During the winter of 2006 and the summer of 2008 I have been conducting full life histories with people in Coventry and Liverpool about their experiences of living and working in these cities in the immediate postwar period, a time when both cities were trying to recover from severe bomb damage as well as cope with distinct economic and social change. It is also time that is commonly labelled as period of austerity and then affluence. As the interviews were full life histories what we tried to do was include the narrators’ experiences of the later twentieth century as the seventies and eighties are often characterised as a period of discontent for many. What resulted has been the creation of a wonderful collection of memories of past and present communities, people and places in two cities that have witnessed changing fortunes throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first.
At the moment I am working with the narrators, their recordings and transcripts to ensure they are happy with the content. This is an important task as it ensures that the people I have interviewed are included in the process of collection and dissemination. This site is one way we hope to include and involve those people we have interviewed as they see their own words, experiences and memories contributing to new discussions about how we think about the working class not just in the postwar period but also in today’s changing society.
The photograph above was taken by Harry Ainscough in Springfield Road in Liverpool c. 1964. Ainscough, who lived in Sheffield in the 1960s, was captivated by Liverpool and the changing nature of the inner-city during this period. He would travel regularly from Sheffield to walk around Liverpool and record the city life. The focus in this picture is a group of young people congregated outside what looks like some sort of community building with large swing doors to the left of the image. Girls as well as boys are mingling outside and resting on the wall. The girl sitting on the wall is wearing a mini-skirt while one of the lads sports a quiff. The others are also dressed well. This image evokes a sense of youthful play in the neighbourhood and community as people meet to chat and socialise in the local vicinity.