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

Goodbye Uncle Albert

I have mentioned Charles (Uncle Albert) Walker many times on this blog site even though he was not my Uncle nor was his name Albert. He was though a close personal friend over the past 20 years+ and sadly he died this morning at the age of 95.

Charles and I at his 91st Birthday Party in the Punch Bowl Pub, Sefton Village

Charles and I at his 91st Birthday Party in the Punch Bowl Pub, Sefton Village

Yes he was old, he had been admitted into hospital yesterday and he was physically frail but his death came as a huge shock bearing in mind Sheila and I had visited him yesterday afternoon and had been laughing and joking with him up until 5pm. It seems that pneumonia crept up and took him very quickly despite the great care he got in Aintree Hospital A&E and later on Ward 1.

I first came across him when at the age of 74 he decided to get involved in Liberal politics. He soon got himself elected to Maghull Town Council and even had a lady offer to marry him when he was out canvassing in his first election! He served as a Town Councillor until he was 90!

Charles completing a form to protest about building on Maghull's Green Belt.

Charles completing a form to protest about building on Maghull’s Green Belt.

He got his ‘Uncle Albert’ nickname because he would often tell stories about his days in the RAF during WW2 when he had been an aircraft electrician working in the UK, Gibraltar and in Italy. The Only Fools and Horses character seemed to fit Charles so well that the name stuck and he even changed his name badge at one conference we attended to read ‘Uncle Albert’ rather than Charles Walker. And that kind of summed Charles up in that he was game for a laugh about anything.

He was very fit until he reached his mid 80’s and would regularly be out delivering Lib Dem leaflets with a group of us called ‘The Nutters’; we had a quiz team of the same name as well. The core members were Uncle Albert, Andrew Blackburn, Andrew Beattie (sadly now passed on as well) and myself.

I recall so well the visits we had to the Littleborough and Saddleworth by-election not least because uncle Albert would start to sing RAF songs in the car. If you know what rugby songs are like you have got my drift!

Charles Walker with his Grandfather in Vale Park Wallasey-1923or4.

Charles Walker with his Grandfather in Vale Park Wallasey-1923or4.

Charles was born in Egremont on the Wirral and he lived there until he married Margaret when they moved first to Bootle and then in 1960 to Maghull. His Poverty Lane bungalow had been his home since the day it was built.

He worked at George Henry Lees in Liverpool up until he was called up in WW2 and he was in the Home Guard as a lad. Yes, he got called ‘Private Pike’ as well when we were teasing him. His stories of fire watching on top of GHL’s during the Liverpool Blitz were astonishing to us as he seemed to have little concern about the danger he had been in. And he saw St. Lukes Church go up in flames from that dangerous vantage point too.

He clearly loved his time in the RAF and could still rattle off a long list of aircraft he had worked on, how he had met and spoken to Field Marshal Montgomery (whose brother was a Vicar in Wallasey at the time who Charles knew) and been close to Winston Churchill.

After the war he worked in both the sugar and metal plating trades in Liverpool and he only retired when in his 70’s. He was also a regular attender at Goodison Park as an Everton supporter until the early 1970’s. Only last weekend we were exchanging texts as both Everton and my club (Mansfield Town) had matches on.

He had a life-long interest in aircraft, railways and ships so being a railway buff myself Charles and I got on very well, often exchanging books, videos and magazines with each other.

In recent years Charles suffered mobility problems but until about 3 months ago he was regularly getting a taxi to The Square in Maghull to visit shops there. He was well known and liked at Waterfields, Home Bargains, Superdrug and TSB.

Charles Shaking hands with Wing Commander Greg Smith at RAF Gibraltar in 2013

Charles Shaking hands with Wing Commander Greg Smith at RAF Gibraltar in 2013

His wife was taken into care in 2013 because of dementia but later that year his daughter Carole and son-in-law Phil took him on a cruise which took in Gibraltar where he had been stationed for around 3 years during his national service. What’s more they had arranged for him to visit RAF Gibraltar and meet the Station Commander. His grandson also took him, only 3 months ago, to the RAF Museum at Cosford where he had been twice before with Andrew and I. Of course he loved all these outings.

Particularly since 2013 Sheila, Andrew and I had taken Charles under our wing and helped him as much as we could alongside his loving family. Indeed, Charles was considered to be a part of our family and indeed Andrew’s. Wednesday night would always be beer and chips night at Uncle Albert’s for Andrew and I (and Jen would pop along as well sometimes). He then decided to name his bungalow ‘Poverty Pub’.

A trip out to the Stanley Arms was a favourite of his and Sheila made sure he went about once a month. He loved their omelette and chips.

Charles will have known countless people in Maghull during his 66 years living there and he treated virtually everyone he met as though they were his friends. A kind generous man indeed who rarely had a bad word to say about anyone. I so recall after the Brexit vote how upset he was about Polish people being told to get out of the UK by ignorant people. To Charles the Poles were WW2 heroes and he was disgusted at the way some had been spoken to since June 2016.

I have lost a close personal friend who enriched my life immeasurably and I 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’s Mossley Hill Zoo & Mickey the Monkey

skittishlibrary.co.uk/the-worlds-cleverest-chimpanzee-escapes-1937/

I never cease to be amazed by what my close fried 95 year old Charles Walker has to tell me about his world prior to WW11 living in Egremont and Wallasey and his times spent across the water (River Mersey) in Liverpool.

Recently he told me about his visiting a zoo in Liverpool with his mother that he recalled was in the Mossley Hill area of the City. A little Googling and the link above popped up with a fascinating history of the zoo with additional references to Liverpool’s other zoos.

Charles (known to his friends as Uncle Albert) said he recalled a monkey at the Mossley Hill zoo that everyone wanted their picture taken with. Well it turns out that the zoo was called Liverpool Zoological Park and it was short lived indeed – only 6 years from 1932 to 1938 although it had moved from Otterspool.

And the monkey? He was known as ‘Mickey’ and was supposedly the world’s cleverest chimpanzee! Please click on the link above and read all about him and the zoos he lived in.

My thanks to the Skittish Library, edited by Estelle Hargraves, for the information and link above.

And in looking for a photo of the zoo I came across one (see link below) on Flickr from Philip Mayer, which also has an interesting write up:-

www.flickr.com/photos/44435674@N00/5643461269

Spitfire pilot from Southport parachutes for first time – at the age of 92!

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/local-news/watch-ww2-spitfire-pilot-southport-7730020

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above.

I have failed to talk Maghull’s own Charles (Uncle Albert) Walker into doing this! He is 93 and was an aircraft electrician in the RAF during WW2.

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/