Welcome again to Then and Now, where each week we compare images of Merseyside streets, landmarks and buildings from bygone days with how they look today.

Our main image this week has an early festive feel as we look back on Christmas shopping in Clayton Square before it was redeveloped in 1986.

The date is December 1962. Snow has fallen and Christmas trees lights are twinkling through the darkness. There is a wintry stillness about the place.

The stillness in our modern image is very different as the square is deserted due to Coronavirus restrictions, the shopping centre almost empty.

Clayton Square
Deserted streets of Liverpool city centre  Photo by Colin Lane
Clayton Square derives its name from the merchant and politician Sir William Clayton, who represented Liverpool in Parliament in the early 1700s. He was also Mayor in 1689. The square was originally laid out from 1745-50.

One of the square’s most prominent features was the Liverpool Picture House which changed its name a number of times down the years.

In our image it’s the Gala International Film Theatre showing The Betrayer starring Sandra Milo, Laurent Terzieff and Pietro Missirilli. Directed by Roberto Rossellini, the 1961 Italian film was originally titled Vanina Vanini.

The picture house was also known as the Liverpool News Theatre and the Prince of Wales Theatre before it closed down as an entertainment venue in 1972. It then became a church.

The current Clayton Square shopping centre is the fourth largest in Liverpool after Liverpool One, St John’s shopping centre and Metquarter.

A major refurbishment programme took place from the summer of 2014 to December 2015.
Hundreds of pictures from an unforgettable decade are packed into Clive Hardy’s fascinating book Around Merseyside in the 1960s. It’s available at £9.99 plus postage and packaging.

Just go to inostalgia.co.uk to place your order or ring the hotline on 01928 503777.