St Helens 50 years ago this week

This week’s stories include a possible solution to the dilemma of the Reginald Road gipsies, the building of Parr Baths is “stymied”, an 81-year-old gives his verdict on how St Helens has changed, why elderly couples won’t move to Four Acre, the four-footed lawn mower of Mill Lane and teachers at the axed St Mary’s School react with fury.

We begin on July 1st at a Windle Parish Council meeting where it was revealed that vandals had damaged bus shelters in Rainford Road only weeks after they’d been repaired and redecorated.

However Councillor Greener said the district was relatively vandal-free: “We are particularly lucky in Windle, compared with other areas. Let’s be fair to the local children – they are very well behaved.”

On the 2nd St Helens had a visit from Stanley Swift who had a most unusual hobby. The man in his mid-50s travelled the country collecting samples of old tramlines.

Digging in Manweb’s yard off Carlton Street, Stanley uncovered a piece of track that he dated to around 1886 when steam trams were in use in St Helens.
And Stanley was very happy with his find: “It’s one of the finest examples I’ve seen. It’s so good, I’d say it’s hardly been used.”

The sixteen inches of rail that he had removed would be preserved at the Tramway Museum Society’s building in Derbyshire.

A four-day public exhibition on safety began on the 2nd at Carr Mill Junior School.

It had been organised by the headmaster Douglas Appleton, with much work undertaken by the 200 pupils and staff.

The exhibits ranged from working models to papier-mâché sets that had been designed and made by the children.

The mobile Lancashire County Police safety van was a popular attraction and there were works stands demonstrating aspects of safety in offices and factories, with St Helens Fire Service and St John Ambulance Corps manning other stands.

On the same day the Besses o’th’ Barn Brass Band was in concert at the Theatre Royal in Corporation Street. In 2018 the band from Whitefield, near Bury, celebrated their 200th anniversary.

Two months ago the so-called gipsies of Reginald Road had been served a notice to vacate the site that they were illegally occupying.

However the travellers had refused to go quietly and fearing violence it was decided to leave them where they were – at least for the time being.

At the monthly Town Council meeting on the 2nd, about thirty angry residents from Reginald Road occupied a corner of the chamber to listen to a debate on the issue.

They were reported as having seethed with indignation when Alderman Joe Hughes said the Corporation did not own the land where the gipsies had parked their caravans and so were powerless to intervene.

The residents had complained that the travellers had made threats against them and some had stolen milk, bicycles, coal and children’s toys and were constantly calling at their homes for water.

However Alderman Hughes said the council was looking at several locations as possible permanent sites for the gipsies, although he cautioned that it would not be a straightforward solution “It is physically impossible and would be financially crippling to find a site for this vast colony. We must try to alleviate the position so that pressure can be brought to bear on the owner of the land.”

Lennons Supermarkets released their annual results this week which showed a 25% rise in profits to £325,332.

Their expansion plans were continuing with two further supermarkets being fitted out and a new meat market had opened at Sale.

The first Thursday in July was the ‘Traders Holiday’, the day when many shops in St Helens and district closed and staff and some customers went on excursions.

This year it fell on the 3rd and even some sub-post offices shut as people made for the coast.

“Baths Plan Stymied” was the lead story in the Reporter on the 4th. The paper revealed that the council had plumped for a 9-hole golf course in Sherdley Park rather than the long-promised pool in Parr.

People were wondering why the decision had not been put to a public vote but Councillor Arthur Luther said a sub-committee had decided that the baths would cost too much.

The golf course could be built for £63,000 but new swimming baths – that had been promised for nearly 40 years – would cost £500,000.

Cllr. Luther had been one of the leading supporters of the Parr scheme and as Chairman of the Works Committee was clearly embarrassed by the decision.

The councillor argued that the baths had to be built soon as the population of the town was enlarging with new estates being built.

As a result the Boundary Road pool was unable to cope with the demand and soon got full.

 

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

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