All In Your Past
The lives of Liverpool’s long-ago people fascinate us. How they look, where they work, what was different, and what’s stayed the same.
Once forgotten images can now be scanned and sent viral, surprising new generations and triggering fond memories for older ones.
Over more than 200 years, Liverpool has changed a lot, but its heritage and history make us what we are today. One platform that understands this is YO! Liverpool, the extensive online Liverpool forum and archive, which tells the story of our city through photographs.
YO! Liverpool founder Kev Keegan (not that one) tells It’s Liverpool how he’s bringing a bygone era back through a powerful online community and the global reach of social media.
“What I love is that people see the images and suddenly remember…”
But to tell the YO! Liverpool story, we also need to look back; back to Kev’s schoolboy days, and it all started with a poem.
“The idea grew from an incident back when I was in junior school 30 years ago’, explains Kev. “We had a supply teacher who was grading poems. Mine went something like ‘There once was a mouse. All he ate was scouse.’ The teacher didn’t get it, writing through my work ‘There’s no such thing as scouse!’
“As a kid, I was gutted. How could she not know about Scouse? It made me realise that not everyone was aware of Liverpool’s culture and I remember that making me feel sad.
“Fast forward a few years, when I was training to be teacher and starting my first job, I noticed that many of the children and even colleagues I worked with had little idea of the importance of the city of Liverpool, or its achievements.
“I began reading local history books and sharing various facts with the students. What became clear is that they were also passionate about the city. This natural interest in helped them to learn more about Liverpool and develop a stronger appreciation for it. What was really special for me was that it seemed to bolster their self-esteem.
“When the internet really started to take off I decided to create a website that would bring Liverpool’s proud people together, to challenge the lingering negative stereotypes portrayed in the media, at that time. My first website – Scouseproud – was born. In 2005 I followed this up with YO! Liverpool. The rest, I suppose is history.”
Although Kev’s personal image library is vast, many of YO! Liverpool’s images are sourced from the Liverpool Records Office and supplied by contributors across the world.
“One of the amazing things about Liverpool is that it’s photographers, both novice and professional are as prolific as they are generous. Many of YO! Liverpool’s images are user-generated, so I have a constant supply of new photography to share and use to engage new followers.”
I asked Kev about his social media successes. Is there any type of image that does particularly well?
“Great shots do better, particularly if the image has historical resonance. Also people love images that are recognisably Liverpool, but taken in a time when the landscape was totally different. Those images tend to get a really strong reaction.
“I think it’s that mix of familiarity with the unfamiliar that surprises people and provokes discussion. What I love is that people see the images and suddenly remember what things used to be like, and they then want to share their own stories.
“Images of lost Liverpool can be bittersweet. They remind us of the dangers of developing, whatever the cost. When you have a city with a history like Liverpool, it’s important to honour its heritage. It stops us becoming just like everywhere else.
I ask Kev how he feels about Liverpool’s resurgence and changing landscape. “I’m proud that Liverpool has bounced back. It’s a city with a strong spirit and I understand that a city has to evolve. It’s important to look forward, but it’s just as important to look back.
“I see photos of Liverpool’s past people, and do you know what? They’re not that different to us. They probably had the same worries, the same hopes, the same dreams.
“I hope people continue to feel proud of Liverpool. I like to think that, someday, people will look back at pictures of us and the city as it is today and feel proud of where they have come from.”
Visit www.yoliverpool.com and follow @YOLiverpool