Weird and Wonderful Liverpool, Zoom Talk by Ken Pye

Ken Pye, Weird and Wonderful Liverpool Zoom Talk
Ken Pye from Discover Liverpool

Ken Pye, a historian of all things Liverpudlian, has given several presentations to our Association. His talk, Weird and wonderful Liverpool, on 25th May covered some of the more unusual stories of Liverpool’s past.

Dr Solomon set up a practice in late 18th century Liverpool after purchasing a degree from Edinburgh University. He promoted his remedy ‘Balm of Gilead’ as a cure-all and through astute marketing it became very popular. Dr Solomon became extremely wealthy as a result and, upon his death, was buried in a magnificent tomb which sadly no longer exists. The main ingredient of the Balm was brandy so despite no medical efficacy probably did make people feel better.

The 18th century also saw the establishment of zoos as a form of entertainment and at one point there were seventeen in the Liverpool area. Liverpool Zoological Park survived into the 20th century and in the 1930’s one of it’s star attractions was Micky the chimp. He was used as a goal keeper, a task at which he was very successful. Micky was too successful and people started kicking the ball at him rather than trying to score. Eventually he’d had enough and made his escape. After throwing roof tiles at his pursuers he was finally cornered and shot. Micky’s body was stuffed and exhibited in Lewis’s Dept store until the building was bombed in the blitz. A very sad story.

It was surprising to learn that there are the remains of an Iron Age hill fort under the present city. Its inhabitants, the Brigantes, were fearsome people. Daubed in a blue woad dye they went naked into battle which successfully kept the invading Romans at bay.

An up to date trawl through the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ section of the Liverpool Echo provided some Liverpudlian humour, intended or otherwise. A traffic warden named his daughters Scarlet, Amber and Jade, but perhaps the character of Liverpool was revealed in a funeral announcement. A lady rang to give details of her husband’s funeral. The copy-taker informed her that she had one line left in the notice and after a moments thought the lady said ‘Car for sale, £1000 o.n.o. Apparently she sold the car.

Ken Pye’s light hearted delivery deserves a live audience but even via Zoom he conveys his affection for Liverpool and its inhabitants. A most entertaining talk.

For more interesting weird and wonderful Liverpool tales visit Discover Liverpool

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Article supplied by Richard Hughes