PEARSONS OF LIVERPOOL
AFTER THE WAR WAS OVER....
Pearsons of Liverpool
"...thousands of US military vehicles were imported, stored, and then assembled in the companies works around Edge Hill. That meant that the firm handled all kinds of military vehicles, including US, Canadian, and British order Jeeps..."
When the editorial team at Trans-Pennine Publishing were presented with the opportunity of looking through some old lorry pictures, they were quite literally left speechless!
Never had they seen such a comprehensive collection of 12" x 10" prints, especially considering the fact that they were taken in war-time when normal photography was extremely limited and taking pictures of military vehicles was a criminal offence. However, if you had official clearance, photography was permitted under strict conditions, but even then many of the images taken had to have their background 'masked out', in order to prevent the location being recognised if the picture fell into the 'wrong hands'.
Once printed, one set of pictures had to be sent to the Ministry of Supply (MoS), and the other kept in a lockable wooden cabinet, which had then to be kept in a locked strong room.
The images that were loaned to us had been retained in their chest and had remarkably escaped the war time bomb damage, censorship and secrecy. They were then later saved from being 'thrown out' as rubbish during the 1950s, and thereafter rested in an attic for another half-century.
Not only was their survival remarkable, but so too was their unique subject matter. Most of the images represented the very first example of each type of vehicle to be assembled by the company from the crated vehicles that had been shipped over first from Canada and then as the war progressed, from the United States of America (USA). Many of the images between 1940 and 1944 show the vehicle's Census Number (military serial number). The images form the basis for the book, 'After The War Was Over', which explains how the company came to be at the forefront of this vitally necessary work. Once the book has covered the period up to early-1945, it will be seen that the company's focus began to change and this is clearly reflected in the images we have chosen.
From around April 1945, the flow of crated vehicles coming across the Atlantic began to slow, as the war in Europe was slowly coming to an end, and thereafter the vast majority of output was needed for the war in the East, as Japan was still a major problem to be overcome. From the end of May 1945, the shipments of vehicles that had been shipped across the Atlantic to Liverpool had almost dried up, but Pearson's found themselves extremely busy with the refurbishment of former military vehicles that were needed in the physical and economic reconstruction of Europe.
Not shy of taking opportunities, Pearsons started to purchase the un-assembled and still crated vehicles that were being held in the firm's rurally-located stores for the Ministry of Supply, and they also started to acquire used military units as these were put into the disposal auctions of the day.
Battle-weary vehicles were then to be found on the company's assembly line, where they underwent complete refurbishment for use on 'Civvy Street'. The restriction on new vehicle production, a concerted export drive by Britain's motor manufacturing industry and the massive demand for new and 'used' vehicles that had built up during the war years, when only a limited supply of new civilian units were available, all fuelled the demand for both new and 'refurbished' vehicles. The images cover a ten-year period from 1939 to 1949 and the text limits itself to that period, culminating when the firm left their Phoenix Safe Works premises (Liverpool 7) in 1949 and took advantage of war compensation to concentrate operations in the more modern factory off Overbury Street and located between Angela Street and St. Arnaud Street.
Viewing these pictures today, especially by standing in the same location, it is difficult to imagine that huge American or Canadian trucks once lined the road where children now play. Where a local congregation had to walk past a row of gun carrying American Jeeps to get in to church, and where a Liverpool street was once lined with four DUKW amphibian trucks. a stone's throw from one of the long demolished tenement blocks.