The connection between Wales and Liverpool has been explored anew in a book published this week.
Penny Lane and All That by Camarthenshire author Ann Carlton is a celebration of growing up in Liverpool’s Penny Lane neighbourhood during the 1940s and 1950s – the same era as the Beatles and Quarrymen.
Ann Carlton grew up at Penny Lane. Her father rose from a poor background to become a senior local government officer; thus giving her unique insights into both poverty and affluence in the city at the time.
From first-hand experience she describes the Penny Lane area itself, the squalor of the city’s slums, the treatment of needy children and unmarried mothers, the glamour of civic events and the cultural diversity of the city – including the writer’s own Welsh background.
‘The Welsh would call my unrealistic longing for my Liverpool home ‘hiraeth’. It is a feeling shared by many among the Scouse diaspora’ says Ann.
‘Yet I always knew I was Welsh’ she added, ‘My parents and all my grandparents were born in Liverpool but tales of Wales were part of my family folklore’.
Ann describes her family’s Welsh background and Welsh connections in the city including the now demolished Welsh chapel that overlooked the Penny Lane roundabout and the Liverpool Welsh Choral which was often conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargent.
‘Liverpool’s Welsh immigrants brought with them the Welsh language and a love of music. They went on to build numerous chapels in which they promoted both’ says Ann.
‘In my childhood Liverpool was known as the capital of north Wales. Every Thursday was Welsh day. It was the day people from north Wales travelled to the city centre by rail, coach and car to visit relatives and to shop’ Ann explained, ‘My mother’s favourite childhood photograph was taken on St David’s Day. For it, she was dressed in Welsh costume, complete with tall black hat.’
After studying sociology at the London School of Economics, Ann had a career in politics and journalism. She was one of the first UK Government Special Advisers and, for a time, a Western Mail columnist. She lives with her husband, the former MP Denzil Davies, in Pembrey, Carmarthenshire – a seaside village in her husband’s former constituency.
Penny Lane And All That by Ann Carlton (£9.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.