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Photos of Wigan

Photo-a-Day Archive
Photo-a-Day Archive

Photo-a-Day  (Sunday, 3rd December, 2023)

Woodcock Walk

Woodcock Walk
Steps made famous by an Oasis single cover.
Named a few years ago to Woodcock Walk, in memory of Thomas Woodcock, a First World War soldier who was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery.

Photo: Brian  (iPhone)
Views: 1,404

Comment by: Thomas(Tom)Walsh. on 3rd December 2023 at 00:12

The Great War, the war to end all wars(O if that it were true ), as it was always referred to until the carnage wreaked on humanity starting 21 years later, from then it became known as WW1. Please God we never see a 3 added to the prefix WW.

My mind wondered back to my school days at St Patricks School and being told about Thomas Woodcock V.C. a hero of the First World War, a former pupil of the school,and how after a Civic Reception at Wigan Town Hall where he was the guest of honour and another reception at our school, that very night he left Wigan to return to the front ,never to return , he had cheated death once but wasn't to be so fortunate a second time. He was killed in action on the 27th March1918, only months before the armistice ,his bravery was further underlined by the fact that as a recipient of The Victoria Cross,he was excused front line action,but he insisted on rejoining his comrades. Considering his experience, his instance on returning to rejoin battle was surly as brave as his epic exploits on the battlefield, by this commitment surly another medal for bravery was deserved.
Citation (abridged)
On the 13th September 1917 north of Broenbeek, Belgium, when an advanced post had held out for 96 hours and was finally forced to retire. Private Woodcock covered the retreat. Private Woodcock heard cries for help behind him - he returned and waded into the stream amid a shower of bombs and rescued another member of the party the latter he then carried across open ground in daylight towards our front line, regardless of machine-gun fire.

Comment by: Colin Traynor on 3rd December 2023 at 06:40

Brian, I cannot recall the location of these steps, where about’s are they?

Comment by: Irene Roberts on 3rd December 2023 at 08:38

Isn't that a photo of "The Blind Steps"? I remember when Oasis were there and loads of people rushed into Boots' Photo Lab, where I worked , with films of them to be developed. They, (Oasis), hadn't a smile between them on the photos and looked like they'd lost a shilling and found a ha'penny, a bit like Victoria Beckham! It was just before people could take photos on their mobile phones. I didn't know it was now called Woodcock Walk.

Comment by: Garry on 3rd December 2023 at 08:43

Now I wouldn't like to walk up these steps everyday.

Comment by: Arthur on 3rd December 2023 at 09:08

I can't see that wooden fence on the left ever to get wood treatment. Must be difficult and dangerous to walk with ice and snow on the ground.

Comment by: PeterP on 3rd December 2023 at 09:18

I presume there are more fitting memorials to a gentleman who won the VC than a set of stone steps?

Comment by: Scholes Malc on 3rd December 2023 at 09:28

The Blind Steps

Comment by: Veronica on 3rd December 2023 at 09:30

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
John 15: 13

Comment by: Veronica on 3rd December 2023 at 09:34

I don’t know what it is but it looks so different to when as a children we would sometimes play on the steps.

Comment by: Veronica on 3rd December 2023 at 09:49

The ‘Blind Steps’ as they were known ( next to the ‘ Blind ‘ shop led from Hardybutts / Birkett Bank down to Darlington St. ( still do actually)

Comment by: Colin Traynor on 3rd December 2023 at 09:58

Irene, I just love that comparison with Victoria Beckham.
I wonder what on earth brought Oasis to that location, are there no steps in Manchester?

Comment by: Irene Roberts on 3rd December 2023 at 10:13

Colin, the bottom of the blind steps is on the right-hand side of Darlington Street East as you walk towards Wigan, and when you get to the top of the steps you are in Hardybutts.

Comment by: Colin Traynor on 3rd December 2023 at 10:43

Thanks Irene, I must make a visit.
Would by co-incidence they be near what was known as the Blind Shop where I used to help out with Basket Weaving in the late 1960's?

Comment by: Rev David Long on 3rd December 2023 at 11:20

As part of the centenary commemorations associated with the Great War, the Government decided that commemorative tablets should be installed in the towns associated with recipients of the Victoria Cross - on the centenary of the day on which the deeds for which the award was made took place. So the tablet for Thomas Woodcock was installed on the wall part way up the steps, on the right in September 2017. See my entry on the Imperial War Museum's Register:
Note that the piece of perspex placed over the tablet to deter vandalism obscures its inscription to the extent that it cannot be read.
The Walk which bears Woodcock's name stretches from the bottom of the steps to the end of the passage between the houses above. I assume that the location was selected because it was not too far from his home on Belvoir Street, Scholes - and was presumably unnamed beforehand.

Comment by: Veronica on 3rd December 2023 at 11:20

The Blind Shop has gone but the steps were next to the shop and there’s a couple of newish semi houses there now.

Comment by: Colin Traynor on 3rd December 2023 at 12:33

Thanks Veronica, I am thinking if that is the location of the shop and people could not remember Thomas Woodcock they then colloquially referred to them as The Blind Steps?
Thanks also Rev. Long for that insight, so sad that when things are erected in commemoration the vandals are not far behind.

Comment by: Rev David Long on 3rd December 2023 at 12:40

For the record - the three other VCs from the present Wigan Borough are also commemorated with centenary VC tablets. John Grimshaw, who survived, and went on to have a post-war military career, is commemorated by a road on a new estate at Abram - with his tablet being in a commemorative garden along with a tablet describing his award situated opposite the entrance to Abram church. William Kenealey is commemorated by having the Children's Library within Ashton-in-Makefield's Library named after him, with his tablet being on the outside wall of the building. Alfred Wilkinson is commemorated by the naming of the central road on the estate built on the site of Bickershaw Colliery. There is a wooden statue of a soldier in the centre of the circular road - and his tablet was subsequently installed at the foot of the statue. He is buried in Leigh Cemetery, after dying of carbon monoxide poisoning in a cabin at the Colliery in WW2.
All four of the VCs are commemorated together outside the Borough's Offices in Believe Square.

Comment by: Alan on 3rd December 2023 at 12:45

You have to be a true born and bred Wiganer to know where these steps are. They are very familiar to me and over the years been up and down them.

Comment by: Alan on 3rd December 2023 at 12:47

Veronica should know where these steps are. Her old stomping ground.

Comment by: Veronica on 3rd December 2023 at 13:06

We were always fascinated with the steps as a children . I recall some other steps off Holland St that led onto Birkett Bank Alan. Do you remember them? We would come down those and then go down the Blind Steps always having adventures!

Comment by: Cyril on 3rd December 2023 at 14:03

Here are Oasis and the gang at the steps, with Poet at the Juliet window reciting an ode.


Apparently they all had a good time at The Crispin afterwards where they'd booked for refreshments.

Comment by: Veronica on 3rd December 2023 at 14:21

The Blind Steps were always known by that name Colin. As long as I can remember it was just a ‘ginnel’ with steps.
As the Reverend has stated it was 2017 when the plaque was installed. I remember going to the ceremony. I don’t think the steps had an ‘official’ name really. But I may be wrong. In my childhood they didn’t seem quite as wide. But that is a long ,long time ago. There was certainly no fencing up and that wall looks quite newish.

Comment by: Irene Roberts on 3rd December 2023 at 14:42

Yes, Colin. They were known as "The Blind Steps" due to their proximity to the blind school, where the blind people made wonderful baskets etc which you could buy; I seem to remember a stall in The Market Hall selling things that were made there. They were beautifully made and very good quality and I had a basket which was bought from there for Domestic Science at school....we all used to bring home the food we had made in our baskets. I still use a wicker basket for shopping. Your bread, cakes and pies don't get squashed!

Comment by: Jembo on 3rd December 2023 at 18:26

It says here it's the part leading to the steps that is Woodcock Walk.


Comment by: Sandy on 3rd December 2023 at 19:38

There is a memorial to Thomas Woodcock at the entrance to Woodcock House car park on Scholes Bridge. Every Remembrance Sunday a poppy wreath is placed there and there it stays, undamaged, until the following year.

Comment by: Fred Mason on 3rd December 2023 at 20:12

Reminds me of Alfred Hitchocks 39 Steps.....

Great pic, Brian.

Comment by: Rev David Long on 3rd December 2023 at 20:36

Jembo - sloppy writing in that piece - in the text it's fairly clear that the whole of the alley down to Darlington Street East is named after Woodcock - and the pillar carrying the VC tablet is part way down the steps. There may also be a name-plate on the Darlington Street East end of the alley.
Sandy - there's also a plaque inside Woodcock House, and there's a shrine to him inside St Patrick's church. There was also a display in the Ex-servicemen's Club on Vauxhall Road, which I think might be in storage in the veterans' building on School Lane - but I lost sight of it when Covid struck.

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