Back in early 1970, a great upheaval took place in my neighbourhood of Dingle in Liverpool, as all the 19th century housing was cleared to make way for the new modern estates. My opposite number (literally) and his family, got their marching orders, and as rented tenants, were moved out to Cantril Farm (now called Stockbridge Village) on the outskirts of the city.
Before we were ourselves shipped out to Speke, we went off to visit the family in their new home. A large concrete and brick estate, with centralised shops.
Due to the size of the place, local business entrepeneurs saw the opportunity to make a few quid and travelled round the large estate in a van fitted out as a mobile shop.
The Mobey sold everything from toilet rolls to cigarettes and lemonade and was ideally suited to impulse buys or stocking up on small items, after 5pm when regular shops were shut.
To ease the boredom of adults chatting about furnishings and the price of fish, me and my mate went down the Moby clutching 30p for some sweets. Climbing onto the tailgate and peering over a makeshift counter, I could just see all the rows of fitted shelves groaning with goods and loads of sweets.
Then a familiar sight caught my eye, a small plastic spaceship on a card, poking out of a box! Being a dyed in the wool Spacex fan, I recognised it as Space Patrol one, but in livid green and on an 'Apollo Spacers' card.
Needlwss to say, I thrust my 30p at the bemused bloke behind the counter and bought all three different toys, space patrol, forklift and nuclear freighter. The build quality was poor and the plastic flimsy, but for a few days, they were worthy additions to my Spacex fleet. Then the wheels came off the forklift and the wing broke off the freighter and within a month or so, all I was left with were parts.
That was a long time ago, but Spacex Commander Paul Vreede rediscovered some carded examples in Holland some while ago and we were able to finally put a maker to the toy.' Linda.'
Pauls exhaustive and really amazing Spacex website gives much more comprehensive detail on these and other knock offs of Spacex, but to round things off, theres one final intersting point.
Im very nostalgic about my Liverpool home and a wonderful resource for information and photos is the Inacityliving facebook page, which regularly flags up photos of obscure areas of Liverpool. Gerard Fagan, one of the sites originators and historian popped up the photo above of what is probably the actual van I went to in the late sixties!
The page says it is the Mobey visiting Cantril Farm in 1967, but I have little doubt that the same van, or at least the same business was there when I visited a few short years later.
LIVERPOOL PHOTO COURTESY OF GED FAGAN INACITYLIVING
LINDA APOLLO SPACERS COURTESY OF PAUL VREEDE