THE MERSEYSIDER MAGAZINE
The print edition of The Merseysider magazine was published from 2012 to 2015. Issue 2 is now sold out, but the remaining 5 back issues can be bought as a special offer pack for just £7.50 including postage, a saving of £5. Individual issues cost £2.50 including postage. Visit our BUY page by clicking HERE. The Merseysider lives on in the form of this website, where you will find a huge assortment of news, reviews and features. Please use the links below and the menus above to explore the site – happy reading!
LIVERPOOL AND THE FIRST WORLD WAR
A recently published book looks at Liverpool’s role in the First World War. Great War Britain – Liverpool: Remembering 1914-18 is written by Pamela Russell and published by The History Press. Topics covered include the King’s (Liverpool) Regiment and the heroic actions of medic Noel Chavasse (who was twice awarded the Victoria Cross), along with events on the home front, such as the pioneering work on shell shock at a Red Cross hospital in Maghull. You can read Lee Ruddin’s review by clicking HERE.
EXPLORING LIVERPOOL AND SOUTHPORT
Two new books take their readers on fascinating historical tours. David Paul’s Historic Streets Of Liverpool identifies ten key streets and explores their eventful past. Hugh Hollinghurst’s Southport History Tour guides us round a seaside resort full of interesting sights and also visits Churchtown and Birkdale. Both books are published by Amberley Publishing and you can read our reviews of them by clicking HERE.
THE WIRRAL THROUGH TIME
Noted local historian Daniel K Longman’s latest book The Wirral Through Time compares past and present photographic images of numerous locations. Longman’s interesting and authoritative commentary looks at how places have changed, and how some haven’t. Click HERE to read our review.
THE BIG I AM
The fourth and final production in the Liverpool Everyman repertory company’s 2018 season is The Big I Am, Robert Farquhar’s anarchic take on Henrik Ibsen’s groundbreaking 19th century play Peer Gynt. Promising ‘A wild trip of a lifetime’, The Big I Am follows the journey of one man from youth to old age. The play starts and ends in Liverpool, but in between we’re transported everywhere from Dubai to New York and Las Vegas. The Big I Am is at the Everyman from now until Saturday 30 June, with further performances on Friday 13 July and Saturday 14 July.
PORT SUNLIGHT AND ITS PEOPLE
Jo Birch’s new book Port Sunlight And Its People is a lavishly illustrated look at the history of the village. There are fascinating insights into the lives of the people who have lived there and the personality of its founder, William Lever. You can read our review by clicking HERE. And if that whets your appetite for reading more about Port Sunlight, click HERE to read our own feature on the village (from Issue 3 of The Merseysider magazine).
FLORAL GOES BERSERK!
New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion offers something different for the closing days of Whitsun Bank Holiday week: a circus devised especially for performance on a theatre stage. Cirque Berserk! is presented by an international troupe of acrobats, jugglers, aerialists, dancers and daredevil stuntmen. Acclaimed as ‘heart-stoppingly good fun’ (Time Out), and as leaving audiences ‘breathless with excitement’ (Daily Telegraph), it sounds great – with a likely highspot the motorcycle Globe of Death, ‘the world’s most hair-raising circus act’. Cirque Berserk! is at the Floral Pavilion on Thursday 31 May (7.30pm), Friday 1 June (5pm and 7.30pm) and Saturday 2 June (2pm, 5pm and 7.30pm). CLICK HERE TO READ OUR REVIEW.
After Clockwork Orange (see below), the latest production in the Liverpool Everyman’s 2018 repertory company season is an innovative production of Shakespeare’s Othello, in which the highly regarded actress Golda Rosheuvel plays the title character as a woman. It can be seen on selected dates (alternating with other plays from the company’s season) between now and 10 July. ‘Eye-popping and genuinely innovative…’ – Read our review by clicking HERE. (Photo: Jonathan Keenan)
As many events this year have reminded us, 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. This means it’s also the 100th anniversary of the death of war poet Wilfred Owen, who spent many of his formative childhood years in Birkenhead and was killed in France just a week before the end of the conflict. Alec McHoul has written a fine new poem about Owen and his school friend Alec Paton, who lived near the Owen family in Tranmere. You can read Wilfred and Alec Before the War by clicking HERE. Our article on Wilfred Owen’s Birkenhead years, which originally appeared in Issue 5 of The Merseysider magazine, is also available to read online (click HERE).
A CLOCKWORK ORANGE
The latest much anticipated offering from the Liverpool Everyman’s repertory company is a stage version of Anthony Burgess’s controversial Sixties novel (and later film) A Clockwork Orange. The script is by Burgess himself and this is the first UK production to also feature music he composed for the play. A Clockwork Orange is at the Everyman until 21 April, with further performances in May and July, when it will alternate with other productions from the repertory company’s 2018 season. ‘An exhilarating trip to a mad, bad world…’ -YOU CAN READ OUR REVIEW BY CLICKING HERE. (Photo: Marc Brenner)
THE LAST SHIP
Following a much acclaimed three week run in Newcastle, the musical The Last Ship begins a tour of the UK with a week of performances at the Liverpool Playhouse, from Monday 9 April to Saturday 14 April. The production features an original score with music and lyrics by Sting, and is set in his native North East, where a town faces an uncertain future as the local shipyard, around which the life of the community has always revolved, is threatened with closure. The cast includes well-known Liverpool actor Joe McGann (above) and you can read our REVIEW of its triumphant opening night in Liverpool (when Sting himself put in an appearance) by clicking HERE. (Photo: Pamela Raith)
KEN’S SHOW (TATE LIVERPOOL)
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Tate Liverpool’s opening at the Albert Dock in 1988. For all that time Ken Simon has been Art Handling Manager, caring for every piece of art the gallery has displayed. Now he’s been given the chance to curate his own exhibition. Ken’s Show: Exploring The Unseen features thirty of his favourite artworks, including works by Turner, Barbara Hepworth, Paul Nash and Mark Rothko. The exhibition’s already received rave reviews in the national press (you can read The Guardian’s glowing review by clicking HERE) and admission is free. It’s at the Tate until 17 June 2018. (Image credit: Ken Simons observes Graham Sutherland’s Entrance to a Lane 1939. ©Tate Liverpool, Roger Sinek)
FAREWELL, SIR KEN
Like everyone else we were very sad to hear that Ken Dodd had died. He’s often featured in the pages of The Merseysider magazine and on this website. In recent years we’ve published Spanner’s cartoon (above), PVC’s celebratory poem (click HERE to read it) and readers’ letters about him. He also kindly gave us a fascinating, lengthy interview in which he spoke about the music hall acts he saw in Liverpool as a child, the nature of Scouse humour and much else besides (click HERE). He was a very nice man and will always be (as he was in life) a Merseyside legend. Even the Beatles were in awe of him, as a very entertaining Youtube clip shows: click HERE.
One of the world’s greatest archaeological finds was the chance discovery in 1974 of an army of life-sized terracotta warriors, who had been secretly guarding the tomb of China’s First Emperor for over 2,000 years. A new exhibition at Liverpool’s World Museum – China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors – offers a rare opportunity to see some of these warriors, together with other related artefacts and treasures, many of which have never been seen in the UK before. The exhibition continues until 28 October 2018 and you can read Lee Ruddin’s review by clicking HERE.
The Liverpool Everyman’s new repertory company was launched last year with an imaginatively varied series of successful productions. This year’s season looks equally promising, with Clockwork Orange and Othello among the plays to come. First off though it’s the Wild West musical Paint Your Wagon, which is at the Everyman until Saturday 31 March, with further performances on selected dates in May, June and July. YOU CAN READ OUR REVIEW BY CLICKING HERE. (Photo: ©Jonathan Keenan)
Birdsong, a stage version of Sebastian Faulks’s bestselling novel about the First World War is at the Floral Pavilion, New Brighton from Tuesday 6 March to Saturday 10 March. The play has been performed regularly since its West End premiere in 2010 and has now been seen by an estimated 200,000 people. CLICK HERE TO READ OUR REVIEW
HISTORIC ENGLAND: LIVERPOOL
A new illustrated history of Liverpool tells the story of the city with the help of over 150 images. Author Hugh Hollinghurst has been able to draw on Historic England’s massive archive and his Historic England: Liverpool (Amberley Publishing) features many rare and illuminating photographs, drawings and paintings. CLICK HERE TO READ OUR REVIEW OF THE BOOK.
THE KITE RUNNER
Following the recent excellent stage version of A Passage To India (see below), the Liverpool Playhouse presents another adaptation of a much acclaimed novel with an Eastern theme. The Kite Runner, based on the book by Khaled Hosseini, is at the theatre from Tuesday 27 February to Saturday 3 March. ‘An enthralling story, superbly told…’ Click HERE to read our review. (Photo: Betty Zapata)
The chilling psychological thriller Gallowglass was a big success for Ruth Rendell (writing as Barbara Vine) when it was published in 1990. Now it’s been adapted for the stage and can be seen at the Floral Pavilion, New Brighton from Tuesday 13 February to Saturday 17 February. Click HERE to read our review.
A Passage To India, E M Forster’s classic novel about Anglo-Indian relationships during the colonial era, has been adapted for the stage and is at the Liverpool Playhouse from Tuesday 6 February to Saturday 10 February. Click HERE to read our review. (Photo: Idil Sukan)
Neil Holmes’s recently published Echoes of the Merseyside Blitz is the author’s third book on the World War Two bombing raids that killed 4,000 people across the region. It features over 200 ‘ghost images’, which merge wartime photos with modern shots of the same locations to show the damage that the bombs caused. You can read Lee Ruddin’s review of the book by clicking HERE.
Not so long ago we reviewed Daniel K Longman’s book Beatles Landmarks In Liverpool, a guide to locations on Merseyside with strong connections to the Fab Four. In a follow-up feature, local historian Dan talks to us about the book and why he wrote it – you can read this feature by clicking HERE.
LIVERPOOL AT WORK
Well known local historian Ken Pye’s latest book is Liverpool At Work (Amberley Publishing), an illustrated history of the working life of the city. It’s a fascinating story of how a tiny hamlet grew to become the second most important port (after London) in the British Empire, and home to such household names as Meccano, Jacob’s Biscuits and Littlewoods Pools. CLICK HERE TO READ OUR REVIEW.
TATE LIVERPOOL: JOHN PIPER AND MORE
Three new exhibitions have just opened at Tate Liverpool, each of them running until 18 March 2018. One is a collection of over 40 works by John Piper, one of the finest British artists of the 20th century. There are exhibits from all phases of his long career, with a particular focus on the 1930s, when he visited Paris and was influenced by Picasso and other modernists. Surrealism In Egypt collects together works from the Art and Liberty Group, a collective of politically engaged artists and writers who lived and worked in Cairo in the 1930s and 1940s. Finally, We Are Ghosts comprises two innovative video works by the New York-based artists Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley. CLICK HERE TO READ OUR REVIEW OF THESE EXHIBITIONS. [Above: John Piper, Beach with Starfish c.1933-4 ©The Piper Estate]
In 2012 Tony Crowley published Scouse: A Social & Cultural History, a fascinating study of the Liverpool dialect. We interviewed him for Issue 4 of The Merseysider magazine, and you can still read the interview online (click HERE). Now he’s compiled The Liverpool English Dictionary (published by Liverpool University Press). It’s a groundbreaking compendium of words and expressions used in Liverpool over the past 150 years – the first to adopt a scholarly approach, applying a similar methodology to that found in the Oxford English Dictionary. For more on the book, read our review by clicking HERE.
Sefton In 50 Buildings (Amberley Publishing) is a new book by Hugh Hollinghurst, tracing the history of the borough by examining fifty key buildings, in locations including Southport, Bootle and Crosby, and ranging from the ancient (St Helen’s Church in Sefton village) to the modern (the giant red and white cranes in Seaforth Container Dock). You can read our review of the book by clicking HERE.
Tate Liverpool has a new exhibition devoted to the pop art pioneer Roy Lichtenstein. Admission is FREE and the exhibition runs until 17 June 2018. Among the works you can see is the classic In The Car, which Lichtenstein painted in 1963. Click HERE to read our review.
Two new books from Amberley Publishing look back at Liverpool’s Sixties Merseybeat scene. The Beat Makers by Anthony Hogan is a fascinating examination of the careers of some of the period’s lesser known names (such as Kingsize Taylor, Johnny Guitar Byrne and Derry Wilkie), while The Beatles’ Landmarks In Liverpool identifies Merseyside locations with strong Beatles associations. Click HERE to read our reviews of these books.
Secret Southport, a new book by distinguished local historian Jack Smith, offers the reader a lavishly illustrated history of the local seaside town. You can read our review by clicking HERE.
PORTRAYING A NATION (TATE LIVERPOOL)
Just opened at the Tate Liverpool is a new exhibition focusing on German artworks from the tumultuous interwar years of the Weimar Republic. Portraying A Nation: Germany 1919 – 1933 (which runs until 15 October 2017) features drawings and paintings by Otto Dix and photographs by August Sander. The exhibition has had glowing reviews in the national press and on Radio Four, and you can read our own review by clicking HERE. (Above: Otto Dix, Reclining Woman on a Leopard Skin, 1927. ©DACS 2017. Collection of the Herbert Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University.)
LOCAL HISTORY READS
Just published are two more books of interest to local history buffs: Ken Pye’s A-Z Of Liverpool and Peter Jackson-Lee’s The Mersey Road Tunnels. Ken Pye’s book explores some lesser known aspects of Liverpool history, while The Mersey Tunnels has numerous rare photographs. Click HERE to read our reviews.
A new book tells the story of Dinky Toys, the model cars that captivated generations of British schoolboys. Frank Hornby made the toys at his Meccano factory in Binns Road, Liverpool, employing thousands of local people. Click HERE to read our review of Dinky Toys by David Busfield.
LIVERPOOL CITY CENTRE HISTORY TOUR
Liverpool City Centre History Tour (Amberley Publishing) is a new book by local historian and author Ian Collard. It’s a guided walk around central Liverpool, focusing on nearly fifty sites and buildings of historical interest. You can read our review by clicking HERE.
SHOW ME THE WAY TO ARMADILLO
Jack Mason enjoys his food and drink, and luckily for us he also enjoys writing about it. You can read his review of Tranmere’s Armadillo Restaurant & Café by clicking HERE. You can also read more of Jack on his entertaining and informative food blog: Jack Mason Food and Drink.
A POEM FOR MIDWINTER
As everyone recovers from the Christmas frenzy and gears up for the exertions of New Year, here’s a beautifully calming poem by Kevin Cowdall: The Settling Snow. You can read it by clicking HERE. Kevin, who’s featured on our website before, is a noted local writer known not only for his poetry but also for his acclaimed novella, Paper Gods And Iron Men. He’s currently working on a new poetry collection, Natural Inclinations, which will comprise poems with a common theme of the natural world and other elements of nature. The Settling Snow will feature in the collection and we’re delighted to publish it here.
RORY STORM AND THE HURRICANES
Rory Storm and the Hurricanes were one of the very first Merseybeat groups. Ringo Starr was their drummer for three years, and they were bigger locally than the Beatles for a while, but national success eluded them and Rory tragically died aged just 34. His story is told in From A Storm To A Hurricane by Anthony Hogan (published by Amberley Publishing). Check out our review by clicking HERE.
100 YEARS OF THE CUNARD BUILDING
2016 marks the centenary of the opening of the Cunard Building, one of the Liverpool waterfront’s much celebrated Three Graces. The history of the building is charted in a new book, The Passenger’s Palace – 100 Years Of The Cunard Building Liverpool by Michael Gallagher and Tony Storey. Read Lee Ruddin’s review by clicking HERE.
THE HILLSBOROUGH DISASTER: IN THEIR OWN WORDS
‘It is hard to imagine there will ever be a more definitive account than this.’ Click HERE to read our review of Mike Nicholson’s The Hillsborough Disaster: In Their Own Words (Amberley Publishing). The author interviewed for the book many survivors of the tragedy, and others who were affected by or involved in it. It has a foreword by Margaret Aspinall of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, and Mike Nicholson will be donating his royalties to the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
LIVERPOOL WAR MUSEUM
The Merseyside Maritime Museum’s Battle of the Atlantic gallery, which tells the story of one of the most important aspects of World War Two, has deservedly been visited by thousands of locals and visitors to Liverpool. Lee Ruddin admires it as well, but he also strongly recommends a visit to the atmospheric Liverpool War Museum on Rumford Street, which acted as the Combined Headquarters for the North Atlantic operations of the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. Read Lee’s article on a fascinating gateway into Liverpool’s past by clicking HERE. (Photo: Lee Ruddin)
THE WIRRAL BLITZ
The many events, articles and radio and television programmes commemorating the 75th anniversary of the World War Two Merseyside blitz have understandably focused on Liverpool, where most of the casualties occurred. This was true for instance of ‘Merseyside Blitz: An Unconquered People’, the memorial event staged at the Anglican Cathedral by BBC Radio Merseyside on Tuesday 3 May. But did this event also illustrate a tendency to overlook the bombs dropped on Wirral, where hundreds of people were killed and thousands of homes destroyed or damaged? Lee Ruddin considers this question in his informative and thought-provoking article Wirral Blitz: An Unnoticed People (click HERE to read it). We have previously published other excellent articles by Lee on the Merseyside blitz – for details see further down this page.
As we’ve previously noted (see below), 2016 is the 75th anniversary of the May Blitz, seven nights of dreadful bombing raids on Merseyside during World War Two. Many families in the region will have particular reasons for thinking of those events, recalling relatives who were killed, their own experiences during the raids or stories they have been told by older family members. Lee Ruddin’s article Best Blitz Books (click HERE) recommends three books about the bombing of Merseyside, including Merseyside Blitzed by Neil Holmes (shown above). And if you missed The May Blitz: Seven Days That Rocked Liverpool, a BBC1 programme (broadcast on 6 May) that included interviews with several survivors of the May 1941 bombing raids, it should be available soon on BBC i-Player (click HERE).
2016 marks the 75th anniversary of the May Blitz, the seven nights at the beginning of May 1941 when the bombing of Merseyside reached its peak. It was the most intense series of air raids experienced by any British city region outside of London during the war, and more than 1,700 people were killed. Lee Ruddin’s absorbing article Blitz (Di)spirit investigates how Merseysiders reacted to the attacks and to previous bombing raids. Lee’s researches reveal that the standard account of cheerful defiance in the face of adversity doesn’t quite tell the whole story. You can read his article by clicking HERE. (You can also still read on our site David Subacchi’s poem ‘May Blitz’ – click HERE.)
Popular local writer Kevin Cowdall has just released his second e-book, Assorted Bric-a-brac, on Amazon Kindle. Kevin is known for his much praised World War Two novella Paper Gods and Iron Men, as well as for his poems, which have appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies and websites (including The Merseysider). His poems have also featured on BBC local radio stations. Assorted Bric-a-brac is an anthology of fifty poems, including some drawn from previous collections and some that are newly published. To find out more about Kevin and his work, visit his website: www.kevincowdall.com
LIFE ON HOPE STREET
Think of Hope Street and you probably think of public buildings such as the cathedrals at either end, the Philharmonic Hall (and the Philharmonic pub of course), the Everyman Theatre and so on. But Hope Street has always also been a place to live, and in his fascinating article Life On Hope Street, Niall McChesney looks at the history of one of Liverpool’s most famous roads from a residential perspective, focusing on who lived there during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The article includes detailed information about the individuals and families who have lived at particular addresses, providing a revealing insight into Liverpool’s past. To read Life On Hope Street, click HERE.
MIKE BADGER: THE RHYTHM & THE TIDE
Mike Badger founded The La’s but his fascinating new book The Rhythm & The Tide: Liverpool, The La’s And Ever After is about much more than that, with reflections on Liverpool and its cultural scene, and memories of meeting everyone from Adrian Henri to Captain Beefheart. You can read our review by clicking HERE.
AMERICANS IN LIVERPOOL DURING WORLD WAR II – PART 3
The third and final part of Lee Ruddin’s excellent investigative series Americans In Liverpool During The Second World War is now on our website. It’s sub-titled The Ugly, and like the rest of the series is an honest appraisal, avoiding the usual romanticised assumptions and questioning how GIs have been portrayed in films such as Saving Private Ryan and the Elvis vehicle GI Blues. But he also recognises that there was much that was good (and enduring) about America’s ‘friendly invasion’ of Liverpool. It’s another informative, surprising read – click HERE to see it.
AMERICANS IN LIVERPOOL DURING WORLD WAR II – PART 2
Part 2 of Lee Ruddin’s absorbing series on Americans In Liverpool During The Second World War, sub-titled ‘The Bar’, looks at the experiences of the black American GIs who spent time in the city. Sadly, the discrimination they faced in the United States was to a considerable extent replicated here, though there were some honourable exceptions among local residents and businesses. It’s a riveting, eye-opening read and you can access it by clicking HERE.
THE PLASTIC TREE IN PRENTON
Let’s hope the new law requiring stores to charge customers for bags means sights such as that above become less common. A few years ago PVC, whose poems have occasionally appeared in The Merseysider, wrote The Plastic Tree In Prenton – a poem that now seems very timely. You can read it by clicking HERE.
AMERICANS IN LIVERPOOL DURING WORLD WAR II
As Britain’s most important transatlantic port, Liverpool has had a unique, longstanding relationship with the United States. The link was especially strong during the Second World War, when Liverpool’s crucial role in the war effort was reflected in the many Americans (politicians, GIs, military top brass) who came to the city. Lee Ruddin has now chronicled this period in his study Americans In Liverpool During The Second World War, which we’ll be publishing on The Merseysider website. Relationships between GIs and the local community, visits by American VIPs (including Eleanor Roosevelt), how friendships made during the war continued long after it was over – all this and more is covered in Lee’s fascinating account. He explains that the so-called ‘friendly invasion’ was not all sweetness and light, offering a refreshingly balanced, objective view of an important aspect of Liverpool’s history. You can read ‘The Good’, Part 1 of Americans In Liverpool During The Second World War, by clicking HERE. Parts 2 and 3 will follow soon.