I was really delighted to be invited by the 1918 Club to be the guest speaker at their ‘Special’ Annual Lunch at the Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool on Thursday 26 May 2016. There were about 75 people, not all of them 1918 Club members, and it was lovely to meet members of the Liverpool branch of the British Federation of Women Graduates, who made up a table themselves. Nobody wants to listen to the same talk time and again, as I have already spoken in Liverpool a number of times, I decided that the focus of this presentation would be on Eleanor’s work for refugees in and from Nazi occupied Europe, before and during the Second World War. This gave me the opportunity of talking about a very local connection, that of the internment camp at Huyton, an incomplete housing estate which was hastily surrounded by a six-foot high, barbed wire fence in May 1940, so as to securely contain several thousand enemy aliens. The recollections of internees are very moving, as are the reports of Eleanor’s visit there in July 1940 , which gave them real hope that somebody cared and that they had not been forgotten.
The 1918 Club itself was co-founded by Eleanor and her close friend and colleague, Elizabeth Macadam, in the aftermath of the First World War to promote discussion and debate amongst women, and it is a tribute to the women of Liverpool that it is still active today. Nowadays they meet once a month, enjoy a super lunch and then listen to the invited speaker, followed by a Q and A. This autumn members will be treated to talks by the City of Liverpool Town Crier and His Lady, from Jane Kennedy, the Merseyside Police Commissioner, and from Roger Phillips, the well-known Radio Merseyside broadcaster. Claire Moorhead of the Friends of the Williamson Tunnels is another speaker, as well as a 1918 Club member and Pauline Hurst who will be speaking about the Beecham Family (of Powder fame) The group currently has around eighty five members, a considerable improvement from 2000, when the numbers had dropped to twenty or so. One of the early speakers, whose name appears on the first page of the wonderful Speaker’s Ledger is Nancy, Lady Astor. What a shame that no other archive material has survived.
Hopefully the club will have their new website up and running very soon.