It started with some old photos and postcards of Liverpool. I follow several groups and some postcard retailers who regularly post old photos of the area to Facebook and every now and then there are images of the area I live in, but these are usually of local businesses or transport.
I decided I would do a quick search on Ebay to see if they had anything closer to home and much to my astonishment an image came up in the lists that looked incredibly familiar.
To most people this would be just an ordinary row of houses. Why anyone would produce a photo of them for a postcard was anybody’s guess, but to me it was much more. One of those houses was mine.
I clicked the link, the seller said it had been posted in 1911. I already knew the houses were built between 1901 and 1911 and had found census records for the first family to live here, but this postcard could be a direct link to those people.
The reverse of the card wasn’t shown, so I couldn’t be sure who’d sent it. The chances it was ‘our family’ (as we fondly refer to them) were slim and the card was priced at £19.00. It’s the most I’ve ever paid for a single postcard, but I had to have it. What were the chances of finding another?
When it arrived I opened it with fingers crossed, but am sorry to say was a little disappointed. It was not sent by any of the people living in my house in 1911 and had no identifying information on who had taken the photo or produced the postcard. That still remains a mystery, but the odd thing was that it had been sent to a place called Orrell Park, odd because that is what this area is called too. It was posted on the 4th of January 1911, the sender thanks the recipient for postcards, papers and Christmas parcel and says what a quiet New Year they’ve had with no visitors. A brief glimpse into a Christmas past.
Whether it was sent by one of the inhabitants of the other houses on the row I don’t know yet, further research needs to be done when I have more time and access to genealogical records,
What’s interesting about the card is that it shows what the houses looked like just after they were built, and the row further on has changed considerably because they are now all shops with flats above.
But the best thing for me is that if you look really carefully (and I have, with a magnifying glass), it appears that there is someone standing at the upstairs window, holding the curtain back and watching as the photographer took his photo. And just to the right of that the other window is open and possibly has another figure watching from there too. I could be wrong, but I’d like to think this was the lady of the house and her fifteen year old maid, Emily Francis, who we believe still haunts the house, as she has been spotted in her uniform on a few occasions.
And so research on this kept me busy and away from writing the novel for several days, but it was the discovery of a secret code that distracted me for the last weeks of summer. I’ll tell you about that next time…