St Helens 50 years ago this week

This week’s 18 stories include more on the Reginald Road gipsies, Brian Harrison’s murderer is convicted, a dramatic chase takes place in Hardshaw Street, a public inquiry is held into College Street and Gerards Bridge clearance orders, there are denials of religious discrimination in Rainford and the prospect of Sunday sport in Haydock.

Football referees in St Helens used to play matches themselves as well as officiate. On the 13th the St Helens Referees Society played the Wirral Referees Society in Huyton in the final of the J. T. McLoughlin Cup. Just who refereed the referees wasn’t stated in the report!

A public inquiry was held at the Town Hall on the 13th into four clearance orders that were sought by St Helens Town Council.

If the inspector chairing the inquiry approved the orders over a thousand people would be forced out of their homes and shops.

The orders would allow the compulsory purchase of properties in Central Street, College Street, Ward Street, Lord Street, Peel Street, Oldfield Street, Union Street, Fox Street, Queen Street, Crab Street, Albert Street, Cooper Street, Dicconson Street, Garswood Street and North Road.

Understandably some people didn’t appreciate losing the homes that they’d occupied for many years – in spite of the poor state that many were in. So 70 people were present at the inquiry objecting to the proposals.

Essentially the four orders involved the building of houses and flats in the Gerards Bridge area and the improvement of roads around College Street.

As well as houses having to be demolished, some shops and pubs would have to be turned to rubble if the scheme was given the green light.

Butcher John Leyland of College Street said he had been in business for almost 40 years and would not start up again if his shop was demolished.

The College Street Post Office would also have to be knocked down if approval was given. The inspector examined a number of threatened properties and said her decision would be announced at a later date.

Do you remember the National Cycling Proficiency courses that were held at schools? Well the first in a new series took place at Rainford C. E. Junior School on the 14th where I did mine.

Although St Helens Corporation had granted the playing of Sunday sport within their public parks in 1961, Haydock was then outside of the borough and had yet to fully grant the concession.

However at a meeting of Haydock’s Highways, Buildings and Private Street Works Committee on the 14th, it looked likely that they would soon permit sport on the Sabbath.

The committee granted the use of their King George V Playing Field on Saturdays to Grange Valley Youth Club, Haydock Youth Club Old Boys and Haydock Methodist Youth Club.

Although they did not actually sanction the playing of matches on Sundays, the committee said it was under consideration and held the matter over in abeyance.

During the afternoon of the 14th, one man was killed and two seriously injured when an eight-ton gas pipe crashed on top of them.

The accident occurred in a field off Swan Lane in Newton-le-Willows when the pipe was being lowered into an 8ft. deep excavation.

Two Kirkby youths appeared before St Helens magistrates on the same day, after previously admitting burglary and stealing sports equipment worth £182.

Constable Lancaster had spotted one of the 18-year-olds on the roof of Booths Sports Depot in Hardshaw Street.

The youth climbed down and ran away but was arrested in a passage after police dogs had been brought in. His partner was captured on the roof while hiding behind a chimneystack.

The magistrates decided to return one of them to Borstal and the other was placed on probation for two years.

The 14th was also Irish Night at the Theatre Royal when the Johnstones headed a line-up of folk groups.

“Life For Weeping Killer” was the Liverpool Echo’s large headline to their front-page article on the 15th.

The paper described the conviction at Liverpool Crown Court of a 22-year-old labourer for the murder of Brian Harrison.

The 34-year-old from Waterdale Crescent in Sutton had worked in the Magistrates Court in St Helens and was stabbed to death in Litherland.

After the judge had sentenced his killer to life imprisonment, he was led away from the dock crying.

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

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