and sandwiches were sold outside on race days. It was a fascinating evening - and Peter Woolley laced his commentary with Liverpool humour.

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