New Year’s Eve in 1891


December 31, 1891
Liverpool
is one of the few English cities in which New Year’s Eve is extensively celebrated, and, as has been the case for many years past, the concentration of those desirous of moving the last minute of another recycle of time pass, has been in Church-street, in front of the time honoured parish church of St Peter’s.

From all quarters of the city a motley crowd, including high and low, gathered together soon after half past ten , and from that hour till half past eleven their numbers increased till the street was simply a moving mass of men and women, of all stages of life. Some five or six “lively” young men dressed themselves in clowns’ costumes, others were attired in female clothing, a number disguised themselves in “New-Year noses, one penny each!” while a few had on wondrous straw hats, with still more wondrous hair, both wigs and mustachios.

All sorts of musical instruments, from a more pretentious drum band to the abrill “cat call” which emanates from the average street boy’s mouth, were present in profusion. The prevailing tune was the somewhat extraordinary ditty “Maggie Murphy’s Home” – every boy was whistling it, every youth was singing it, it was played on every concertine, and every chorus was shouting it. About a quarter to twelve the multitudinous cry of the moving mass was swelled by the clanging of bells, the shriek of the sirens, and the booming whizz of the foghorns on the river.

The crowd got noisier – some of the “livelier” ones amalgamated into gangs and made a promenade of the street. Now and again a hansom, a “growler,” or a snailcart would try to force its way through the crowd, and make confusion more confused. The efforts of an able body of police were but all returned, though all credit must be given to them for the excellent manner in which they handled the crowds. When the stroke of twelve sounded – it could certainly not be heard – but when the fingers of the clock pointed to the hour such a shaking of hands and body of cheers went up as would make a stranger to the town dumbfoundered and wonder if the inhabitants were altogether in their right senses. The noise continued some time afterwards; first one gang went and then singled off, and then a band took some, others followed the strains of that darling of the coatermongers – the accordsou; and so, little by little, the crowds melted – almost imperceptibly – till by one o’clock the traffic was one more able to pass freely, and hardly a soul could be seen in the street. Another year had been joyfully heralded out in a way well known to Scotsmen, and a new year had been nabared in with every wish on the mouth of all that it might be happier and more prosperous than the last.
(Source: Liverpool Mercury: January 1, 1892)

The number 1 hit single in Liverpool as of December 31 – 1891
“Maggie Murphy’s Home”