Tuesday, 5 February 2008

The Rocket


This was the Rocket, Liverpool, in the 1960s / early 1970s before the arrival of the M62 motorway and all its flyovers. In the 1950s the four shops in the first picture were Howcrofts (newsagents / tobacconists); a greengrocers; a ? ; and a chemist which had big old blue bottles on high shelves. Around the corner from the newsagents was a tiny dress material shop. In the photo they are a newsagents (still); launderette; butchers; and dress shop.

Opposite the newsagent – to the left – there were no shops in the 1950s but by the 1960s there were two. One of them kept changing use and owners; the other, unfortunately, didn’t – it was owned by a grocer called Mrs Gibbons who sold overpriced goods and glared at you in the process. Those two shops can be seen in the background of this picture of the old Rocket Pub after it had been ‘done up’. Between us and those shops is a roundabout, one of many traffic control measures tried throughout my lifetime in an attempt to get vehicles going on the outer ring road, Queens Drive, across the traffic going into Liverpool city centre from the Huyton / Warrington / Manchester direction. The two bus stops served the 61/68 (going to Aigburth) and the 81 (going to Speke).

Just to the right of this picture there was another block of shops but I don’t have a photo. It contained, inter alia, the bakery (“Up the steps”); newsagents; and a hardware store (Bithells?).

These shops – opposite the last mentioned block – contained, in the 1950s Murphy’s – a hardware store; the Post Office; a chip shop (later replaced by Reece’s the bakers); Green’s the newsagents; and Irwins the grocers (later replaced by Waterworths, the greengrocers, who moved from the other block); the bank; and a little butchers. Tescos arrived in the 1960s and left shortly afterwards, being replaced by a golf shop.

Sorting through my post cards I came across this unnamed one which I only just recognised as the Rocket. There is a narrow bridge in the foreground under which the railway line would have run. By my youth this had been widened to carry a two lane Queens Drive. Nowadays there is four lane flyover and two two lane slip roads on the site! In the distance on the postcard is a big Victorian house which by the 1950s had been knocked down – as had half the big blocky building next to it – to create the Rocket Motors garage.


  1. In the first picture above the greengrocers was Waterworths and the ? was a butcher. The name of the butcher was a very well-known Liverpool one which will come to me in due course. I have a curious feeling that the Chemists was Andersons or something starting with an A. Next to them was Dr Knipe the infamous (for me) dentist.

  2. I shaold also have said that Howcrofts on the corner had a private lending library in the 'back' room.

  3. And above the launderette was a men's hairdressers.

  4. The Butchers next to the bank was Dewhursts on Bowring Park Road the shop next to Allinsons the Chemist was Arthurs the Butchers. Facing this block of shops and next to the Rocket pub was Lothians the timber merchants, then the pub then a little green grocers,Charters Bakery,a driveway leading to the Broadgreen Dairy. Next was the chip shop and the Lune launderette carrying along the block was Kemsleys the news agents then an off licence and finally Bithells the chandlers.
    The little dress shop round the corner from Howcrofts(or in my day Peels the newsagents)in Rockville Road was called Sylvia's.
    Oh yes Mrs Gibbons and her son Norman (proprietors of the 'overpriced' grocers trading as 'the Mace') scared the gods out of me too...not a couple to upset !!!!

  5. Wow , just found this gem of a blog. I remember all of these .I lived just off Princess Drive as a child but travelled regularly to visit Aunt's in Woolton on the 81 bus plus as a teen was taken to The Rocket by a boyfriend (Yes , I was under age !!!!)Thanks for the memories.

  6. hi ,
    i remeber all these shops very well , i was born in 1964 and lived in the corner house at waldgrave rd next to tesco ,onlt live by the hospital now so still see it all the time but its great to see the old photographs .

  7. Think I know dave above, or at least his brother Tommy McNaught (McNaughton?). They used to live next to the Gregory's, and Chis McDonough at the top of Waldgrave. I too live on Waldgrave between 64-74. These pictures are exactly how I remember the rocket before it was torn down. We used to know Howcrofts as the 10 o'clock shop, because that's what time it closed. If we were getting sweets to watch the tele late, then Greens closed at 8PM, we'd bustle over to the 10 O'clock shop.

    Pretty sure Peggy Slattery and / or the Howarth family worked or owned the material shop behind the 10 O'clock shop. Their families certainly lived over there, and their kids all went to Christ the King RC school. There are some great links on your page, and I am sure my dad would love to investigate some of this further.

    I've lived in Canada now since '74. The first time I went back to LIverpool after a couple of years, we drove past the Rocket, and I didn't even recognize it, such had it changed. The new Rocket pub wasn't as nice as the old one, and the certain quaintness these pictures portray, had all but gone.

    Trip down memory lane. Thanks for sharing all this nostalgia. Never thought I's see these pictures again.

  8. Are you Dave McNaughton ? I remember your brother Tommy, and your neighbours (the Gregories). I lived at 165 between 63 and 75. Tony

    1. hi tony ,
      yes dave mcnaught , time flies and everything changes , older brother tommy and eldest billy also sheila , susan and carol , i still live near by , 5 mins from where i was born and grew up.

  9. I remember Howaths as the ten o'clock shop, I remember a bakery up some steps and a small hairdresser near the bakery, the newsagent on the other side was Bradley's

  10. Next to the garage was midland bank and derwent? Butchers I think! I recently moved back after 29 years down south.

  11. My grandparents, Harry and Louisa Anderson, purchasesd the hardware stores at 771 Queens Drive around the outbreak of WW2. It was known as the Rocket hardware Stores and was situated right next door to the Liverpool - Manchester railway. In the latest photo above, it is just out of sight on the right. My granfather used to run an illegal betting operation from a cubicle in the shop whilst my grandmother sold the soap and parraffin - the predominant smells in the shop. I lived there from 1947 to 1953 and went to Northway School.