Liverpool 8...seen from the air, taken in the 1930's. The red line outlines Selborne St, where I was born and grew up surrounded by all the exciting things that were happening from the late 50's to the mid 60's...
In the late 50's, growing up in Liverpool's Toxteth district was about
as exciting an experience as any ten year old child could ever wish for.
With its abundance of characters and racial mix of people, it made for
an energetic mixture of lifestyles. The street I lived in, Selbome St,
was the main thoroughfare between Princess Rd.. and the Granby St Lodge
Lane areas, and at any time of the day, most of the traffic and people
entering the district would pass along this street. This allowed me to
have a good overview of what was taking place around the district.
Junction of Upper Parliament St and Princess Rd
Greek Orthodox church on the corner of Parliament and Princess Rd, note the space where the NatWest bank now stands.
The south end of Liverpool in 1959 was not considered a safe place to
be by the rest of the city, especially the Parliament Street area, from
its junction with Lodge Lane extending down past the Anglican Cathedral
to Park Lane and in particular the area around what was then the Rialto
cinema, with its abundance of night clubs and daytime drinking fraternity,
the area was certainly very lively, and, of course wherever there was
drink there would be music. "Live music”, real musicians up
there on stage creating the atmosphere that was needed for any successful
club. And where there was drink and music, inevitably there would also
be pockets of violence. This and the fact that Liverpool 8 was basically
known as a ghetto populated by black immigrants from Jamaica and Africa,
(similar to Harlem in New York), was the basis for its bad reputation.
For me, the most important of these bands was the vocal harmony group known as the "Chants". The names of musicians were Nat Smeda, Eddy Amoo, Alan Harding, Joe Ankrah, Edmund Ankrah. (in 1963 the Chants were the only completely colored group in Britain) According to Mersey Beat of June 23rd 1963. They made their television debut on “Scene at 6 30” shown on Grenada Television in August 1963. Five local black guys who could sing like the Temptations or the Four Tops or even Anthony and the Imperials, the best that America could offer equalled by a quintet from provincial Liverpool.
Each red dot on the map indicates the approximate position of a club, wether licensed or unlicensed they continued to flourish and were packed with people every night. Nearly all featured live music. The following list may or may not be complete, but shows the number of clubs in the district:A very cool video made by Yaw Owusu, detailng some of the clubs and vibe from Liverpool 8 back in the day...
The Palm Cove: opened in 1952 and owned by Roy Stevens.
Pink Flamingo: Princess Rd.
The Beacon: Parliament St,Owned by boxer Joe Bygraves.
The Somali Club, Parliament St.
Racheals /The Gladray.
Yoruba Social Club: Parliament St.
Silver Sands: Princess Rd.
West Indian: Parliament St, opened by Geoge Gardiner
Dutch Eddies: Princess Rd.
101 Club: Princess Rd.
Federal Club: Princess Rd.
The Bedford: Bedford St.
Stanley House Social Club: Parliament St.
Polish Club: Catherine St.
Lyndas Club: Crown St.
68 Club: Princess Rd.
A&B Club: Devonshire Rd, opened by Pat Hamilton.
Pavillion Club: Lodge Lane.
All of the clubs were frequented not just by "Black immigrants" and visiting seamen but by white local and non local people, it was the largest "collection" of "night clubs" in the Liverpool area. Many American servicemen stationed at the base in Burtonwood would also spend time at these clubs, and would also bring with them many American R&B records which were not generally available in Liverpool at that time, which just added to the "cosmopolitan" atmosphere prevalent in the whole of the Liverpool 8 (Toxteth) area.
Stanley House, which sat at the junction of Park Way and Upper Parliament Street was more of a ‘Social Centre’ than a ‘Club’ club. Originally it opened in 1944 with the help of the Colonial Office. It consisted of a large (hall It was here that I saw the Chants first public appearance at a Christmas Party for children) that could be used to hold ‘dances’, along with a gymnasium in the basement (used by world champion boxers Hogan "Kid" Bassey and Dick Tiger), a library and many small meeting rooms and a Bar on the second floor. It also housed a nursery and Youth club (where I once performed gymnastics for MP Bessie Braddock).