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

Part 51 (of 89 parts) - Memories of Sutton Part 2

Introduction: Memories of Sutton is a series of recollections of Sutton's past that have been contributed by visitors to this website. If you have any memories or personal experiences - perhaps from your childhood - that you'd like to share, do please contact me. I'll be delighted to hear from you!  SRW
An Illustrated History of Old Sutton in St.Helens
Part 51 (of 89 parts) - Memories of Sutton Part 2
Introduction: Memories of Sutton is a series of recollections of Sutton's past that have been contributed by visitors to this website. If you have any memories or personal experiences - perhaps from your childhood - that you'd like to share, do please contact me. I'll be delighted to hear from you!  SRW
An Illustrated History of
Old Sutton in St.Helens
Memories of Sutton 2
Researched and Written by Stephen Wainwright ©MMXVII
Introduction: Memories of Sutton is a 24-part series of recollections of Sutton's past contributed by visitors to this website. If you have any memories or personal experiences that you'd like to share, do please get in touch.

'A Sutton Schoolboy's Memories of World War 2' by Bill Bate

The 3rd of September 1939 was just three weeks away from my eighth birthday. At 11am on that Sunday morning, the family sat round the radio at our New Street home to hear that war had been declared. Mum had a cry but Dad didn't say anything. As teenagers they'd both lived through the First World War in which Dad had lost a brother. In the following weeks there were the instructions about possible air raids and how to black out your home. Street lighting was all gas lamps in those days and quite soon all street lights were extinguished. It was to be about five years before we saw the lights on again.

For an eight-year-old, days passed as before with school, football and cricket. My school mates and me formed a team to play other schoolboy groups around Sutton. At football, we used our coats to mark the goals and we had many enjoyable games. During the cricket season, a favourite venue was the playing field near St. Annes that we called 'Joe Doffs'. But with a hard clay surface embedded with a lot of small pebbles, the cricket ball did some strange things!

At other times on the week ends, as my home was so near to the Sherdley estate, I spent many days climbing over the high sandstone wall and wandering around the grounds. Sometimes being chased by the people employed to look after the grounds! Into 1940, the war situation was looking bad, with the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk and with the air raids on Liverpool, Manchester and other cities. Our family used to go down to the Sutton National Air raid shelter, but that only lasted for a couple of months. Dad then fixed a platform over the bath for a mattress and the kids slept in the bathroom. Later on we got an 'Anderson' Shelter.

One night during an air raid, with the Ack-Ack guns firing, there was a loud explosion which seemed quite close by. Early the next morning, I looked around the local area but couldn't find anything but when I went into Sherdley, I found a big crater caused by a bomb. It was fortunate that it had fallen on open land and that no one was injured. The location of the crater was on what is now the golf course, near the old water-filled pit known as the Delph. Other bombs fell near the Rolling Mill and by the side of a farmhouse near Lea Green. There was also a row of cottages further along the road, near the railway bridge, that were damaged by machine-gun fire from German aircraft that followed the trains going to Liverpool. The bridge steelwork still has bullet holes in it.

There are some quite young faces in the Sherdley Park 'C' Company Home Guard who are pictured in the park in 1942

Sherdley Park 'C' Company Home Guard are pictured in the park in 1942

Sherdley Park 'C' Co. Home Guard

My eldest brother Harold joined the Sherdley Park 'C' Company Home Guard who were based at Sherdley Hall and he's in this photograph on the far left of the front row. Within about a year he was in the Royal Navy and he spent most of his service on HMS Crane. Once when he came home on leave, he had a kit bag full of chocolate bars for us kids and enough cigarettes to keep my Dad going for months. His ship was credited with the sinking of a German U-boat and it escorted a convoy taking supplies to the Russian city of Murmansk. Harold said the North Atlantic weather conditions were atrocious and the crew had to hack ice off the deck super structure and gun emplacements to stop the ship from capsizing. His ship was in Tokyo Bay to witness the surrender of the Japanese. Fortunately he came home to us in Sutton safe and sound.

I think it was late in 1942 when the Yanks came to Burtonwood and for all the schoolkids, "Got any gum, chum?", was the favourite greeting. It became a usual thing to see American aircraft returning to Burtonwood badly damaged with holes in the wings and fuselage. It appeared that aircraft lined up the runway by using St.Nicholas's Church as a guidance point; they would have only been at a height of 500 feet at that point.


WW2 victory party in Oxley Street, Sutton, St.Helens
Oxley Street VE party - Contributed by Ken Whittaker
At the end of August 1943, I went to the site of the US Liberator crash at the Battery Cob at Northfield Farm in Clock Face. All the school kids from around Sutton had decided to have a look, but by this time the wreckage had been removed. The only evidence left was a gouge in the top of the Battery Cob, and an oil slick on the water of the swampy area on the other side of the hill. One other aircraft made a forced landing not far from that incident. It was an RAF Wellington and when I saw it, the left front undercarriage had collapsed and the left wing was resting on the ground.

No doubt there are more tales that could be told by Sutton schoolchildren of their memories of WW2. It was in many ways a very exciting time, but it was also a time we all lost our childhood. Two never fading memories of the end of the war was when the street lights came back on and all the homes had taken down the black-out curtains. Hands up all the kids that remember the street parties? It was wonderful to see all the food on the tables that had been missing for over five years. All the bunting and flags, the community spirit was never stronger. "This was Victorious Britain"
.
BILL BATE
(Bill lived at 217 New Street from 1936, attending St.Anne's School from 1935 - 45 and now lives in Western Australia)

'Sutton Memories – I Remember' by David Normington Gerrard

53 Waterdale Crescent in Sutton, the premises of Arthur Normington, commercial photographer

53 Waterdale Crescent, the premises of Arthur Normington, commercial photographer

The premises of Arthur Normington

It’s so long that I left Sutton for distant lands that when I saw the website, I just had to participate. My father was Arthur Normington, a very well known photographer and where we lived in Waterdale Crescent has now disappeared. I’ve lived and worked in much more romantic places than Sutton, such as London, Paris and S.E. Spain – but none have marked me as much as where I was born. I studied at Marshalls Cross Primary School, Robins Lane Junior School and then Cowley Boys Grammar School. When you reach sixty-seven, you reach into your memory pocket to dig out the bit of change which will help see you through the day.

I’m going to write about people, places, incidents and I would love people to participate and relive these with me, helping restore the bits that are missing or improving my tales. I remember so many people. Although I was born at my Nan’s at 6 St.Nicholas Grove, we lived at 53 Waterdale Crescent, which was also the premises of commercial photographer Arthur Normington.

David and his Nan at 6 St.Nicholas Grove and outside the shop at 53 Waterdale Crescent with Jean Helsby

David and his Nan at 6 St.Nicholas Grove and outside the shop with Jean Helsby

David and his Nan and outside the photography shop with Jean Helsby

There were many nearby shops that I remember, including the general off-license on the opposite corner to Dad’s shop, which was run by Ste Gallagher, then Boardman’s and then Clare’s. Austin Rowe’s corner shop was on the corner of Oxley Street, with Mrs. Kenny’s fruit shop on the corner of Garnet Street. There was also Scott’s (Helsby’s) Fish and Chip Shop, Whittaker’s Paper Shop (later Thompson’s), Lee’s Confectioners, Reg Donoghue’s Butchers, Davies’s Bike Shop and Clogger Whalley’s, the latter two in Robins Lane. I seem to remember a Miss Bates’ shop as well.

David Normington's 5th birthday gathering in the back yard of 53 Waterdale Crescent, Sutton

David's 5th birthday gathering in the back yard of 53 Waterdale Crescent

David's 5th birthday gathering

Frances Tickle
Frances Tickle at 1, Harrison Street
Contributed by Tom Williams
What about the Blinkhorn Rooms where we went to Sunday School and the Glassmaker’s Arms pub? Friends I remember well, include Phil and Marie Jones, the Grimes family, the Lawrence family, the Cleggs, the Rigbys, the Gordons, the Glovers (Dad’s half-brother) who all lived in Harrison Street. And old Mrs. Tickle, bless her heart, who wouldn’t let me pay for the window when I broke it playing piggy. My mate Jeff Fernley and his family lived in Oxley Street, and Jeff’s dad was the boss at Clock Face Colliery. Then there was Vera Donlon from the street. The salt of the earth, all of them. There are others I can’t remember and I hope they aren’t offended.

Next to Dad’s shop there were other families, who actually lived in the Crescent:- two old fat characters called Len and Jimmy Critchley, old Mr. Powell with his long white beard and Elsie, his daughter, I think. The Thompson family, who I remember well and Jenny Harrison, a single mother whose son Tony (?) was murdered in Southport. Then there was the Speakman family who were great friends of Dad’s and Les Johnson and his wife Barbara, who still live in Peasley Cross.

The people from the New Street area that I recall include my beloved Uncle Arthur (Mum’s brother) and his wife, Auntie Audrey, who still lives at 80, New Street and Nan and Grandad (Arthur and Emily Gerrard) from St. Nicholas Grove.

David and his pals are pictured in the walking day procession of 1948 - Mr Kenwright is standing on the truck

David Normington and his pals are pictured in the walking day procession of 1948

Walking day procession of 1948

Let’s call it a day. I’ll relax now, here in Spain, close my eyes and drift back to my beloved Sutton and its memories. Many more names are wandering back, but I can’t mention them all. I would really love anyone who remembers me or my family to get in touch at david@academianormington.com.
DAVID NORMINGTON GERRARD

'Polly Fenney of Chester Lane' by Jim Lamb

Polly Fenney was a hard, heavy lady and you never saw her mixing with locals. Although sometimes you’d see her walking down the lane all dolled up. She lived with her brother Rafe at 11 Chester Lane and we lived at No 7. They had a coal business and I would see them going towards Sutton Manor with an empty cart and then return full of bags of coal. Later I’d see Rafe delivering the coal with Polly driving the horse.

Polly Fenney's real name was Mary Jane Fagan - she was widowed in 1918 upon the death of husband James Fagan

Polly Fenney of Chester Lane - her real name was Mary Jane Fagan

Polly Fenney of Chester Lane

Every Saturday morning my mother would go round to her house and when she returned she’d give me a list of Polly’s shopping and the money. I’d then go to Lucy Bath's Grocery Store and Post Office at the top of Mill Lane, opposite the infants school, for her bread, milk and also a bag of sweets. On returning, I would never enter the house. Polly would take her basket from me and give me the bag of sweets. I was 13 or 14 years old at the time and all my mates were frightened to death of her.

Polly and Rafe had a large plot of land in Chester Lane where the new church now stands. My dad also had a small plot across from Polly’s and we regularly saw her and Rafe collecting eggs and feeding the horse. There was a large pond there too. I left Robins Lane school at 15 and worked at Burtonwood Moto Engineering from 1955 to ’57 and I then did my army service in Malaya. Upon returning home, Polly and Rafe had gone and so had a way of life.

The Bull & Dog is top left of this 1974 picture - the 6 cottages in the middle were demolished in 1980 - contributed by Jim Lamb

The Bull & Dog is at the top left of this photo taken by Jim Lamb in 1974

Bull & Dog is top left of this 1974 photo

Some years later, I took this photograph from my front gate at no. 7 Chester Lane. At the top right of the photo, part of Lucy Bath's grocers and the Marshalls Cross infants school can be seen. There's no horse and cart anymore, Joe Pickavance has an overloaded wagon. He saw me taking the photo and gave me the 'V' sign. However, my mother said that he was just waving to me!
JAMES LAMB

'My Sutton Memories' by Enid Kenyon

l was born in January 1927 and we must have had similar weather then as we have just had this January (2010). If my father had been here now he would have been saying, as he always did on the eve of my birthday, that it was so many years since he pushed the ambulance out of the snow.

Miss Gee, Miss Nichol and Tommy Waring
Miss Gee, Miss Nichol and Tommy Waring
We lived in Sutton Manor at that time, as my grandfather and father worked at the Sutton Manor colliery. My father was a colliery fire man and later changed to Lea Green. When l was nine we moved to Sutton, which was where both my great-grandparents lived. My mother had been born in Sutton and she told me that when she was six, she had her tonsils operated on without anaesthetic. l think it was in a clinic in Elizabeth Street. Her arms and legs were held down by the nurses. What a nightmare that must have been! I think it was the same clinic that l went to for a filling. There was no injection, so I must have fainted as the drill hit the nerve.

Miss Gee, Miss Nichol & Tommy Waring

l went to Robins Lane school and well remember Miss Gee and Miss Nichol. Miss Gee was both very good with music and art, one of my favourite lessons. When l was ten l saw an air ship going over. l used to play at times on the Battery Cob, but during the war an American plane crashed into it and so it was demolished. I was married in St.Nicholas church and my daughter was christened there. My parents are also buried at St.Nicholas and so are my husband’s mother and sister. The picture of Tom Waring on the website brought back memories of happy times at the Sutton Bug picture house. l well remember him squirting us all with disinfectant!

The St.Helens Borough Sanatorium in Peasley Cross a.k.a. Fever or Infectious Diseases Hospital

The St.Helens Borough Sanatorium in Peasley Cross, a.k.a. Fever Hospital

The St.Helens Borough Sanatorium

We lived in Station Road and remember seeing a trolley bus which was illuminated and the nurses collecting for the hospitals. A few days later l was taken to the Sanatorium with diphtheria and a few of my class were also in at the same time as myself.
ENID KENYON
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
This website is written and researched by Stephen R. Wainwright ©MMXVII  Contact Me
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