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 shows crowds in Dale Street enjoying the annual student Panto Procession as it nears the Town Hall. It is February 1960.

The first procession took place by accident in 1897 when Liverpool University students made their way from the campus to a local theatre to watch a winter play.

The impromptu procession was described as a ‘roaring success’ – and quickly became the annual Panto Day complete with costumes and marching routes. The day then transformed into a Panto Week, full of fund-raising events.

Each university department created a float for the procession which would wind its way through the city before arriving at the theatre for the pantomime. Judges would pick the best entry based on originality of design – and the most money raised!

Pantomime at Liverpool, circa 1960
Giants Liverpool 2018
Playing at the Empire Theatre from December 23rd 1959 through to February 1960 was the pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk, starring Morecambe and Wise, Hylda Baker and Jimmy Clitheroe.

The Liverpool Empire was special to Eric and Ernie as they made their debut as a double act there in August 1941.

A different kind of procession is captured in our image from October 2018. It shows Big Giant, one of the colossal mechanical puppets operated by French touring company Royal de Luxe, lumbering along Dale Street.

The cast of puppets, including Little Giantess, Xolo the Dog, Giant Grandmother and Little Boy Giant were retired after their final performance in Liverpool.

*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.