An Illustrated History of Old Sutton in St. Helens, Lancashire

Part 81 (of 92 parts) - Children’s Corner

An Illustrated History of Old Sutton in St.Helens
Part 81 (of 92) - Children’s Corner
An Illustrated History of
Old Sutton in St.Helens
Children’s Corner
Researched and Written by Stephen Wainwright ©MMXVII


The days have gone when local newspapers had Children’s Corners, or similarly named columns. These were hosted by so-called ‘uncles’ or ‘aunties’ and featured topics and competitions especially for youngsters. Often the column was based on a club, which the kids were encouraged to join in order to receive benefits, such as a membership card and badge. The St.Helens Reporter’s version was originally known as ‘Children’s Circle’ and later became the ‘Children’s Reporter’. However despite the change of name, the gilt and purple badge worn by members still bore the column’s original title. In its early years the Children’s Circle was run by ‘Daddy’ and had the motto ‘Love One Another’. By the 1930s ‘Uncle Ben’ was in charge, assisted by his wife ‘Aunt Bessie’. Membership was open to any child aged six to fourteen.
Children's Reporter St.Helens
Such columns were mainly published in local and regional papers, with Uncle John apparently the most popular persona. Individuals bearing such a name hosted columns in the Exeter & Plymouth Gazette, the Stirling Observer and Hertford Mercury. Uncle Charlie ran the Gloucester Journal’s version and the Children’s Corner in the Liverpool Evening Express was conducted by Auntie Joan. Then there was Uncle Jim in the Hastings Observer, Uncle Timothy in the Sheffield Telegraph, the Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph had Uncle Peter, the Sussex Express’s column was run by Auntie Ivy, the Yorkshire Evening Post’s was conducted by Auntie Betty, the Leicester Mercury’s Children’s Corner was edited by Auntie Susie, the Dundee Evening Telegraph had Aunt Joan and the Derbyshire Times had an Uncle Bert.The Children’s Corner in the Bury Free Press in Suffolk was unusual in that it had cousins instead of nephews and nieces, with the column run by Cousin Claude. The Newcastle Chronicle’s Children’s Corner, edited by Uncle Toby, was another interesting one as it also incorporated the Dicky Bird Society! Members had to promise to ‘be kind to all living things’. The Birmingham Evening Despatch had two uncles, Uncle David and Uncle Ernest, who jointly ran their Children’s Corner.
Children’s Corner
Although pictures of members regularly appeared in the various columns, the uncle or auntie was always anonymous, allowing anyone to adopt the persona. The columns all featured contributions from the children, which included poems, limericks, drawings, paintings, silly jokes and photos. The youngsters were also encouraged to involve themselves in good causes and during the late 1930s, the Children’s Reporter had its own Roll of Honour for those who’d collected silver paper to pay for and manage a cot at St.Helens Hospital. During the war this changed to the Mayor’s fund in aid of the Red Cross and St. John’s Ambulance service. Encouraging children to be good, polite, respectful young citizens, was part of the Children’s Reporter’s remit. The host Uncle Ben also made it clear that you were less likely to win a prize if your neatness, spelling and punctuation weren’t first class. His awards included chocolates, crayons, penknifes, fountain pens, as well as money prizes. This page features some of the contributions that Sutton children made to Children’s Corners, mainly in the St.Helens Reporter but in other publications too.
Children's Reporter St.Helens

Left: The Liverpool Evening Express 26/10/1945; Right: The Children's Reporter's Uncle Ben on 8/9/1939

Children's Reporter St.Helens

Left: Liverpool Evening Express 1945; Right: Children's Reporter's Uncle Ben

Children's Reporter St.Helens

Left: Liverpool Evening Express 1945; Right: Children's Reporter's Uncle Ben


Children’s Corner
The above pictures were drawn by Ronald Kenny and published in 1945 in the Liverpool Evening Express’s Children’s Corner. This is how Auntie Joan in the newspaper described the first image:
 There was great excitement in Fairyland, for the Queen had proclaimed that she was holding a royal painting competition, and hundreds of fairy folk decided to try their luck. Here is Bluebell, a favourite with all the fairies, starting on her painting. This charming picture was drawn by a 14-years-old boy - Ronald Kenny, of 27, Waterdale-crescent, Sutton, St Helens – and I am sure you will all enjoy making it as colourful and artistic as you can, with either paints or crayons. 
Four cash prizes of 5s. or 7s. 6d. were up for grabs for the best entries. This was also the case with Ronald’s second painting (above right) which was also published that year which was described as featuring Joan and her pet rabbit Rupert. On November 24th 1939, Edwin Sutton of 47 Webb Street, Sutton Oak, had a poem published in the Children’s Reporter’s Poetry Corner section. It was early on in WW2, and Edwin updated the Highway Code for pedestrians during the blackout:
Safety First by Edwin Sutton
Make full use of the footpath. It is the safety first way.
Keep to it always, by night and by day.
If you must use the road, please walk on the right,
And look twice before crossing, especially at night.
Never step off the footpath when a vehicle is near,
Nor run to the bus if the road is not clear.
After dark wear white cap, white armlet as well,
White cover for gas mask, name and address on label.
If all this advice you will carefully follow,
You will be alert to-day and alive tomorrow.
Dennis Holland of 7 Nelson Street, Sutton won 1st prize in August 1945 in the holiday story competition run by the Liverpool Evening Express’s Children’s Corner column. With the war in Europe now over, the 12-year-old wrote an excellent piece on how he was once again able to enjoy holidays at the seaside:
The Sea Again by Dennis Holland
It is grand to stroll upon the sandy shore after inland holidays and all the storm and stress of war. Then again it is good to see once more the wings of gulls outspread in flight and to watch the rippling water shimmer in the golden light. It is also wonderful to walk upon the heathered headland and to breathe the salty air, and to take the path along the cliff and feel the wind blow through your hair.

It is enjoyable to smell the seaweed on the rocks; to see the white and crimson sails of little ships across the bay, and to look around and see again the happy faces everywhere after years of strain and care. To stand upon the Island’s edge and know that you are safe and free. Yes, this is my holiday.


Children’s Corner
The Children’s Reporter had a portrait gallery which every week turned the spotlight on a club member. There was much competition to have your picture in the paper with Uncle Ben having, at times, a photo backlog of up to a year. During WWII the picture gallery was suspended as there was a shortage of newsprint and so the column length was reduced
Limerick by Ethel Iris Anderton
A foolish young sheep of Sutton,
For danger cared never a button,
At an on-coming car, He merely said baa,
And in less than two hoots he was cold mutton.
Published in the St.Helens Reporter on April 7th 1939
Little Elf by Thelma Twist 205 Mill Lane
I met a little elf-man once down where the lilies grow,
I asked him why he was so small and why he didn’t know.
He slightly frowned and with his eye he looked me through and through,
“I’m quite as big for me,” said he, “as you are big for you.”
Published in the Liverpool Evening Express on September 4th 1944
Falling Out by Eunice Liptrot 74 Milton Street, Sutton Manor
Ralph and Rob were the best of friends and yet the two fell out,
And twas the most surprising thing the way it came about.
For early in the morning they went riding in a cart,
As full of fun the livelong day as they were at the start.
When up a hill quite suddenly they drove with laugh and shout,
And the wheel came off – and now you see why Ralph and Rob fell out!
Published in the St.Helens Reporter on March 31st 1939
The Rain by Kenneth Locke, 39 Webb Street, Sutton Oak
0 where do you come from, you little drops of rain?
Pitter patter, pitter patter, down the window pane;
They say I'm very idle, but I've nothing else to do,
But to sit here by the window, though I'd like to play with you;
The little raindrops cannot speaks, but pitter patter, pat,
Means we can play on this side, why can't you play on that?
Published in the St.Helens Reporter on September 22nd 1939
The Free Blind Mice by Florence Travis 226 Gartons-lane, Clock Face
A little boy was at church with his father when the minister gave out:
“There will now be a collection for the blind.”
“For blind men, daddy?” said the little boy.
“Yes, my sonny.”
“And blind ladies, daddy?”
“Yes, sonny, but you mustn’t talk now.”
“And the free blind mice, daddy?”
Published in the St.Helens Reporter on May 5th 1939
Children’s Reporter St.Helens
Felicia Deakin
Under the headline ‘Toddler Dancing Champion’, the St Helens Reporter on July 21st 1950 published an article on the exploits of four-year-old Felicia Deakin of 190 Reginald Road in Sutton. The little girl had just taken fourth place in national dancing at the all-England Sunshine Dance Competition. Felicia having danced at St George's Hall in Regent Street in London (now demolished), in competition with five hundred other children from various parts of the country. The newspaper said this added to Felicia’s ‘already sparkling’ dancing record, having gained awards in nearly all events for which she had entered over a period of two and a half years. The Reporter completed its article by stating that: ‘Felicia does not yet attend day school, which makes her successes all the more creditable’. In August 1952 the now 6-year-old was feted in the St Helens Reporter for her performances in tap, character and song & dance classes, for which she had just won three first prizes at a Southport stage dancing festival.
Felicia Deakin

Felicia Deakin of Reginald Road

Next:  Part 82)  Mining in Sutton   |  Back To Top of Page
Stephen Wainwright
This website has been written and researched and many images photographed by myself, Stephen Wainwright, the Sutton Beauty & Heritage site owner. Individuals from all over the world have also kindly contributed their own photographs. If you wish to reuse any image, please contact me first as permission may be needed from the copyright owner. High resolution versions of many pictures can also be supplied at no charge. Please also contact me if you can provide any further information or photographs concerning Sutton, St.Helens. You might also consider contributing your recollections of Sutton for the series of Memories pages. Sutton Beauty & Heritage strives for factual accuracy at all times. Do also get in touch if you believe that there are any errors. I respond quickly to emails and if you haven't had a response within twelve hours, check your junk mail folder or resend your message. Thank you! SRW
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