Mabel Lowe - one of the Wavertree Society's oldest members - died in 2003 at the age of 96. Mabel grew up in Lance Lane, and lived in Wavertree all her life. She shared her memories with us on several occasions, the last time shortly before her death, and Susan Smith here recounts some of Mabel's reminiscences:
Mabel's mother lived at 15 Lance Lane, and had married 'the boy next door' from number 17. (Both houses are now the site of the medical centre). The family were joiners, and had their own workshop behind the houses and cottage, "Matson's". Each house had a small garden, and running between the houses and continuing behind the gardens, in a 'T' shape, was the joinery workshop. It caught fire when she was five, and local gossips said it was because they had been working on a Sunday! She had been playing upstairs in the workshop and had told her cousin to look at the 'snakes' - the flames! She was rescued from the fire by her aunt (aged only 18), who grabbed a tin bath and carried her down in that! After that they had to find work elsewhere. Just before World War 1 the premises were turned into a garage. The houses, however, were still there in the 1960's.
Mabel went to a dame school run by Miss Birch in an ordinary house in Chesnut Grove. There were about 10 pupils at this little private school. She distinguished herself by writing a short letter after only 3 months - in joined-up writing! The beat policeman used to escort her and her teddy bear to school every day. Mabel's schooling was interrupted by eye operations, as she had been born with cataracts in both eyes. At the age of 8 she went to Dovedale, and later to Westwood private school in Lance Lane, run by the Misses Shaw.
Wavertree High Street was never referred to by name - it was always called "the village". Many people will be familiar with the story of the man who lived in the smallest house (currently part of the Cock and Bottle - which in those days was a temperance hotel). He had 8 children and, as a rather stout man, had to go upstairs sideways. Mabel's great-uncle knew him - the story is true!
The fire cart and horse were housed in the High Street, and Mabel remembers local lads chasing up there to see where the fire was. She also remembers the policemen marching out of the station in twos to do their beat. The word "Bridewell" used to be carved in stone over the doorway nearest to town of the police station.
When she was about 7, Mabel used to go to the cinema in the High Street - on the opposite side of the road to the police station, on the site of the future Wavertree Gardens tenements - "The Picturedrome". It cost 1d (one old penny) and they had to sit on wooden forms. The music was dreadfully loud, and the films mostly Cowboys and Indians. The children all thought it was marvellous - but on reflection it was bedlam! Lots of 'ragamuffins' went, and it wasn't long before Mabel was stopped from going because of the fleas!
Wavertree Town Hall was well used. There were regular dances - some of them organised by Mabel's paternal uncle - and dancing classes, and it was where people went to pay their rates and register births. Local election results were also announced there. Near the Picton Clock Tower was a saddlers, and opposite a tobacconists called White's. At the end of Chesnut Grove (town side) was a grocer's called Ralph's. Chesters was a local butcher - near the Lamb Hotel - and Hicks the bakers backed onto Chesnut Grove.