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Liverpool Steel Scrap Drive (1952)

Courtesy of North West Film Archive

Main image of Liverpool Steel Scrap Drive (1952)
16mm, colour, silent, 13 mins

A Liverpool scrap metal drive in May 1952.

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In the early postwar years, rationing and a rise in manufacturing and construction industries saw a return to wartime scrap metal drives. During the war, scrap drives were aimed at gathering material for planes, tanks and munitions, but postwar recycled metals were often used in the manufacture of refrigerators, cookers and washing machines and in construction. The British Iron and Steel Federation's scrap metal drive campaigns 'Speed the scrap, speed the steel' were held in towns throughout the North West. Campaigns operated around the streets and suburbs as residents gathered old bedsteads, used tin saucepans and other obsolete metal objects for collection vans.

At the time Liverpool's extensive tram network was slowly being dismantled, with tram operations finally ending in 1957. The uprooting of metal tram tracks buried in the roads of Liverpool was a good opportunity to supplement the shortage of scrap metal. Workers lifted tramlines and cut up tracks to make way for the more cost-effective replacement bus services. However, delivery of the buses was often held up due to shortage of raw materials. Workers would also break up boats close to the dockland area and Liverpool soon became one of the largest scrap metal handlers in Europe.

This film features several views of the Liverpool Overhead Railway, known as the 'Dockers Umbrella', which was built between 1893 and 1896 and ran the whole length of the dock area. It was still in operation in the early 1950s, but had suffered bomb damage during the war. Its eventual closure in 1956 was due to a number of factors, including structural deterioration and high maintenance costs. Further reasons for its decline followed the changing working practices of the docks: cargo ships were becoming bigger and fewer and, whereas in the past passengers would have arrived by sea, people had started transferring to air travel.

Emma Hyde

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Complete film (13:16)
Cementation (1956-7)
Charter Year 1957 (1957)
Topical Budget 282-2: Scrap Steel for Shells (1917)
Liverpool: Shaping the City