Henderson's Store 1960


Perhaps a small prayer could be said
for those who perished in Henderson’s fire.
Eleven people lost their lives on that dreadful day
when Henderson’s went up, a massive conflagration.
Funny how destruction is so complete,
Henderson so posh, so calm, the very best of Liverpool.
Shop staff beautifully appointed, partners in their firm,
quality goods displayed and sold
with an air, not of superiority but of confidence,
no hurly burly of St Johns market here.

Across the road Bunny’s store and opposite Coopers building a triangle of shopping that spoke quality,
until that terrible day in 1960
when we rushed out of work mid-afternoon gawping in disbelief at figures standing screaming on ledges high above us.
The heat so fierce that Coopers windows bulged
and staff and customers had to be evacuated.

It turns out the complacency of quality
did not run to checking the fire alarm in the building
which didn’t work
and such was the disbelief that it could actually happen
that there were no evacuation procedures, nor urgency
about calling the fire brigade.
Some customers refused to leave their lunch in the café insisting that “It would be all right.”
Other poor souls tried to use the lift and perished
in the most appalling way.

Hopefully one thing that has survived is our increased health and safely rulees
in this present day
but be warned no matter how careful,
complacency can take you away
and for the victims best remembrance, let us pray.

By Mavis Jones