Friday, September 21, 2012

Part III of Our Trip to England and Wales: Liverpool

From Bath, we took the train to Liverpool. We had to change trains in Birmingham, which wasn't difficult - just a bit stressful. We arrived at Liverpool Lime Street Station, which is the station from which my mom was evacuated with her school at the start of World War II. The main purpose of our time in Liverpool was to visit her boarding school and then to go, with a group of school alumni to Beaumaris, Wales. Beaumaris is where the school evacuated to and where the children lived with local families.

So, here we have arrived at Liverpool Lime Street Station:

We took a cab to our hotel, which was nicely located near Albert Dock, on the waterfront at the Mersey River. I remember Mom talking about the Mersey River, and my impression was that it was a dirty river. Well, it is a muddy river, but it's not polluted like it was back then when Liverpool was a major shipping and receiving center. Later, one of our companions told us an old joke about the Mersey: "If you fall in, you'll die of poisoning before you have a chance to drown!"

In any case, the river doesn't smell, and Albert Dock has been turned into a very nice tourist spot with restaurants, shops and museums.

On Monday morning, we went right over to the Liverpool Blue Coat School. When Mom attended, it was known as "The Liverpool Blue Coat School for Orphans and Fatherless Children."
We were greeted by Tony Salmon, Secretary of the Old Blues, an alumni group that helps former students and their families. Tony was the one who first confirmed that Mom had been a student there. We were joined by Richard Morris, current Old Blues President, and Stan Livingston, current Treasurer. The three of them gave us a very thorough tour of the school. They shared stories from their time there. Richard and Stan were boarders there about 10 years later than my mom, but it seems the regime was no less structured or strict.

Richard, Tony and Stan at the doors to the Blue Coat School

The entrance to the school, showing the clock tower. It was through these doors that students first entered the school ... and seldom went outside afterward. Of course, the clock tower just screams "CLIMB ME!" and many of the boys at the school managed to, despite all the discipline and watchful eyes.
The intimidating entrance to the school - the door opens above the second panel - so an adult would need to duck. It's sized for the kids! And the words above the panel read, "MIND YOUR HEAD"

This hallway is much unchanged except for the blue doors. This would be what kids first saw upon entering the school.

The chapel

Note the knobs on the railing to prevent the kids from sliding down

This building was the girls' dormitory. It was sold off and is no longer part of the school! So we couldn't go through there. But I've seen a photo - the dormitory was one long, wide corridor with just beds lining each side.

RVPainter and me, with the chapel in the background.

The next day, we joined the "Old Blues" for our own "Evacuation" to Beaumaris - 73 years to the day after the original one. Stayed tuned for pictures from that part of our adventure.


  1. Oh wow. My mother was born in Birmingham and I have never been to the UK, so any tours I am taken on make me truly grateful. Thank you.

    1. Birmingham is a big connection for trains to other cities, so I think it is a fairly large city - I don't know - we just saw the train terminal! But England is absolutely beautiful. I simply love it.

  2. The folks at the Blue Coat School where so nice to us - I will always remember that visit!!!

  3. This is a wonderful opportunity you are taking and what a history lesson! I love the pictorial tour you are providing, what a treat.

  4. What an amazing visit. You must have been thrilled to see so much of your mother's young life.

    Birmingham is one of the largest cities after London, I think... remembering school geography lessons...

  5. This sounds like a very special trip for you. I've not yet been to this part of the world so enjoyed your photos.

  6. Dear Melissa, those hallways must have almost echoed your mother's words to you. Peace.

  7. This was a true journey of the heart for you. Thank you for sharing it with others. I find it interesting from an historical perspective, but I feel it on a deeply emotional level.

    1. It was. That's why it's also an emotional journey writing the novel that about my mother's life at the school.


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