Vernon’s Pool, 1936
Central Cafe´, Central Station
Looking through all my posts to date, I was somewhat surprised how little emphasis I had placed on the people of Liverpool. The great majority of my photographs were of street scenes and buildings rather than the people who lived in them – so I am making amends this week with a series of images celebrating the lives of working women and their contribution to the economy of the city.
The first photograph is of women working at Vernon’s Pools in 1936. Football pools has started in 1923 when John Moores and two friends handed out 4000 coupons outside Old Trafford. Initially, the business was slow and John Moores bought out his two partners who had lost confidence in the loss-making enterprise. Moores quickly turned Littlewoods round and millions of working people began to spend a few pence each week in what was the only national gambling competition (at that time it was based on agents house-calling rather than by mail). Vernons followed in 1925 – making Liverpool the centre of an industry which employed thousands of women checking the weekly returns.
The February, 1936 press photograph relates to the Football League’s attempt to keep secret football fixtures to crush the pools industry. They were angered that none of the £20 million a year profits were going to the game and had decided that enough was enough. The tactic was impossible to sustain but it did force an agreement whereby a percentage of pools money went to the League. The importance of the pools to the area took a mighty hit in 1994 when the National Lottery was introduced – but the photograph is a reminder of one of the key industries of the city in the twentieth century.
The bottom photograph is of Central Cafe´in Central Station. I guess it was taken in the 1930s. A Mrs Carey was the manageress (seated above the hot-pot sign). With 14 women employed, it must have been a thriving enterprise. It is sad that this kind of photograph is no longer as common as it was. Companies used to take a pride in assembling their workforce for group photographs but that, like the Central Cafe´and Lancashire hot-pots, is a thing of the past.