A review of our March film show - by Anna Alexander

The Gateacre Society was treated to fifty minutes of nostalgia on 21st March when Ian Davies came to present a film which celebrated the history of Liverpool between 1907 and 1956. Ian told us that, at the end of his career as a road safety officer, he was asked to look through the department's film library and throw out old and out-of-date films. He came across this film which he thought was too good to throw away - and he was right.

The film celebrated historic events in Liverpool in the first fifty years of the 20th Century. The film opened with a view of Liverpool Docks cluttered with old sailing ships. We were taken back first to 1907 and the pageant in Wavertree Park to celebrate 700 years of the city of Liverpool. The rich maritime history of Liverpool was highlighted and the commentary told us that, when the film was made, 30,000 vessels a year sailed into the port carrying 15 million tons of cargo. There was film of the Mauretania docking at the port and various VIPs arriving and leaving, such as Lord Baden-Powell, Lady Asquith, and Jack Hulbert and Cicely Courtneidge, who were seen dancing comically on the deck of the ship. There were tragedies too, of course, with the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 one of the most memorable. The ship was crewed mostly by Liverpool men and the film showed scenes of grieving relatives and of the Titanic memorial column which was erected at the Pier Head. Happier memories were of the Overhead Railway which was inaugurated in 1893 and was a prototype for many others.

World Wars One and Two were mentioned, of course. There was footage of Liverpool dockers going to war and of the formation of the Liverpool Pals regiment, which was sent off to France from St George's Hall by Lord Kitchener, who came to inspect the troops. The Royal Iris and Royal Daffodil ferry boats were shown returning from the raid on Zeebrugge, and it was significant of the times that it was recorded that only one officer survived the raid, with no mention of the lower ranks. Footage of women in munitions, hospitals and as ambulance drivers was also shown. In WW2 the Battle of the Atlantic and the Liverpool Blitz were both highlighted. The devastation of Liverpool following the "May Blitz" was shown, when 3,966 people were killed and 10,000 homes were destroyed.

Other highlights of the film included the building of the Anglican cathedral and the Mersey tunnel and the opening of Speke airport. Liverpool and Everton football matches and the Grand National were not forgotten either. Mr Davies gave us several anecdotes of people he had met through showing the film, and information about some of the people in the film such as WW1 Victoria Cross hero Billy Ratcliffe.

Anna's review of 'The Terrible Tale of Gin' - our April talk - will appear in the next issue of the Newsletter, along with Part 2 of Carole Frayne's Gateacre Memories.

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