Stanley Abattoir Athletic and Social Club,
Old Swan, Liverpool
There had been a market for livestock in the Old Swan area since 1830. Stanley Market was on a main corporation tram route, Prescot Road being the main road from Liverpool to the manufacturing districts of East Lancashire and Yorkshire. The site was acquired by Liverpool Corporation in 1901 and a new building for livestock and an abattoir costing £670,000 was opened by the Earl of Derby on 14 September 1931.
The largest meat market in Britain had a social club attached to the massive premises which catered for the staff of the huge slaughter house, their families and friends. At a time when they probably knew as much about vegetarianism as Transcendental Meditation the Quarry Men appeared here in a somewhat unusual engagement arranged by their mate / "manager" Nigel Walley. The Quarry Men were booked for a Saturday night dance on 16 November 1957, playing (as they regularly seemed to do during their formative years) on either side of the interval.
It is reported that their allegedly “cacophonous” performances were not well received and they were not re-booked. It seems they had spent some time calming their nerves in the nearby Cattle Market Public House which resulted in one or two band members being a little "worse for wear". (see also Finch Lane L.C.P.T).
At the time the area would have been quite unfamiliar to them being several miles and several buses away from their homes in South Liverpool. Within a few years however they were making regular appearances at St John’s Hall in Tuebrook, little over a mile away down Green Lane and hanging out at the home of Al Caldwell (Rory Storm) in nearby Broad Green.
A still from the film "Nowhere Boy" showing how the Quarry Men would have looked at the time of their appearance at Stanley Abattoir.
Between 1956 and 1958 a serious outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease spread across the United Kingdom, peaking in 1957 when 20 counties in England and Wales, mostly in the North-West, were affected. Over 30,000 animals were slaughtered as a result.
On 28 December 1957, just over a month after the Quarry Men appeared, the abattoir was shut down after foot-and-mouth disease was found in cattle waiting to be slaughtered. Inspectors from the Ministry of Agriculture were called in when eight suspected cases were found in carcasses. The Inspectors subsequently found 10 more cases in live cattle at the abattoir.
After being given the all-clear the abattoir re-opened on 2 January 1958 and operated until 1971.
Liverpool's only wholesale meat and fish market continues to trade to this day selling meat purchased from local North West farmers using local abattoirs.
The Abattoir looms in the background of the former Stanley Public House which now stands forlornly on Prescot Road.
Another public house on the same street. Completed in the same year as the abattoir, the Cattle Market at 329 Prescot Road was visited by the Quarry Men prior to their engagement. The pub has since been demolished. (Photo courtesy of Ged Fagan, 3.8.70).
Stanley Abattoir pictured in 1959, two years after the Quarry Men's engagement.