St Helens 50 years ago this week

This week’s stories include the Clock Face Road residents who were living in fear, the death of a Duke Street record dealer, a one-eyed puppy called Mouse needs a home, there’s a ‘Back to School’ feature in the Reporter, a fire at Melia’s Bridge Street supermarket and the Sherdley Park homes that could be bought for £180 down and a fiver a week. But first a couple of announcements that were made this month.

The League of Friends of St Helens Hospital said that since their formation in 1957 they had managed to raise £30,000 (£500,000 in today’s money) to pay for amenities for staff and patients.

It was also revealed that during the 3-month period up to the end of June, 131,000 calls had been made to the GPO’s Speaking Clock from St Helens.
However the number of calls from people dialling TIM and hearing “at the third stroke…” was down 2,000 on the same period in 1968.

The reduction was at odds with Liverpool’s call figures, which rose by 15% to 3.57 million. That’s a lot of time telling!

At their meeting on the 12th Windle Parish Council decided that steel plates should be inserted into bus shelters in Rainford Road in order to strengthen them.

This was in response to recent vandalism in which wooden panels in the two shelters had been kicked through. The damage had happened just weeks after they’d been repaired and redecorated.

By 1969 the well-known record shop in Duke Street was known as ‘The Record Lounge’, although originally Albert and Maud Holding had owned it.

The siblings had founded the business in the early 1920s selling records, sheet music and musical instruments and they ran it until their retirement in the late 1940s when their shop was sold.

On the 13th the funeral service of Albert Holding was held at St Helens Crematorium. The 74-year-old had lost his right arm while serving in the Royal Army Medical Corps in WW1.

However being single-handed did not stop Albert from being able to insert records into bags and tie them up.

My father Tom Wainwright was a regular visitor to the shop and remembers Albert inserting string through the hole in the centre of the disc and then passing it through another hole in the bag.

He would then tie the string up at the open end of the bag so that the disc would not fall out – all done using just one hand.

Albert and Maud were pioneers of popular music in St Helens, as I believe the only other pre-war record dealer was Mary Peters of George Street, who focussed more on classical music.

‘Carry On Camping’ was shown at the ABC Savoy for most of this week with the Capitol initially screening an Oliver Reed film called ‘Hannibal Brooks’, along with Peter Sellers in ‘The Party’.

Then for three days from the 14th, ‘The Pure Hell of St. Trinians’ and ‘Blue Murder at St. Trinians’ was screened at the Cap, with George Cole starring in both.

Also on the 14th a Prescot man was sentenced to four months in prison after running into Kingsway completely naked at half-past midnight and putting his arms around two women.

“Protests from Residents in Road of Fear” was the headline to an article in the St Helens Reporter on the 15th.

They were referring to Clock Face Road and claimed the residents by a bend were “living in fear, dreading the day when a lorry may go out of control and smash into their homes.”

Only three days earlier a large truck had swerved as it approached the bridge and knocked a 25ft. lamp standard onto the path of Albert Morgan’s home. This was only seconds after the 73-year-old had been standing at the same spot.

A fortnight earlier a neighbouring standard had been knocked to the ground when a vehicle crashed into it and a car had demolished a bus shelter near to Albert’s house.

The road had a 30 mph speed limit but Alice Morgan said no one took any notice of it. “They race through here at 70”, she claimed.

Neighbour Catherine Parr, a mother of four, added: “There’s nowhere for the children to play. It’s nerve-wracking when they go outside, but you can’t keep young children in all the time.”

Mrs Parr told the Reporter that she was trying to find another house away from the dangerous bend, saying: “I want somewhere where the children can play in safety.”

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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