ST MARTINS COTTAGES
JOE REMEMBERS NUMBER 87
We picture Joe McGrath who lived originally at number 87 St Martin's Cottages. Our photo shows Joe looking at the St Martin's Cottages Plaque, which is sited within the Silvestrain Sports & Social Club complex. Joe recently called into the Scottie Press office to see what information and photographs we had that he could remember from when he lived in the Scotland Road area 1916 -1925. Joe is the son-in-law of the legendary David Logan MP who used to live in Kew Street, Scotland Road. David Logan first got into politics in 1885 and played an active roll in every Scotland Ward election up to his retirement. He was recognised in 1961 (aged 90) as Britain's oldest MP.
We have received requests for information about David Logan and we can advise that a book about the achievements of the Liverpool Irish will be published in July of this year (2003). A chapter in this book, written by Mike Kelly, is given over to David Logan MP. If you would like further information you can email Mike Kelly - firstname.lastname@example.org
Amongst the photographs on the Scottie Press Computer Archive that were of interest to Joe McGrath was of course a picture of St Martin's Cottages. Joe took one look at the photo and was able to immediately spot the house he had lived in. Joe also remembered several faces of an old St Sylvester's School Football Team and also the Team Members of the legendary St Sylvester's CYMS Billiards Team and the former Head Master of St Sylvester's School, Mr J.P. Callaghan.
Work will shortly start on putting together a commemorative booklet which will contain many past images (people & places) of Scotland Road (1803-2003). We welcome hearing from readers who may have photographs and memories of Scotland Road - email email@example.com
A Pioneering Scheme to help the poor of Victorian Liverpool was remembered at a special ceremony of Friday 9th November. A plaque commemorating the building of St Martin's Cottages in 1869 was unveiled at the Silvestrian Club section of the Vauxhall Millennium Resource Centre by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Gerry Scott, and Linda McDermott from Radio Merseyside.
At the time that St Martin's Cottages were built, Victorian Liverpool was bursting at the seams as its bustling docks and factories attracted many thousands of people from the countryside of England and from the counties of Ireland. Appalled by what he saw, Doctor Duncan, who later became the city's first medical officer of health announced that Liverpool was the most unhealthy place in England. When the City Council began to clear the slums it soon realised that they could not rely on private landlords to provide decent standards of living.
Thus when St Martin's Cottages were built in 1869 they represented the
'FIRST COUNCIL HOUSING BUILT IN EUROPE'.
On unveiling the plaque the Lord Mayor of Liverpool said, "the cottages may have been very basic and stark by modern standards but they were a revolution in their day. Social housing was transformed and as more and more councils followed Liverpool's lead, millions of people were able to enjoy decent housing conditions and escape the squalor and slums of the Victorian area".
At the ceremony, Linda McDermott, who lived in nearby Blenheim Street, said: "The fame and prosperity of this great city is largely due to the efforts of working class people. But when they arrived in their thousands from across the Irish Sea and from the agricultural plains of Lancashire, it was the intervention of people with vision like Dr Duncan and Kitty Wilkinson, who saw that these were decent, hard working people who deserved somewhere comfortable to live and raise their families, that led to the building of St Martin's Cottages.This city has achieved many ground-breaking 'firsts' including the appointment of Dr Duncan as the first Medical Officer of Public Health, the first public wash-house system founded by Kitty Wilkinson, the first use of X-rays in Britain was brought here from Germany by a Liverpool doctor, the first district nursing system was founded her by Agnes Jones, the first public libraries and the first free school milk was here -and there are many more firsts too.
St Martin's Cottages were no longer suitable for modern living and so had to go but it is very fitting to have a plaque to commemorate the people who lived here and the people who had the foresight to build them, I hope it will inspire future generations to keep building and re-building on past endeavours."
Situated in Silvester Street, Ashfield Street and Raynard Street, St Martin's Cottages were lived in by generations of local families from 1869 until demolished in 1977. Many former residents of the cottages will remember them, as will residents of the surrounding area.
The Vauxhall History & Heritage Group have already embarked on producing a booklet recalling people's memories of St Martin's Cottages together with a comprehensive history of the building. On page 4 we feature a photograph of the plaque along with an article about the Vauxhall History & Heritage Group. If you are interested in joining this group or if you would like to help them with their intentions please write to Vauxhall History & Heritage Group c/o Scottie Press Community Newspaper, Silvester Street, Liverpool L5 8SE. You might also like to contact the paper if you have any memories and or photographs of St Martin's Cottages.
The Scottie Press will be helping the Vauxhall History & Heritage Group to establish a programme of projects aimed at ensuring that as much of the areas remaining historic buildings are maintained for future generations. The group is also committed to encouraging the commemoration of the most significant events and individuals that have helped shape the Scotland Road and Vauxhall district and city. Such forms of help that the Scottie Press can offer will be promoted as part of the Scotland Road 2003 project featured in the paper each month and here on the Scottie Press website.