St Helens 50 years ago this week

This week’s 22 stories include the damp state of many St Helens houses, the demise of dawn queuing in the New Year sales, the Plaza Theatre Club is in court, Sidac buy a computer costing £1 million in today’s money, a Prescot butcher’s assistant is mugged and a Dentons Green man wins the Echo’s ‘Place the Ball’ contest.

But first stand by your smelling salts, ‘Helga’ is back in town! When the documentary described as a “sex education film for all” was shown at the ABC in Bridge Street in early December, many men fainted during the childbirth scenes.

Throughout this week the film was playing again in St Helens, this time at the Capitol. Those with a weaker disposition could instead stroll down Bridge Street and enjoy Tommy Steele in ‘Half A Sixpence’ or watch ‘Cinderella’ at the Theatre Royal performed by the Pilkington Musical Section.

Another alternative was the Blue Parrot restaurant club and casino in Ormskirk Street who were offering cabaret dancing with the Bill Harrison Trio.

They were licensed until 2am with their casino open until dawn. “Ladies invited. Old members cordially welcomed”, said their ad. Does that mean that young or new members would be rudely welcomed?

The greyhounds that were racing at Park Road during the evening of the 7th had the usual selection of odd names. They included ‘Freckles’, ‘Bonzo’, ‘Boomerang’, ‘Dolly’, ‘Totty’, ‘Ashton’s Flash’, ‘Firecracker’, ‘Singing Gal’, ‘Paleface’, ‘My Girl’, ‘Schooldays’ and ‘Candy Floss’.

It was announced this week that St Helens’ libraries had lent almost a million books during the past year, an increase of 48,000 on the previous twelve months.

It had been the sixth year of the gramophone record library with 2,297 discs now available to borrow, compared to 2,107 during the previous year. Members were thanked for taking care of the records, with only two having been damaged.

St Helens Corporation began work this week clearing the disused Central Station buildings on the Corporation Street / Birchley Street car park.

When completed in mid-March there would be additional parking spaces for about 400 vehicles, bringing the total accommodation to about 900.

The Plaza in Duke Street won an appeal in Preston on the 8th over the St Helens Licensing Justices’ refusal to allow the club to carry out alterations.

Any change to licensed premises required the approval of the Justices but the theatre club had gone ahead and built an internal wall without permission.

They applied for retrospective permission but the fire department submitted a report criticising the safety of the premises and so consent was refused.

However after being given many assurances by the club, the Lancashire Sessions overturned the St Helens’ decision but warned that the Plaza could be closed down if it was not run properly in future.

15-year-olds Rose Topping and Maureen Fisher from Derbyshire Hill Youth Centre presented a cheque to the Parr Darby and Joan Club during the evening of the 8th.

It was only for three guineas but it was the thought that counted with the money coming from the raffling of a box of chocolates at the centre’s Christmas party.

Oxfam announced this week that collectors in twenty-five St Helens’ pubs on Christmas Eve had raised £80 (around £1,300 in today’s money), with the bulk of the cash going to the Biafra Relief Fund.

The St Helens Wine and Beer Circle held a meeting at the Lamb Hotel in College Street on the 8th. A Mr M. Shaw from Ilfracombe Road was the secretary of the home brew society.

Also on that day two boys aged 12 and 15 from Newton-le-Willows were sent to an approved school for stealing £42 from All Saints Church.

The elder boy asked for five cases of stealing to be taken into consideration, including theft from St Peter’s Vicarage in Newton.

Although health and safety at work had greatly improved since the early years of the 20th century, it was still nothing like today.

David Sharrock from Cherry Street in Newton had been painting a crane at Pilkington’s Cowley Hill glassworks when he fell off a plank. He dropped 25 feet and was taken to Whiston Hospital but died on the 8th.

Residents of Newton-le-Willows were reported on the 9th to be angry over overflowing rubbish bins containing Christmas waste that had yet to be collected.

A spokesman for Newton Health Department said the reason for the delay in emptying the bins was that two of their wagons had broken down.

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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