Photo-a-Day (Sunday, 9th December, 2018)
Not the Scholes of my memories way back....
A great community - never repeated since for me...
John Lennon could have used Scholes instead of Blackburn Lancashire, it would have rhymed better in his song,, I read the news today oh boy
Four thousand holes in Scholes
And though the holes were only little ones
They had to count them all
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert hall
New buildings, greenery, trees! I recall Central Park, cobbles, terraces - and the "new" Ball & Boot pub, where, allegedly, the 1960s pop star Dave Berry appeared one night for a pint!
A bloke on the number 16 bus to Horwich assured me that had happened the night before.
MEMORIES OF SCHOLES
A TOWN WITHIN A TOWN
BY TOM WALSH
I have very fond memories of Scholes and its people. Born in McCormick Street, named after the second parish priest of St Patricks, this in itself made it part of the history of the the township. I describe the area as a township because that was what it was, a separate community in every sense. People had a feeling of belonging to Scholes first and Wigan second.
The vast majority of men were miners, and many women worked in the cotton factories both in Wigan and further afield traveling to Bolton, Rochdale and other local towns by coach or train, putting hours on to the working day because the pay was slightly better. I remember hearing the knocker up rousing households and not leaving until a response was forthcoming from the inhabitants, the lady who filled that particular role in the streets surrounding my home was Agnes Wynn who charged the princely sum of a shilling a week, which was collected every Friday evening. Agnes, lived in Higham Street and because she had to be up and about her bushiness on the morrow, went to bed very early, children were told not play near her house as she needed her sleep, if she overslept half the parish would miss a days work!
Scholes itself had shops of every sort, so much so that many older people would rarely if ever go to the town centre as almost everything could be sourced locally, from ladies fashions, Vi Almonds, to motor bikes, Millers.There were of course countless public houses and grocers, a Chinese laundry Moy Toys later to become Wong's and a myriad of other businesses. Locals say that if they had put a roof over the street in its heyday, it would have been the first Trafford Centre! Many shops had nicknames, Pie Joe's being one, it's a wonder he didn't go bankrupt, I remember going there for more than one neighbour for a meat pie, they would send a large jug with the instruction to fill it with gravy, free in those days. I think the surplus was for use on the Sunday dinner! Another amusing name was Polly do out, a clogger, it was said she could put a clog iron on a bladder without bursting it! One of the less hygienic shops often had a cat sat on a flitch of bacon. Needless to say most housewives avoided that shop's delights. A temperance bar, though fair to say it wasn't the most frequented of venues. Public houses seemed a more tempting prospect to most. Public Houses too had colloquial names the two most famous the Dust Hole (Rose and Crown) this establishment was reputed to sell the best pint in the district, and was one of the last ale houses, only licensed to sell ale and porter, and the Kill and Cure (the Regent) the latter because it was near to Dr Hoey's surgery .
There were two cinemas,The Labour and The Scholes Picture House ,the latter visited by yours truly every Saturday afternoon , the cost of entrance was 3d front seats (wooden) 4d back stalls with plush red velvet seats, the vast majority of children opted for the cheaper seats ,don't forget the penny saved would have bought an ice lolly from Telford's sweet shop in near by Wellington Street, after the matinee. After the performance if, as Invariably was the case, the the film had been a "Cowboy" , the lads would ride imaginary horses reins In one hand whilst hitting their hip with the other to make the unfortunate animal go faster ,until reaching the aforementioned Telford's when with both hands on the reins quick yank on the bridle to bring your mount to a halt then into the shop to spend the penny saved by enduring wooden seats and a crick in your neck from looking up at the screen ,all the privations of the front stalls seemed worth it to have this extra spending power! On the subject of "Cowboy" films, strange that in a barroom brawls with fists flaying and chairs flying the "goodie" never lost his white stetson ,the "baddie" by the way, always wore a black one, which were the signals of when to cheer or boo, which children did with great gusto . Edna the commandant, (usherette) in charge of the front stalls would reprimand any child who became to exuberant "th owd mon in park can hear thee" (Sir Frances Sharp Powell's statue) Now you knew never to cross Edna ,she was judge and jury and had the power have you evicted without the right of appeal, if you even thought of disobeying her, a fate I never experienced. Although I was on a final warning couple of times. Incidentally,the one with the white hat and neckerchief always won.
Another favourite was the 'follow-up' at the end of the performance, often" Flash Gordon" I don't mind telling you I had many a sleepless night thanks to "The Clay Men " creatures that manifested them selves from the walls , in the earlier hours looking up the bedroom ceiling, with its uneven surface, I convinced myself that the monsters had decided to pay a visit to 48 Mc Cormick Street . I think the only time I be been more frightened was listing to the play" The Monkeys Paw" on the wireless . My Mam realising what effect Flash Gordon and Ming the Merciless was having on my mental wellbeing said I should leave the "pictures" before the serial started . Not a chance , leave without my horse ! The "pictures" was also a great source of entertainment for the older generation too, don't forget televisions were as rare as hens teeth, it seemed that more women than men were "picture goers" , as mentioned earlier the majority of men preferred the charms of the many waterholes that adorned Scholes in times of yore.
Whilst times were difficult for many the feeling of community was tangible, even though many struggled and had little they would share what they had. Anyone without family who fell ill would be cared for in the neighbourhood. People could, and did leave the door unlocked, in my Mother's case she would leave the rent on the sideboard and the rent-man would let himself in mark the book and leave, I never heard of a house being burgled or of any dishonesty. When recounting this fact the reply often comes back "there was nothing to steal" on the contrary, every house had a gas meter full of money. After the gasman had emptied the meter and left the rebate there was unusually spare money in the parish, children armed with shillings bombarding local sweetshops.
No deed for ASBOS, a quick "I'll tell your mother", or a more a portent "I'll bring Farther Lappin, the highly respected parish priest of St Patricks, was enough to bring the most unruly youths to book.
The overwhelming majority of houses were very well kept women would mop the step daily, even an oblong area of pavement adjoining the doorway, and woe betide anyone who walked on their labours. Mondays was washing day, few had washing machines, boilers, dolly tubs and rubbing boards was the method employed by most households. It was said that there was a rainbow over Scholes on Mondays! There was great excitement when the first launderette opened, The Bendix, half a crown(twelve and half p.) for a 9lbs wash, the price alas put it out of the reach of many families, as an example that would have bought fish and chips twice over in the early 1950s! Every day a different task, bedrooms Tuesday, baking another day and so forth. Thursday in our house was the day Mother would black lead the Yorkshire range and tackle the brasses, I remember the cleaning agents Zebo and Brasso each with its own distinct smell, as had Mansion polish used liberally on well cared for furniture.
From an early age I was aware that people, not from the area, looked on Scholes with some misgivings to say the least, not aware of the warmth and honesty of its populous, believing the many negative comments made by commentators who had never visited the locality. Some who had choose to concentrate on the less pleasant aspects. George Orwell's book "The Road to Wigan Pier" certainly didn't do any favours for Wigan as a town and Scholes in particular. It was generally agreed in Scholes that Orwell, who calmed to be a socialist was a charlatan who used his so called socialism as a way of easing his conscience. Could someone who attended Eton (Scholarship or not) possibly have the slightest empathy with the beleaguered working class of the 1930's? His deeming comments prove that he didn't. On visiting Wigan, he sort out the poorest of the poor to suit his his own agenda. In the book, he says "If there is one man to whom I feel inferior to its the coal miner" that sentence, ought to have 'stuck in his craw', they trusted him and he betrayed their trust, I suggest purely for profit and self promotion. If there is an afterlife I think he'll feel he owes Wigan an apology.
I am very proud of my background, and wouldn't have wanted to be born and reared anywhere other than my beloved, and much maligned Scholes of yesteryear. Maybe you had to be born within the sound of St Catherine's or St Patricks bells to fully appreciate the wonderful atmosphere and sheer goodness of its people. I am often accused of looking back with rose tinted spectacles. I suppose there element truth in that, but better that, than looking back in anger.
Yes Mick . . . A Day in the Life. I remember watching PJ Proby performing it, at a packed Emp'.
My great grandfather lived on Primrose Hill, Scholes. I find it hard to get my head around the idea of Primroses growing in the Scholes of the 50s and 60s that I remember. A long long time ago maybe.
Primroses or not, it was always a strong, viable community.
I remember everything in that tale of Scholes Tom. The Claymen especially,at the pictures and the Bowery Boys! The Bendix my mam made me take some washing wrapped up in a big sheet. And lovely memories of Scholes own red headed Maureen O'Hara aka Polly Do- out. The church and the people 'sure a little bit of Ireland fell out the sky one day and settled in the shadow of St Pat's' Church along the way! Lovely memories Tom thanks.
Brilliant Tom, we sometimes needed real cowboys in the parish when the cows escaped from the slaughter house in Hardybuts.
Tom,I really enjoyed reading that..no matter what befalls us..no-one can take our memories away that enrich us through our lives.
Lovely memories of Scholes, thank you. I lived in Ince as achild but often walked to Wigan via Scholes, first with my Aunty, then later on, with mates.
I don't know if anyone else of a certain age remembers the Claymen in the Flash Gordon series. The petrified feeling watching them materialise from the walls. I thought they were humans forever encased in clay by Ming. They walked with a slow gait,rocking from side to side in time to 'dirge' like 'music' through what looked like underground tunnels. I always expected Flash Gordon to rescue them - I don't know if he ever did.
It truly was the 'stuff of nightmares' and yet it was a children's matinee! I don't know what Zara was all about either in the same shimmering dress every week as if she was going to a dance!
A very good read Tom. Thanks.
I recall only a snippet of one Flash Gordon radio episode; sat on mi Dad's knee I was . . . I also remember him mentioning Ming.
However, I found the Clay Men/People? on YouTube, a few moments ago - bit of a problem, weren't they.
The children of today I'm sure would not be scared by those 'Claymen' - they are far too sophisticated... I also looked on YouTube and saw the 'bogey men' of my childhood for the first time - and laughed! How innocent we were..
As a kid in the 60s I was terrified of the Cybermen. I've just had a look at them on Google and they're even more terrifying. What sinister beings they were/are.
I shouldn't forget we were looking at a very large screen at the Scholes Picture House- that may well have had something to do with my fear of the dreaded Claymen. To off set the 6 minute serial The Three Stoogies
would appear,or the Bowery Boys who were always in trouble to make us laugh and of course Superman and Tarzan and Cheetah! It was the best threenny bit spent all week!