Memory Lane
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This page last updated Wednesday, 14 May 2014
Take a stroll down Memory Lane

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This page will feature readers' memories of life in and around Warrington.
If you have any memories or stories you wish to share, feel free to Email me.

Copyright for any written submissions remains with the person who owns the work. Please get permission if it is not your own work. I wish to respect your privacy for anything you submit, so I leave it up to you to indicate whether you wish your name to be added to your piece (in whatever form - first initial and surname, first name and initial of surname, etc). You can remain anonymous if you wish. Either way, I will personally express my gratitude to you on the page and/or by email. Thanks for sharing your precious memories!

Featured on this page

Any Gum, Chum? 'The Factory' The Hogey Wagon On the Buses with Ken Stan Smith's Poems

At The Flicks

Fire! Fire! The Ice Cream Man's Tricycle Orford Tannery Steam Trains at Winwick

Bailey Isaac's Pie Shop

Fishing in Orford Park

Jock Hay and Bobby Dooley

Our First Kite

Terraced Houses
Bradley's Outfitters Shop

Frank Craven's Fruit and Veg Cart

Kerby

Parker Street Windows

Thames Board Bomb

Bowls on Bewsey Park

Froghall Lane Sweet Shop Kick Can A Lerky and Paper Chase Pearson and Knowles Tom Bowes Trousers Down Again!
The Bright Yellow Sou'wester

Games We Played

Lamp-lighters

Pelican Hotel Tom Bowes for Walking Day

Building the Barracks

Gandy’s Clogs and the Marquis of Granby

The Last Days of Steam

RAF Padgate

Toys Were Us

'Childhood' Poem

Gas Works

Louis' Memories

Rag and Bone Man

Train Spotting

Cockhedge Mill Fire

Golborne Street Memory

The Mayor's Chaplain

The Ride of my Life!

Veronica's Pramful of Coal

Dallam Shed

The Good Old Days

Mucky Mountains

ROF Risley Verruca

DJKenny's Uncle

Grappenhall Days

'Memory Lane' Poem

School Days

Warrington Walking Day
'Early Closing' Poem Grandad's Pony and Cart

My First Bike

Shilling for the Meter

Winwick Road Co-op

E-Type Jag

The Gullet Nights Out Shopping Days Woolston Lido
 

Harry's Happy Days

On The Buses The Smoky 70s  

Memory Lane Poem

In the 1970s, over a pint or two at their local on a few Sunday afternoons,
my dad and three of his friends were reminiscing about the old days in Warrington.
This poem is the outcome of their conversations.

MEMORY LANE

I took a stroll down Memory Lane
To all our yesterdays again,
In and out of streets I paced
Where once as boys and girls we raced.

The neighbours those days clung together
In sunshine or in stormy weather,
Within their hearts a human touch
A splendid thing that meant so much.

Yes, there was sorrow, pain and grief
Good tidings rare, and also brief,
But like the flowers in falling rain
They would blossom out and bloom again.  

Through Catherine Street, Watkin Street and School Brow
Where barefoot games are not played now, 
No stonies, no spinning tops
No twopenny haircuts or all off crops.  

Monday morning hail rain or snow
We would take our bundles to Uncle Joe,
Everalls butchers, Welsby’s coal,
Gandy’s clogs, tipped heel and sole.  

Bailey’s fruit stall. Hobley’s Lodge,
Bets at Hayes, cops to dodge,
Fish and chips from Moorcroft’s shop
Then quench your thirst with a swig of pop.  

With trundle we would run for miles
Through fields of grass and over stiles,
A paper ball tied up with string 
We would improvise with everything.  

With bloody knees and hands we played
In worn out shoes and trousers frayed,
Salvation Army Bands came round,
A welcome and inspiring sound.  

On Walking Day they would stamp your hand
And you fall in behind the band
To march round town with banners high
Then in Bank Park for an Isaac’s pie.  

Some were rich, but most were poor
But there was always that welcome to any door,
We thought the life we lived was sometimes sad
But it’s worse today because the world’s gone mad.

Yes, memories are made of this
Hard to forget and to dismiss,
I leave this Lane of blessings with a sigh
To life long pals like you and I.

Good luck, God bless in all you do
Each hour, each day, the whole year through.

                                                Thank you.

[© GE Gandy and Friends]

My dad passed away in January 2008. This website is dedicated to his memory.

 

Grandad's Pony and Cart

blanche_cochrane_grandad.jpg (45831 bytes) I was sent this wonderful photo by Blanche Cochrane (nee Waterfield) in 2014. It shows her grandad with his pony and cart. He bought the cart and pony during the Second World War to help make a living, and to help others. He continued to trade until he sadly passed away around 1956. I have so many happy memories of sitting on the cart whilst he worked. My Mother Ivy Waterfield nee Clare also worked with him till his death. The pony was stabled at Blackshaw's Farm on Grange Ave. He also had a small storage shed at Manor Lock. So many happy memories of my childhood.
Many thanks for your photo, Blanche.

The Bright Yellow Sou’wester

Does anybody else remember the man in the bright yellow sou’wester – he looked something like Captain Birdseye with a bushy beard – he would have made a good Father Xmas, and he used to play the spoons and sing in the old vegetable market? He was quite a character, I think he was polish or something, but I remember being fascinated by him as a child. I also remember playing kick can lurky, Kirby, two balls, donkey, hedge diving and nick nack with the other children in the street where I was born 1956 and lived there until I was 11 – Neville Ave. I also remember buying sweets and chocolate from a house in the road, think it was called Cannaines, or something like that. We once tried to make a telephone out of cans and string, but it didn’t really work from house to house. We used to play out in the backs as well, making dens amongst the garages. I also remember walking to Orford Park in the summer, with the intent of paddling in the pool, but from what I remember, you had to be careful of broken glass. Older girls used to offer to take neighbours babies out in the pram with us, imagine that happening now! But one of my favourite memories is when we used to make butties up in a morning and go exploring on Padgate Camp for the day. With Blackbrook running through it, old bunkers and a rifle range, no end of fun could be had.

Jackie Graham , nee Hancell, nee Giles.

The Last Days of Steam

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These two photographs were taken from the footbridge over the West Coast Mainline at Winwick in 1968. Steam ended on the 13 August 1968 with the famous 15 guinea special from Liverpool. The second image shows a steam train going out of the picture and a class 40 diesel coming in. Electrification of the line began in 1974 and small business units now occupy the area of the sidings on the right. If this has brought back memories for you, email me and we can add them to this page. Also check out the complementary Making Tracks and Peter's Tracks sections for more on the history of the railways through the town. Text based on Peter's notes

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Photo
Copyright © Peter
Spilsbury

Photo
Copyright © Peter
Spilsbury

Train Spotting

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There was the 'Black Bridge' down Mill Lane and past the long wall of Winwick Hospital. As well as 'train spotting' on the iron bridge, I used to walk to the Black Bridge, climb the fence and sit on the bank as close to the bridge as I could get. Aw, when those express trains thundered by, what a thrill. Even today the Black Bridge is STILL a very popular place to 'spot' from and especially on Sunday mornings. You'll see dozens of cars parked all along the road over the bridge and most of the 'spotters' are men, not kids.

45425 close to the Black Bridge. Winwick Hospital grounds are behind Mill Lane in the background of this image. Nowadays the hospital is closed. Photo © Peter Spilsbury

 

The Hogey Wagon

I was born at the former Maternity Home in Victoria Park, I lived most of my life in Padgate and went to Woolston High school. Thanks for the lovely memories, especially Lewis ice cream cart and Joe shouting Ice yep. Also Etams, and the little wool shop leading to the market, and the man with no legs playing the mouth organ in the alley way leading to the market. Does anyone remember "The Hogey Wagon"? It was a little cart selling hot dogs etc outside the Ritz (ABC), now Halo, formerly Mr Smiths. And then there's the Parr Hall. I went back to Warrington in 1993 and the lovely old market had disappeared. It was a shock to the system! My maiden name was Challinor. Jim Challinor, Rugby player and local sports shop owner, was a distant relation. (Chris Watters)

I was sent this additional information by 'Saronie': With reference to the memory of the Hogey Wagon, I remember it was at first located on the then car park at the rear of Hancock and Woods entrance from Bank Street. It looked out onto the forecourt of Warrington Motor Company (Fords). This first Hogey Wagon was an old single deck bus it had a serving canopy and had a loudspeaker through which Radio Luxembourg was played.

Thanks for that additional info.

And there's more...Patrick Mullee adds to the story

The Hogey wagon in the 1950's: I remember the Hogey at Bewsey Bridge at the entrance to the Yanky (Burtonwood) Base Gate 4. As young lads we watched the girls and soldiers sat on the fence on the side of the canal.

 

Dallam Shed

Also from Patrick Mullee are memories of Dallam Shed...

Dallam shed 8B was where I was to be found during the 1950's trainspotting and helping uncle Harold moving engines around for coaling and watering, riding back and forth to the signal box. There used to be a man called Mike who lit the fires on Sundays ready for engines to be in steam for the week's work. He would let me go on all the engines and join them in the cabin near the turntable for a brew. When I was a paper lad for Park's newsagent on Longshaw St I remember the site of a huge train crash at Dallam. After school I raced to the sheds to see a Jubilee Swaziland (LMS Stanier Jubilee Class 4-6-0 No. 45630 built at Crewe) without its tender and front bogie, and with its cylinder smashed. There was also an LMS Black 5 damaged beyond repair. In 1963 when I left Bewsey school I walked into the office at Dallam shed and asked the foreman for a job and he told me to stop wasting your time and find a decent job saddest day of my life. It took me another 15 years before I realised my dream and passed my locomotive driving test on 45407 at Carnforth. The inspector that took me was Les Richards who drove 4472 flying Scotsman across the USA with Alan Pegler who bought the engine from BR a man who I got to know very well when I was in charge of 4472 happy days. Thanks, Patrick, for your memories. See photos of Dallam shed in Making Tracks Part 2.

Patrick also says he wishes he could have recorded the memories of a friend who served in the First World War and had an extensive knowledge of railway locomotives. If readers do have memories, or know people with good stories, try and get them down on paper or record them on tape, CD, mp3 or video for future generations to hear - not necessarily for this website, but because I find that the personal memories of individuals are often more interesting than the official records in newspapers and books, as they give an insight which wouldn't normally get reported. And if you do wish to share any of them with other mywarrington readers, email me.

Tony Hackett add these memories of Dallam Shed:

I first found your site a while ago while looking for railway pictures, and came across the Making Tracks pages, including pictures of Dallam Shed. I used to live off Orford Lane, about 15 minutes walk away. Various friends and I used to spend many happy days perched in the gaps where slats were missing from the old concrete fence on the Dallam Lane side of the main line, occasionally crossing over the bridge and venturing into the shed.

One day in about 1967, when I was 12 going on 13, a couple of us were hanging around the yard in front of the shed, when one of the locomotive drivers called us over and let us stand with him on the turntable while he reversed his loco. Of course, he made sure we were holding the handrail tightly, long before the days of Health And Safety. A great treat for two young train spotters!

Not long after, I was with another friend who used to live in Crosfield Street, and we were often able to stand by the old signal box which used to be by Whitecross Bridge (there was a small gate for access from the street). On one occasion, a loco had been stopped while running light back to Dallam Shed. Much to our surprise and youthful excitement, the driver invited us on board and we had a short but memorable journey along the main line. Unfortunately, I don't have my old notebooks any more, so I don't know which loco it was. It would be nice to know.

Of course neither of the above would possibly happen now, understandably I suppose, so it makes those little treats all the more fondly remembered.

To my young mind in those days, loco drivers and firemen, always seemed to treat their locomotives in the same way that a rider would treat a horse - care and attention given freely and gladly. In return, we appreciated their efforts and friendliness, something I miss in these days of the corporate image!

Tony Hackett.

 

The Pelican Hotel

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This picture of the carved pelican, perched on what used to be The Pelican pub, was taken on behalf of a friend from Warrington who has been living in the Republic Of Ireland for many years, coming back regularly throughout the rugby season to support Warrington Wolves. During one of his visits he mentioned the pub, where his grandfather was a regular. The initially unnoticed pigeon was a bonus, which was only spotted later when processing the picture. He has since given me some information about his Grandfather:
"I would imagine grandad attended the Pelican probably from the 1920s onwards. He was a bit of a Jack the Lad around town in his day and was most certainly not the sort of person you would pick a fight with, because in his army days he was the Lancashire Fusiliers heavyweight boxing champion.

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"I was only in there once with him. There was a chap he had to see there regarding some matter or other. I would say that was probably either 1956 or 1957, as I was only a kid at the time and remember being overawed by the size of the place and the number of people in there.

"I remember the bloke he wanted to see was not there and we went down a flight of steps, roughly where the charity shop is now, and came out in a huge snooker hall.

"As well as being known around town, he was a keen Wires supporter. At the match he enjoyed the nickname 'Hambone' as he would carry a hambone with a primrose-and-blue scarf attached to each game, which I assume he would use to wave around his head. It would be considered an offensive weapon these days!!"

Tony Hackett.

 

Froghall Lane Sweet Shop

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Arthur Street and
Bewsey Road junction

As you go down Froghall Lane toward Whitecross Bridge, you will pass under the railway bridge carrying the line to Warrington Central. In the gap between the houses and the bridge there used to be a small shop. It could be seen when looking straight down Arthur Street from the Bewsey Road end, and our mums used to take turns in sending me or my friend to run up to the shop to buy a round of ice creams on the way home from school. That would be around 1964, and the shop was still there up to 1966 when I left to take up the next stage of my education. I don't know how long the shop lasted after that. The houses have been replaced by more modern ones, but the gap is still there! Fond memories of the journey home and a shop which we took for granted.

Tony Hackett

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Arthur Street Froghall Lane Bridge Sweet shop location Sweet shop location

Orford Tannery and St Mary's Fire Alarm

Harold Lutener was born in 1946 and lived in Clough Avenue, Orford, before moving round the corner into Fisher Avenue in 1950. His father was based at the South Lancs Regiment in Warrington during his service in the Army. After being demobbed, his father worked at the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) in Risley until the family moved away in 1958.

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Harold has sent these memories and photos from his days in Warrington. All photos are his copyright, except for St Mary's RC School, which belongs to J Gregory. The story and captions are Harold's, with additional notes from me on Orford Tannery, which appear at the end of Harold's memories.

This photo was taken at the far end of Fisher Avenue close to Long Lane and shows me
on the child seat of my father's bicycle in 1949 (I was 3 years old). Photo
© H. Lutener.

As a boy I played in the fields to the rear of our house in Fisher Avenue. I loved watching local rugby, football and cricket teams on the pitches close to the Orford Tannery site. We use to play on the pitches when they were empty, which started at the top of Fisher Avenue and Sandy Lane and finished near Long Lane. Over the far side of the sports fields there was an area which looked like a dumping ground very close to the footpath which went from Long Lane to Sandy Lane. The path is still there and provides access to the housing estate.
The rough areas of the sports fields were like a jungle and I found many humps of it looked like the waste material from the tannery with grass and weeds growing on it. The grassed area close to Cossack Avenue was the cricket field. Part of the land close to Long Lane is now a bowling green belonging to Tetley Sports & Social Club. The club celebrated its 50th anniversary on 22 January 2012.

I looked forward to the 'pop man’ visiting Fisher Avenue so we could buy bottles of Dandelion & Burdock.

This is my golden retriever dog at Fisher Avenue. Most interesting historically is the background scene - Orford Tannery in 1954.  

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Photo © H. Lutener

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I went to St Mary's RC School in Buttermarket Street. The photo brings back memories, although it looks different with the roads and car parks in the picture. I remember walking east along Buttermarket Street towards St Mary’s Church and turning right to walk up a slight incline to the main school building. I can remember the side of the school building with the windows. One of my classrooms was on the top floor on the right as we look at the photo. There was also a large playground.
This photo shows Academy Way photographed from the roof of Warrington Market car park in 1987. The school disappeared in 1990 and priory Court now occupies the site. Photo © J Gregory, from the book Postwar Warrington, published in 1990.
The small annexe to the right of the main school building gave access to the classrooms with a cloakroom just through the door. Mounted on a shelf above the cloakroom door was an old fashioned fire alarm housed in a wooden box with a pipe on one side and a handle. If one turned this handle it would make a lot of noise. We had to stand on the heating water pipes to reach it and set it off before running away. We were chased many times by the teachers but we were often too fast for them, although I was caught once and swiftly escorted to the headmaster for the cane or slipper!

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This scene from 1951 is viewed from the front bedroom of our house in Fisher
Avenue looking out to the right and the access to Clough Avenue.
© H. Lutener.

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If one walked down pass the building to the far end of the school there was a stone wall with an opening giving access to the rest of the classrooms, which were separate from the main building. The other buildings were single storey affairs made of pre-fabricated concrete with flat roofs. The school had another entrance at the far end of the playground but I cannot remember the name of the road [possibly Blackhurst Street].

I moved from St Mary’s RC to English Martyrs in Poplars Avenue, Orford for about a year. English Martyrs was replaced by a housing estate in 1994.

This 1952 scene shows me at Orford Park in front of the bowling green. Photo © H. Lutener.
I remember the new houses being built in north Warrington at the same time as the school. I visited the Odeon cinema in Buttermarket Street. One film I saw was Reach for the Sky with Kenneth More playing RAF fighter pilot Douglas Bader. I went shopping with my mother in the town centre, especially to the old market and Woolworths on Sankey Street. I use to travel by bicycle through RAF Padgate to meet my father from work at Risley. I used to go train spotting at Bank Quay Station, Central Station, Winwick footbridge and Dallam sheds and remember the times when I was naughty enough to place pennies on the line near to Hallfields Road/Orford Park.

Other memories include fishing along the River Mersey at Latchford, the Manchester Ship Canal and Lymm Dam. I visited the area again back in 1999 when passing through and noticed that the old Orford Tannery and playing fields close to my old home had gone and had been redeveloped.

This 1953 photo, right, was taken in the front garden
of my parent's friend's house in Latchford and shows,
left  to right,  my parent's friend's daughter, mother
holding my golden retriever pup and myself.

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The photo, left, was taken at Clough Avenue in 1949 and shows me playing with my wooden trains - if I still had them now they would be worth something! In the background you can see the houses of Northway. 

The photo, right. was taken in 1950 in the back garden of our
house in Clough Avenue. before we moved to Fisher Avenue. Once
again you can see the houses of Northway in the background.

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Here I am, left, on my tricycle at the back
of the house at Fisher Avenue in 1950.

Here, right, is another view of Fisher Ave and
Clough Ave, taken from the bedroom in 1951.

All photos © H. Lutener.

hlutener_7.jpg (39701 bytes)
Thanks Harold for your precious memories.

If, like Harold, you wish to share your memories, with or without photos, please contact me on the usual email address

Orford Tannery – A Brief History

Tanning is the process of turning animal skin (often called "hide") into leather. An acid called tannin is generally used. This prevents the leather from falling apart and often gives it a special colour.

The work undertaken in the tanneries was a very dirty job and the smell must have been awful for people both in the trade and living close to the factories. It was a very hazardous job and often the only protection from the chemicals was a leather apron, leggings tied with string and clogs. New hides arriving at the factory had to be soaked in water to soften them. They were then put into lime pits so that the fat, hair and flesh could decay. After further soaking in more lime and sodium sulphate they were ready to be stripped using curved blunt-bladed knives. The hides were soaked again and then washed in water. Next the hides were soaked in tannin, which is a substance obtained from powdered tree barks. After further treatment they were ready to be buffed and polished, dried and waxed and then cut and sewn. The process was mechanised in later years.

Orford Tannery was built in the early 1800s on land close to modern-day Fisher Avenue and Sandy Lane. After a financial failure in the mid 1850s, James Reynolds bought the tannery and was later joined by William Mortimer. Mortimer ran the company until his death in 1900 at the age of 59.

On Tuesday, 11th October 1927 the following report was published in the London Gazette:

The Home Secretary gives notice that in pursuance of Section 2 (1) of the Employment of Women, Young Persons and Children Act, 1920, he has made an Order authorising the employment on two day-shifts, of women of 18 and young persons of 16 years of age and over in the Sole Leather Department (taking and receiving from machine, washing on flesh side, wiping and oiling the grain side; rehanging and carrying back) at the works of Messrs. William Mortimer and Company Limited, Orford Tannery, near Warrington, subject to the conditions that a worker shall not be employed in the afternoon shift in consecutive weeks and that suitable protective clothing, cloakroom and messroom accommodation, washing facilities and facilities for sitting shall be provided.

Whitehall,

10th October, 1927.

Link to this document at

http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/33319/pages/6397/page.pdf.

mywarrington acknowledges The National Archive as custodian of this document. Crown Copyright, http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/information-management/our-services/crown-copyright.htm

In the late 1929 the company was in financial trouble again and this report, also from the London Gazette, shows that the management decided to go into voluntary liquidation:
WILLIAM MORTIMER & COMPANY Limited.

AT an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Members of the said Company, duly convened, and held at the registered Office, Orford Tannery, Warrington, on the nineteenth day of August, 1931, the following Special Resolution was duly passed: — " That the 'Company be wound up voluntarily in accordance with the provisions relating to a Members' Voluntary Winding-up, under the Companies Act, 1929, and that Mr. Cyril Bradshaw, of 4, Egypt Street, Warrington, Chartered Accountant, be and he hereby is appointed Liquidator for the purpose of such winding-up."

FRANK MORTIMER Chairman of Directors (028)

Link to this document at

http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/33747/pages/5572/page.pdf.

mywarrington acknowledges The National Archive as custodian of this document. Crown Copyright, http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/information-management/our-services/crown-copyright.htm

The company was restarted almost immediately as Orford Tanning Company Ltd.

In 1947 the company was listed as an exhibitor at the British Industries Fair, as this extract from Graces Guide shows:

Orford Tanning Co, of Orford Tannery, Warrington, Lancs (now Cheshire). Telephone: Warrington 751-1. Cables: "Orford Tannery, Warrington".

1947 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Bends, Shoulders and Bellies for Sole Leather, from English, Wet-salted, Dry, and Dry-salted hides. Ox and Bull Strap Butts from best English Hides, also Bull Necks for Polishing. (Earls Court, 1st Floor, Stand No. 408).

Sources of Information 1947 British Industries Fair p205. Copyright © 2007 Grace's Guide.

Link to this document at http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Orford_Tanning_Co

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licence, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the licence is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation Licence". GNU Free Documentation License.

By the early 1960s the workforce at Orford Tannery was reduced and in May 1966 the company was closed down. The site was later demolished for the housing estate that occupies the land today.

The town of Warrington was a major employer in the tanning business. Of the 300 or so tanning companies in the country it is estimated that Warrington accounted for 7% of them.

Other tanneries in the town included Waring’s Tannery between Dallam Lane and Winwick Street and Central Tanneries at Howley. In fact, the precision engineering company, Robert Irving Ltd, is shown as being based at Howley Tannery, Howley Lane, Warrington. Fleming’s Tannery was based in Fennel Street. The site is now occupied by Lidl supermarket. Two other tanneries in the town centre were operating from Mersey Street and Winwick Road. On the outskirts of the town was Penketh Tannery. This started out as Penketh Brewery but was closed down by teetotaller Robert Garnett in 1880 and turned into the tannery. It specialised in sole leather for shoe manufacturers. A trade advert for the Penketh Leather Manufacturing Co. Ltd. described itself as THE cut sole specialists. The tannery closed in 1959 and is remembered in the village by Tannery Lane. See www.Penketh.com for more on the village history. There was also a tannery in Latchford and the company Eagle Ottawa on Thelwall Lane was the last to process animal hides until it shut down in 2008.

For more on the tanning industry, see the fao.org website. mywarrington is not responsible for external websites.

Pearson and Knowles

My grandfather Charles Edward Bunch (CEB) was manager of the Pearson and Knowles Steel Corporation, and my father John Laine succeeded him in that position. Dallam Forge Company was formed in the 1860s. It later joined with the Warrington Wire Iron Company and a Wigan colliery company to become Pearson & Knowles Coal and Iron Company.
Grandfather died in 1952, and my father in 1977. CEB and his family, including my parents John and Marjorie Laine, together with myself, lived in Grappenhall. I was lucky enough to occasionally go down to the works and on one occasion father arranged for me to 'drive' one of the small tank engines used by the works. I was probably about eleven or twelve at the time, and of course the war was on so the works were fully involved in making steel for the war effort. After my grandfather died my father bought a house named Patterdale, where we lived until I moved to Wales in the 1960s. dallam_forge_120623.jpg (67581 bytes)
John Bunch Laine.
Thanks John for your memory. Photo Copyright © GI Gandy, mywarrington. To read more about Pearson and Knowles try these three links here, here and here. mywarrington is not responsible for external websites.
John also presents these memories.

Grappenhall Days

I was away at school from 1939 until 1948. While at home as a kindergarten pupil I went to Marlfield School on Knutsford Road. The two owners were Miss Parkinson and Miss MacInnerny – can’t remember much about them, but my Mother used to walk me across the fields from Ashby into the orchard at the back of the school.
Memories – the rag and bone man leading his flat cart and pulled by a donkey, calling very loudly ‘rag bone, rag bone’ coming up Victoria Road. Going up to the Bridgewater Canal and seeing the boats being hauled by wonderful horses. When they reached the bridge leading to Grappenhall village the horse was unhitched and then it was walked over the bridge and down the other side while the boat very slowly drifted under the bridge to be re-hitched to the horse again on the other side - really neat! Going to the baths hall in Warrington, and paying two and sixpence to the office so that I could play the amazing Cavaillé-Coll organ in the Parr Hall.

Walls ice cream tricycle going up Victoria Road as a ‘Stop me and buy one'.

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Stanney Lunt Bridge.

The milkman from Marsh’s farm in his milk cart, ladling out fresh milk into jugs.

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My mother Marjorie Laine (nee Bunch) telling me that after she left school at St Mary's Abbots, Bromley in Staffordshire, she took her driving test and was the first female to pass the test in Manchester. After this she drove an ambulance during the latter part of the 1914-18 war. I still have her ambulance badge.

A little later on she took a flight with the Alan Cobham Aerial Circus.

Barrage balloons.

Grappenhall Bridge.

Going to Bank Quay Station in the war and getting the train to Manchester and then to Worksop – all steam of course, and how I hated the sight of the train approaching from the south which would take me away from home for another term at school. I used to think that it was going to be much more interesting at home during the war than at school!
Do you have memories of life in the good old days like John? Send them in via email. Photos Copyright © GI Gandy, mywarrington.

 

The Mayor's Chaplain

I was born in Warrington in 1945. My father was stationed at Burtonwood Air Force Base. For the first several years we lived with my grandparents in St. Mary St. We attended church at Kent St. Mission where my grandfather was the minister. His name was Albert Wright and he was actually Chaplain to the Mayor of Warrington at one point. There used to be a bakery next door to my grandparents house. We moved to Stockton Heath when I was 9 yrs old. There are way too many memories to list here, but when I was older I used to work at the Co-op in Warrington.  My Uncle Raymond used to play the organ at the Ritz cinema. (Royce Ian Coe)

 

 If you know Royce and would like to contact him, he would love to hear from you. Email me here at mywarrington in confidence and I will pass on your messages and email address if you wish to continue corresponding with him. Your email address will NOT be passed onto anybody else.

 

Louis' Memories  

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I was originally from Blackley, Manchester and my parents later moved to Grappenhall when my father took up the position of Works Manager at the Sankey Green Wire Weaving Co. It was situated over Stanney Lunt Bridge down on the right hand side, backing onto the Canal. This could be use as "black heat" (does not glow) elements within flying gloves and suits used in high altitude bombers. This was used by the USA Boeing Flying fortresses and others, which one could often hear warming up at Burtonwood preparing for their night operations to bomb Germany. These planes could fly in the sub stratosphere and helped them to keep warm. One incident I remember was the lone German plane in broad daylight on a Saturday morning dropping a bomb on the Thames Board Mills where a Garden party was in progress, it was later shot down in the Southport area.

Stanney Lunt bridge
27 Jan 2007.

This together with the coarser type weaving they produced, developed the firm into a household name in the industry, eventually many years later they built a new works on Thelwall New Road near Latchford Locks, and the Richmond gas stove works was across the Manchester Ship Canal on the other side. The new works were eventually taken over by the Greening Wire Co. (of Bewsey Road). 

The streets were all cobbled in Grappenhall Village in my day, and there were thatched cottages on the left near the school, just before the Rams Head pub with the "Stocks" outside the Norman church of St Wilfrid.

The landlord of the Rams Head had a pet fox in the back garden with an exercise run and a small covered shed where it lived. It was quite friendly, and the children used to ask to see it from time to time. My schools were Grappenhall village school and later Our Lady's Latchford. On leaving school in 1940, I started a 7-year apprentice as a Textile Loom Overlooker at Armitage and Rigby's (Cockhedge).

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Grappenhall village
4 Mar 2006.

I remember Gandy’s clog shop down Mersey Street like yesterday as some of the kids wore clogs in those days. [Addition from Gordon: Doug Gandy was my granddad’s uncle]. I remember some of the kids running and kick striking the base of the clogs, and one could see sparks fly from the steel fittings on the undersides which I am sure must have upset their parents.

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Next is Oliver Cromwell’s statue on the left at the bottom of Bridge Foot. His right arm was pointing down, and the kids said he'd lost a penny down a grid. There is also the story that one night students were having a laugh and they painted white feet on the ground from the statue going across the road to the toilets that were by Warrington Bridge, and then painted a second set showing him walking back to the place of the statue! Behind the statue was the British Restaurant, where you could get a simple meal in those days.

We used to walk home from school past Victoria Park as we had spent our bus fare on sweets!

Cromwell 10 Sep 2006.

And now for some gentle exercise: I am now walking from Grappenhall and going over to the other side of the Latchford Swing bridge. To the left some and some distance up, there was the Cantilever high-level bridge. I shall now continue through Latchford on the main road past some shops on the right - there was also a firm called De Burg's Transport or something like that.

Walking in the same direction there was Richard (‘Dicky’) Fairclough School just before the Old Quay Canal (also called the Black Bear or Runcorn and Latchford Canal), adjacent to which was a basket-making firm on the left hand side. Along Knutsford Road there was Victoria Park on the right hand side, and in there was a First World War Tank on view.

Continuing past Victoria Park was the Weir, which was tidal. At low tide the kids used to climb down somewhere, myself included, and one could walk partially under the main road along a concrete path with concrete supports for the right hand side of the main road (no wonder some kids later became engineers). Immediately after the Weir was Richard Fairclough Flour Mills (I believe it changed its name many years later).

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The Weir at high tide
14 Aug
2003.

I am now walking further past houses and some shops on the left near to the Bridge over the Mersey, which has all changed now. St Mary's Street was well before this point where I went to school, after a period at the Grappenhall Village School.

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Standing on the left hand side of the bridge in the centre, one could see the open lattice type structure of the railway bridge with a large advert for Johnny Walker Whisky (also Walker’s Warrington Ales at another time), and over to the right in the distance was the Ritz (ABC) Cinema (Synergy nightclub from 14 March 2008, the former Mr Smiths) which was very modern for its day and had a Wurlitzer Organ which used to come up out of the floor while it was playing. Now I am at Bridge Foot by Bridge Street. That reminds me of a Broadcast of Lord Haw Haw from Germany who used to make propaganda remarks about different towns in England that they were going to bomb at night.

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Railway Bridge
16 Nov 2007.

Ritz/ABC/Mr Smiths/Synergy/Halo
(Photo 16 Nov 2007).

"...Tonight we will be passing over Warrington. The town that is full of pawnshops and Pubs…” It was often remarked about Bridge Street that if you had a small whisky glass full of strong beer at the first pub, and "doubled" it at every pub or drinking cellar, you would be drunk by the time you got to the railway station; the reason being, that there were so many places where beer was available, not just main street pubs, but also many cellar bars under the shops that lined the street on both sides. This may be a myth but I do remember singing going on in the cellars if I was in that area at night.  

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At the top of Bridge St there is Market Gate with Sankey Street on the left and Holy Trinity Church with Woolworth’s and the Co-op just past it down the street. My mum used to go with the cheque account of all her DIVI stamps she had collected through the years, her number was 7990 [addition from Gordon: my mum’s DIVI number was 25747], and when we got our first phone in Grappenhall, my father arranged for our phone number as GRA 7990. In those days you spoke to the operator to connect you, and over time they knew you by name. On Buttermarket Street there was the Empire cinema and also Burton's the tailor, and above it was a dance hall with Nat Bookbinders Broadcasting band. There was also the Regent cinema on Scotland Road. 

Market Gate before
"The Skittles" 6 Feb 1996.

Talking of tailor’s shops there was also somewhere in that area a shop that sold clothing, and if you bought a ready made suit they gave you a free alarm clock! The name is on the tip of my tongue but I cannot remember it. [Can the reader enlighten us on the name?]

Louis Victor.

Thanks, Louis, for you wonderful memories (photos Copyright © GI Gandy, mywarrington)

The Gullet and other Stories 

Here are some more reader memories:

The wooden bridge and 12 arches at the rear of Thames Board just off Chester Road: this is where the shunting trains could be watched and listened to at close quarters whilst you had a view of the Mersey and the pleasure of walking up some old wooden stairs. (It is featured in a photo in Making Tracks 1, Grand Junction Railway with the caption ‘5151 at Walton’.) For years I used to love the smell of the River Mersey at the weir at Knutsford Road, it was only when I discovered in 1992 that this smell was in fact sewage that I went right off it!

Silver Street old school was a place renowned for its twins! Many people went to this school. It used to be to the rear of the Red Lion Pub and Irwin’s Tailors, now both demolished. Jaguar House near the Halliwell Jones stadium is there now.

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And what about the old tunnel (the Gullet) along the railway path leading from Froghall Lane to Bewsey Road? What an eerie place that was! I remember the stories about the murder down there and the tales of a blood stained handprint! I'm sure that it was put about to keep kids off the railway tracks. The photos here, taken on 1 December 2007, show it in that very spooky, strange, appearance. Nothing seems to have changed down there for years.

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And the most famous of all was the narrow passages in town centre. Only one really remains, which is at the side of True Form shoe shop (now Gregg’s bakery) near Woolworth’s going down past Holy Trinity Church. There was a time that you'd then cross over to go to down another tight alley to the Cock and Trumpet, later the Blackburn Arms. 

Upstairs it was all gold and silver with mirrors soft cushions and candles and sweet perfume and animal furs. It was almost silent upstairs except for soft music playing. Downstairs was like a cowboy saloon bar. There was also a local darts player in there who would pretend to be rubbish if anyone new walked in. He let them win a few games and would then bet them £10 that he could beat them and he always won. And £10 was a lot of money in those days. The Cock and Trumpet was one hell of a wild place to drink in. You can see it further down the page in Walking Through Time Part 4 (first image). That was the Good Old Days, now you have to carry ID and look 21.

My favourite though is quite unknown to most. You used to be able to walk through Crosfields works along the Mersey embankment all the way up to Chester Road. Just after you got out of the back of Crosfields there was a big farmer's field and it was always covered in seagulls and crows and lots of old bones. There was always a weird silence here, which was quite a creepy place.

Does anybody remember the notorious policeman, Jock Hay? And what about the policeman who found a dead horse on a particular street, but as he couldn’t spell that one so he dragged the horse round to Bold Street to write it in his notebook! 

Contributor did not wish to be named online.

Jock Hay and Bobby Dooley, Policemen

I was at Boteler Grammar School with Jock Hay's son (also known as Jock) and we were wrestling on the school field (in 1943) and ignored the bell for afternoon school, as we each had the other in a head-lock. The prefects shouted us and came and kicked us up the behind until we released each other. One story about his father was the time someone reported a robbery and Jock, suspecting he knew the culprit, went round to the suspect's house and "let himself in", switched the lights off and waited. Imagine the shock the thief had when he arrived home! Pity we don't allow the police of today to follow those methods.

And the story about the policeman who allegedly found the dead horse: it was said to be a milk horse which dropped dead one Sunday morning on Palmyra Square, found by Bobby Dooley and, because of his inability to spell, dragged it into Bold Street. Unlikely, but you never know!

Ken Lowe (Jake). Read Ken's memories of the cinema later on. Thanks also to Hugh for the extra notes on the milk horse in Palmyra Square, rather than Winmarleigh Street as originally stated.

 

 

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Stan Smith's Poems

Stan Smith's family used to have a bike shop at 96 Buttermarket Street (now the fish and chip shop) until the 1960s. Stan contacted me at the end 2006 with some of his memories and poems which will feature in a book in 2008. He has given me permission to reproduce four of his poems here, followed by some of Stan's memories, in his own words, which inspired the poems, with photographs from my collection to illustrate them. Enjoy the poetry.

Commemorations

96 Buttermarket Street , Warrington , 1949-1961

Young Letty Barbauld lived across the road;

Joe Priestley’s place was just around the corner,

near my first girlfriend’s, on Academy Street ;

Grandad shared lodgings with the Lord Protector.

Not all at once of course, nor did they meet.

 

Though we trod carefully past the Spiritualist Mission

we didn’t credit ghosts. ‘A great Englishman’

who rescued Church and State from Papish plots,

Noll’s iron-faced statue, gratefully bestowed

by Nonconformist burghers on the town,

lords it at Bridge Foot, where he smote the Scots.

 

The Provos picked the wrong end of the street

to plant their bombs; and, time’s ironic snub,

Barbauld’s blue plaque now fronts the Tory Club.

Copyright © Stan Smith 2007

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Joseph Priestley live in a
house on Academy Street
which is now occupied
by the Salvation Army Citadel.

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Oliver Cromwell's statue at
Bridge Foot. It originally
stood round the corner on
Bridge Street.

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Anna Laetitia Aiken Barbauld
lived in a house on this spot
in Buttermarket Street.
Read her profile in
Warrington People.

On the tercentenary of his birth in 1899, Oliver Cromwell’s statue was erected by Warrington Borough Council in front of Joseph Priestley’s Academy at the bottom end of Bridge Street , hard by the Mersey crossing where in 1648 Cromwell defeated a Presbyterian Scots army supporting Charles I. Welcoming Councillor Frederick W. Monks’ gift of the statue in a Council debate, Alderman Roberts spoke of Cromwell as ‘a great Englishman’. The initiative was widely seen as a veiled attack on the local immigrant Irish community. On March 20 1993 , two IRA bombs exploded at Boots corner at the other end of Bridge Street , killing two young boys. My son and grandson had stood on the same spot the day before. By the time of the bombing, bridge widening had led to both statue and Academy being relocated some distance away, and they would probably have been missed in any hasty reconnaissance of Bridge Street . The Spiritualist mission was on the corner of Academy Street , the final location of the Dissenting Academy . From 1758 to 1774 Laetitia Barbauld, the writer, blue-stocking and anti-slavery campaigner, whose father tutored at the Academy, lived in Dial Street, across the road from our shop in Buttermarket Street. My grandfather Ike Smith’s second shop until his death in 1947 had been a little further along Dial Street. His own father, also Isaac, had died in the adjacent Dial Court in 1902, falling down the stairs at the age of 72. Ike’s original hardware store, from c. 1916-17 to 1938, was in the ‘Tudor Cottages’ on Church Street , allegedly occupied by Cromwell in 1648.

Passover

4 Howley Lane , September 1940

If Adolf had it in for them he missed.

The line of bombs he stitched from Hopwood Street,

where Ike was born, to Howley Lane where he

died in his bed, years later, peacefully,

 

pulled up just short. Sooty-faced from the blast

Arthur ran up the Brew only to meet

Bill Flan’, starting his shift for ARP,

with hands blood-red from lumps of human meat,

minutes before preparing for their tea,

that he’d been told to clear up with no mess.

 

The wire works was untouched. Adolf flew on.

They picked up all the pieces of their lives,

went back to work, for all they felt distress,

feeling that life is sweet for who survives.

Copyright © Stan Smith 2007

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Church Street, as seem from
the roundabout at the top
of Mersey Street.

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The Parish Church of St Elphin
was founded in 642 AD,
although the spire was only
added in the 19th century.

'Another time a bomber dropped a stick of bombs across Manchester Road near the Parish Church in Warrington . Houses on a corner with Manchester Road and Howley Lane were destroyed’ (Derek Lehrle, Childhood Memories of World War Two, in WW2 People’s War archive, BBC homepage). The target was presumably Rylands Wire Work s, where my uncle Arthur Smith worked as a wiredrawer till his death in 1955, and Ike Smith, my granddad, had worked at the time of his marriage in 1895.

'Bill Flan' is how my uncle Bill Flannery was usually known. He married Ike's daughter Lily, sister of Stan (my dad) and Arthur and Ellen/Nell in the poem below. The Flannery's lived in General Street. Bill had been in the Machine Gun Corps in WW1, at the Somme and, I think, Ypres (Paschendaele). The story is true, though I believe the German bomber dropped one more bomb close to the river at the bottom end of Howley Lane. The young couple who were killed were either going to or coming from the pictures, according to my 85-year old cousin, Bill Flannery's daughter.

Hidden from History

And here is one Stan wrote 
about entertainer, George Formby.

Ellen Minshull (nee Smith)

b. Warrington c. 1904; d. Warrington 1972

4 Howley Lane , Warrington

In Warrington Cemetery
Manchester Road

Like all the mill-girls Ellen Smith could lip-read,

essential in that endless hubbub, skills

much prized at royal weddings, funerals

(as seen on TV), giving furtive pleasure

in knowing what the nobs said to each other

when they believed the servants couldn’t hear.

Each day she combed the William Hickey column

for further lowdowns on their goings-on.

Some local history of (her phrase) ‘Old Sodom’

depicts the long demolished Cockhedge Mills

with all the women silently arrayed

in front of stilled machines, in limelight solemn.

‘Aunt Nell’s in there’, Dad said.

                                                   ‘Which one is her?’

‘Oh you can’t see her. She’s behind someone.’

'In loving remembrance of George Formby', says
the marble monument, its gathered curtains
tied back, a puppet theatre that displays
the set smile of this Lancashire star turn:

'After life's fitful fever he sleeps well'.
'Comedian', yes, but dead in '21?
The punchline's in the P.S. just below:
'Also George Formby O.B.E.', the 'son
of the above'.
                     Mourned too, 'Eliza Ann,
devoted wife' of dead 'George (Snr)', who
upstaged the pair of them, not corpsing till
her grand finale age one hundred-and-two.

No words of Beryl, Jnr's harridan
wife, wet-nurse, warder. Turned out nice again.

Copyright © Stan Smith 2007

Copyright © Stan Smith 2008

*Read a profile of George Formby Jnr in Warrington People.

Veronica's Pramful of Coal

Veronica Harmes emigrated to South Australia in 1964. How many can identify with some of her memories? Try these...

I was reared on Algernon Street off Manchester Road near to Rylands wire factory on Dalton Bank during the war. There was a little, I mean little, grocery shop on the opposite side of our street towards the school. It was a house turned into a shop called GRANDMA CHAPMANS. I used to called in after school as she always saved me a short bread. Yummy! I remember having to go to the gas works at Winwick Road on a Saturday morning for bits of coke or coal - we had an old pram. All the kids used to do it. Those were the hard days during the war. Oh happy days even thou the war was on and many a time we would see an odd plane (German) going over. They used to follow the Mersey to get to Liverpool, etc. I will always remember the one that bombed Thames Board. There was a kids party there at the time and it wasn't very pleasant but I did hear the plane was shot down and that the pilot was an 18 year old German. We would go to the Odeon on Saturdays to watch Flash Gordon.

Then my family moved to Bewsey Road where my parents bought an off licence on the corner of Hoyle Street - now long gone. My surname was Keeley. I got married at St Mark's in Dallam in 1956 and we were the 9th couple to get wed there. We got a lovely black bible signed by the priest. I used to love going down to Burtonwood as my friend's uncle was the game keeper there so we were allowed to cycle there. On the way we would call in and see the pigs at Browns Farm plus scrump a few apples. I hear the stinking brook is better now. It was yuk having to pass it.

Before moving to Australia I worked at MILLINGS in the town centre - oh the lovely smell of good bacon. Then I also worked at PUBLIC BENEFIT Shoe Shop. What I would like to know is what happened to all the dance halls? Bell Hall. The Co-op. St Mary's. St Albans. The one over Burtons the tailors. And the one upstairs next to Woollies -  it was over a ladies dress shop.

Now how about this? In 2005 I was in my local newsagents when I heard a Pommie accent. I asked where he came from. Yes Warrington. He asked my name and he could not believe after 60 years he finally met up with me he said I had haunted him for 60 years as he could always see me sat on a wall outside my mothers shop with my neighbour Nora Poole. We were singing Dinah Shore's song The Gypsy. He now lives in Adelaide here in South Australia. We keep in touch often now and he even sent me a DVD of the song. But wait! That's not the end. I'm on the Warrington forum and another school mate wrote to me. He lived next to my Grandma's in Pierpoint Street. Well I told him about bumping into Jimmy and it turns out they are related by marriage for 30 years and didn't know it! Now you see its a funny old world isn't it?

If you remember Veronica Harmes, nee Keeley, why not get in touch with her. Click here to send her an email. And if you wish to share some of your memories with mywarrington, contact me via the Feedback page or use the email address at the top and bottom of every page.

DJKenny's Uncle

I have been sent this image of DJKenny's uncle hard at work in the good old days at the roundabout near Wilderspool Causeway (just in front of the Cenotaph).

Flat caps are the order of the day. Things have changed a lot now, though. Check out DJ Kenny's website www.djkennylive.me.uk. He has some photos of Warrington on there.

Listen to his shows on Radio Warrington. Tuesday and Saturday, 8-10pm

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Bailey Isaac's Pies

I remember the pie shop that used to be on Lythgoes Lane near the boys club. You had to go in the kitchen itself to buy them and you could see them baking. They were very nice pies too! David. Thanks, David, for your memory.

Norman Hadland adds: It was in fact 'BAILEY-ISAAC'S PERFECT PIES. There was no shop, just a hatch in the wall where you could by pies which were not perfect at a reduced price. The imperfections were in shape rather than substance, but they were still delicious. In 1938/39 one of my older brothers used to deliver milk, carried on his bike handle bars in cans, to the bakery. The bakery ladies would empty the milk and return the cans to him with a free imperfect pie or two inside. My brother, Sid, had a job before going to school  in the mornings with a lady named Mrs. Wells. She ran, what was even then, an old fashioned dairy retail dairy business in Dudley Street or Forster Street.

Early Closing

Norman adds this story which inspired him to write the poem featured here.

As a fourteen year old in 1944 I witnessed an accident in Horsemarket Street, Warrington. 

A United States soldier rode a bicycle from the side street by Millings shop and was run over by a lorry. Although I was later to become familiar with road accidents through my work, this incident has remained in my mind.

I wrote the attached poem about 20 years ago when an American lady suggested I tried writing poetry.

I think this soldiers death was a result of war as he would not have been there if the war had not taken place.

Early Closing

You were drafted
Windswept
Like the leaves
That autumn early closing day.
Their colour matched
Your uniform.
Whilst champions
Drove liberating tanks
You rode your bike
In unheroic Lancs.
With youthful haste
The unfamiliar sign was past.
The driver’s instant prayer.
A cry for Mom,
But soon the early closing
Calm returns.
And later,
Stinted wartime news
“U.S. Soldier’s accidental death.”
They gave no name.
Even days have names:
“Remembrance”
“Early Closing”.

Copyright ©
Norman Hadland 1992

I seem to remember the bakery supplying Dallam cake shop when I was a kid. Also, on an 1844 map of Warrington, Lythgoes Lane was shown as Lygoes Lane and Pinners Brow round the corner was shown as Pinners Street. Gordon.
 

 

RAF Padgate

David Cherry from Australia writes of his childhood memories of RAF Padgate.

I have been taking a trip down memory lane. I was born in Latchford (at home - my grandparents home actually) in 1955. My family emigrated to Australia in 1969 and I have never been back. My parents first home was in Padgate (where I went to primary school) and then we moved to Paddington.

I can remember as a child (11 to 13 year old I think) going to a disused military base (army) [RAF Padgate] to play with my brother and friend. If I remember right we used to go up Padgate Lane, passing Padgate Primary School (my old school) to reach the 'base'. The base was definitely not used, mostly derelict, with every window smashed I think. I remember there was a huge blackberry bush growing in the grounds and we pigged out on blackberries from it. Another memory of mine is school (Boteler Grammar) cross-country runs in which we crossed the Manchester Ship Canal using the cantilever bridge off Station Road.

 

Read more about RAF Padgate in RAF Burtonwood

 

Any Gum, Chum?

During the years right after the end of WW II, things in England were pretty bleak. An Oxo cube was about the closest you could get to a piece of candy. Luckily, we had Latchford Locks and the American supply ships on their way to Manchester. On any given day there could be as many as twenty kids, between eight and twelve years old, lined up on the locks waiting for the ships. Thankfully the American sailors were kind hearted and responded well to the cries of "Throw us some gum, chum".

I now live in a golf course community in Texas and a couple of years ago, one of my regular playing partners, an old boy of about eighty, was telling a war story. He said that during and after the war he had served in the merchant navy. You could have knocked me down with a feather when he said, "We used to sail from Liverpool up to Manchester on a canal and you should have seen the kids at the locks begging for candy. I always threw them whatever I had". It was his turn to be amazed when I told him that I was probably one of the kids catching his candy.

Eric Caddy, USA.

 

ROF Risley

I was born and grew up on Gig Lane, Woolston. There was nothing in front of our house but the peat moss, which stretched all the way to Risley. At the onset of the 'warnings' and German bombing, the routine was for the whole family, complete with gas masks, to squeeze under the dining table, later we used the little coal 'hole' in the side of the house. However, as the war droned on, everyone became more and more blasé about the raids and actually started to enjoy them. My father would wrap me in a blanket and he would hold me in his arms at the front door, as we watched the Junkers 88's on their way to bomb the armaments factory at Risley [Royal Ordnance Factory, Risley]. The bomb doors would be open and you could see the weak lights inside the planes. The searchlight and ack ack show was amazing. In the fifties and sixties, I heard that several real estate developers went broke trying to clear all of the six foot thick concrete bunkers from the site of the Risley factory.

Eric Caddy, USA.

 

Thames Board Bomb

My father hated standing in line for anything, thank God! It's probably the reason that I am alive today. In 1940, my parents decided to take the bus into town from Woolston and to visit the 'Sports Day' being held on the playing fields at the side of the Thames Board Mills. They walked through town, with me in a stroller, over the footbridge at Bridge Foot and up to the turnstiles that admitted people to the event. That was their intention, however as they got close they found a long snaking line waiting for admission. That was it for dad, he scrubbed the mission and we all turned around and headed back into town. They were walking back up Bridge Street when they heard the explosion. An unmarked German plane had dropped a bomb right in the middle of the gala. It was a terrible disaster and how lucky were we. Obviously I don't personally remember the episode, but I heard plenty about it from my parents. In the fifties, I was an apprentice at the British Aluminium Co and the 'old hands' there told me that they were finding body parts on the roofs of the buildings there for days. A very sad day in Warrington's history.

Eric Caddy, USA.

 

Shopping Days

Tom Bowes Trousers Down Again!

Warrington was always a good shopping town. Everyone, I think, will have heard of the old Warrington Market. Before it was taken over by the fabric industry and eventually transferred to new premises, it was the quintessential one-stop shopping place for crockery, shoes, candles, lamps and hosiery. Apart from the market there were several little shops that were Warrington landmarks. White's and Ward's were the two main sporting goods shops and the large Ward's store across from the old Royal Court Theatre on Rylands Street always had the finest selection of fireworks in town. Syd Ellison's bike shop in Buttermarket Street started out just with cycling items, but became the centre of the plastic model craze.

My favourite, though, was the gentlemen's outfitters, Tom Bowes. He had several outlets around town, selling the cheaper end suits and shirts. He was a great salesman and I always remember the sign he used when he ran his sales, "Big Sale - Tom Bowes Trousers Down Again!!!"

During the forties and fifties, the major department stores, especially in Manchester and Liverpool, were exactly like the set of Are You Being Served [a BBC sitcom which ran from 1972 to 1985]. The only one like that in Warrington was the Co-op. It was complete with livered staff, all toting 'order books’. The payment and change system was an overhead conglomeration of canisters hooked to wires carrying the payments and change to and fro across the ceiling like a scene from Crouching Dragon....

Currys and Halfords were always there and maybe still are today [yes they are, but on Alban Retail Park on Hawley’s Lane near Dallam]. Boots The Chemist used to be located at Market Gate, right on the old traffic roundabout [‘Skittles’ today]. It then moved onto Bridge Street [McDonald’s now], then across the road to the Howard Building, and now in Golden Square shopping centre, where it now stands on its own corner once more. There were very few private cars in the fifties, especially among the teenagers; everyone used the buses. Every person making a date would say the same thing, "All right then, I'll meet you at Boots at seven o'clock'. On any given night you could see up to a dozen nervous guys, in their Sunday best outside Boots, hopping from one foot to the other, as they desperately hoped that their date would show. You could actually feel the pity flow through the group for guys who eventually, dejectedly, gave up and slunk away to catch a bus home.

Another Warrington icon was Harwood's Fruit Market, a large store on Horsemarket Street, directly across from Scotland Road. It was double-fronted with two large plate glass windows, but from 1940 to 1950 those two windows were just two blank, vacant eyes staring out into empty space. They had nothing to sell; the rows of shelves inside the store were also barren. It was much the same with every storefront in town during those years. But from time to time, a rumour would spread like wildfire, "Harwoods have got oranges, Harwoods have got oranges....". It took a while for the word to get out to Woolston, but as soon as it did, we were off into town. Mom and I would walk down Scotland Road and then see the long line, four deep, stretching from the orange crate on a tall stool at the front door, all the way down Horsemarket Street. Nevertheless, we would tag on the end and wait. It was a sickening feeling, when an hour later, word started filtering down the line, "They've all gone..." 'They've all gone...." No complaints, the line just broke up with a collective shake of the head and a shrug of the shoulders. No riots, no fights, no cussin'. At least, the fish market is still there, thank god.

Eric Caddy, USA.

 

Tom Bowes for Walking Day

I remember going to Tom Bowes every year for a sports jacket for casual wear at Walking Day with my mum and little brother. When you bought your jacket you were given a round metal badge with a picture of a jewel on it to clip onto your lapel.

Brian Hartley.

 

Winwick Road Co-op

I used to work at the Warrington Co-op offices on Winwick Road from 1964 to 1966 in the hire purchase and accounts section.

One of my jobs was to pay out the dividend every quarter at the old school building in Cairo Street that was set back from the road. I also had to sort out the returned milk tokens from the milkmen on a Monday morning in a machine that sorted them and bagged them ready for redistribution to the co-op shops in the Warrington area.

Brian Hartley.

 

Bradley's Outfitters Shop

My father Ernest Stuart Hicks was born in 1900. He told us the story of how, as a child, he attended the church school in Church Street, and one day the news was circulated that Bradley's outfitters shop in Bridge Street was giving away rulers to any one who could recite a poem. Of course my father soon learned the lines and told them to my brother and I. They were:

Fear not, fear not, my darling wife
For Bradley's shirts have saved my life,
It did not shrink or let me down,
Although it costs but half a crown.

He said that there was a long queue of boys waiting in the queue to recite the poem. I wonder if anyone else remembers it. I can still remember Bradley's.

Pamela Hughes.

Thanks Pamela for your memories.

 

 

Reader Kathy asks:

How many of us remember these shops from many years ago?

Horsemarket Street

Sankey Street

Buttermarket Street

Bridge Street

BARLOWS...animal & pet feeds
RIDINGS ...was it TV's or furniture?
TIMOTHY WHITES
LIPTONS ...did you do your weekly shop here?
I am informed they have also been in
Bridge St/Friars Gate and Buttermarket St (Gordon)
HARWOODS MARKET ...for fruit & veg
MILLINGS ...bacon and cooked meats.

TRU FORM ...shoes
RATTIGANS ...stationers
H.SAMUELS ...jewellers
LITTLE MISS (or was it JUNIOR MISS)...
teenage section of the CO-OP.
Actually, it was called GAY MISS,
and as Derek says who gave me
the info "Not a title any shop
would use today (or would they!")
They probably would! It was
situated on the corner of King
Street. Thanks, Derek.

TESCO... next to the Gas showrooms
SYD ELLISON...
cycle shop
EDWIN ALLEN...
art and craft 
shop (closed down 17 May 2014)

BOOTS...at Market Gate
WOODHOUSES...furniture, again at Market gate
HODGKINSONS
HALFORDS ... got my first bike from here
and opposite was a RECORD SHOP...
THE place to go, stand in a cubicle with
headphones on and listen to your
favourite record.
THE WIMPEY BAR...stayed open late, great for
late night revellers.

Does anyone remember the little TOY SHOP at the end of the passageway leading into the old general market? I used to buy my yo-yo's and hula hoops from there. Also, for a time I worked in the ARMY & NAVY shop that was alongside the fish market. I remember when we were selling black and white polo neck sweaters in the 60's and advertising them as "BEETLE" sweaters.

On the corner of Longford St and Winwick Road, there used to be CARNEY'S, a lovely big fruit and veg shop, and across the road was a little Post Office...both long gone. Also on Winwick Road was a shop called DOLLY BERRY'S...she sold everything from ornaments to hair ribbons etc and a couple of doors down from her was a fabulous PIE SHOP. The girls who worked in McArthur Beattie's shirt works, used to pile in there for their dinners everyday, ME included.

On the corner of Owen St and Winwick Road, was a small general shop where I first tasted KUNZEL CAKES...remember them??

Who remembers WARDS, the large sportswear shop in Rylands Street? If I remember correctly they also stocked school uniforms

Also, JOE'S CAFE in Legh Street. It was the place to pop into after having been swimming in the baths just around the corner

These are just a few of the shops I remember which are long gone but fondly remembered.

Can readers add to this list? Send me your memories...

Peter Spilsbury adds these memories:

At the bottom end of Bridge Street  the last few shops jut out from the rest. The corner one was Crabtrees Cycles, somewhere in the middle was the Coronet Cafe and the Packet house on the other corner. A little further up on the same side at no.111 was Bob Garner's photographic shop. Bob was a true enthusiastic photographer and willingly gave advice to anyone that listened, often suggesting ways round problems without having a sale. His shop was taken over by Wildings Photographic who later moved to Buttermarket Street before going to Golden Square. A little further up the street on the same side was Levi Richardson's music shop. They sold sheet music, musical instruments and 78 rpm records, mainly of classical music. About the time that 45 rpm records came into popular use the shop closed. Hill Smiths chemist was nearby. They moved to Winwick Street near the cycle shop, just past Foundry Street.

Here are some that my mum remembers:

Friars Gate

Bridge Street

 Market Gate

Horsemarket Street

BRADLEY'S...tailors
She tells the story of how dad
(who is colour blind) said he had seen
this brown velvet jacket in there and
it would look nice on her. She went
there and got the shock of her life:
it was pillar box red! 

GREENWOODS...outfitters
DONVILLE'S...gun shop
(where the Christian
bookshop is now. What a contrast!)
BOARDMAN'S... furniture, corner Academy Street
WOODHOUSE... furniture

WATERWORTH'S... fruit & veg - corner
Dolman's Lane
WATERWORTH'S ... clothing - POSH!
next to The Dive/The Lamb.
£80 for a jacket  (1950s)
CARTER'S... cafe, same row as McDonalds today

WOODHOUSE ... furniture
MILLINGS... grocers

TOM BOWES ... clothing, Cockhedge entrance section today
GRIFFIN... dentist, known as 'the Butcher', same block
also a tobacconist
RATTIGANS... stationers
STEAD & SIMPSON... shoes

LOWES bookshop/stationers (where I had my first job). next door was GLADYS BERG clothes shop between Lowes and the White Hart. There was also a DOROTHY PERKINS clothes shop, but I can't remember where. Can you help?

ALSO, I had an email in March 2007 from Pat Jones who emigrated to Canada in 1981. Her first job was at LEE & CLARKE on Bridge Street, a shop similar in style to HANCOCK & WOOD, where Pat finished her working years. She adds that Lee & Clarke gave her a 'wonderful memorable part of her life', whilst the camaraderie of the staff and support offered by the Hancock family is something she will never forget. She hopes that the girls working there now feel the same way. Pat describes Warrington as a GEM that just needs polishing up! She has travelled to many places but still feels Warrington comes out at the top of the list of good places to live in. Thanks for your memories, Pat; it is so nice to hear from Warrington people who have moved on but never forget their hometown.

 

Don't forget the Shop! page to read history of some of the shops in Warrington. If you wish to contribute if you are a business owner, or a retired business owner, I will be delighted to run a feature - of course, I'm only interested in history, so no Yellow Pages adverts from today please!

 

 

Nights Out

Following on from shopping, Kathy now adds:

Just thinking back to my teenage years in the late 50's early 60's, when I used to love getting up on stage and singing a song or two in the pubs and social clubs around the town (long before the days of Karaoke).

Do you remember .....
LOCKERS SOCIAL CLUB ....behind the houses on Orford Road
LIMES LABOUR CLUB ..... Orford Green
GAS SOCIAL CLUB .....Winwick Road [still going]
SANDY LANE SOCIAL CLUB (later changed to ALBERT'S) .... Sandy Lane/Crowe Avenue
ALUMINIUM SOCIAL CLUB .... Grange Avenue, Latchford
Great nights out with a couple of games of Bingo thrown in as well.

Then there was THE LONGFORD .....later changed to THE COACHMANS before being demolished to make way for yet another car showroom. Also THE HERMIT at Winwick. I used to drink PALE & LIME, CHERRY B then went onto BABYCHAM ......nowadays I much prefer a pot of tea!

Anyone remember when us girls of the 60's wore our buttoned-up-cardigans back to front? hair swept up into a huge bouffant and adorned with a plastic slide about 6"/8" wide and stiffened with cheap lacquer out of a sachet? We thought we were the Bees Knees.

Ah, truly the 'GOOD OLD DAYS' (Kathy)

And adding on to that, can readers recall the CINEMAS in the town? Send in your stories for the At the Flicks page...

At the Flicks                                       

How many of you can remember the cinemas in Warrington. Here is the complete list. For further information on the history of each one, see At the Flicks page.
CINEMA

LOCATION

DATE OPENED
PALACE CINEMA 15-17 FRIARS GATE 30 SEP 1907
PARK PICTURE PALACE SANKEY STRET APR 1910
PICTUREDROME/CAMEO 83 SANKEY STREET JUN 1910
GRAND CINEMA WILDERSPOOL CAUSEWAY 11 JUL 1910
PAVILION 6 LOVELY LANE SEP 1912
CENTRAL 78 SANKEY STREET JUL 1913
NEW PICTURE HOUSE WINMARLEIGH STREET 7 JUL 1913
STAR KINEMA 76 CHURCH STREET 19 JAN 1914
QUEENS ORFORD LANE 1914
GEM PICTURE HOUSE WINMARLEIGH STREET 17 JAN 1916
FUTURIST/REGENT 3 SCOTLAND ROAD JAN 1921
EMPIRE BUTTERMARKET STREET OCT 1921
PREMIER 24 POWELL ST, LATCHFORD JAN 1922
DRILL HALL CINEMA 5 CHURCH ROAD, LYMM 30 OCT 1922
ODEON WARRINGTON 41-43 BUTTERMARKET STREET 11 JAN 1937
RITZ/ABC BRIDGE FOOT 23 AUG 1937
AMC/UCI/ODEON WESTBROOK WESTBROOK MAR 1988

 

CLICK ON EMAIL OR FEMAIL TO CONTACT ME
 

 

Woolston Lido

The Woolston Lido was quite possibly the worst swimming experience you could possibly have. For a start, the pool had no form of boiler heating - they only opened on sunny days. Maintenance was non-existent and most times you had to share the pool with floating leaves, other debris and the occasional toad. For all that, as a kid I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

It was located about a half mile north of Cliftonville Road off Manchester Road. It was fronted by a fairly long, low single-story, stuccoed building. The building was a wannabee transport café, which was open every day.

The pool itself was of good size, with a two-level high diving board at one end. The changing rooms behind the diving board were bare concrete constructions reminiscent of an East German cell block. There were no window frames or glass, just two feet square holes in the concrete walls.

One bonus of the attached café was that for a penny, you could buy a 'jam butty' at the little serving window in the pool area. I guess you could get other types of snacks, but I never had more than a penny, so I'll never know.

My last memory of the Lido concerned the high diving board. As an eight year-old, I would constantly race to the top of the high board steps, charge to the end of the board and either dive or jump off without a thought. I was about eighteen on my last visit - with a girlfriend - and of course I headed straight to the diving board. My God, when I got to the end of the board I couldn't believe how high it was. Talk about red-faced as I turned and fought my way back through the line of eight-year-olds, down the ladder to safety.

That, my friends, was the famous Woolston Lido.

Eric Caddy, USA.

 

 

Harry's Happy Days

Harry Hayes sends us these memories.

My memory will stretch back longer than most. Just a few of the things which make me nostalgic.

The railway sheds. 8a; the Midnight Scot; and all that..

Waiting outside the cinema when an "A" film was on - "Will you take me in mister?" Try that these days.

Walking miles into the country with a jam butty and a bottle of water - Polly Homers; Turkey Jacks Wood; The Dingle.

Drinking water from the stream alongside Walton reservoir (again, try that these days). The sun always shone.

The "Chinky" bridge in Orford Park.

Collecting bottles from anywhere to get the tuppence deposit.

My dad had a couple of favourite stories. He always spoke of the speedway track near to the greyhound track at Arpley Meadows. The former must have been well pre-war. A well known speedster, Frank Varey, apparently rode there.

He had a story, touched on by other contributors on cinemas. He swears it is absolutely true. The Cameo/Picturedrome in Sankey Street charged a penny or a jam-jar to get in. The urchins all queued up with their glass-wear and a posh chap arrived and plonked half a crown on the counter, for which he received 29 jam-jars change.

I share Jake Lowe's memories of the Star Kinema. As well as being the cheapest in town, they changed their programmes three times a week, which was very advantageous as the cinema was virtually the only form of entertainment relief.

Happy Days.

Do you have memories of place names in Warrington you don't hear of anymore? Send in your memories via the Feedback page.

Warrington Walking Day

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Warrington Walking Day is a tradition which started out in 1834 (possibly 1832). It was a local holiday in its heyday when everybody turned out to either take part or be a spectator and the shops all shut. The event is a walk or procession of witness by most of the churches in Warrington. The outer villages and districts, such as Stockton Heath, Penketh, Padgate and Orford have their walk in their own locality. It was originally set up to dissuade punters from attending Newton Races and is held on the Friday nearest to 1st July each year.

Walking day in the
1960s. This group was
walking with St Peter's
Church (now long
gone) and they are
seen on Lythgoes Lane
having walked under
the very wide railway
bridge of the Cheshire
Lines. 

Do you recognise yourself
in the photo.

Below is one from
Stockton Heath
Walking Day 2006
(thanks to Kathy).

You set off with your particular church group carrying a banner saying which church you represented and you walked to the Town Hall, often with the Boys Brigade band or similar announcing your presence. At a set time (usually from around 10.30 a.m.) you then take your position in the procession and walk around town centre. Little girls would appear in beautiful dresses and little boys were often dressed in smart suits, or shorts and blazer, with shiny new shoes. They would eagerly look out for somebody they knew who often thrust a shiny copper coin or two into their hand as their 'Walking Day Money'.

The Mayor and Mayoress (or consort) would wave to you from their special podium outside the town hall gates. The route takes you down Arpley Street, Museum Street, St Austins Lane, Friars Gate, Bridge Street to Bridge Foot, turn around sharp and walk all the way up Bridge Street and Horsemarket Street and then back to your church, usually for a quick prayer to thank the good Lord for a fine day. In the afternoon you might go out on a coach trip to Southport, Blackpool or North Wales if you were lucky, or stay in Warrington for the fairground which had been set up for the day. The grown-ups would have a drink or two and the kids would make do with a bottle of lemonade and a straw and a bag of Walkers!

stockton_heath_walking_day_2006.jpg (77492 bytes) In my Walking Days I represented St Mark's Church, Dallam. St Mark's then did a Parish Walk the next-but-one Sunday after, around Bewsey one year and Dallam the next. That doesn't happen any more. Like many things these days, the event doesn't have the same impact, and sadly some have seen it as an excuse to get drunk and cause trouble in the town. It has been suggested for many years that it should be moved to a Sunday because of the disruption to traffic and shopping. 
A sign of the times, but with Sunday shopping too these days, I don't see that making much difference. Gordon.
Below are photos from 1980 (first image) and 2011.
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This is me as a young
lad on the Town Hall
lawn. I walked with St
Mark's Church, Dallam
at the time.
Church members gather
on the town hall lawn
to wait for their turn
in the procession.
At 10.30 a.m. the 128th
Mayor, Cllr Mike Biggin,
greets members
of the Parish Church
of St Elphin.
St Alban's Church on
Bewsey Street display
their banner. The parish
was founded in 1772.
walking_day_110701_4.jpg (81613 bytes) walking_day_110701_5.jpg (133776 bytes) walking_day_110701_6.jpg (134877 bytes) walking_day_110701_7.jpg (112437 bytes)
Latchford Methodist
Church opened on
11 October 1894.
Christ Church Latchford
started out in 1861,
 making 2011 their
150th year in existence.
Warrington Pipe Band
arrive on the town
hall lawn.
Warrington Pipe Band
entertaining the crowds
on Bridge Street.

Pamela Hughes adds these memories about Walking Day:

I was born in Warrington and lived in Morley Street with my parents until I was 26. Both they and my grandparents were parishioners of Warrington Parish Church and I vividly remember the excitement of Walking Day. Indeed, we looked forward to it more than Christmas. We had to be up very early because my father had to go for my flowers to my aunties or the florists. He also had to go to the rectory to collect the church banner, which was paraded at the front of the Parish Church procession with him carrying one of the poles and me, as I grew older 'On the Banner' as we used to say, always in a new dress and shoes. Happy memories.

Thanks Pamela for your memories.

 

 

Gandy’s Clogs and the Marquis of Granby

Regular readers of Tour 1 will remember me saying that I am related to the Gandy’s clog making family in Warrington. In early 2013, Pamela Hughes got in touch with me to add this very interesting information to the story:

My great-great-grandfather Alderman Thomas (John) Porter, who lived from 1824-1879, was at one time the owner of the Marquis of Granby pub on Church Street. I can remember a small boot and clog making shop named Gandy's in Mersey Street and being told that the owner, Mr Gandy was my grandmother’s cousin (my grandmother being Jemima Sanders who was the granddaughter of Thomas Porter). Also, now I think back my grandmother had another cousin named Florence Gandy who I vaguely remember. So you, Gordon, must also be related to the owner to The Marquis of Granby.

How about that. I wonder if I have a long-lost title. Gordon of Granby sounds good!

Thanks Pamela for your memories.

 

 

The "Good Old Days"

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I left Warrington last November (2005) and moved to Manchester (no regrets whatsoever). I hate the cold, impersonal place Warrington  has become ...nothing left of the lovely town I grew up in, only the brilliant photos on this site to remind me of "HOME". My brother who emigrated to Canada in 1980, just wouldn't recognise the old town. Thank goodness I've got lots of memories along with your pics to remind me of the great town it once was. (Kathy Barker)

Kathy added these photos. She says: the group photo (top left) was taken in 1946 in Densham Avenue, Longford. From left to right cousin Geoff, my mum and baby brother (in Canada now) my Nan and ME, the sulky one at the end. The second one was taken in 1948 in New Brighton (my brother and I, Kathleen & Michael Spero latterly of Fisher Avenue, Orford). Note the old fashioned sit 'n' ride bike and train ..... a lot different from what we see on promenades today. My double-breasted coat and bonnet will cause a laugh I'm sure.

Do you have any photographs of yourselves in the olden days like Kathy's? Or of old Warrington? If you would like to share them, attach them to the email address Add a little story about the picture and make sure you have permission from any other people on them. You, of course, retain ownership of the copyright of your work.

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Steam Trains at Winwick 

My most treasured childhood memory though was of the iron bridge at Winwick. My greatest passion was (and still is) trains, especially steam trains. 

west-coast_mainline_winwick_040616.JPG (119893 bytes)

I was often very happy with just my own company and would spend hours with my little train spotting book (6d) and pencil marking off the numbers and names of the trains. 

During the long hot summer holidays (violent electric storms came during the night), I would set off after breakfast with my bottle of water, jam butties and maybe a few plain biscuits and stay on the bridge until dusk. Mum always knew where she could find me (I never felt afraid in those days of going off alone for hours at a time). By the end of the summer I was as brown as a berry.

I inherited my love of trains from my late Grandad who spent his working life on the railway, then many years later, my eldest son carried on the 'family tradition' by becoming a rail enthusiast and working on the railway.

Kathy's view would not
have included the overhead
electric wires seen here.

A sad day indeed when diesel and electric locos took over. Where I live now on the 10th floor of a high rise block, there are three railway lines alongside my flat and occasionally steam trains DO still puff along. (Kathy Barker)
 

"Childhood"

I find it quite strange when I try to look back
And remember what happened last week,
I get so confused, get the days all mixed up,
Can't remember a thing, so I'm stuck.

Yet I sit here, eyes closed and I'm back as a kid,
Seeing clearly the things that I did,
Why is it I wonder, why so crystal clear,
Now I'm into my 63rd year.

The answer is simple, I see it all now,
My childhood, best days of my life,
No worries, no hassles, just days full of fun,
Lots of laughter, good friends and no strife.

Childhood is special, it comes only once
And all too soon it is gone,
But my head is so full of those wonderful days,
So they'll stay with me now and always.

[© Kathy Barker]

 

Lamp-lighters

lamplighter.jpg (22949 bytes)

I never ventured further than Longford Street, where my grandparents lived except to visit Orford Park in my younger days. My best memory of that street was of going home at dusk and watching the lamp-lighter lighting the lamps and using his ladder to do it. No doubt he cursed the kid following him. I remember them lighting the gas lamps in Liverpool Road between Thewlis Street and the Coach & Horses. The men used a lorry and the lamp was lowered via an arm from a tall post, which I now know was a support for the tram wires. (Peter Spilsbury)

Lamplighter in Wrocław's Ostrów Tumski ("Cathedral Island") district, Poland, November 2005. Photo by Julo.

 

 

The Smoky 70s

Knutsford Road, looking towards the town centre, probably taken in either 1972 or 1973, because the rough ground at the bottom left hand corner is, I think, from demolition of terraced houses. It was about this time that Barry St was demolished. Unless it's a reflection the river seems to have a good old-fashioned 'froth' on, and there seems to have been a lot more 'smoke factories' back then. Thanks, Terry, for the photo.

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Golborne Street 

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In 1964 I was 17 and working in the Halifax building society located behind the White Hart in Golborne Street. Gazing out of the upper window one day I looked down at the car park on the opposite side of the road just as the wall collapsed and buried numerous cars, scooters, bikes parked there, including of course the ones owned by my colleagues. I will leave it to your imagination the panic that ensued.

Golborne Street on 12 August 2003.

 

 

'The Factory'

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I wonder how many readers can remember before the College was built and the block of flats, what was on the land between the corner of Long Lane/Winwick Road (long before there was ever a roundabout there) and the other corner at Alder Lane/Winwick Road?

It was huge bales of raw cotton, presumably stacked and stored there for use by Armitage & Rigby, better known as 'The Factory'. I'm going back many years, probably 50+ though I can clearly 'see them' even now. (ANON)

The Collegiate building from Northway in May 2003, a couple of years before redevelopment work began.

 

 

Gas Works off Mersey Street

I have just taken Tour 1 and Tour 2.  On Tour 1,  I found the location of the homes of some of my ancestors who lived in Gas Street and Lower Bank Street. My great-grandfather was a gas stoker, presumably at the gas works. The site was also the location of the Warrington Tram Shed between 1902 and 1935.
 

 

Shilling for the Meter

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The Orford bus used to terminate right outside our house in Fisher Ave, and I would be waiting to jump on and ask the conductor if he had a shilling (5p) for the meter.

While he rummaged in his bag to find one, I would happily swing around the pole.

(Kathy Barker)

shilling1.jpg (85728 bytes)

 

 

The Ride of my Life!

When I lived in Jockey St. age about 11, there was a fruit and veg merchant who rented the stables behind Mrs Gamble's shop at No 3. I used to groom his cart horses (ex Co-op milk horses) and ride them bareback down to the field at Winwick when they were turned out each weekend for 2 days rest.

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 One Sunday morning, riding one of the younger horses, on the way home past the Longford Hotel, it was startled by one of those huge double-decker Standerwick long distance buses and it took off with me at a gallop down Winwick Road towards town, with sparks coming off its shoes.

Luckily the owner was waiting for us a the top of Jockey St and managed to stop the horse otherwise I think we would have ended up in town centre.

School Days

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Readers might remember how the railway line ran alongside Bewsey School. Well for 3 of my 4 years there, I was in one of the pre-fabricated classrooms and each year my report stated, “This pupil could do much better if she concentrated more on her lessons and less on watching trains all day long". (ANON)

When Long Lane Junior School (Orford) opened in 1953 I was 10, so spent just one year there before moving up to the Secondary School (it was just around the corner from home). What I remember about that year was the 'film shows' that were put on once a month (I think). School would open in the evening and we would pay 6d, sit crossed legged in the hall and watch CHARLIE CHAPLIN and MOTHER REILLY. It kept us off the streets on dark winter evenings. (ANON)

The old school
building as it looked
in November 2006.

The story above reminded me of a similar story - I watched a Punch and Judy show in the school hall for sixpence in Hamilton Street school. And I was asked by one of the other pupils if I would sell him my place. No chance. I saw the show - he didn't! And the killjoys don't want the kids watching stuff like that now. It's not Punch and Judy they need to worry about - it's the 18 certificate violence games that they play with daddy... (Gordon)
 

 

Frank Craven's Fruit and Veg Cart

I wonder how many would remember Frank Craven (now deceased) selling fruit and veg from his lovely cart round the streets of Howley, Manchester Rd, Dalton Bank, Dallam and Bewsey. I think he even went as far afield as Sankey.  The horse knew each house to stop at! Frank always said it was better than a van as it walked on to command to the next house, and didn't need starting up and stopping constantly like a van would. They had been well trained by the co-op milk men. After Bobby the oldest horse was retired he lived on a farm in Mill Lane Winwick for many years.

Following on from this, I have received this wonderful memory from John Blease. 

I used to work for Frank Craven on Saturdays going round Orford/Poplars Avenue/Northway areas. Also used to "muck out" the horses (he had two, Bobby and Tommy) at Jockey Street, behind Nellie Gambols shop in Jockey Street. His brother, Albert, also had a fruit and veg round. Franks wife, Joan, is still alive. Not sure about Bobby (the horse) being retired to Mill Lane at Winwick. I do remember that the horses were turned out at Mill Lane on Summer weekends. Vaguely remember a lad called Georgie who helped Frank take the horses to Mill Lane. I helped Frank construct a shelter on a field just off the A57 at Hollins Green, where one of the horses was retired. The roof of the shelter was made from the roof of the cart that the horse pulled. The field was owned (I think) by an ex German prisoner of war, who Frank called Fritz. Frank used to get his potatoes from here. Cannot remember if it was Tommy or Bobby who was retired to this field. I do remember that one of the horses died in the stables in Jockey Street. I think this was Tommy. At some point, probably about 1966, Albert retired due to ill health. Soon after this, Frank retired the remaining horse and replaced it with a Bedford panel van, with the sides of the van cut out to provide a "counter" for displaying his wares. Frank was a real character. One saying he often used to kids who hung around cart was "what do you want ?" When he reply came back "nothing" His response was "well, you're soon served then".

Thanks, John, for your memories.

 

 

Terraced Houses

gordon_1968_home.jpg (20827 bytes)

I was born in a back-to-back terraced house close to town centre – and mum gave birth to all of four us at home. Cobbled streets were the norm, outside toilets, no central heating - coal in the bunker, tin bath, concrete back yard and shared bedrooms. I was educated at Hamilton Street School, sadly long gone to make way for the housing estate.

As kids we used to play on the church wall and when I was about five or six years old I nearly met my maker! I slipped and ended up being hung on a nail by my jumper. It took a girl called Susan Rathbone to run to my house to get my mum to lift me down. You don’t do that twice!

I lived in St Peter’s Place until I was 9, and in those days I used to walk all the way to St Elphin’s Park down the Sixpenny Walk, crossing the road all by myself – and it was always safe. (Gordon)

Outside the house
where I  was born. I
was five years old when
this was taken in 1968.

 

 

My First Bike

I wonder how many would remember Frank Craven (now deceased) selling fruit and veg from his lovely cart round the streets of Howley, Manchester Rd, Dalton Bank, Dallam and Bewsey. I think he even went as far afield as Sankey.  The horse knew each house to stop at! Frank always said it was better than a van as it walked on to command to the next house, and didn't need starting up and stopping constantly like a van would. They had been well trained by the co-op milk men. After Bobby the oldest horse was retired he lived on a farm in Mill Lane Winwick for many years.

Following on from this, I have received this wonderful memory from John Blease. 

I used to work for Frank Craven on Saturdays going round Orford/Poplars Avenue/Northway areas. Also used to "muck out" the horses (he had two, Bobby and Tommy) at Jockey Street, behind Nellie Gambols shop in Jockey Street. His brother, Albert, also had a fruit and veg round. Franks wife, Joan, is still alive. Not sure about Bobby (the horse) being retired to Mill Lane at Winwick. I do remember that the horses were turned out at Mill Lane on Summer weekends. Vaguely remember a lad called Georgie who helped Frank take the horses to Mill Lane. I helped Frank construct a shelter on a field just off the A57 at Hollins Green, where one of the horses was retired. The roof of the shelter was made from the roof of the cart that the horse pulled. The field was owned (I think) by an ex German prisoner of war, who Frank called Fritz. Frank used to get his potatoes from here. Cannot remember if it was Tommy or Bobby who was retired to this field. I do remember that one of the horses died in the stables in Jockey Street. I think this was Tommy. At some point, probably about 1966, Albert retired due to ill health. Soon after this, Frank retired the remaining horse and replaced it with a Bedford panel van, with the sides of the van cut out to provide a "counter" for displaying his wares. Frank was a real character. One saying he often used to kids who hung around cart was "what do you want ?" When he reply came back "nothing" His response was "well, you're soon served then".

Thanks, John, for your memories.

I had a Raleigh Chopper bike – I didn’t have to buy it. It was left outside our house and the policeman said if nobody claims it in 28 days, it’s yours. Once dad had checked the brakes, tyres, gears, nuts and bolts, it was ridden on strict instructions that no Tom, Dick or Harry should be given a 'go' on it. Glad my name was Gordon! I used to ride it to my gran and grandad’s in Bewsey and then walk the rest of the way to school. Even though I had my lunch at home (we called it dinner in those days!) they always had a little something for me to eat, a bit of cake or a biscuit. I seem to remember taking it to school once but the chunky wheels wouldn't fit in the bike shed holders so I rode it back to gran and grandad's and left it there till it was time to go home again. I also remember having to push it home once because I notice a nail in the front tyre when I started to ride it and grandad didn't have a puncture repair kit to fix it - so dad did it for me when I got home. A massive six-inch nail it was! How I didn't spot it on the floor I don't know!

raleigh_chopper_bike.JPG (133673 bytes)

That was in the days when ITN’s Robert Key presented the First Report on ITV in the 1970s. I can just about remember the video sequence of 8 little pictures appearing on the screen in the opening titles. In fact, link to this You Tube video for the very thing! The bulletin was called News at One when Peter Sissons presented it in 1981. I remember it well - it was in the days when their electronic typewriter worked faster than my laptop does today! No ITV News Channel in those days - mind you, there isn’t now! On the subject of TV: Blue Peter or Magpie? Blue Peter. Multi-coloured Swap Shop or TISWAS? Swap Shop. The Weakest Link and Golden Balls or the Test Card? The Test Card! I don't know what happened to that bike. I think it might have got pinched! (Gordon)

My Chopper bike
was painted brown.

The Chopper bike in the photo is part of the collection at The Cycle Museum based at Walton Gardens. See Events page for more photos.

The designer of the Raleigh Chopper bike was Nottingham-born Alan Oakley. He worked for the Raleigh company for 40 years. He drew the design for the Chopper on an envelope as he travelled home from the USA, in 1967, inspired to replicate the design of a motorbike in the film Easy Rider. Alan came up with his drawing as he flew home from the trip, set up for him to "get-to-grips" with youth culture. In the 1980s, production of the Chopper ceased when the rival BMX hit the market, but, due to popular demand, a limited edition Chopper was released in 2004. Link to the Raleigh company website here.

Alan Oakley's death was announced in the media on Sunday 20 May 2012. He died of cancer, aged 85, on Friday 18 May 2012. A friend and former colleague told The Sun newspaper: "Raleigh was Alan and Alan was Raleigh". A lasting tribute. Thanks for an iconic bike, Alan. RIP.

 

The Rag and Bone Man

I remember the ragman coming round on his cart collecting old clothes. For giving him something us kids would be presented with a small toy or a balloon as a reward. (Gordon)
 

 

The Ice Cream Man's Tricycle

There was the ice cream man coming round on a tricycle (below, left) with his ice cream in a large tub on the front, ringing his large hand bell to attract our attention in the 1960s/70s. "Ice, Yip" was his slogan. The local company Lewis Brothers owned the ice cream tricycle, and are based in Lilford Street off Bewsey Road. I don't know if they still own the tricycle. (Gordon).
ice_cream_man_yip.jpg (46308 bytes) The photo, left, was taken by Albert Hickson outside George Howard Ltd on Folly Lane, Bewsey in August 1978. Albert says he remembered the same chap coming around Scott Street (off Orford Lane) when he was less than 10 years old. You could get the smallest cornet for 2d in those days, and the raspberry sauce was delicious. The ice cream man is Ernie Atherton, uncle of Roy Humphreys, who emailed me. Thanks, Roy.

Photo © A Hickson

And on the right is another of the Lewis Brothers employees, Brian Keenan, who passed away in 1995. His son asked for his name to be added to the photo. The photo was taken on 29 September, 1985. Reader Terry Eyres adds: He always arrived in King Edward Street at around 2 o'clock every Sunday afternoon and always greeted me with "Alright Kid" as I bought a cornet for my then-three year old son. (Gordon)

Photo © T Eyres

ice_cream_tricycle_teyres.jpg (108158 bytes)

Albert adds: I seem to remember the ice cream man's call was something like you say. It was something that didn't mean anything to me. A bit like the rag and bone men who shouted something like, "Rag-bone!", but actually most of the consonants weren't really pronounced, and newspaper sellers used to shout something almost indecipherable. There used to be a rag and bone man's stable just behind the corner of Scott Street and Chorley Street - does anybody else remember that?

Following on from the newspaper seller's indecipherable pitch, Morecambe and Wise did a sketch about it. Eric Morecambe was the seller shouting out "Mornin' Stannit", and Ernie Wise's character, dressed in a posh suit and bowler hat, walks over to him and says, "Excuse me, Sir, I think you will find it is pronounced Morning Standard." Morecambe then shows him the front of the newspaper with the title "Mornin' Stannit" and carries on with his shout. Great gag, which has been copied by many since. (Gordon)

 

 

The Neighbour's E-Type Jag 

I remember a neighbour who had an E-type Jag car and every time he came home to garage it we used to hold his doors open for him while he put down wooden ramps to get his car in. He used to give us tuppence for helping him. (Gordon)

A 1963 Jaguar XK-E Roadster on display in Indianapolis Photo by Dan Smith. Creative Commons.

e_type_jag.jpg (59624 bytes)

 

 

Fishing in Orford Park

orford_park_pond-jr.jpg (82705 bytes)

Fishing in Orford Park .... I remember it well. Armed with my net made from a pair of Mum's old nylon stockings, I would carefully carry my jam jar round and round the huge pond, dipping my 'net' in and gradually filling the jar full of tiddlers. 

I would then transfer them to a little 'pond' I'd dug in the back garden ...sadly they didn't survive very long. (Kathy Barker)

Orford Park pond in the days of Kathy's story. Photo © J Roberts.

Albert Hickson adds a bit about Orford Park. I remember fishing for tiddlers too. I seem to remember there were two ponds, side by side. The larger one was square, and a bit deeper than the other one which was about half as wide as it was long (see photo, above). I'm not sure, but I think that neither pond was for paddling in. Nearby were the swings - all would be considered lethal now. There was a "witch's hat", that I never felt safe on. The slides were really high, with no safety measures whatsoever. There was a sort of thing with a horse's head at one end and about eight or nine seats behind it. If you got a really big, strong lad near the front, he could make the whole thing move very violently. Any child near the back needed to hold on really tight to the handle on the seat in front. And there was another "swing" that was a plank with seats along it, suspended at each end from two supports. You were supposed to sit on the seats and rock gently back and forth (I suppose), but, again, if you had a big lad at each end, they would stand up and hold on to the swinging arms and make the thing go really high, nearly to the level of the top of the contraption.  I remember being on it when this happened and being terrified. These swings and roundabouts sorted out the children by Darwin's Principle of Natural Selection. Were there any fatal accidents, does anybody know? Now they have only "soft" play areas, where I can see no thrills or excitement.

Does anyone know what the contraptions I have described were called?

There were a couple of slides at the top of Frodsham Hill that had "bumps" in them, i.e. they didn't slope straight down, but had a couple of shallower and steeper parts. I seem to remember that the big one was really high (but, of course, I was very small then).  Does anybody have any photos or know exactly how high they were?

Thanks, Albert. I also remember the witch's hat and horse's head ride. I also remember a sand pit in Orford Park, so we took our bucket and spade and it was like being at the seaside. I was less than nine years old at the time. (Gordon)

 

 

Kick Can A Lerky and Paper Chase

As a boy of 5 living in Amelia Street in 1950 life was spent making tar balls, playing kick can a lerky, sneaking in the back door of the Queens cinema, playing paper chase down Orford Lane and spending half my childhood on Orford Park. The two ponds in the park: one large used for fishing and the small one used for paddling. Many happy days were also spent on the swings. The swing with the plank type seats was called the Banana Boat in answer to the reader who had forgotten its name. When fishing in the pond, the tackle was a stick with a piece of black cotton as the line, a matchstick as a float and a button as a weight with bloodworms tied on as bait, catching mainly sticklebacks and red cocks. Kick can a lerky was a game played mainly in the backs of houses where a can is placed on the ground, one person guards the can but tries to find the other kids before they have a chance to kick it first - top game. Collecting tar on a hot day from between the cobbles making balls was not was not my mothers favourite game when having to wash my clothes covered in tar. Paper chase was played between two teams. One team set off 15 minutes before the other sticking a small piece of paper in any little hole in the shop front giving the name of the next shop, trying to keep ahead of the following team. Greggo.

Thanks to Bob Gregory for his wonderful memories.

 

 

Games We Played

matchbox-rugby.JPG (62583 bytes)

Games we played – hopscotch. Also matchbox rugby. On the pavement we marked out a play area for the pitch. You flicked your matchbox along the floor until you got it over the try line. You then had a chance to convert your try like real rugby. This was done by asking your opponent to make the goalposts with his hands – point your fingers down to the ground with your thumbs touching each other to make the cross bar. You then angled the matchbox on your index finger and ground and flicked it up and over the sticks. You set a time limit for the game - often until your mum called you in for tea! Dad made us a bagatelle game. (Gordon)

How we set up the goal posts for Matchbox Rugby. The pitch was marked out with chalk.

 

 

Kerby

kerby.JPG (108775 bytes)

Kerby was a great game we played. Two of you stand on opposite sides of the street and take turns to throw the ball across the road, the idea being to hit the edge of the pavement and have the ball come back to you. One point if it hit and rolled back and two points if you caught it without a bounce. You set the scoring target for the game - say first to 100. It was more effective on our street because the kerbs were higher making it more suitable – of course you still had to be skilful (or lucky!) to score. I actually saw a neighbour playing it recently. I haven't played it myself for years. (Gordon)

Hours of fun - and not a car in sight (or an X-Box 360!).

Our First Kite 

gordon_1968_angelsey.jpg (16906 bytes)

On holiday at the Cliffe Hotel Caravan Park at Trearddur Bay, Anglesey, Dad made us the best kite ever out of brown paper. It flew sky high. We only lost it when the wind changed direction and it got tangled up in the trees in fields hundreds of yards away and we couldn’t rescue it. 

Somebody got a high-flier for free! In those days we had a Vauxhall Viva and on the way to Wales from Warrington we all used to sing along to the radio or tape ("Country Roads" was one we sang on the Welsh country roads). All that was in the days when the North Wales coastal road was a slow single carriageway where you were guaranteed to get delayed! (Gordon)

Me at five years old at Trearddur Bay beach on Anglesey, Wales.

 

 

Toys Were Us

yellow_duck.jpg (30075 bytes)

My mum tells me when I was a nipper that I had a favourite toy – a yellow duck on wheels that I pulled EVERYWHERE. Neighbours used to always ask, “Where’s your duck!” I had Lego, whilst my brother had Stickle Bricks (both still selling well in the shops). The best thing I made was an open back truck.

I was cowboys, my brother was Indians - plastic models we shot at each other behind the couch while mum and dad watched telly. Toy cars: used to love them (still do), but they're all collectors' models these days! I remember throwing a red double-decker from the doorstep and thought it was lost forever until I found it in the privet hedges years later when doing some gardening. (Gordon)

What's up duck?

 

 

Building the Barracks

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I used to walk from my house in St Peter’s Place (St Peter’s Way now) after school to watch the giant crane building the block of flats at the Peninsula Barracks on O’Leary Street in Orford.

I was no older than 8 years old. Nothing’s changed – I watched Golden Square cranes in action some 35+ years later! (Gordon)

 

 

Parker Street Windows

I also watched the widening of Bank Quay road bridge over the railway (Liverpool Road) into a dual carriageway. I remember hearing the dynamite explosion from home a mile away as they blasted the space. Apparently all the windows in Parker Street shook. They wouldn’t do it like that these days – they would use a muncher (a digger with a large claw for crunching through the concrete). I also remember them knocking down the old buildings around Legh Street with a giant iron ball on a crane. Again not the way they do it now. There's a great scene at the end of the Holiday On The Buses comedy film from the 1970s where Reg Varney's character, Stan Butler, has a job of knocking a building down with a great iron hammer on the end of a crane. It's what reminded me of my memory about Warrington. Reg Varney, by the way, passed away at a nursing home in Devon on 16 November 2008 at the grand old age of 92 after a chest infection. 

Parker Street is named after the company who rebuilt Warrington Bank Quay station and the Patten Arms hotel when they relocated from where Iceland and Aldi supermarkets are now. (Gordon)
 

 

Mucky Mountains

We used to walk along the Sankey Canal at Dallam and then all the way to Mucky Mountains near St Helens across the farmers' fields that are now Callands and Westbrook. The M62 Motorway Services seemed miles away as a kid. Not as far with the new roads now – but a better view in the olden days of the 1970s with fields as far as the eye could see! In fact, when they were surveying the land the surveyor let us look through his device and we could see the Fiddle I’ the Bag pub on Alder Lane near Burtonwood from the canal bank at Dallam. (Gordon)
 

 

Bowls on Bewsey Park

In the last year of school when we didn’t have exams we used to go onto Bewsey Park to play bowls. (Gordon)

On The Buses

I remember travelling on the old double-decker buses with no door on the back. It was a great thrill riding on that back platform waiting for your stop. Or if it was a hot day you would hold tight onto the bar and lean out to feel the cool breeze on your face. Only occasionally did the conductor warn you of the dangers. In Hamilton Street School we had our weekly trip to the baths and every week, without fail, a pupil called Keith always felt he could tilt the bus over as it turned off Battersby Lane into Hamilton Street by leaning all his weight on the side of the bus as it turned. Little did Keith know that a bus will tilt a long way before falling over. I used to get on the bus on Battersby Lane as a kid and pay a twopenny fare to town – always upstairs, of course, no matter how far the journey. I remember the first time we got one with doors on the front on the Dallam route. We called it the ‘Westy bus’ because that was the first place we saw them operate. (Gordon)
 

 

On the Buses with Ken

Looking at your photographs brings back some old memories of my youth. I remember the old bus stops along the Mersey opposite what is now Nolan House (Job Centre) the blue Leigh Corporation buses and as a child boarding the cross-Pennine coaches to Leeds on the old route through Manchester and Huddersfield etc to see my relations in Yorkshire (good fun in winter when the conductor had to walk in front of the coach with a torch due to the fog or with a shovel in case the snow was too deep on top of the moors, travel time approx 5hrs), the stops along the Mersey outside Mr Smiths (then the ABC Cinema) plus of course the old Crosville buses and the driver's Offices and restrooms at Arpley Sidings. (Ken Hewitt)
See Peter's Gallery and On The Buses for more on the buses
 

 

My Verruca and Warrington Infirmary

I remember being treated at Warrington Infirmary on Kendrick Street for a verruca on my foot. (Warrington's court buildings occupy the spot now.) I had been treated at Garven Place clinic for about 18 months where they applied some pink cream stuff but it didn’t shift it. So the doctor suggested he take it out at the Infirmary by freezing my foot. I was expecting a bucket of ice – no such luxury! It was an injection in my foot, and then they gouged it out with some tweezers or something. Not very nice but I haven’t had one since! (Gordon)
 

 

Fire! Fire!     

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Something on fire always sparks (no pun intended) interest in the community. Boys dream of being a fireman, while the teenage girls just dream about the firemen! Nobody likes to see people injured but we can stand there for hours watching things burn. The one featured in these two photographs happened on 15 August 2003 off Hawleys Lane near Dallam. I saw the smoke from town centre (seen left from Golden Square). The one on the right is as close as they would let me go. It wasn't so much the flames, it was what was stored in the canisters in the scrapyard. And it could have gone off at any time so once the content was discovered everybody was moved back. One policeman said that if I moved back, all the youngsters would follow suit. No chance - I was getting my photos first! The BBC took my video footage but decided not to use it. What surprised me that day was that they didn't evacuate the nearby Currys and PC World stores on Alban Retail Park just yards from the scene.

dallam_scrapyard_fire_030815_2.jpg (63488 bytes)

Cockhedge Mill Fire

cockhedge_mills_fire.jpg (79888 bytes)

This wonderful image was sent to me by a regular reader, Mark, who purchased a framed print of it at auction in 2007. It appeared in the Illustrated London News at the time. The mill was owned by Armitage & Rigby in its final days, having changed hands a few times over its life, and was built by a Mr Green in the early 1831.

The fire depicted here started at around 8pm on the night of Saturday 15 June 1872 in a blaze that could be seen more than 20 miles away. Around 900 people were employed there, mainly women and girls and it caused damage in excess of £50,000 (over £4 million in today's money). If you visit Warrington library, you can read a full report in the Warrington Guardian of the day. Ask at the archives desk.

*The image is out
of copyright so feel
free to make use of it.

The question posed by reader, Stan, is this: was there really some other stretch of water near the mills, or is the sketch made from second-hand reports by a London-based artist who had only the haziest idea of Warrington topography? Any ideas? Email me if you can shed any light on the subject.

Well, I think I now have the answer. On the 1905 Ordnance Survey map of Warrington, it shows a reservoir to the north of the mill. There is an is also an aqueduct close by. Shame I don't have copyright clearance for the map.

Here are some other memories of past fires in the town.

Kathy Barker writes: I remember a huge fire in the late 50's at Howley. Coming out of the Odeon Cinema one late winter's afternoon, the sky above was very red. Like a Wise Man following the Star, I excitedly hurried along Buttermarket St and Church St keeping my eye on the red glare in the sky. I found all the streets around Howley Lane sealed off, so from a distance I watched the firemen at the tops of their ladders, silhouetted against the flames. What a spectacular sight. Never did find out what it was that burned down though.

Then there was the Tannery at Orford. That must have been in the early 70's I think. Wow, that was a fire and a half, and what a view was had from Mum's house which backed onto the field where the Tannery Rugby Team played (in green/white striped kit).  Shakespeare Grove stands on the site now.

Another massive blaze was at Naylors Timber Yard at Lower Walton, in the mid-1980s. I stood with my two youngsters for hours, watching from the Walton side of the Manchester Ship Canal. 

Photo Copyright © P. Spilsbury, 4 Feb 1984.

fire_naylors_timberyard_840204_ps.jpg (48302 bytes)

John Williams adds these memories of two fires in the 1970s and 1980s:

In the early 1970s I remember a huge fire at the warehouses of Thames Board Mills. It burnt for days and then smouldered for weeks after – I seem to remember my Dad telling me that it was a fire in the warehouses where they stored scrap paper ready for recycling. Some months later the cranes moved in and knocked out all the scorched wall/roof panels and replaced them with bright white new ones – this mix of old and new was visible for many many years afterwards.

If any reader can update us on the date of the Thames Board Mills fire, please get in touch.

The second fire was at the Laporte Chemical plant in Walton on 4th June 1985 and caused £5.5m worth of damage at the time (well over £10m in today’s money) and is the tenth most expensive ever industrial fire in the UK!. The fire detection system at Laporte's had literally only just been installed!

Thanks John for you recollections.

Another reader adds this memory: I had just left Warrington when the Greenall's Distillery 'went up' in 2005 but heard all about it from an old friend and neighbour.

Peter Spilsbury reminds us of two other big fires in the town from the past:

fire_pierpoints_psilsbury.jpg (33909 bytes)

This fire broke out at Pierpoint & Bryant factory in Thelwall Lane, Latchford, at 10.30pm on the evening of 13 May 1985 when the 3-storey building was destroyed. There were over 100 fire-fighters and 25 appliances in attendance. 3 firemen were injured controlling the blaze. It is said the flames reached 40 feet high. Local people were evacuated. £1m of damage was done and an investigation into its cause was carried out. P. Spilsbury.
Photo Copyright
© P. Spilsbury

fire_at_moore_pspilsbury.jpg (33401 bytes)

A train travelling from Stanlow to Bishopsbrigg on 3 March 1983 with 850 tons of gas oil in 14 tankers were crossing from the Chester line to the W.C.M.L. when 8 tankers derailed and caught fire at Moore. Fortunately there were no casualties. The fire brigades had difficulty with access to the site and at one stage ran out of foam and had to wait an hour for extra supplies. Trains were diverted via Manchester and Northwich until the site was cleared. The line was closed for a couple of days. P. Spilsbury. Photo Copyright © P. Spilsbury

Dallam Fire: Tuesday 25 July 2006

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The fire, which eye-witnesses say was started by four youths, scorched waste ground off Hawleys Lane, Dallam, between the two churches just after 8.00pm. Due to the direction of the wind at the time locals feared the flames would spread to St Anselm's Church and the nearby bungalows.

dallam_fire_060725_1.JPG (71573 bytes)

Thankfully, the firefighters quickly brought the blaze under control and after an hour the firefighters were damping down. One local said 'these youngsters just don't know the problems they cause with these fires. They soon spread in this dry weather". Local children said to me that the fire was caused by two cars exploding. Although there was a burnt out car in the area, it wasn't the cause of the fire. I suppose it makes a more exciting story for the youngsters! Gordon.

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My report was featured on Warrington-Worldwide, the town's daily online newspaper

Fire at Fiddlers Ferry 2007

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50 firefighters were called to Fiddlers Ferry Power Station just after 10am on Thursday 19 April 2007, when a blaze started in a roof section of the main turbine hall, 150 feet above the ground. It caught fire when bitumen being used for repairs ignited.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said the smoke plume was moving up directly and was not affecting nearby properties. Nobody has been injured. 14 fire engines attended the fire which was reported at around 10.20am. Damping down continued until after 4pm.

Can YOU think of any more 'BIG BLAZES' in Warrington?

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