This photograph has been variously described as either “Walton Road”, “Fountains Road” or even “County Road” in Liverpool. I was recently contacted by Ed through Facebook with the following query:
I wonder if you could tell me where the exact location of this pic. I’ve seen it described as “Royal St” off Walton Road but someone now tells me it could be Fountains Rd/Barry St. Any idea?
My gut feeling leaned towards the Royal Street area for several reasons:
1) Whenever mention was made of the Fountains Road area it was always in relation to other parts of the road
2) The layout of the roads in each area at first glance seemed to suit Royal Street better
3) A quick check of the Roll of Honour suggested that more deaths occurred in the Royal Street area
However Ed and Dave Bridson came up trumps with a couple of post-war O/S maps that cleared up the question straight away. First up comes the area around Royal Street – largely unchanged with no signs of large areas of empty land through war damage.
Then we have the area around the junction with Walton Road, Fountains Road, Woodhouse Street and Wyatt Street. You can clearly see large gaps in this area which match the damage seen in the wartime photograph.
This lead me to ponder why this particular area wasn’t singled out for a mention in books like Port in a Storm (PIAS) or similar. This book is an excellent guide to the May Blitz on Liverpool, covering the events in great detail. Whilst it is possible that the damage in the photograph occurred during another period of the blitz, I knew from prior research that the Fountains Road area took a battering during the May Blitz.
For the Fountains Road area on the night of the 3rd/4th May 1941 PIAS mentions:
Fountains Road area – notably Wykeham, Newman, Morley and Freeland Streets (100) [100 being the number of deaths]
The road is also mentioned as being hit on the nights of the 2nd/3rd May 1941 and the 4th/5th May 1941 but no mention of the area covered by the photograph is made.
Other sources cite the number of deaths on Fountains Road alone as 22, which is quite a difference from 100. A study of the roads mentioned however reveals that the author of PIAS is talking about a pretty big area, which can be best seen on the pre-war map below (click on the map for a better view of it).
The numbers in red represent the number of deaths associated with that particular road, whose date of death is given as sometime during the May Blitz. Note that not all of these would have fallen on the 3rd/4th – for example the 6 losses at Chancel Street are known to have occurred the previous night.
Also “B” represents the approximate location of where a photographer would have stood to take the wartime photograph, whereas “A” represents approximately where I thought it may have been taken had the subject been Royal Street.
This should help clear up what John Hughes meant in PIAS when he referred to the Fountains Road area suffering around 100 deaths on the night of the 3rd/4th May 1941. It is difficult to be certain in every single case which night the person was killed on, since the roll of honour only gives one date. Someone listed as dying on the 3rd May 1941 for example could have fallen on either the night of the 2nd/3rd 1941, or the night of the 3rd/4th 1941. With this in mind though, the list is as follows:
Wykeham Street: 13
Newman Street: 11
Beckett Street: 1
Chancel Street: 6
Freeland Street: 24
Tintern Street: 1
Woodhouse Street: 4
Walton Road: 1
Royal Street: 5
Hartley Street: 1
Morley Street: 18
Fountains Road: 22
Howley Street: 4
This explains why the area in the photograph is not generally mentioned in reference books. Although the damage was very severe, there were likely only four deaths in that immediate area. Every death is a tragedy and that person would have been greatly missed, but the area in our wartime photograph saw fewer fatalities than many other locations in this area.
To round off this article I have included more post-war maps from Dave Bridson showing probable bombs sites in the Fountains Road area. I am grateful to both Dave and Ed for their help compiling this article, and especially clearing up the mystery photograph!