Wallasey’s Silver Sands

Those Long Summer Days Recalled With Pleasure

Written by by Zelica Fisher in 1990

In the 1920s Wallasey really was a pretty place. There was an unmade road called Sea Road, which led from just near our house in Lyndhurst Road right on to the ‘Silver Sands’ of Wallasey. It was really a wide lane running between the Municipal Golf Course on one side, with its high wire-netting, and the high wooden fences of the gardens in Warren Drive on the other, and it was made of a dark, sooty, cindery soil which got into your sandshoes and made your feet black. Against the garden fences grew weeds (including Woody Nightshade, which we thought was Deadly Nightshade and regarded it with a kind of superstitious awe) and other wild flowers and brambles. We thought the lane was miles long, and after a long summer’s day on the shore, we tramped wearily along its seeming endlessness!

There was a railway bridge near the bottom of the lane, for the New Brighton to Park Station, Birkenhead, train ran along very near the beach, and under the bridge the sand had blown from the shore and was piled high, so high that sitting on it you were not far at all from the wheels of the train pounding overhead, and we always made a dash to get underneath whenever we heard a train coming. The sand here was clean and free from pebbles and shells. At the end of the lane was the embankment and at high tide the sea lapped gently against it, except in the winter when there were gales and huge breakers pounded the embankment.

The shore was our special place, and in the summer holidays Mother often made us a picnic ‘dinner’ consisting of egg sandwiches, jam sandwiches and a piece of home-made cake; also a large medicine bottle each, full of lemonade made from fresh lemons, sugar and water. Whenever it was fine, my sister Val and I and a friend called Joan Colvin spent long days paddling, digging, playing ‘statues’ and trying to walk on our hands. We were obsessed with doing handstands. Joan’s dog, Spot, was always with us and he ate the crusts of our sandwiches. When Spot was thirsty, we took him up on the embankment where there were taps, and we ran water for him to lap.

Spot looked exactly like the H.M.V. dog. He was a good swimmer and he loved to fetch a stick thrown into the water for him. Sometimes the stick went further out than we had intended, and Spot went on swimming out after it as it drifted out to sea, until we panicked as his retreating head grew smaller and smaller! Then we screamed at him to come back. At last he consented to return and chased after us, shaking the sea water all over us!

Children in those days didn’t bathe as often as they do nowadays, and we would never have thought of taking off our rather cumbersome clothes in public on the beach; indeed our parents would never have dreamed of allowing us on the beach by ourselves, unless they had trusted us never to go into the water deeper than our knees, for the channels and sandbanks

were well known to be extremely dangerous.  So we tucked our ‘frocks’ into our knickers and tried not to get wet above our knees – not always I may add, with complete success! We had a convenient theory that you didn’t catch cold from sea-water, so it didn’t worry us overmuch if we did get a bit of a soaking. We tied our sandshoes together by the laces and hung them round our necks, and paddled for miles along the sea edge.

Paddling once nearly got me into trouble. We were not allowed to paddle until May, however warm the weather, but one lovely warm Good Friday we paddled away happily. A few days later I didn’t feel at all well. I felt convinced that it was due to my disobedience, but didn’t dare confess to Mother, so it was quite a relief when I found I was covered with little red spots which turned out to be measles. So I was never found out!

Where we lived, the grocer’s boy called each week for an order and delivered it the next day on his errand-boy’s bicycle; the butcher’s boy called each morning on his bike for an order too, and delivered it in time for one o’clock dinner. The baker’s girl came each day with a trolley on wheels full of fresh bread, and the milk came each morning and afternoon, when the milk-lady filled our jug with a dipper from a churn of milk, wearing a white ‘sleeve’ on her right arm. The dry-cleaner’s boy came on Monday’s with a trolley to collect clothes to be cleaned, and he returned them on Fridays, cleaned and pressed. He wore a uniform with a little pillbox cap.

When I was about twelve, roller-skating became all the rage, and first my sister Val and then I, had been given a pair of roller skates for our birthdays (they cost five shillings).  We went everywhere on skates, even into the local shops, and I am quite sure we must have been the bane if their lives, standing clutching the counter while we were being served! I adored skating with all my heart and at this time we became part of the group of other local girls and boys, and went round in a pack, becoming quite adept skaters. Sometimes we went down to New Brighton promenade, where traffic was forbidden, and here you could skate for miles along the smooth surface. The only snag for us was that it meant making a journey of a mile or two, and then we had the long walk back when we were tired after an afternoon’s skating. At this time I was the proud possessor of a black and white checked shirt which Mother had got a cheap dressmaker to make for me, and with my Wallasey High School blazer, black woolen stockings and school scarf, I felt smart and dashing.

As well as skates, everyone now had a Yo-Yo. An ordinary Yo-Yo cost between sixpence and a shilling, and young and old school bouncing them up and down. How we yearned for a half-crown Yo-Yo, so that we could do a clever trick called The Spinner.

And wherever we went, whatever we played, whatever we did, we were conscious of the sharp, tangy, seaweedy smell of the sea, and a salty taste on our lips. In many ways we had an extraordinary amount of freedom compared with the children of today, and life in the Wallasey summers of the 20’s was indeed pleasant.