AFTER 12 months in lockdown it is remarkably cheering to see new theatre tours being announced and on sale for 2021.

Even more cheering is that Wirral's very own By The Waters Of Liverpool was one of the first out of the blocks.

The stage play, based on the million-selling book by author Helen Forrester, is now set to embark on a 19 theatre UK tour this September.

Wirral Globe:

But the road out of lockdown for theatre producers has been a desperately rocky one; as writer and producer Rob Fennah, explained.

"Going back to February 2020, the Wirral was in the news for all the wrong reasons," he told the Globe.

"We were attending a blue plaque unveiling ceremony at author Helen Forrester's family home in Hoylake when the news broke about tourists being quarantined at Arrowe Park Hospital.

Wirral Globe:

Rob Fennah

"This definitely set the alarm bells ringing as we had spent a fortune putting the tour together and we were due to open at the Floral Pavilion just a few miles down the road in New Brighton."

The 11-week tour was planned to coincide with what would have been Helen Forrester's 100th birthday celebration; but then, just two weeks into the tour, disaster struck.

Rob continued: "I'll never forget it, we had gone to the show at Warrington Parr Hall not really knowing what might lie ahead, not just for our stage production, but for everyone.

"When we got there the cast and crew were all putting on a brave face given that their careers were now lying in the balance.

"After a fantastic show I got talking to the box office staff who informed me that over 25% of tickets sold had gone uncollected.

"Apparently, people were too afraid to turn up due to all the terrifying news reports about the ever increasing death toll.

"We all knew then that, regardless of what the Prime Minister was going to announce the following day, the theatre world was in deep trouble.

"The next stop on the tour was St Helens but before the equipment could even be unloaded, Boris made the announcement recommending that people stay at home and avoid large gatherings, in places such as theatres.

"So that was that, game over."

Undeterred by the significant losses due to the eventual national lockdown, Rob and fellow producers, Bill Elms and Lynn McDermott, set about rescheduling the tour for March 2021.

Wirral Globe:

Production image from By The Waters of Liverpool

However, it soon became apparent that it was highly unlikely the pandemic would have eased sufficiently to allow 'live' performances to proceed.

Rob added: "Despite what we were hearing about the lockdown easing towards the end of the year, particularly with the ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ scheme being rolled out, the three of us had an uneasy feeling that a March tour was probably unlikely.

"So, rather than wait for the inevitable, we moved all our tour dates further back to September 2021. It was a risky move as many people were telling us theatres would be open for business by March.

"As it turned out our move was exactly the right thing to do and we were able to get our show on sale while many other producers were still scrambling to find alternative dates."

Wirral Globe:

Mark Moraghan and Sian Reeves as Helen Forrester's parents in the play. 

The UK tour of By The Waters Of Liverpool starts at the Lowther Pavilion in Lytham on September 9 and end at New Brighton's Floral Pavilion on November 13-14.

The 76-show tour will also take in the Lancaster Grand, Darlington Hippodrome, St Helens Theatre Royal, Warrington Parr Hall, Bolton Albert Halls, Stockport Plaza, Crewe Lyceum, Halifax Victoria, Coventry Albany Theatre, Winchester Theatre Royal, Rhyl Pavilion Theatre, Hayes Beck Theatre, Lichfield Garrick, Chesterfield Pomegranate Theatre, The Forum Malvern, and Southport Atkinson Theatre.

Rob concluded: "Helen Forrester's books resonate with millions of people across the UK and many more around the world.

"This adaptation of By The Waters Of Liverpool features a sizeable chunk from Liverpool Miss, Helen's second volume of autobiography, together with flashbacks to Twopence To Cross The Mersey and Lime Street At Two. That way newcomers to Helen's story will get a complete picture of her life.

"The icing on the cake for us is that we are ending this year’s tour where the last one began; at the Floral Pavilion."

Wirral Globe:

Helen Forrester, pictured in 1995

By the age of 17, Helen had fought and won two bitter battles with her parents – the first to educate herself, the second for the right to go out to work.

Her parents are as financially irresponsible as ever, wasting money while their children still lack adequate food and clothing.

Wirral Globe:

Helen Forrester, pictured, circa 1939

But for Helen, things are looking up as she begins to make new friends and develop some social life outside the home.

By The Waters Of Liverpool takes the audience to the next chapter in her life.

It's now 1939, Britain is on the brink of war, Helen is now aged 20 and has never been kissed by a man. That is until she meets a tall, strong seaman. And falls in love.

Helen Forrester was born June Huband, in Hoylake, in 1919, the eldest of seven children of socialite middle-class parents who lived on credit.

When her father was made bankrupt during the Great Depression, the large family was thrown into poverty.

Evicted from their comfortable home in an English market town and with nothing more than the clothes they stood up in, they took the train to Liverpool, where they hoped to rebuild their lives.

Tickets for the Floral Pavilion leg of the tour are from or 0151 666 0000.

For updates on the tour see or