Princess Charming ends the boos

16 May 1969

Even the Daily Mail reports prominently on yesterday’s Senate House protest:

Princess Alexandra meets housewives in Vine Street

Princess Alexandra was greeted by boos and catcalls from housewives and student demonstrators yesterday.

But the protests turned to cheers when she had impromptu heart- to-heart talks with some of the wives about their slum homes. The Princess went to Liverpool University to o p e n a £l million senate building and physics research laboratory – and found herself surrounded by housewives and students in tumbledown Vine Street near the university.

Mrs Ethel Singleton, 35, secretary of the Abercromby Tenants’ Association, which organised the demonstration with students’ help, said : “The Princess need not have come to talk to us about our grumbles, but she wanted to find out what the demonstration was all about. I explained that the demonstration and the ba nners we were carrying were nothing personal against her. She said she understood. Then we got down to talking about the conditions in our homes.

“When I told her there were no bathrooms, that we had to use outside toilets, and our only water supply was a cold tap, she was really taken aback. She asked how we bathed our children and I told her we did it in a tub in front of the fire.”

Mrs Martha Dempsey, 58, who has lived in Vine Street for 28 years, told the Princess that her family had made their own bathroom. Princess Alexandra said: “Conditions must be unpleasant. I hope you will soon be rehoused.”

When the Princess left after 20 minutes she told the wives: “I am sure something in this day and age should be done for you.”

Mr Herbert Burchnall, the university registrar, said the university owned only four of the 15 houses about which there had been complaints. “Essential repairs are being undertaken,’ he said. A Liverpool corporation spokesman said the tenants’ complaints were being investigated.

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Author: Gerry

Retired college teacher living in Liverpool, UK.

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