by Fiona Watson
of Southend on Sea

The Institute has a special place in our family history and it was this that prompted me and my Mum Betty to travel from Essex to Wavertree in the summer of 2012. We were visiting because it was her father, Les Strickland's, birthplace.

Les Strickland was born in the Institute building on February 23rd 1911. At the time it was two separate cottages; the Stricklands (William, Susannah-Hannah, and their four children: Jim, Edna, Bill and Leslie) lived in the left-hand cottage, working the farmland that then surrounded the building.

My first visit to the Institute was about 15 years ago, when I was living in Toxteth and Gramps (Les), then in his 80s, had come to stay with me. We had a marvellous time together retracing the family history, culminating in a trip down memory lane to Wavertree Institute. Gramps and I arrived at the Institute during a ballet class. The teacher was so welcoming, inviting us in and explaining to the little ballerinas that a 'very special guest' had come to visit. Gramps stood in the main room and took it all in. "I was born in this room in front of the fire", he said. He was so pleased to have been inside the Institute and spoke about the trip for many years afterwards.

The people at the Institute were just as welcoming to Mum and me when we visited in the summer of 2012. The Institute was being renovated at the time, but the lovely ladies who run the playgroup still ushered us in and the man carrying out the restoration explained what was being done. Mum was able to stand in the room her Dad had been born in and I was able to reminisce about my time there with Gramps. We had lost Gramps some years earlier when he was in his late 90s, but our visit to the Institute gave us happy memories and made us proud that our family is a small part of the Institute's history.

Visit the special Wavertree Garden Suburb section of our website

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