St Helens 50 years ago this week

This week’s stories include the increase in cases of VD in Claughton Street through the “decadence of moral values”, pet blessing in Sherdley Park, vandalism at Lacey Street Child Welfare Clinic, power-cut chaos, the mortgages from St Helens Council and how the Co-op was coping without its divi.

We begin with Nigerian-born boxer Victor Paul who was based in St Helens and fought at lightweight.

On the 9th at Shoreditch Town Hall in London, Victor recovered from an early knock down and stopped the former ABA featherweight champion Johnny Cheshire in the fifth round.

Also on the 9th a cable fault in a transformer at Golborne Power Station caused a 90-minute power cut in St Helens, Haydock, Ashton, Golborne, Culcheth and Leigh.

There were jams on the East Lancs when the traffic lights stopped working and it also affected petrol stations and workers underground at Wood Pit, Bickershaw and Golborne Collieries.

Evelyn’s Café on the East Lancs lost about 100 customers as hot meals could not be served and bottled beer had to replace draught beer in pubs when their electric pumps failed.

The greyhounds racing at Park Road during the evening of the 9th on the 487-yard course included ‘Zippy’, ‘Wee Girl’, ‘Barmy’, ‘Gay Remark’, ‘Old Bill’, ‘Bonny Boy’, ‘Delilah’, ‘El Cid’, ‘Irish Stew’, ‘Beach Boy’ and ‘Tom’s Paddle’.

Talking of dogs it was announced this week that the British Whippet Racing Association had chosen Bold Miners Institute in Fleet Lane as the venue for two of its main autumn events.

Whippet racing had only resumed in St Helens in June after an absence of 25 years.

At the council’s Health Committee meeting on the 10th it was revealed that vandalism at the Lacey Street Child Welfare Clinic would cost £1,000 to put right (about £17,000 in today’s money).

The chairman, Alderman Margaret Shard, said disregarding the vandalism the clinic had deteriorated considerably, particularly in its brickwork, and she said it rained in when there was wet weather.

So the committee decided to consider buying a pre-fabricated building as an alternative to making the repairs.

The St Helens Co-op Society issued a report this week that said business in their food shops had boomed in the three weeks since they’d replaced their “divi” with trading stamps.

A spokesman said “The people are flocking into the food shops. It has been a great success. We are giving dividend money in our other stores as usual, but we dropped this practice in the food shops because we went over to the cut-price principle.”

The Hillsiders were becoming regulars at the Theatre Royal and they returned for another country and western night on the 10th, supported again by the Kentuckians.

The Liverpool group’s career had begun five years earlier and would continue until 1999.

Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen were also often in Corporation Street and they played in the theatre once again on the 11th. Last year the group had weekly spots on the Morecambe and Wise Show.

The front-page splash in the St Helens Reporter on the 12th described how the permissive society had led to an increase in cases of VD, with half the sufferers aged between 16 and 24.

The Claughton Street clinic had been established in 1917 in what was an ordinary looking house and patients were promised treatment “under conditions of secrecy”.

Not much had changed in fifty years and the stigma was still so great that many St Helens’ patients visited a treatment centre in Liverpool and the Liverpool victims of the disease came to St Helens.

A consultant at Claughton Street told the Reporter: “I blame the rise on the decadence of moral values. Promiscuity has increased.”

The Reporter also described how almost 150 new jobs were being created at a new shoe factory in Peasley Cross Lane.

George Ward already had 27 factories – mainly in the Midlands – and their 10,000 sq. ft. St Helens’ works would start operations next week.

The paper also stated that mortgages would soon be available again from St Helens Council, as they had received £100,000 from the Government for home loans.

The mortgages would only apply to older properties in the borough and be charged at 10¼% interest.

The Reporter added that the Council had some months earlier received £30,000 for mortgages and these had been snapped up in about a fortnight.

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.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here