Only depression-shrouded Liverpool could spawn a big, tough, loving character like Daisy Gallagher. Passionate in her loves and hatreds, she is the nan of her poverty-stricken family and devoted friend of Nellie O'Brien, who is dying from lack of medical attention. She is always desperate for money. One dark night, she is cornered by three drunken sailors who find her buxom figure, wrapped in a black shawl, comfortably attractive. From fear, she yields herself to them and, laughing, they pay her, and she realise how she can earn a living. Fighting competition, weeping at her own suffering, laughing with her clients, she becomes the toast of the waterfront and earns enough money to buy medical attention for her friend. She manages to hide from occupation from her family, but when her stoker husband returns from sea she realises, terror-stricken, that the moment of truth has arrived.