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Being a Museum Exhibit – My Story! By Richard Oswick

5 September 2018 by Kay

Boy and dog

Richard Oswick outside his home on Cantsfield Street. Courtesy of Richard Oswick

The Secret Life of Smithdown Road display uncovered and shared the stories of this fascinating community, past and present. Much of the content of the display was sourced from local residents, shop keepers and members of our Facebook group. The Museum also interviewed and recorded a range of people and made a special film about life on the Road.

As the display comes to a close on 11 September, Richard Oswick, one of the fabulous contributors to the popular display tells us what it meant to him.

“My time of boasting about being a Museum Exhibit is about to end, but what a fantastic experience it has been. During these years it has helped to rekindle childhood friendships and memories to an amazing level.

Family picture

The Oswick family. Image courtesy of Richard Oswick

I contributed many of our family photographs to the display and also featured in the film which gave me a very bitter sweet opportunity to look around our family home on Cantsfield Street for the very last time on the day of its demolition! So many of my friends and family from far and wide have been to see the display.

There have been so many wonderful posts on the Facebook site which have been seen all over the world by ex-pats, which must have resulted in a touch of homesickness.

It is so easy to put on our rose tinted spectacles when thinking back to our childhood days in the late forties and fifties. For me they were really happy times and the austerity was just a part of our young lives.

For the most part we played in the street with our friends, with a summer day trip to New Brighton on the ferry often the only holiday parents could afford. Sefton Park was a more common adventure with a jam butty and bottle of water, this at a time when the aviary and Old Nick’s Cave were open to all kids who were small enough to fit through the narrow gaps.

Parents worked their socks off to provide enough to eat. This was the norm on Cantsfield Street. Lino rather than carpet and only funds to fuel one coal fire at a time. Ice would form on the inside of all the bedroom windows when winter called and the outside toilet froze solid.

Although I was born in the last days of the Second World War I have no memories of any of our armed service or merchant navy men and women ever talking of what they had witnessed or gone through. We were a protected generation and bomb sites were our activity centres.

Smithdown Road leading down from Lodge Lane earned the title Murder Mile with the murders including, Cranbourne Road and the Cameo Cinema! Each November there were bonfires lit in every street, resulting in a heck of a mess to clean up by the Corporation, and inevitably thick dirty smog.

If I miss one thing about those days it is the sense of community and the lack of envy felt for those who had more. Saving up our pocket money was exciting even if it took a long time to get that special toy or book, (I still have many of them).  I’m glad that our childhood was so much simpler.

So, The Secret Life of Smithdown Road is to finish, being replaced by The Secret Life of Galkoff’s and Pembroke Place, a fascinating project which I look forward to seeing.

To curator, Kay Jones and the team I say a massive thank you for all your work and vision in putting this adventure together. I am privileged to have been a small part of it and will treasure these memories for ever.

Liverpool is so lucky to have this Museum, pride of place at the Pier Head even if I can no longer get a penny return on the tramcar to visit it.”

Finally, a massive thank you from me, to everyone who contributed to the exhibition, those who we met at Oomoo Café (including Richard), Facebook group fans, the shopkeepers, residents, former nurses from Sefton General, students etc. etc. who helped to make the project and the display possible.

Kay Jones

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