Harry’s Happy Days
By Harry Hayes
Appleton Dingle – one of two places in Warrington with that name – the other is near Lymm Dam.
Appleton Dingle is one of our few remaining areas of ancient semi-natural woodland. It is a fantastic place to see bluebells, woodpeckers, nuthatches, warblers and other types of birds. Other water and woodland wildlife can be seen in the area, including moths, butterflies, foxes and four types of bat. It contains a mix of tree and plant species dominated by English Oak.
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.
The Hogey Wagon
By Chris Watters,
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.
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.
The Good Old Days
By Kathy Barker
Kathy describes the group photo (above): It 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.
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)
The photo (above, right) 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.
- I visited Kathy at her home in Manchester in 2006. It was fascinating to hear her memories, some of which are featured on the other ‘Memories’ sections of the website.
By Eric Caddy, USA
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.
The Pelican Hotel, Buttermarket Street
By Tony Hackett
Photo © Tony Hackett
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.
“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.
Gordon Gandy’s photo of the former Pelican Hotel taken in May 2003.
“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!!”
By John Brunch Laine
Photos © GI Gandy/mywarrington.org
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’.
The milkman from Marsh’s farm in his milk cart, ladling out fresh milk into jugs.
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.
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!
by Patrick Mullee
Photo © P. Spilsbury
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.
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, get in touch.
By Tony Hackett
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!
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.
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
Joseph Priestley live in a house on Academy Street which is now occupied by the Salvation Army Citadel.
Anna Laetitia Aiken Barbauld lived in a house on this spot in Buttermarket Street. Read her profile in Warrington People.
Oliver Cromwell’s statue at Bridge Foot. It originally stood round the corner on Bridge Street.
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.
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
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.
Two more poems from Stan Smith
Hidden from History
Ellen Minshull (nee Smith) b. Warrington c. 1904; d. Warrington 1972 4 Howley Lane , Warrington
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.’
Copyright © Stan Smith 2007
And here is one Stan wrote about entertainer, George Formby.
In Warrington Cemetery Manchester Road
‘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 2008
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.
|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|
|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|
|CINEWORLD||TIME SQUARE||11 DEC 2019|
Warrington Harriers and Athletics Club
By Barry Evans
In the mid to late 1950’s, I was a member of Warrington Harriers and Athletic Club. I was one of a number of new members, mainly teenagers, encouraged to join by a young local solicitor who scouted athletic meetings looking for potential talent. He was an official at the Athletic Club who was determined to increase membership and pick up the Club by its boot-straps.
In those days, we met/trained on Warrington Cricket Clubs ground at Arpley Meadows. Eventually, we moved to Victoria Park when the new track was laid. Around 1957 a Special General Meeting was held in The Academy Building (behind Oliver Cromwell) and a new committee was formed. (Eddie Crangle had left and moved to work in Worcester). The meeting was poorly organised, e.g. when they asked for volunteers for Committee Members – all the audience put their hands up. Having not stated the number of Members required and rather than hold a ballot- they acknowledged ALL volunteers would be on the Committee!
In addition, there was an elderly chap who occasionally appeared at the track with an old potato sack with which he practiced for some long-forgotten sack race! (I am NOT kidding! Some wondered if he had a spoon and an egg in his pocket!) During the Meeting, we were treated to a rant by this affectionately-named old fogey about Eddie Crangle. On reflection, I assume Eddie, being a young upstart, had managed to upset the old guard by successfully expanding the Club. After his rant he suggested the Club should ‘modernise’ by dropping the name Harriers from the title. As most of the newly formed Committee were little more than teenagers, we were intimidated by his rant and the resulting atmosphere in the room. He won the vote and ‘Harriers’ were no more!
On many occasions since I’ve felt it almost criminal to sever links with a Club formed in the 1880’s, a club which had survived since the previous century and 2 World Wars.
Thames Board Bomb
By Eric Caddy, USA
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.
By Eric Caddy, USA
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.
By David Cherry, Australia
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’.
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.
The Mayor’s Chaplin
By Royce Ian Coe
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.
By Louis Victor
Boeing Y1B-17 in flight. Public Domain, U.S. Air Force photo. Taken circa 1937. Reproduced under the Creative Commons licence via Wikipedia.
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.
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).
Grappenhall’s original name, Gropenhale, comes from “grop” ‘grep’, or ‘grepe’ (meaning ditch/drain), and ‘halh’ (meaning flat land by a river).
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.
Photo © Gordon I Gandy / mywarrington.org
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).
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.
This is the same Cromwell statue that was stood next to the gates rejected by Queen Victoria. And where are those gates now? Outside our Town Hall.
Photo © Gordon I Gandy / mywarrington.org
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!
The River Mersey starts in Stockport. Three rivers join together to form the natural waterway. During the Industrial Revolution it became part of the Mersey and Irwell Navigation to assist shipping before the Manchester Ship opened in 1894.
Photo © Gordon I Gandy / mywarrington.org
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.
On 3 July 1851, an Act of Parliament created the Warrington and Altrincham Junction Railway, which became the Warrington and Stockport Railway on 4 August 1853. The railway used this bridge to cross the Mersey.
Photo © Gordon I Gandy / mywarrington.org
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).
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.
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.
Mr Smiths Nightclub started out in 1937 as The Ritz cinema, changing its name to the ABC in 1958 and it had a restaurant for the convenience of its patrons. Celebrity visitors include world-famous comedy duo Laurel and Hardy in 1952. The building was later used as a bingo hall with a cinema in the original balcony area. It closed as a cinema in 1982 and was converted into Mr Smith’s nightclub, later called Synergy and Halo and finally M Smith’s once more. It burned down in 2015 ahead of its intended conversion into Warrington Youth Centre.
Photo © Gordon I Gandy / mywarrington.org
“…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.
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.
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?]
Photos © Gordon I Gandy / mywarrington.org
Market Gate is where the four main roads into the town meet up.
Those roads are Horsemarket Street, Buttermarket Street, Bridge street and Sankey Street. Originally a crossroads, a roundabout was built in 1938.
The current scene is officially called the Ten Guardians and the Well of Light, but known as The Skittles locally because that’s what they look like!
By Kathy Barker
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
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’
The Bright Yellow Sou’wester and other stories
By Jackie Graham, nee Hancell, nee Giles.
A lobsterman wearing a sou’wester. A Sou’wester is a traditional form of collapsible oilskin rain hat that is longer in the back than the front to protect the neck fully. A gutter front brim is sometimes featured.
Image from Wikipedia and used under Creative Commons licence CC BY-SA 3.0
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.
String, cans and phones
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!
Butties on Padgate Camp
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.
On the Buses with Ken
By Ken Hewitt
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.
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.
On the Buses with Gordon and other Memories
By Gordon Gandy
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.
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 and brick).
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 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 the Poundstretcher store is now.
Bowls on Bewsey Park
The Bewsey Park bowling green I played on during the spring of 1979. This photo was taken 8 Sep 2011.
In the last year of school when we didn’t have exams we used to go onto Bewsey Park to play bowls. The ‘old men’ were delighted to welcome us onto the greens to improve our skills.
My dad won lots of trophies for playing bowls and taught me a few of the tricks of the trade, especially regarding finger peg, thumb peg and bias.
It was a nice park with three bowling greens, swings and roundabouts for the children to play on and a small field for football, rugby and cricket.
There used to three entrances to the park, but unfortunately, due to anti-social behaviour, the two corner ones were blocked off.
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.
The Swallow Sidecar Company was founded in 1922 by two motorcycle enthusiasts, William Lyons and William Walmsley. In 1934 Walmsley elected to sell-out and in order to buy the Swallow business (but not the company which was liquidated) Lyons formed S.S. Cars Limited, finding new capital by issuing shares to the public. Jaguar first appeared in September 1935 as a model name on an SS 2½-litre sports saloon. On 23 March 1945 the S. S. Cars shareholders in general meeting agreed to change the company’s name to Jaguar Cars Limited. Wikipedia.
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 read the sign on the Fiddle I’ the Bag pub on Alder Lane near Burtonwood from the canal bank at Dallam.
Fishing in Orford Park
By Kathy Barker and Albert Hickson
Orford Park pond in the days of Kathy’s story.
Photo © J Roberts.
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)
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)
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, left). 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?
The modern Orford Park scene with a nature reserve setting. Images © Gordon I Gandy
The swings and rides described by Albert have also had a makeover to include educational games too.
There is even gym equipment available, with guidance on how much exercise to take.