St. Lukes Church (the bombed out church) – Liverpool

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/seven-things-you-probably-dont-13028821

The Liverpool Echo has the story on it web site – see link above

There’s been a lot of talk in recent times about how to give this iconic symbol of Liverpool in the Blitz a sustainable future. On a personal level though I can’t escape the story of what happened on the night the incendiary bomb hit St. Lukes and the fact that I had the privilege to talk with a person who was fire watching that night and saw it happen. My previous posting from 2010 refers:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2010/11/16/uncle-albert-he-saw-the-bombing-of-liverpool-from-a-birds-eye-view-point/

Sadly ‘Uncle Albert’ died earlier this year but whenever I see St. Lukes or hear of it I think of that brave young chap (who became one of my best mates in his mid 70’s until he passed away aged 95) standing atop George Henry Lees fire watching as Liverpool was being destroyed all around him

A great send off for Charles (Uncle Albert) Walker

Only six days after the funeral of former Maghull and Sefton Councillor Jim Byrne we had another one this time for Charles ‘Uncle Albert’ Walker, also a former Maghull Town Councillor, today.

punch-bowl-3

This was my personal tribute to Charles which his family asked me to contribute to his funeral service.

Uncle Albert

I first met Uncle Albert, then known of course as Charles Walker, when he was in his early 70’s.

He came over as a really nice chap but little did I know how our friendship would develop over the next 20+ years and that he would become a very close chum indeed.

I give you a handful of personal insights into Uncle Albert

Singing RAF songs! – It happened out of the blue during a car journey from Maghull to the Littleborough & Saddleworth Parliamentary by-election where Uncle Albert, Andrew Beattie Andrew Blackburn and myself were off to deliver leaflets. The nice gentleman sharing the back seat of the car with one of the Andrews just started to sing what I will call a risqué song of the kind those acquainted with rugby songs would understand. We knew then that we had a right one with us!

Fire watching on top of George Henry Lees during the Liverpool Blitz – Yes Charles did that and he saw incendiary bombs hitting the city all around him. One night he was at his lofty dangerous post and saw the incendiary fall and hit St Luke’s Church. Yet when he told us about it he seemed to have no comprehension of the extreme danger he had been in. To him it was his job as an employee of George Henry Lees to try to put out any fires. A brave man indeed.

Pitch and Put – He had played on the pitch and put course at Harrison Drive, New Brighton many times, especially before the war, and it showed. Neither of the Andrews nor I could beat him despite around a dozen attempts to do so on our days out with Uncle Albert around this childhood stamping ground of The Wirral.

East Lancashire Railway – Uncle Albert went with us to this persevered railway a number of times over the years and he loved it. What with steam locomotives, old fashioned carriages and travelling on them with his mates. But what he seemed to like best was the buffet facility on Bury Bolton Street Station where he would climb into an all day breakfast whilst watching steam trains pass by.

Mushroom Omelettes? – By now uncle Albert had been ‘adopted’ by both the Robertson and Blackburn families and Sheila Robertson wanted to take Charles (she always called him Charles) out for a meal. And what a hit it was as he loved the mushroom omelettes at the Stanley Arms in Aughton. Unsurprisingly Sheila kept taking him back there and he kept enjoying them.

Other visits – we took Charles to the RAF Cosford museum a couple of times, to Crich Tramway Museum, to Birkenhead Tramway Preservation Society and to the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington. He loved these trips out and was great company. At Elvington we turned around and he had disappeared only to be found later deep in conversation with another elderly ex-RAF chap talking about their life and times in the Royal Air Force. In Birkenhead he rode a Wallasey tram like those that ran in his youth and he was delighted.

And what of his times as a Maghull Town Councillor? Japanese Knotweed was one of his big campaigns. Trouble is it is still there in Foxhouse Lane despite him hounding Network Rail to eradicate it.

The potholed surface of Maghull Station car park was another, thankfully it’s now in good nick.

And what about Mrs Bradley’s Passage? It’s a short footpath that joins Poverty Lane and Summerhill Drive and was a littered and potholed mess at the time. Mrs Bradley lived next to it and she asked Charles to get Sefton Council to tidy it up regularly. In turn he gave Sefton Council grief to the extent that even the dead hand of a local authority could take it no longer and they tidied it up. But he was not satisfied and said only recently that the beggars had still not resurfaced it as they promised him they would do some 8 or 9 years ago!

He was Vice Chair of the Council’s Policy and Resources Committee for quite a number of years. Sheila Nelson chaired the committee and he enjoyed working with her. We used to joke with him that Sheila kept him in line. I think he looked upon her as his Station Commander!

To the two Andrews and I he was Uncle Albert (after the Only Fools & Horses character of course) to many others he was Charles. To the ladies he was a lovely old gentleman; to us he was a cheeky chap who was one of the boys. He may have been 35+ years older than us but he was our mate and we will miss him terribly.

Christmas Day with Uncle Albert

Our dear friend Charles (Uncle Albert) Walker a Maghull resident since 1960 (so he’s nearly a local) hosted a party on Christmas day evening.

Charles at his Christmas Day party

Charles at his Christmas Day party

Well he not so much hosted it as it came to him as a collection of local friends brought the celebrations to him because he was otherwise spending Christmas Day on his own. The event was the idea of former local councillor Andrew Blackburn who had previously invited Charles to his own house for the last 3 Christmas Days.

This year however Charles’ limited mobility precluded him getting to Andrew’s house and kind hearted Andrew (a wonderful big softie really) decided that if Uncle Albert (Charles’ nick name – think of the Only Fools & Horses) could not go to a party then one would come to him.

Thanks to those who made it possible – Keith and Janet Page, Ian Blackburn and Sheila and Jen Robertson ( I was the ‘taxi’ driver) and of course Andrew for giving up a part of their Christmas Day to help Charles celebrate the festive season.

Note:- Charles is now 95 years years old. He served as an RAF aircraft electrician (in the UK, Gibraltar and Italy) during WWII having previously served in the Home Guard in Wallasey where he hails from (we often tease him about being Private Pike) before being called up. His claim to fame is that he was fire watching on top of the old George Henry Lees building in Liverpool (where he worked) on the night the incendiary bomb hit St Lukes Church and he saw it happen. Charles got involved in local politics at the age of 74, soon got himself elected to Maghull Town Council and served on the Council until he was 90! He may be physically frail these days but he is as sharp as anyone I know. I have retold various historical stories he has told me on this blog site previously.

I nice story to help round off a trying year I hope.

Liverpool – City Council plans £50m bid to revamp historic buildings

St. Luke's - Liverpool's famous WW2 'bombed-out' church.

St. Luke’s – Liverpool’s famous WW2 ‘bombed-out’ church.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-34615832

The BBC has the story on its web site – see link above.

St Luke's catching the setting sun

St Luke’s catching the setting sun

This has to be a very welcome initiative. Liverpool has numerous historic buildings which help make the city so special and attracts more and more visitors to the City each year. Celebrating our historic buildings rather then demolishing them to replace with characterless modern warehouse type structures has to be the way forward.

Liverpool's world famous St. Georges Hall

Liverpool’s world famous St. Georges Hall

My 3 photo’s above are also available to see on my Flickr page at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

St. Lukes bombed out church – Liverpool

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/more-20000-raised-bombed-out-7650720

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above

I have posted before about this historic building so it’s nice to see what looks like a positive outcome to the recent difficulties surrounding its future. My original posting was in 2010 and coincidentally I went to see my old chum (now 93) a couple of days ago, who is mentioned in it, and he reminded me of the incendiary bombs falling on Liverpool that fateful night when St. Lukes was struck. That original posting is at:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2010/11/16/uncle-albert-he-saw-the-bombing-of-liverpool-from-a-birds-eye-view-point/

St Lukes Church Liverpool – City Council’s tune has changed

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-28190351

I posted on this historic site a while ago:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2014/03/25/liverpool-council-confirms-developers-approach-for-citys-iconic-bombed-out-church/

The funding on the table from Liverpool City Council is most welcome and it seems to indicate a change of heart from ‘we have no money, we will not do anything to the building’ approach of not so long ago.