St Helens 50 years ago this week

This week’s many stories include the gangs of marauding dogs that roamed St Helens’ parks, a 49-year-old Lowe House priest quits the priesthood to marry a 19-year-old woman, Pilkington’s Gala and Parade takes place, there’s anger at bus cuts in Haydock and the Pilkington Glass Museum shows off its new additions spanning 2,500 years.

I believe that there are a still a handful of organisations in St Helens that organise summer day trips for the elderly.

However these are not on the scale of fifty years ago and I doubt their members are still given pocket money like children!

On the 5th 140 pensioners from Blackbrook Working Men’s Club went on a day trip to Southport with each having been given £3 to spend at the seaside. During the evening a special concert was put on for the OAPs in the club.

There were angry protests at Haydock’s Finance and General Purposes committee meeting on the 6th when it was revealed that St Helens Corporation planned to withdraw the no. 3 bus service during non-peak times.

The St Helens Transport Manager Alex Barlow had written to say services were being revised through a decline in passenger traffic and an inability to maintain schedules through staff shortages.

However this cut no ice with the councillors who said that if the proposed cutback went ahead they would look into the possibility of using another transport operator to run services in Haydock.

Triplex was fined £60 on the 6th for failing to keep fire escape doors free from obstruction. The Eccleston-based glass firm then employed 1,800 people.

In reviewing two new books by Nikolaus Pevsner on Lancashire on the 7th, Geoffrey Moorhouse wrote in the Guardian: “I’m glad to see he [Pevsner] confirms my native suspicion that St. Helens is just about the backside of the world.”

A century earlier the renowned poet and writer Matthew Arnold had dubbed St Helens a “hell-hole”. I suppose backside of the world is an improvement on that!

The final of the Pilkington National Gala Girls contest was held in the Locarno Ballroom in Blackpool on the 7th with the winner being Jennifer Green.

The 22-year-old from Daresbury Road in Eccleston worked at Pilks’ Head Office as a statistics clerk and she was a keen bell ringer.

Jennifer received a dress for the forthcoming Pilkington Gala Day and a holiday in London in which she would be able to select a complete outfit from an Oxford Street store.

“Labourer’s Secret: He is a Baron’s Stepson” was the headline to an article and photograph in the Birmingham Daily Post on the 7th.

It was about Nicholas Wilding, the 20-year-old son of Lady Pilkington, who for the past two months had been working as a £16 a week motorway labourer while on vacation from university.

The business law student told the paper: “None of the men I work with know my full identity and I would have hoped that it could have stayed that way. To them I am just an ordinary labourer. The work is hard, but I enjoy it.”

The St Helens Reporter’s article published later in the week bore the headline “Nicholas is a Navvy” and upgraded his earnings to £25 per week.

During the evening of the 7th Allan Rathbone from The Crescent in Whiston was presented with an inscribed gold watch on attaining his 21st birthday.

The Mayor Tom Wilcock made the presentation for nine years loyal service to Redgate Boys Silver Band.

A highly qualified musician, Allan had been abroad many times with the band competing at music festivals and had often appeared on television.

The St Helens Reporter described on the 8th that the collection of Pilkington Glass Museum in Prescot Road had been boosted by forty pieces of glassware.
These represented techniques in glass production that spanned 2,500 years with the oldest object dating back to 700 BC.

There was also a picture in the paper of Jennifer and Anne Rawsthorne handing £12 over to members of the Blackbrook Darby and Joan Club.

They and other children had held a mini-field day and raffle with the proceeds going towards the Darby and Joan club’s new centre off O’Sullivan Crescent.

Their 110 members were having to relocate as their existing centre at Brookfield Mission Hall in Park Road would soon be demolished and up to £10,000 was needed to pay for the new building.

The sum of £12 would not put a great dent in their target but, as they say, it’s the thought that counts!

Read the remainder of “St Helens 50 Years Ago This Week” over on Facebook

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


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