I have facilities available to me that my parents could only have dreamed of.
Sheena Shaw is Mariners’ Park's longest-serving resident, having moved in with her parents when her seafaring father retired.
Here is her story in her own words.
I moved into Mariners' Park with my parents in 1955. My father was a retired chief engineer. I understand he was one of only two chief engineers in the park at that time, the other residents being mainly masters. Cliff House was for the ratings, and the Andrew Gibson home for the widows. Any single daughters at that time would have to leave the park if their father died, for the entitlement to residence was vested in him.
All the men were in similar situations, having come through the 1930s depression and World War II. You were not eligible to come into the park if your savings were over a certain limit. In the early days no maintenance was payable, and my father received a monthly coal allowance and I think there was an electricity allowance of some kind.
It was a close-knit community. Nobody had much money, and the men had shared hard experiences. Nobody had cars (mine was one of the first in 1964) so everybody walked through the park and chatted to the other residents. They gathered and gossipped at the bus stops when doing the shopping. Many an interesting conversation was ended when the bus came! There was a real sense of community. Concerts and events were held in Cliff House (including Wilfred Pickles once recording 'Have a go' there). These events were always well attended. When Cliff House was demolished, an unused ward in the John Davies Infirmary was used for entertainment; now we use the Mersey View Room in the current Care Home, and hopefully we will before long have a purpose built community facility. So you can see how the park evolves. It never stands still!
Changes took place gradually as older properties were demolished and bungalows took their place. The semi-detached 'villas' were converted to flats for people on their own. In 1972 my parents and I left our villa and moved into two newly converted flats, so that our villa could be part of a larger conversion plan. This was when I and the other daughter on the park (there were at least three of us at that time) were guaranteed continuity of residence. By this time the maintenance charge had been introduced — I think I paid £2 a week for my flat and my own electric bills. We did not have gas at that time. The rates and water charges came out of maintenance. This ended when the tax system changed in the 1980s and residents became responsible for their own charges.
Today, there is still a sense of community in the park - witness the popularity of the Monday coffee mornings. There are so many more activities now that there is a dedicated activities coordinator - concerts and outings are laid on and our suggestions always welcomed. You can join in or not as you wish.
I have facilities available to me that my parents could only have dreamed of. The updated properties have all the appropriate alarms and security systems - including Eldercare personal alarms which we all have. But for me, and I am sure for many residents, the introduction of our own domiciliary care team has been a boon and a blessing, providing help and advice on site. Their presence would have made my life and my Mum’s so much easier during the latter months of Mum’s life. We also have a welfare case worker based in Nautilus House who will help residents resolve their problems.
So I think we are all very lucky to live in a place where the residents really do come first!