A review of our April talk - by Beryl Plent

When local historian Ken Pye begins to talk about Liverpool you just never know what's coming next. Before you know it an hour has gone by, and not only have you laughed a lot but you have learnt a lot too.

During his talk on 26th April Ken painted vivid pictures, in words, about Buffalo Bill, who brought his colourful Wild West show (with a real live Red Indian) to Liverpool, in 1891 and 1903. He told us a tale of lost treasure, taken from Liverpool castle during the Civil War of 1642, which is reputedly still to be found buried somewhere under Everton ridge, if you know where to look.

One story led to another. We heard of the peculiar host who served his guests cooked vermin and other delicacies at Rat's Castle and the 'cure all' for all manner of afflictions, sold by (Dr) Samuel Solomon, containing spices, sugar and French brandy which he called the 'Balm of Gilead'.

Ken was a mine of information regarding the seven miles of underground tunnels which the eccentric Joseph Williamson hired workers to build, at the same time as George Stephenson was opening up cuttings and tunnels for the railways. Done of course by the light of tallow candles, long before health & safety rules and protective helmets or clothing were dreamt of.

Museums were mentioned - including that of the 13th Earl of Derby at Knowsley Hall where Edward Lear stayed as a guest, drawing animals and birds in the private menagerie, and to amuse the children wrote nonsense poems and the verses to The Owl & the Pussycat.

It seems there was in Lime Street, from 1858, a waxworks based on Mme Tussauds called Reynolds Wax Museum, which ran until 1922. Ken even gave us a rendition of Queen Elizabeth's speech, before the battle of the Armada.

All told in his own inimitable style to keep us entertained.

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