Liverpool Memories

The photographs of Stewart Bale Ltd

12 July to 27 October 2002

Please note that this exhibition has now closed

The photographs of Stewart Bale Ltd provide a unique record of life in Liverpool from the 1930s to the 1950s. The pictures show the everyday places where people worked, shopped and enjoyed themselves.

Stewart Bale Ltd was an advertising and printing business in Liverpool that specialised in commercial and architectural photography. The client list included famous Liverpool names such as Cunard, Meccano and Coopers.

For this exhibition of more than 70 photographs the Feelgood Factory's reminiscence group picked out their favourite images from the archive and provided their reminiscences for the labels.


Scotts (Bootle) Empire Wrapped Bread van in Keats Street, 1933

"They made bread and cakes but specialised in iced wedding cakes. My aunty did wedding cakes. Some of them were absolutely beautiful. 

Scotts used to have open days when they were in Dunningsbridge Road. They used to take you round the bakery to see how the girls worked. They also held contests and activities. My eldest daughter won the beautiful baby competition one year and I remember playing mini golf and getting a hole in one."

 Manfield and Sons, Church Street, 1949

Shop on busy corner in the city centre

"This was a shoe shop but the four floors above it were Wynn’s furniture store. It was very popular with working class people. 

I remember looking in the shop window at shoes but I didn’t go in. You’d always just look in the window. When we went to Liverpool we didn’t have the courage to go into some of the big shops like Manfields. We’d shop wherever would take a check. It was the way working class people could clothe their families."

Royal Daffodil II on the Mersey, 1945

Ferry crossing the Mersey

" I didn’t wear my glasses when we were courting. The Daffodil had a brass ledge set in the deck. I went to walk across it, no glasses on, and I tripped and fell into Harry’s arms. That’s where I fell for him! "

Martindale Ltd coal merchants, Crown Street, 1936

Horse drawn cart carrying sacks of coal in front of large industrial building

"Martindales is a very old company. Although they’re still going in Liverpool I don’t think they sell coal. After the war they branched out into central heating. 

I remember seeing the coalman when we had the shortage after the war in 1947. People were begging for half a bag of coal. Somebody had to stand guard over the cart while it was delivered in case someone ran away with it."

Owen Owen, Clayton Square, 1960

Elevated view of large department store on a corner in Liverpool city centre

"A lot of Welsh people used to shop at Owen Owen of a Thursday. They sold things like crockery, furniture and clothes. There was a little shop downstairs where you could buy speciality foods. 

You would shop in Owen Owen on occasions if you wanted a coat or a dress. If you couldn’t get anything local then you’d go into town. You’d go in Owen Owen where you hesitated going into the Bon Marché or Hendersons. It was more customer-friendly, working class. I didn’t feel inferior going in there."

Princes Dock, about 1954

Elevated view of dock and overhead railway

"It was known as the Irish dock. You used to get a lot of Irish boats going from Liverpool to Dublin and they would dock in there. They weren’t like the Isle of Man ferry, they would stay in overnight. 

The Overhead Railway was like getting on a tram. If we were going to New Brighton very often it was the quickest way. You could book all the way through. It was brilliant to travel on."

 Legs of Man public house, Lime Street, 1935

Pub on street corner. Tram lines are above the road in front.

"It was the pub you went into for a drink before going to the Empire Theatre. Once I went to see ‘Allo ‘Allo and the pub was full of theatregoers dressed up as characters from the show. 

Walkers Warrington was a local brewer. They had a big factory in Warrington."

FW Woolworth, Wavertree Road, 1931

Shop with lots of goods and notices in the windows

"In Woolworths if you wanted any nails or screws you just picked a handful and counted them and you could buy them individually like that. 

Woolworths had many stores in Liverpool. The main one was in Church Street. It was the first one in the country. 

Woolworths was very good, cheap and value. They sold everything - sweets, cotton, slides for your hair just like today."

Wallasey Open Air Baths, 1932

Elevated view of long rectangular pool by waterfront, with rows of people sat around the edge

"It was a good day out. We went there with our children when they were quite young by the ferryboat. 

One time I hadn't taken my swimming costume with me. You could hire a woollen swimsuit. I remember trying to do breaststroke and both straps were so loose with the water they came down. It was quite embarrassing at the time."

Stewart Bale Ltd

Herbert Stewart Bale founded Stewart Bale Ltd in 1911. His son, Edward Stewart Bale, joined the company and it earned a reputation for the excellent quality of its commercial pictures. This was largely due to the use of large format cameras, which most other firms had abandoned in favour of modern equipment. The company finally closed in the 1980s. A collection of 200,000 glass plate and film negatives survive in the museum's archives.

For further information see:

The Feelgood Factory

The Feelgood Factory is a healthy living centre charity. It was established in 1999 and is based in Netherton.