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Longton 1935

Longton 1935

A Glimpse Of Yesteryear - By Jean Worthington

I was prompted to write this magazine by two of my grandchildren, Kate and Nicky, who were always wanting to hear stories of Longton, in what we now call "the good old days". So, with the help of Mrs. Margaret Taylor, or should I say Margaret Wilson that was, I have gathered together a few old photographs and turned the clock back to 1935. There are many people in the village today who can go back much further than that, but I can only tell my story, with my memories. Life in the village was so different in 1935. No street lights, not every house had electricity, many had oil lamps, only a very few people had cars and everyone knew everyone. I was born in Longton and my parents at that time lived in Lodge Cottages, Marsh Lane. By the time I was school age, we had moved house to Walmer Bridge. However, as my Mother went to work as a daily cleaner for the Wilkins family in Longton and later to he assistant cook at Longton Council School, I spent my school days and much of my youth here in the village. During the school holidays and my Mother's cleaning duties, I stayed with an Aunt of mine who lived in the first cottage next to the Golden Ball on Liverpool Road. The cottage consisted of two bedrooms, a kitchen(only posh people had a lounge)a small pantry, and a tiny back kitchen which contained a slopstone or sink, one cold tap, no bathroom and the toilet was at the bottom of the garden in a small brick building, whitewashed inside, with a wooden bench like seat, under which was placed a large metal bucket. There were no lights of course, so a trip to the toilet in the dark meant carrying with you a flash light. It was quite a common type of toilet back in 1935. On Tuesdays, two men, Mr. Harry Harrison and Mr. Ashcroft, on a box-like cart drawn by a horse, would call to empty the metal bucket. Mr. Harrisons favourite trick was to tease any children who happened to be around at the time during the moving and emptying of the toilet bucket, by pretending to catch and pop them in the cart, while he shouted Ice Cream, a penny a cornet. Needless to say, I never played out until after the toilet men had gone on Tuesdays. That is one part of the "good old days" I'm glad to see has gone. The Midland Bank was in those far off days little more than a cottage at the top of Marsh Lane, that was owned by the Strickson family. Tuesdays and Fridays it was the Midland Bank. A large white card was placed in the window of the front room (or should I say parlour), which gave times of opening. The room contained a large polished leather topped a green safe stood in the corner and against the wall were four stand chairs and there much of the village banking was done. The rest of the week it looked like an ordinary cottage. I can never remember Mr. or Mrs. Strickson, I do remember quite clearly their daughters, the three Miss Stricksons. were all three very small in stature and all three went to Sunday School . To us children, our nicknames for them were Faith, Hope and Charity, although I never did find out which was which. They devoted much their lives to St. Andrew's Church and in fact they were responsible for donating the Alter Rails and Gate and the Church Clock. As my Mother would have said, they were "good living people". On the right of the 'Bank' where three tall houses. The first was the Post Office owned by Mr. and Mrs. Noble. I remember the clock on the wall had the loudest tick I've ever heard. On the left of the shop was the Post Office Department which Mr. Noble manned, and on the right was the Haberdashery section, of which Mrs. Noble was in charge. There were knitting wool’s and needles, embroidery silks, cottons, ribbons and underwear all on display, along with the Liberty Bodice which all children wore, and long legged bloomers of Pink, Blue and White - big enough I'm sure to use as hang-gliders. How we girls used to laugh at the thought of anyone wearing such large knickers. The next house was the District Bank owned by the Johnson family. The third house was the telephone exchange. The front parlour held the Switchboard and that was manned by the Kerr family. Across the road was Arthur Rimmer's Shoe and Clog repairer, a green Wooden shop, and there along with Bob and Dick Arthurs, two nephews, all the shoe and clog repairs were carried out. I know there is a green wooden shoe shop there today, but it's a far cry from the shop I knew as a child. Bob was always my favourite. He was a very patient man who never got angry with us. I remember the counter piled high with shoes and clogs that had been repaired and were waiting to be collected. It always amazed me that there were never any names on the shoes, but dear old Bob knew to whom each pair belonged. It was always a good camping shop (and for the ones that don’t know what the word 'camping' means, it is an old Lancashire word for sitting and chatting). Hours have been spent around the store listening to the odd snippets of gossip as the shoes were brought and collected by the customers. There was nothing Bob could not mend - buckles on Sandals, purses, school satchels and even broken hearts, for we told Bob all our troubles. A wonderful character I feel deserves a mention in my little tale of Longton yesteryear. Next to Rimmers shoe shop was Longton chip shop, owned by Mrs. and Mrs. Frost. I can only just remember the chip shop, for it closed down long before I was considered old enough to go and buy some myself. Next along the line, past the Red Lion, in the delightful shop now called Legends, was Longtons first Co-op, which later became Hamilton’s Fish, Fruit and Vegetable shop. I remember the window set out with small glass dishes, one holding three carrots, the other two had a couple of apples and perhaps a small cabbage in the other. Inside the shop was a large marble slab on which the fish were laid. I also remember it needed both Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton to serve every customer - one to serve and the other to enquire of news in the village. I shudder to think what would have happened had suddenly the shop got full of customers, but on reflection, that was the lovely pace everyone went about their daily tasks. There was also a shop selling Newspapers, Tobacco and sweets. It was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Ianson, where we would buy Santa’s lollypops, Palm Toffee, Marzipan teacakes, Gob stoppers, and snow mints, to name just a few of the delicacies they sold. And in this shop on our way to school, we would ponder for ages wondering which would be the best buy for a penny. The shop is still there of course, but is now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Worswick. My route to school, along with all my friends, was over Dickie Caunce's fields (which by the way, is Bankcroft today), through the side of the field was a narrow footpath and woe betide anyone he caught over-stepping the footpath onto the grass. Rain, hail or snow, all children walked to school. On rainy days, the girls wore black shiny mackintoshes with, souwesters. The macs were just long enough to drip into our wellingtons! In those days clothes were bought to last at least two winters. I went to Longton Council School. The other school in the village was the Catholic School of St. Oswalds. Some of their pupils came from Tarleton and Hesketh Bank to attend and they arrived by train, and many was the fight in School Lane, between St. Oswalds and Longton Council School. I'm sure many of the lads remember that. We started school at four years and stayed at the same school until reached the age of 14, unless of course you passed your scholarship at 11+ then the girls would go to Leyland Balshaws and the boys to Hutton Grammer School. I was not one of those children, so I spent my school years at Longton One of my favourite teachers was Miss Bamford. She was of course quite strict but fair. There were of course many other teachers at Longton too. Mr. Parkinson, Mrs. Usher, Miss Rose, Miss Edleston, Mr. Coulbourne, Miss Godbert, Miss Whipp, Miss Pickup and the Headmaster Mr. Pendlebury (or old nibby to us children, unknown to him of course). Apart from the three Rs, the boys were taught gardening and woodwork by Mr. Rennison and the girls were taught Laundry and Cookery by Miss Greenberry. I remember so well the cookery lessons. I shared a table during our cookery lessons with Mary Banks whose cakes and puddings turned out perfect every time - mine however didn't. At the end of the lesson we were given marks out of ten for our efforts. Mary always got nine or ten, while I got four or sometimes three. Miss Green often told me I would never learn to cook if I didn't concentrate more on the lessons. Unfortunately, by the time I had passed the grade, Miss Greenberry had passed on, although I often think of here with a smile, remembering that it used to take us all day to make six little cakes at school. During our school days, we had seasons of playing games. Winter was marbles and glass allies, which rolled in between the cobblestones into holes in the schoolyard, skipping time, top and whip, two balls, which we played against the school wall, and conkers when the chestnuts were out. All the games are gone now, along with the cobblestones in the schoolyard. We would make slides on frosty mornings, only to discover when we came out at play that the Caretaker, Mr. Posslethwaite (who I'm sure everyone remembers), had thrown cinders on our precious slides to prevent anyone having a nasty fall. During our school years from the age of ten, we were taught to swim. Thursday, the girls would troop in two's down School Lane to the little railway station known as Longton Bridge. There we would board the train Southport to the Victoria Baths, and in the pool known as Ladies first class Mrs. Rushworth (the swimming instructress) taught us all to swim. I am so proud of my certificate for swimming seventy-two lengths of the baths, which was the teachers equivalent of a mile. The boys did the same journey on Wednesdays. Sadly, the little railway station has gone and is now part of history in the village. On the first of May, the boys and girls did the Maypole dance. It was quite an occasion. There was always the May Queen to be crowned, country dancing and of course the Maypole dance. We would weave in and out with out coloured ribbons, watched by our parents, to the music played on the piano accordian by Mr. Posslethwaite. An extra duty for him, as he was not only the Caretaker, but resident musician as well. The folk dance circle was run by Miss Godbert and Miss Kitson, and many is the time I've had my legs slapped by her. She had a knack of coming up behind you as you danced and giving a slap on the leg if you did a wrong step. Many Trophies have been won at the Folk Dance Festival in Blackpool and Morecambe by the country dancers from Longton Council School. My favourite dance was the Sword dance and I remember in the early days of the war, dancing that particular dance along with Audrey Bell, Muriel Hamilton, Joan and Kathleen Wright, Joan Atkinson, Margaret Ashcroft and Helen Hunter in Stryands, Hutton, for the Spitfire fund - I think we raised £2, which to us seemed a lot of money in those days. Longton Council School was the first school in the area to have school meals and by 1941, my Mother and Aunt, Mrs. Harrison, the cooks. A large oven was built in the wall of the assembly hall and the where the dinners were cooked. I can't remember the menus for every day, I do remember Thursday's dinner was mashed potato and sausage, followed by rice pudding. The cost was 1/9d per week, which is about 9p by today's rate. Quite a bargain - but of course the wages for our parents would only about £3.00 per week. We also had nature walks with the teachers during the summer months, and one in particular sticks out in my mind. We were taken by Miss Pickup to Longton Marsh, headed by George Baxendale, John Wright, and Bill Hart who knew the marsh so well. We walked through mud, and jumped dykes. It was a huge prank, arranged by the three lads, unknown to the rest of the class. I remember we arrived back at school tired, wet, weary and muddy, along with a furious Miss Pickup. That was the last nature walk I ever remember going on with the school and I'm sure they are laughing yet at the memory of us all looking like scarecrows at the end of the day. A great attraction to us children was the Brickcroft. It was a wonderful place to play. The little trucks ran from the clay pit over a little wooden bridge in Drumacre Lane and up to the brick kilns where the bricks were made, and many's the time we have sneaked a ride, perched on top of the clay in the little trucks if we thought no-one was looking, and swum in the pit in the Summer. The warm kilns were a great attraction to tramps, who in the winter months would sleep there. I remember quite well the old tub mender, and the bearded tramp who were regulars during the winter. They would he make their way down School Lane around 4.o’clock as we came out of School. They never troubled us, or we them, and they were an accepted part of Village life Our school days seemed happy, carefree days, when we bird nested, made dens in the fields, played in the lanes and were in no danger from people or traffic. Many people I'm sure will remember two aeroplanes landing in a 40 acre field near the marsh in 1937, and giving bargain flights at 2/6d, which is 12.5p today and 5/-, which is 25p. The cheaper flights were around the village and the longer flights covered Preston as well. I remember sitting from morning until evening, watching every flight take off and land, and one day there was parachutist too. The event was talked about for weeks afterwards. I'm sure everyone in the village went down the lane to see them. Aeroplanes in those far-off days were very rarely seen. The marsh was a great attraction during our school days. Many of us went to roll our Easter eggs and picnic during the summer months, carrying our little parcels of sandwiches and calling at The Flying Fish for a large bottle of lemonade. As youngsters, we spent hours playing there - jumping dykes and sailing bits of sticks in them. Will Sutton was the Tailor, or to the older people affectionately known as Tailor Bill's. All the suits he produced were handmade. Some days I would walk down to my Uncle coming home from work. He worked for Mr. Sutton from 13 years old until he retired at 65. If sometimes I was a little early, I would find him sitting cross-legged on the floor sewing away. He said it was more comfortable to sit I that and in his opinion, it was the correct way. He also used to say the only time you sat on a chair was to use the machine. All I know is the suits they made never seemed to wear out. The shop now sells computers - a far cry from 1935 I wonder how many readers remember Ruby Turner who called on Saturday afternoons with her horse and cart, which was a miniature hardware store selling large blocks of carbolic soap, packets of Rinso, Oxydol, rubbing stones, all names and products of the past. Her tank on the back of the cart held the paraffin', which of course we needed for the lamps and paraffin stoves, for not all houses had been blessed with electricity - I, and many of my friends would Buy a penny clay pipe, which along with a jam jar of soapy water would be all We needed to play for hours blowing bubbles. Back in the thirties, most of the Shops came round to the houses at least once a week delivering and selling their goods. Bill Cart with the Fish and Vegetable van, Fred Taylor with the meat and Sutton’s of Park Farm delivered their milk twice a day. It was carried in a little truck pushed by Mrs. Sutton which were two large Milk kits and the milk was poured into the waiting jugs at each house. I suppose today that would be quite a novelty, but then it was a part of everyday life. Not only did the small shops deliver their goods, so did the Co-op which stood where Blundells shop is today. Booths of course always delivered peoples weekly order. I remember so well the smell of ground coffee as you walked into the old Booths and how the door was opened for you as you left the shop. An impossible task today with the volume of customers in and out, but it still remains the good Grocer it always was. Apart from the men who worked on the farms and Brickcroft, another main employer was Wilkins Brewery. Mr. Richard Wilkins and his family lived at The Grove. Part of the grounds has now been turned into a park and the house pulled down to make room for a new housing estate. My grandmother was the Cook and my Mother parlour-maid/waitress. (I feel I have to mention her position because to Mum that was important - Perhaps a status symbol? who knows?). I remember so well the story she told me of life in service when she was a girl. She was 17 years when she travelled from Workington in Cumbria to Longton to take up position at The Grove. In those far Off days, it took ten hours on arriving Longton Bridge Station. It was by then 6.30pm. and she had to be in uniform ready to serve on table at 7pm and it was a very nervous maid indeed who carried in the soup tureen, place it on the table and took two paces back to stand behind the Master (Mr. R. Wilkins) waiting for him to fill the soup bowls for her to serve to the family. After waiting shaking in her shoes for minutes, which seemed like an hour, with no-one speaking, she knew something must be wrong. A quiet little voice from the other end of the table said "I think you had better tell her dear, she's new." The dreadful mistake had made was not lifting the lid of the soup tureen for the master to serve! Not such 'good old days', I would have thought, but to my Mother and generation, it was the way things were and accepted by domestic staff. I have managed to acquire a photo of the Brewery, kindly lent to us by Graham Keighley. I, Of course, don't remember the original Mr. Wilkins living at Grove, for by 1935 his son Mr. Tom Wilkins lived at Plumpton House in Marsh Lane, which adjoined to the Brewery. I still remember clearly the sweet smell from the Malt Kilns when the beer was being brewed and some of the Longtonians, Mr. Ellis Cleece, Gordon Baxendale, Jack Coulton, Jack Walker Mark Jackson, and Ronnie Walker, to name but a few of the men walking the lane when the brewery whistle blew around teatime. Across the road from the brewery stood two thatched cottages. One tenanted by Mr. Dick Hart and family, and the other one by My Grandad and Grandmother. There was a large kitchen come living room, two bedrooms and a stone slabbed pantry, which always seemed to be full of apples. It had an earthen floor and tiny windows. Under the window in the kitchen, My Grandmother had a horse hair sofa. The horse’s hair used to stick out through the leather on the seat and during my visits that is where I had to sit, with the prickly hairs sticking in my legs. Thank goodness that type of furniture is no longer produced. The cottages were pulled down in 1936, but the smell of the damp thatch roof, mingled with cooking apples, will remain with me always, along with the prickles of the horse hair sofa on my legs. One very important place on Sundays after Sunday school was Mrs. Browns Temperance Cafe - a wooden building in School Lane, opposite the side entrance to the Church. There we would spend our pennies. Most children took twopence for the collection and, after deciding our need was greater than the Sunday School collection, we would keep one penny back to spend in Mrs. Browns, where we could buy a glass of Vimto or Sasperalla and sit for hours chatting with the boys. Many a courtship was begun in the little shop and on reflection, what a very kind lady she was, letting us stay so long, spending so little. I have tried without success to find a photograph of the shop, for now, on that sacred spot, stands a row of bungalows. I did however manage to obtain a photograph of the Cafe Monica, or to us (Old Sheps), a very different meeting place to spend the winter evenings. We were of course a little older before we graduated to Old Sheps, but I'm sure many will remember the many happy evenings spent around his roaring fire and a hearth full of cigarette ends!! Gone too is the Village blacksmith, Mr. Maudsley. Many hours were passed there watching the horses being shod and I should imagine every child in the area took home at some time an old horse shoe to nail to a cabin or outside toilet. All our social life in 1935 was centred around the Church and Chapel, for going to Preston was a special treat, reserved only for a shopping trip with Mother or a pantomime at Christmas time. We had village socials at the Church and Chapel and concerts by local concert parties, but the most important to children and teenagers was St. Andrews walking day. That was a day when anyone who had left the village to live elsewhere, returned for that great day. It was a day for the older folk to reminisce with old friend’s and the gather together with families. A very exciting time for we children as it was a chance to dress up and show off. We were so proud to walk in the procession, the girls in pretty dresses of silk or satin to match the colour of the banners of the Church. We all carried baskets of flowers with silver wreaths of leaves on our heads, purchased from Gooby's or Coupes in Preston. Both shops have now vanished, and in those far off days, we had our own Longton Band. I remember some of the bandsmen - there was Mr. Ed Coxhead, Tom Cork, Bill Wright, and Dick Hart. Of course I can't remember them all, but after we had walked through the Village, we returned to the Sunday School for jelly, sandwiches and cakes. Then it was off for the Sunday School sports, to compete in the egg and spoon race, the sack race and the three legged event, during which time the band played on the field for country dancing. I seem to remember that the fair came too, for during the procession the girls carried little silk Dorothy bags on their wrists for friends and relatives to run out to us during our walk, popping pennies for us to spend on the fair. But things change, now the fair comes three weeks after the walking day and I suppose it will depend on whether a band available on the dates required. Some home-made bread and cakes we had for our Xmas Party and our walking day teas', as we called it, were brought from the Cake shop in the village known as Kenyons. It stood in the place where Moore's Newsagents stands today. The Sunday School always had a magic lantern show during the winter months and sometimes a silent film. Christmas Eve, there was always a dance in the old Sunday School, with plenty of French chalk strewn across the floor to make the dancing easier. I remember it was a date looked forward to by the young people, but we smaller children had a Christmas party with a sit down tea, as it was known then. After tea, when the tables had been cleared we played games. A delightful little corner shop, which seemed to sell everything from clothes lines to Fennings Cooling Powders was owned by Mr. and Mrs Strickland The main selling line was confectionery, cakes, scones, bread and meat and potato pies - which I enjoyed when our lunch at home was tattie pot, made from left over roast beef from the Sunday's joint. We always had that on Mondays, for that was everyone’s wash day. In fact, it was sacrilege to do the weekly wash on any other day. In the back kitchen was a brick structure with a cast iron inside and in the bottom was a grate. Early Monday morning, the fire was lit in the grate, the boiler filled with what seemed buckets and buckets of cold water, the dampers drawn so the would boil and all the white clothes were put in, along with grated soap Acdo and boiled vigorously. They were then put in the dolly tub and possed rinsed, dolly blued, mangled, and if the weather was wet, the clothes festooned round the kitchen fire. The clothes rack was filled over the where it hung from the ceiling and steam was everywhere. It took so long to the washing in those days that that was the reason we had to have a tasteless tattie pot for lunch. No wonder Mrs. Strickland's meat and potato pies tasted so good. The little shop has been turned into a cottage now, like many or small villages today, Longton has lost the little shops that were so important our life in the village back in the Thirties. Stewart Porter was the Electrician and had his shop where Blundells had their car park today. It was there that everyone went to have their electric irons repaired and elements in kettles, for by 1937 most houses had electricity. the shop was run by Barbara Wade and Margaret Taylor - all the repairs being carried out by Arnold Garstang, Leslie Wilson and Hector Walker. They were the ones I remember, and in those days they could mend anything - unlike today when electrical goods are supposed to have had a good working life after five years and after that they are obsolete. We had only two doctors in the village in 1935, Dr. Patchett, whose surgery was down The Drive and Dr. Meiring with his surgery at Chestnut House. The Chemist was a wooden building and was owned by Mr. Bertram Ramsbottom. How I loved the smell of that shop - a mixture of Liquorice, lemon juice, Coltsfoot and cough medicine. It sounds dreadful, but the smell was wonderful. There were just a few cosmetics in a glass cabinet - Tangee lipstick, Evening in Paris perfume and Californian Poppy - a far cry from Mr. Facer's Chemist today. In 1939, when the war with Germany was declared, great changes came to Longton. The evacuees arrived from Manchester. The Grove became Army Headquarters with troops billeted there and soldiers on guard, complete with sentry boxes at the gates. Longton Hall also housed soldiers and I'm sure many will remember during the first years of the war, a Western Lysander plane flying very low over Longton Hall, dropping a green flare every morning as we children were on our way to School. The Local Defence Volunteers were formed. Our name for them was 'Look, Duck and Vanish' which would have been the right thing to do at that time, when the only weapons the L.D.V. had were stout sticks. That of course was for a very few weeks, for soon they were to become the Home Guard, with uniforms and rifles. I remember an uncle of mine, who during the short period of the L.D.V. was put one night to guard the Brewery (and for the life of me I can't think why). He went on duty complete with his armband and stout stick, only to be brought home the following morning as drunk as a monkey on a wheelbarrow. My aunt was furious, and told him his days of being a member of the L.D.V. were over. I was quite worried about this, so I asked my aunt what his Officer would say, to which she replied, "Officer be damned. It's only Will Sutton, they are not proper soldiers." So that was just how important the Home Guard were to my Aunt, although they were of great value in many towns and cities, their role in Longton was very low key. In fact I never did find out what they did, but I know they were all good card players. (I bet I get some flack after that remark). With so many children now in the village school, days were very different. The evacuee children went in the mornings and the local children in the afternoon, and this was reversed the following week. A delight to us children, but not a very satisfactory arrangement for the Education Department. Very soon, many of the children drifted back to Manchester and the remainder were brought into our various classrooms. Some of the children stayed until near the end of 1943, and some never went back at all and were adopted by local families. Although life in the village seemed suddenly busier, for we local children, it must have been a terrible shock for the evacuees who suddenly found themselves five miles from the nearest town - no street lights, no cinemas and many were billeted on farms and had never been close to a cow or sheep in their lives, not to mention pigs and the rest of the farm yard animals and poultry. Most of the children who were evacuated were used to going to the cinema a couple of times a week and now had to he content with the Sunday school socials and school concerts. To us it was part of our every day life, but I'm not surprised many went back home to be with their parents and their own way of life. It was a good idea on paper, but in reality, not so good. Life in the village went on and by now I and my friends had left school and were working. We were allowed to go to the local dances. My favourite was Walmer Bridge School for the weekly dance every Saturday night. The admission was 2&6d or 12p today. That is where we danced to the strains of Fred Howard's Carleton Dance Band. There was of course dancing at the Anchor too with Jack Wild's Band and sometimes at the Old Church Hall in Longton, but none to me were as wonderful as the one at Walmer Bridge, with the lads standing in one corner of the room and the girls in the other. A great change to the dances or discos of today when all the girls dance together and the boys in another group. I feel they are missing out on such a lot, but that's progress - or so they say. The dances were always for Charity, Hoole Young Farmers, W.V.S., it was not unusual to have live hens raffled during intervals of the dance. What a fuss there would be today if anything like that happened, but as I said before, it was all part of our rural life. During the war years, the last bus from Preston was 8.30pm, so if we went to Town to the Cinema, we all used the train which ran at 9.15pm and the 1ast one being 10.10pm. The railway station was, as we all know, closed down 1964, but it certainly did some good service back in the old days. How many remember the dancing classes held at the Institute, organised by Mr. Winrow Many were taught to dance to the music of Victor Sylvester gramophone records. We had in the village, during the war years, Italian prisoners of War working on the farms. An army lorry would bring them in the mornings collect them again in the evenings. I remember all the prisoners had green boiler suits with big brown patches sewn on them. A very strange sight for us to see. Soldiers travelled with them, armed with rifles. There were never any tried to escape and they sat looking quite cheerful in the back of the vehicles. Even in the winter months they would wave to us children as passed, and I'm sure the weather was a trial to them after sunny Italy. Although so many of the young men were away in the forces, apart from the rationing of sweets and the supply of clothing coupons was never enough, Longton saw little of the war. The sirens went nightly as the planes flew over to bomb Liverpool which was hit very badly, as were many other towns and cities. Longton had only one land mine dropped over the marsh by a plane unloading its ammunition on the way back to Germany. There was of course the blackout. Not a chink of light showing from any house and the air raid warden checking the houses and shops nightly and the fire watchers posted at the Church Hall. The house belonging to Hillock Grange was, during the War, a Canteen for the soldiers who were billeted in the village, selling cups of tea and biscuits and cigarettes for the troops. It was run by the W.V.S. and many local lady volunteers. Longton had its own concrete built look-out post in Back Lane, which remained for many years after the war. I think their mission was to look out for parachutes landing and of course an invasion by the Germans, which fortunately never happened. With the clothes being only available on coupons, to which every person was allowed 20 coupons per month, these had to buy bedding, towels, underwear and in fact every stitch of clothing we wore plus footwear. Many people of my generation, who will now be in their sixties did without stockings and painted our legs with leg tan (when available). We even resorted to using gravy browning, which as you can imagine was sticky, not to mention the mess it made on the bedclothes - but pride had to abide for young girls, even in the 1940's. In 1945, when the war was over and the boys started to come back to the Village, the lights were on again in the shops and houses, blackouts were thrown away and the village was beginning to return to a normal way of life, but it was never quite the same - many things had changed and many things were new. We had two new Doctors, Dr. Berry had taken over the Surgery down The Drive and Dr. Hargreaves at Chestnut House, joined later by Dr. Wilkinson. I have always been a patient of Dr. Hargreaves and with him came many, new methods. I'm sure many will have on their arms, large vaccination marks which resemble dart boards, which was where every baby was vaccinated, but Dr. Hargreaves started to vaccinate babies on their feet, which was so much easier for Mothers to handle and no scars to show. I remember thinking at the time that he was some sort of genius and in fact until he retired, I always regarded him so. In 1972, the new Health Centre was opened which now has four doctors, headed by Dr. Moss, Dr. Robinson, Dr. Loudensack and Dr.Cochran, and at the surgery of the late Dr. Berry down The Drive, we have Dr.Tandon. So many changes have now come to the village I know, but perhaps the little booklet will rekindle a few precious memories. With special thanks to all the people who helped with information and the loan of photographs. jean.worthington@btinternet.com
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Longton 1935

A Glimpse Of Yesteryear - By

Jean Worthington

I was prompted to write this magazine by two of my grandchildren, Kate and Nicky, who were always wanting to hear stories of Longton, in what we now call "the good old days". So, with the help of Mrs. Margaret Taylor, or should I say Margaret Wilson that was, I have gathered together a few old photographs and turned the clock back to 1935. There are many people in the village today who can go back much further than that, but I can only tell my story, with my memories. Life in the village was so different in 1935. No street lights, not every house had electricity, many had oil lamps, only a very few people had cars and everyone knew everyone. I was born in Longton and my parents at that time lived in Lodge Cottages, Marsh Lane. By the time I was school age, we had moved house to Walmer Bridge. However, as my Mother went to work as a daily cleaner for the Wilkins family in Longton and later to he assistant cook at Longton Council School, I spent my school days and much of my youth here in the village. During the school holidays and my Mother's cleaning duties, I stayed with an Aunt of mine who lived in the first cottage next to the Golden Ball on Liverpool Road. The cottage consisted of two bedrooms, a kitchen(only posh people had a lounge)a small pantry, and a tiny back kitchen which contained a slopstone or sink, one cold tap, no bathroom and the toilet was at the bottom of the garden in a small brick building, whitewashed inside, with a wooden bench like seat, under which was placed a large metal bucket. There were no lights of course, so a trip to the toilet in the dark meant carrying with you a flash light. It was quite a common type of toilet back in 1935. On Tuesdays, two men, Mr. Harry Harrison and Mr. Ashcroft, on a box-like cart drawn by a horse, would call to empty the metal bucket. Mr. Harrisons favourite trick was to tease any children who happened to be around at the time during the moving and emptying of the toilet bucket, by pretending to catch and pop them in the cart, while he shouted Ice Cream, a penny a cornet. Needless to say, I never played out until after the toilet men had gone on Tuesdays. That is one part of the "good old days" I'm glad to see has gone. The Midland Bank was in those far off days little more than a cottage at the top of Marsh Lane, that was owned by the Strickson family. Tuesdays and Fridays it was the Midland Bank. A large white card was placed in the window of the front room (or should I say parlour), which gave times of opening. The room contained a large polished leather topped a green safe stood in the corner and against the wall were four stand chairs and there much of the village banking was done. The rest of the week it looked like an ordinary cottage. I can never remember Mr. or Mrs. Strickson, I do remember quite clearly their daughters, the three Miss Stricksons. were all three very small in stature and all three went to Sunday School . To us children, our nicknames for them were Faith, Hope and Charity, although I never did find out which was which. They devoted much their lives to St. Andrew's Church and in fact they were responsible for donating the Alter Rails and Gate and the Church Clock. As my Mother would have said, they were "good living people". On the right of the 'Bank' where three tall houses. The first was the Post Office owned by Mr. and Mrs. Noble. I remember the clock on the wall had the loudest tick I've ever heard. On the left of the shop was the Post Office Department which Mr. Noble manned, and on the right was the Haberdashery section, of which Mrs. Noble was in charge. There were knitting wool’s and needles, embroidery silks, cottons, ribbons and underwear all on display, along with the Liberty Bodice which all children wore, and long legged bloomers of Pink, Blue and White - big enough I'm sure to use as hang-gliders. How we girls used to laugh at the thought of anyone wearing such large knickers. The next house was the District Bank owned by the Johnson family. The third house was the telephone exchange. The front parlour held the Switchboard and that was manned by the Kerr family. Across the road was Arthur Rimmer's Shoe and Clog repairer, a green Wooden shop, and there along with Bob and Dick Arthurs, two nephews, all the shoe and clog repairs were carried out. I know there is a green wooden shoe shop there today, but it's a far cry from the shop I knew as a child. Bob was always my favourite. He was a very patient man who never got angry with us. I remember the counter piled high with shoes and clogs that had been repaired and were waiting to be collected. It always amazed me that there were never any names on the shoes, but dear old Bob knew to whom each pair belonged. It was always a good camping shop (and for the ones that don’t know what the word 'camping' means, it is an old Lancashire word for sitting and chatting). Hours have been spent around the store listening to the odd snippets of gossip as the shoes were brought and collected by the customers. There was nothing Bob could not mend - buckles on Sandals, purses, school satchels and even broken hearts, for we told Bob all our troubles. A wonderful character I feel deserves a mention in my little tale of Longton yesteryear. Next to Rimmers shoe shop was Longton chip shop, owned by Mrs. and Mrs. Frost. I can only just remember the chip shop, for it closed down long before I was considered old enough to go and buy some myself. Next along the line, past the Red Lion, in the delightful shop now called Legends, was Longtons first Co-op, which later became Hamilton’s Fish, Fruit and Vegetable shop. I remember the window set out with small glass dishes, one holding three carrots, the other two had a couple of apples and perhaps a small cabbage in the other. Inside the shop was a large marble slab on which the fish were laid. I also remember it needed both Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton to serve every customer - one to serve and the other to enquire of news in the village. I shudder to think what would have happened had suddenly the shop got full of customers, but on reflection, that was the lovely pace everyone went about their daily tasks. There was also a shop selling Newspapers, Tobacco and sweets. It was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Ianson, where we would buy Santa’s lollypops, Palm Toffee, Marzipan teacakes, Gob stoppers, and snow mints, to name just a few of the delicacies they sold. And in this shop on our way to school, we would ponder for ages wondering which would be the best buy for a penny. The shop is still there of course, but is now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Worswick. My route to school, along with all my friends, was over Dickie Caunce's fields (which by the way, is Bankcroft today), through the side of the field was a narrow footpath and woe betide anyone he caught over-stepping the footpath onto the grass. Rain, hail or snow, all children walked to school. On rainy days, the girls wore black shiny mackintoshes with, souwesters. The macs were just long enough to drip into our wellingtons! In those days clothes were bought to last at least two winters. I went to Longton Council School. The other school in the village was the Catholic School of St. Oswalds. Some of their pupils came from Tarleton and Hesketh Bank to attend and they arrived by train, and many was the fight in School Lane, between St. Oswalds and Longton Council School. I'm sure many of the lads remember that. We started school at four years and stayed at the same school until reached the age of 14, unless of course you passed your scholarship at 11+ then the girls would go to Leyland Balshaws and the boys to Hutton Grammer School. I was not one of those children, so I spent my school years at Longton One of my favourite teachers was Miss Bamford. She was of course quite strict but fair. There were of course many other teachers at Longton too. Mr. Parkinson, Mrs. Usher, Miss Rose, Miss Edleston, Mr. Coulbourne, Miss Godbert, Miss Whipp, Miss Pickup and the Headmaster Mr. Pendlebury (or old nibby to us children, unknown to him of course). Apart from the three Rs, the boys were taught gardening and woodwork by Mr. Rennison and the girls were taught Laundry and Cookery by Miss Greenberry. I remember so well the cookery lessons. I shared a table during our cookery lessons with Mary Banks whose cakes and puddings turned out perfect every time - mine however didn't. At the end of the lesson we were given marks out of ten for our efforts. Mary always got nine or ten, while I got four or sometimes three. Miss Green often told me I would never learn to cook if I didn't concentrate more on the lessons. Unfortunately, by the time I had passed the grade, Miss Greenberry had passed on, although I often think of here with a smile, remembering that it used to take us all day to make six little cakes at school. During our school days, we had seasons of playing games. Winter was marbles and glass allies, which rolled in between the cobblestones into holes in the schoolyard, skipping time, top and whip, two balls, which we played against the school wall, and conkers when the chestnuts were out. All the games are gone now, along with the cobblestones in the schoolyard. We would make slides on frosty mornings, only to discover when we came out at play that the Caretaker, Mr. Posslethwaite (who I'm sure everyone remembers), had thrown cinders on our precious slides to prevent anyone having a nasty fall. During our school years from the age of ten, we were taught to swim. Thursday, the girls would troop in two's down School Lane to the little railway station known as Longton Bridge. There we would board the train Southport to the Victoria Baths, and in the pool known as Ladies first class Mrs. Rushworth (the swimming instructress) taught us all to swim. I am so proud of my certificate for swimming seventy-two lengths of the baths, which was the teachers equivalent of a mile. The boys did the same journey on Wednesdays. Sadly, the little railway station has gone and is now part of history in the village. On the first of May, the boys and girls did the Maypole dance. It was quite an occasion. There was always the May Queen to be crowned, country dancing and of course the Maypole dance. We would weave in and out with out coloured ribbons, watched by our parents, to the music played on the piano accordian by Mr. Posslethwaite. An extra duty for him, as he was not only the Caretaker, but resident musician as well. The folk dance circle was run by Miss Godbert and Miss Kitson, and many is the time I've had my legs slapped by her. She had a knack of coming up behind you as you danced and giving a slap on the leg if you did a wrong step. Many Trophies have been won at the Folk Dance Festival in Blackpool and Morecambe by the country dancers from Longton Council School. My favourite dance was the Sword dance and I remember in the early days of the war, dancing that particular dance along with Audrey Bell, Muriel Hamilton, Joan and Kathleen Wright, Joan Atkinson, Margaret Ashcroft and Helen Hunter in Stryands, Hutton, for the Spitfire fund - I think we raised £2, which to us seemed a lot of money in those days. Longton Council School was the first school in the area to have school meals and by 1941, my Mother and Aunt, Mrs. Harrison, the cooks. A large oven was built in the wall of the assembly hall and the where the dinners were cooked. I can't remember the menus for every day, I do remember Thursday's dinner was mashed potato and sausage, followed by rice pudding. The cost was 1/9d per week, which is about 9p by today's rate. Quite a bargain - but of course the wages for our parents would only about £3.00 per week. We also had nature walks with the teachers during the summer months, and one in particular sticks out in my mind. We were taken by Miss Pickup to Longton Marsh, headed by George Baxendale, John Wright, and Bill Hart who knew the marsh so well. We walked through mud, and jumped dykes. It was a huge prank, arranged by the three lads, unknown to the rest of the class. I remember we arrived back at school tired, wet, weary and muddy, along with a furious Miss Pickup. That was the last nature walk I ever remember going on with the school and I'm sure they are laughing yet at the memory of us all looking like scarecrows at the end of the day. A great attraction to us children was the Brickcroft. It was a wonderful place to play. The little trucks ran from the clay pit over a little wooden bridge in Drumacre Lane and up to the brick kilns where the bricks were made, and many's the time we have sneaked a ride, perched on top of the clay in the little trucks if we thought no-one was looking, and swum in the pit in the Summer. The warm kilns were a great attraction to tramps, who in the winter months would sleep there. I remember quite well the old tub mender, and the bearded tramp who were regulars during the winter. They would he make their way down School Lane around 4.o’clock as we came out of School. They never troubled us, or we them, and they were an accepted part of Village life Our school days seemed happy, carefree days, when we bird nested, made dens in the fields, played in the lanes and were in no danger from people or traffic. Many people I'm sure will remember two aeroplanes landing in a 40 acre field near the marsh in 1937, and giving bargain flights at 2/6d, which is 12.5p today and 5/-, which is 25p. The cheaper flights were around the village and the longer flights covered Preston as well. I remember sitting from morning until evening, watching every flight take off and land, and one day there was parachutist too. The event was talked about for weeks afterwards. I'm sure everyone in the village went down the lane to see them. Aeroplanes in those far-off days were very rarely seen. The marsh was a great attraction during our school days. Many of us went to roll our Easter eggs and picnic during the summer months, carrying our little parcels of sandwiches and calling at The Flying Fish for a large bottle of lemonade. As youngsters, we spent hours playing there - jumping dykes and sailing bits of sticks in them. Will Sutton was the Tailor, or to the older people affectionately known as Tailor Bill's. All the suits he produced were handmade. Some days I would walk down to my Uncle coming home from work. He worked for Mr. Sutton from 13 years old until he retired at 65. If sometimes I was a little early, I would find him sitting cross-legged on the floor sewing away. He said it was more comfortable to sit I that and in his opinion, it was the correct way. He also used to say the only time you sat on a chair was to use the machine. All I know is the suits they made never seemed to wear out. The shop now sells computers - a far cry from 1935 I wonder how many readers remember Ruby Turner who called on Saturday afternoons with her horse and cart, which was a miniature hardware store selling large blocks of carbolic soap, packets of Rinso, Oxydol, rubbing stones, all names and products of the past. Her tank on the back of the cart held the paraffin', which of course we needed for the lamps and paraffin stoves, for not all houses had been blessed with electricity - I, and many of my friends would Buy a penny clay pipe, which along with a jam jar of soapy water would be all We needed to play for hours blowing bubbles. Back in the thirties, most of the Shops came round to the houses at least once a week delivering and selling their goods. Bill Cart with the Fish and Vegetable van, Fred Taylor with the meat and Sutton’s of Park Farm delivered their milk twice a day. It was carried in a little truck pushed by Mrs. Sutton which were two large Milk kits and the milk was poured into the waiting jugs at each house. I suppose today that would be quite a novelty, but then it was a part of everyday life. Not only did the small shops deliver their goods, so did the Co-op which stood where Blundells shop is today. Booths of course always delivered peoples weekly order. I remember so well the smell of ground coffee as you walked into the old Booths and how the door was opened for you as you left the shop. An impossible task today with the volume of customers in and out, but it still remains the good Grocer it always was. Apart from the men who worked on the farms and Brickcroft, another main employer was Wilkins Brewery. Mr. Richard Wilkins and his family lived at The Grove. Part of the grounds has now been turned into a park and the house pulled down to make room for a new housing estate. My grandmother was the Cook and my Mother parlour-maid/waitress. (I feel I have to mention her position because to Mum that was important - Perhaps a status symbol? who knows?). I remember so well the story she told me of life in service when she was a girl. She was 17 years when she travelled from Workington in Cumbria to Longton to take up position at The Grove. In those far Off days, it took ten hours on arriving Longton Bridge Station. It was by then 6.30pm. and she had to be in uniform ready to serve on table at 7pm and it was a very nervous maid indeed who carried in the soup tureen, place it on the table and took two paces back to stand behind the Master (Mr. R. Wilkins) waiting for him to fill the soup bowls for her to serve to the family. After waiting shaking in her shoes for minutes, which seemed like an hour, with no-one speaking, she knew something must be wrong. A quiet little voice from the other end of the table said "I think you had better tell her dear, she's new." The dreadful mistake had made was not lifting the lid of the soup tureen for the master to serve! Not such 'good old days', I would have thought, but to my Mother and generation, it was the way things were and accepted by domestic staff. I have managed to acquire a photo of the Brewery, kindly lent to us by Graham Keighley. I, Of course, don't remember the original Mr. Wilkins living at Grove, for by 1935 his son Mr. Tom Wilkins lived at Plumpton House in Marsh Lane, which adjoined to the Brewery. I still remember clearly the sweet smell from the Malt Kilns when the beer was being brewed and some of the Longtonians, Mr. Ellis Cleece, Gordon Baxendale, Jack Coulton, Jack Walker Mark Jackson, and Ronnie Walker, to name but a few of the men walking the lane when the brewery whistle blew around teatime. Across the road from the brewery stood two thatched cottages. One tenanted by Mr. Dick Hart and family, and the other one by My Grandad and Grandmother. There was a large kitchen come living room, two bedrooms and a stone slabbed pantry, which always seemed to be full of apples. It had an earthen floor and tiny windows. Under the window in the kitchen, My Grandmother had a horse hair sofa. The horse’s hair used to stick out through the leather on the seat and during my visits that is where I had to sit, with the prickly hairs sticking in my legs. Thank goodness that type of furniture is no longer produced. The cottages were pulled down in 1936, but the smell of the damp thatch roof, mingled with cooking apples, will remain with me always, along with the prickles of the horse hair sofa on my legs. One very important place on Sundays after Sunday school was Mrs. Browns Temperance Cafe - a wooden building in School Lane, opposite the side entrance to the Church. There we would spend our pennies. Most children took twopence for the collection and, after deciding our need was greater than the Sunday School collection, we would keep one penny back to spend in Mrs. Browns, where we could buy a glass of Vimto or Sasperalla and sit for hours chatting with the boys. Many a courtship was begun in the little shop and on reflection, what a very kind lady she was, letting us stay so long, spending so little. I have tried without success to find a photograph of the shop, for now, on that sacred spot, stands a row of bungalows. I did however manage to obtain a photograph of the Cafe Monica, or to us (Old Sheps), a very different meeting place to spend the winter evenings. We were of course a little older before we graduated to Old Sheps, but I'm sure many will remember the many happy evenings spent around his roaring fire and a hearth full of cigarette ends!! Gone too is the Village blacksmith, Mr. Maudsley. Many hours were passed there watching the horses being shod and I should imagine every child in the area took home at some time an old horse shoe to nail to a cabin or outside toilet. All our social life in 1935 was centred around the Church and Chapel, for going to Preston was a special treat, reserved only for a shopping trip with Mother or a pantomime at Christmas time. We had village socials at the Church and Chapel and concerts by local concert parties, but the most important to children and teenagers was St. Andrews walking day. That was a day when anyone who had left the village to live elsewhere, returned for that great day. It was a day for the older folk to reminisce with old friend’s and the gather together with families. A very exciting time for we children as it was a chance to dress up and show off. We were so proud to walk in the procession, the girls in pretty dresses of silk or satin to match the colour of the banners of the Church. We all carried baskets of flowers with silver wreaths of leaves on our heads, purchased from Gooby's or Coupes in Preston. Both shops have now vanished, and in those far off days, we had our own Longton Band. I remember some of the bandsmen - there was Mr. Ed Coxhead, Tom Cork, Bill Wright, and Dick Hart. Of course I can't remember them all, but after we had walked through the Village, we returned to the Sunday School for jelly, sandwiches and cakes. Then it was off for the Sunday School sports, to compete in the egg and spoon race, the sack race and the three legged event, during which time the band played on the field for country dancing. I seem to remember that the fair came too, for during the procession the girls carried little silk Dorothy bags on their wrists for friends and relatives to run out to us during our walk, popping pennies for us to spend on the fair. But things change, now the fair comes three weeks after the walking day and I suppose it will depend on whether a band available on the dates required. Some home-made bread and cakes we had for our Xmas Party and our walking day teas', as we called it, were brought from the Cake shop in the village known as Kenyons. It stood in the place where Moore's Newsagents stands today. The Sunday School always had a magic lantern show during the winter months and sometimes a silent film. Christmas Eve, there was always a dance in the old Sunday School, with plenty of French chalk strewn across the floor to make the dancing easier. I remember it was a date looked forward to by the young people, but we smaller children had a Christmas party with a sit down tea, as it was known then. After tea, when the tables had been cleared we played games. A delightful little corner shop, which seemed to sell everything from clothes lines to Fennings Cooling Powders was owned by Mr. and Mrs Strickland The main selling line was confectionery, cakes, scones, bread and meat and potato pies - which I enjoyed when our lunch at home was tattie pot, made from left over roast beef from the Sunday's joint. We always had that on Mondays, for that was everyone’s wash day. In fact, it was sacrilege to do the weekly wash on any other day. In the back kitchen was a brick structure with a cast iron inside and in the bottom was a grate. Early Monday morning, the fire was lit in the grate, the boiler filled with what seemed buckets and buckets of cold water, the dampers drawn so the would boil and all the white clothes were put in, along with grated soap Acdo and boiled vigorously. They were then put in the dolly tub and possed rinsed, dolly blued, mangled, and if the weather was wet, the clothes festooned round the kitchen fire. The clothes rack was filled over the where it hung from the ceiling and steam was everywhere. It took so long to the washing in those days that that was the reason we had to have a tasteless tattie pot for lunch. No wonder Mrs. Strickland's meat and potato pies tasted so good. The little shop has been turned into a cottage now, like many or small villages today, Longton has lost the little shops that were so important our life in the village back in the Thirties. Stewart Porter was the Electrician and had his shop where Blundells had their car park today. It was there that everyone went to have their electric irons repaired and elements in kettles, for by 1937 most houses had electricity. the shop was run by Barbara Wade and Margaret Taylor - all the repairs being carried out by Arnold Garstang, Leslie Wilson and Hector Walker. They were the ones I remember, and in those days they could mend anything - unlike today when electrical goods are supposed to have had a good working life after five years and after that they are obsolete. We had only two doctors in the village in 1935, Dr. Patchett, whose surgery was down The Drive and Dr. Meiring with his surgery at Chestnut House. The Chemist was a wooden building and was owned by Mr. Bertram Ramsbottom. How I loved the smell of that shop - a mixture of Liquorice, lemon juice, Coltsfoot and cough medicine. It sounds dreadful, but the smell was wonderful. There were just a few cosmetics in a glass cabinet - Tangee lipstick, Evening in Paris perfume and Californian Poppy - a far cry from Mr. Facer's Chemist today. In 1939, when the war with Germany was declared, great changes came to Longton. The evacuees arrived from Manchester. The Grove became Army Headquarters with troops billeted there and soldiers on guard, complete with sentry boxes at the gates. Longton Hall also housed soldiers and I'm sure many will remember during the first years of the war, a Western Lysander plane flying very low over Longton Hall, dropping a green flare every morning as we children were on our way to School. The Local Defence Volunteers were formed. Our name for them was 'Look, Duck and Vanish' which would have been the right thing to do at that time, when the only weapons the L.D.V. had were stout sticks. That of course was for a very few weeks, for soon they were to become the Home Guard, with uniforms and rifles. I remember an uncle of mine, who during the short period of the L.D.V. was put one night to guard the Brewery (and for the life of me I can't think why). He went on duty complete with his armband and stout stick, only to be brought home the following morning as drunk as a monkey on a wheelbarrow. My aunt was furious, and told him his days of being a member of the L.D.V. were over. I was quite worried about this, so I asked my aunt what his Officer would say, to which she replied, "Officer be damned. It's only Will Sutton, they are not proper soldiers." So that was just how important the Home Guard were to my Aunt, although they were of great value in many towns and cities, their role in Longton was very low key. In fact I never did find out what they did, but I know they were all good card players. (I bet I get some flack after that remark). With so many children now in the village school, days were very different. The evacuee children went in the mornings and the local children in the afternoon, and this was reversed the following week. A delight to us children, but not a very satisfactory arrangement for the Education Department. Very soon, many of the children drifted back to Manchester and the remainder were brought into our various classrooms. Some of the children stayed until near the end of 1943, and some never went back at all and were adopted by local families. Although life in the village seemed suddenly busier, for we local children, it must have been a terrible shock for the evacuees who suddenly found themselves five miles from the nearest town - no street lights, no cinemas and many were billeted on farms and had never been close to a cow or sheep in their lives, not to mention pigs and the rest of the farm yard animals and poultry. Most of the children who were evacuated were used to going to the cinema a couple of times a week and now had to he content with the Sunday school socials and school concerts. To us it was part of our every day life, but I'm not surprised many went back home to be with their parents and their own way of life. It was a good idea on paper, but in reality, not so good. Life in the village went on and by now I and my friends had left school and were working. We were allowed to go to the local dances. My favourite was Walmer Bridge School for the weekly dance every Saturday night. The admission was 2&6d or 12p today. That is where we danced to the strains of Fred Howard's Carleton Dance Band. There was of course dancing at the Anchor too with Jack Wild's Band and sometimes at the Old Church Hall in Longton, but none to me were as wonderful as the one at Walmer Bridge, with the lads standing in one corner of the room and the girls in the other. A great change to the dances or discos of today when all the girls dance together and the boys in another group. I feel they are missing out on such a lot, but that's progress - or so they say. The dances were always for Charity, Hoole Young Farmers, W.V.S., it was not unusual to have live hens raffled during intervals of the dance. What a fuss there would be today if anything like that happened, but as I said before, it was all part of our rural life. During the war years, the last bus from Preston was 8.30pm, so if we went to Town to the Cinema, we all used the train which ran at 9.15pm and the 1ast one being 10.10pm. The railway station was, as we all know, closed down 1964, but it certainly did some good service back in the old days. How many remember the dancing classes held at the Institute, organised by Mr. Winrow Many were taught to dance to the music of Victor Sylvester gramophone records. We had in the village, during the war years, Italian prisoners of War working on the farms. An army lorry would bring them in the mornings collect them again in the evenings. I remember all the prisoners had green boiler suits with big brown patches sewn on them. A very strange sight for us to see. Soldiers travelled with them, armed with rifles. There were never any tried to escape and they sat looking quite cheerful in the back of the vehicles. Even in the winter months they would wave to us children as passed, and I'm sure the weather was a trial to them after sunny Italy. Although so many of the young men were away in the forces, apart from the rationing of sweets and the supply of clothing coupons was never enough, Longton saw little of the war. The sirens went nightly as the planes flew over to bomb Liverpool which was hit very badly, as were many other towns and cities. Longton had only one land mine dropped over the marsh by a plane unloading its ammunition on the way back to Germany. There was of course the blackout. Not a chink of light showing from any house and the air raid warden checking the houses and shops nightly and the fire watchers posted at the Church Hall. The house belonging to Hillock Grange was, during the War, a Canteen for the soldiers who were billeted in the village, selling cups of tea and biscuits and cigarettes for the troops. It was run by the W.V.S. and many local lady volunteers. Longton had its own concrete built look-out post in Back Lane, which remained for many years after the war. I think their mission was to look out for parachutes landing and of course an invasion by the Germans, which fortunately never happened. With the clothes being only available on coupons, to which every person was allowed 20 coupons per month, these had to buy bedding, towels, underwear and in fact every stitch of clothing we wore plus footwear. Many people of my generation, who will now be in their sixties did without stockings and painted our legs with leg tan (when available). We even resorted to using gravy browning, which as you can imagine was sticky, not to mention the mess it made on the bedclothes - but pride had to abide for young girls, even in the 1940's. In 1945, when the war was over and the boys started to come back to the Village, the lights were on again in the shops and houses, blackouts were thrown away and the village was beginning to return to a normal way of life, but it was never quite the same - many things had changed and many things were new. We had two new Doctors, Dr. Berry had taken over the Surgery down The Drive and Dr. Hargreaves at Chestnut House, joined later by Dr. Wilkinson. I have always been a patient of Dr. Hargreaves and with him came many, new methods. I'm sure many will have on their arms, large vaccination marks which resemble dart boards, which was where every baby was vaccinated, but Dr. Hargreaves started to vaccinate babies on their feet, which was so much easier for Mothers to handle and no scars to show. I remember thinking at the time that he was some sort of genius and in fact until he retired, I always regarded him so. In 1972, the new Health Centre was opened which now has four doctors, headed by Dr. Moss, Dr. Robinson, Dr. Loudensack and Dr.Cochran, and at the surgery of the late Dr. Berry down The Drive, we have Dr.Tandon. So many changes have now come to the village I know, but perhaps the little booklet will rekindle a few precious memories. With special thanks to all the people who helped with information and the loan of photographs. jean.worthington@btinternet.com