arrived at the Fazakerley Cottage homes on the 25th August 1949 after a
brief stay at Olive Mount Children's Hospital. The place was so large
that it just overwhelmed me as the Home consisted of 20 or so detached
villas rather than cottages, each with ground at the back for playing
and where the coal was kept in a very large bunker. At the very rear of
the garden there was a toilet that was used by the children during the
daylight hours. There was land also at the front which had a little
grass and flower beds, and a wall separating the garden from the
pavement. Each cottage housed about 30 children, the girls lived on the
right of the "Avenue" and the boys on the other. The whole
complex stood in thirty-eight acres of land which had a school, very
large playing field where we played football, cricket, golf and
athletics. Near to the field was a swimming pool, a trade yard,
and sick bay. In the year 1949 there must have been between 600-650
children resident at the Cottage Homes, and in those days most of the
children were orphans. One of the reason why the home was built and
opened in 1889 was to place a rising generation of workhouse children
"under such improved conditions and training as should fit them to
become worth keeping in this country" The home was built for Pauper
and Orphan children as an option to the workhouse, but when I arrived it
was mostly orphaned, or who were classed as such, for my mother was out
there somewhere. This was to be my home for the next 9 years.
the centre of the Home was the very impressive looking church, which was
used for compulsory worship, and during the week for other activities,
such as concerts, entertainment etc. Evangelical Anglican clergymen came
into the Home from the Emmanuel congregation to teach us the Christian
faith, and up to the age of 7 years we were schooled in the Home, with
teachers coming in to teach from nearby Formosa Drive. Infants School.
On my arrival at Fazakerley I was housed in Cottage No 18, as I was so
young. To have put such young children in with older ones would have
resulted in bullying. I was the most miserable and unhappy child in the
world on the day I arrived and I can on three occasions remember
climbing down the drain pipe from my upstairs dormitory window, and
walking the 3 miles or so to Pastor Ekarte at the African Churches
Mission in my pajamas. He and Mrs. Roberts his housekeeper were most
concerned that they would be seen as encouraging my behavior so I
promised never to do it again. I had no friends, and my
"cousins" from the African Churches Mission had not yet
arrived at the Cottage Homes, but when they did I was much happier, and
in those early months we all kept so close together, as the thought of
being separated again was too daunting to contemplate.
began to settle down and started to make friends, and the rest of my
stay at Fazakerley although it was not the ideal, the "House
Mothers" and the head of the home, Mr. and Mrs. Phillips made my
stay a very pleasant and happy one., and when I left in 1958 it was
again a time of uncertainty and sadness. During my stay I learnt so
much, it would be impossible to cite all the lesson leant but here are
some of them.
be a snob, or look down on someone who had a different coloured skin
than you had was the height of foolishness at Fazakerley. I can say
truthfully that in the 9 years at the place I never heard a racist
remark from the staff or children. About 25% of the children where of an
ethnic background other than white, yet the Home was free of racial
tension in any form.
those good old days corporal punishment was allowed in our schools in
England and in the Cottage Homes discipline had to be exercised in order
to keep the Home a bearable place to live. So those who stepped out of
line were caned by the Superintendent. I believe that if I had not had a
good hiding now and again then I would have been a truly deprived
child. It was always pointed out to us why the cane was being
administered, and if there was another way of teaching us discipline
then it was used, but corporal punishment was not ruled out, and I for
one will be eternally grateful for it. Every slap demonstrated that
someone cared. No doubt the behaviour of some children must have made
the House Mothers wish for Capital Punishment, but that I can assure you
was never used.
my stay at Fazakerley I came across some very kind people and they
showed by their own benevolence the value of tender loving kindness. I
remember young teachers just out of Training College on limited incomes,
taking me out to some place of interest in the City on their day off,
giving me a meal, buying me a toy, and depositing me back at the Home
with money in my pocket, and all at their own expense. I cannot remember
their names but I shall always remember their kindness.
was always a very happy time at the Cottage Homes, made so by the
workers at the English Electric Factory on the East Lancashire Road in
Liverpool. Toys of all description were provided by the workers and I
have no doubt that some of those men and women struggled financially to
give the same quality of toy to their own children.
we looked forward to the summer holidays when we sailed to the Isle of
Man, where the Manx people opened up their homes for the children from
the Cottage Homes, and on many occasions invited us back for more
holiday funded from their own housekeeping. The people of the Island
showed us such kindness as will always live with me.
could go on citing the lessons learnt, but the place most definitely
shaped my values, and the place was certainly God's provision for me in
more ways than one. Some of the personalities in the home impressed me.
the head groundsman. He always took an interest in me, and went further
than his duties demanded in being kind and considerate. It was through
his life long friendship with the top British entertainer Max Bygraves
the led to the comedian visiting the Home on more than one occasion, and
had us all laughing and rolling in the isles. The last I heard of Wally
Roe he was living in the Knowsley area of Liverpool enjoying his
there was "Dr
The Doctor was responsible for the general health of the children in the
home, and would visit systematically to examine and administer medicine
to the children. He was without doubt one of the kindest men that I have
ever met, and always so cheerful. When he had finished his duties in the
sick-bay after a very tiring day, he would find a large row of boys
queuing up by his car. The reason being that it was always the Doctors
practice to give us all a ride in the car, one at a time. Not only would
we ride in the car, but would even drive it. Our legs were too short to
reach the peddles so he would sit us on his knee, he would work the
break and accelerator and we children would take charge of the steering
wheel. Once round the whole complex, and the Doctor never missed a child
who had queued. He was a remarkable man.
can I say about "Ken
. He haled from Wrexham in North Wales, and came from a family of
butchers in the town. Before he came to Fazakerley as deputy
Superintendent, he played soccer for Wrexham Football Club,
keeping goal for many years for them. His main responsibilities in the
Home was the physical education of the children, and his background more
than qualified him for the job. We all had a great respect for him, for
if you wanted your backside kicking then Ken was the man to do it for
you, yet he was a very fair minded man, as straight as the day is long.
He was always ready to praise you when do did well, but heaven help you
if you under achieved.
must say a little about "Mr.
& Mrs. Phillips".
They were the Superintendent and Matron of the home, yet they were so
approachable and available. Mr. Phillips and Ken Greatex played golf,
and I had the privilege of being caddy on many occasions. I learnt so
much of the game from them. Mrs. Phillips was a gem of a lady, always
keeping in balance firmness and kindness in her dealings with the
children. They both lived on the job, Fazakerely was their world and
many boys and girls passing through the Home will owe them both a huge
debt. It was their commitment to us that helped us to take our place in
society with at least some degree of success.