St Helens 50 years ago this week

In this, St Helens 150th year, we take a look back at 1968, when St Helens celebrated the 100th anniversary of its formation. Read what was happening at that time, from the 30th  July to 5th August 1968.

This week’s many stories include two cases of rape in Victoria Park and Haydock, a boy gets his head stuck in park gates, a female cricketer plays for Pilkington men’s team, an art exhibition is held in Rainford, the Gornall family of businessmen lose their father and a Sutton curate gets his bike nicked.

And in the national news section the Beatles’ Apple boutique in London gives away all its clothes.

However we begin on July 30th when three schoolboys appeared in St Helens Juvenile Court charged with breaking windows.

One of the boys said they’d been walking across a field at the rear of the firm of Lyon and Pye when they began arguing over who could throw a stone the furthest. The result was that 17 of the company’s windows in Prescot Road got broken!

In another case a 10-year-old and an 11-year-old boy admitting robbing the storehouse of a grocer’s shop in Park Road of fruit and meat.

The lads had crawled under a gate at the rear of the shop and then pinched a load of apples. They also nicked some pork chops, which they fed to a guard dog to keep it quiet!

The monthly meeting of the Town Council was held on the 31st and the Mayor Tom Forshaw praised the “patience, ingenuity and sheer graft” of the organisers and helpers who had made the Centenary Show “such a resounding success”.

Now that the decision had been taken to have an annual town show in Sherdley Park, the mayor called for the council to provide the cash so that sporting events could thrive.

William Burrows, the Chairman of the Education Committee, appealed at the meeting for motorists and parents to help reduce the accident toll now that school holidays were underway.

However Alderman Burrows noted that his committee had recently received a report from the St Helens Chief Constable that showed a big drop in accident figures and he wished this trend would continue.

There were, however, an increasing number of sexual offences in St Helens, often committed by young males. On the 31st a 15-year-old girl was raped in Victoria Park and a 20-year-old unemployed labourer was charged with the offence.

Then at Newton Juvenile Court on August 1st a 16-year-old St Helens’ youth admitted raping a 12-year-old girl from Haydock while having an air pistol in his possession.

The lad was committed to the next Quarter Sessions for sentencing with a recommendation that he receive Borstal training. The prosecution called for the magistrates to allow his name to be published but their application was denied.

Also on that day a 38-year-old man from Sutton Manor was charged with having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl. He was also committed to the Liverpool Quarter Sessions for trial. These courts held four times a year were replaced by permanent Crown Courts in 1972.

There was another case of “boys will be boys” on the 1st when a little lad got his head stuck between the railings at the Boundary Road recreation ground.

The Fire Brigade was called but by the time they’d arrived, the park attendant had managed to prise him free.

These days many shops only last a few years before they’re history. In the past they seem to have had a greater longevity with many lasting for decades.

One of these was James Gornall’s draper’s shop, which he ran mainly from premises in Duke Street between 1920 and 1964. He then retired to Southport where on August 1st he died at the age of 87.

James’s three sons also ran successful businesses in St Helens for long periods. William was the owner of Babyworld, James Junior was a funeral director and Ronald ran a coach hire business in Clock Face Road.

Read more of “St Helens 50 Years Ago This Week”

‘St Helens 50 Years Ago This Week’ is written and researched by Stephen Wainwright.

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