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

Part 53 (of 92 parts) - Memories of Sutton Part 4

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 53 (of 92 parts) - Memories of Sutton Part 4
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 4
Researched and Written by Stephen Wainwright ©MMXVII
Introduction: Memories of Sutton is a 25-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.

'Mill Lane Memories' by Brenda Macdonald and Joan Heyes

Sutton Methodist Cricket team pictured in 1934 - contributed by Brenda Macdonald and Joan Heyes

Sutton Methodist Cricket team pictured in 1934, featuring John Prescot Heyes

Sutton Methodist Cricket team in 1934

This is a photograph of the Sutton Methodist cricket team taken in 1934. After the death of her parents from pneumonia, my mother Joan was brought up by her Aunt Louisa and Uncle John Withington, who were living at 35 Ellen Street. The Withingtons social life revolved around the Methodist church and this is where Mum could meet young men and eventually my father. This weekend, the cricket team played a friendly match in Wales and Mum was allowed to go on the coach with the players and other supporters. However, she travelled there with one young man and returned home on the coach with a different one, which caused a bit of a family scandal at the time! However, four years later she married the second young man who became my Dad. He’s fourth from the left, seated, with hat and bat. His name was John Prescot Heyes and he was born at 11 Oxley Street, Sutton in 1910 and died in Sydney Australia in 1988.

My mother always called her Aunt Louisa and Uncle John 'Mum' and 'Dad'. No one told her that her real parents had died and she only discovered that fact, when a Sutton ‘Nash’ teacher told her that she wasn't a Withington but a Williams on the day she started school. The family moved from Ellen Street to Mill Lane in 1929 when Mum was thirteen years old. The Withingtons were the only family on the block to own a car. It was a big, black Vauxhall with running boards and the doors opened opposite to today's cars. They had the choice of two cars when it was bought. Two salesmen came to the house in Mill Lane, one with a Vauxhall 10 and the other with a Vauxhall 14. It was decided that as there were six in the family, they would have the larger car. When "Dad" started a shift at 4am, the call boy would come along on his bike, with a long stick and knock at the upstairs bedroom window until "Dad" got up and knocked back.

Bowling Green Inn Sutton St.Helens
The Bowling Green Inn - contributed by Brenda Macdonald
When he was driven to work at the Baxter Lane rail yards, he was dropped off at The Bowing Green Inn and walked up Baxters Lane as he said the other men would have made fun and wondered where he got the money from to own such a big car. He didn't learn to drive the car himself as he had two sons. They were on different shifts, Albert on the railways and Arthur at the local radio station, so there was always someone at home to do the driving. The car was bought to be kept at Mill Lane for the family's use and not parked in Baxters Lane for eight hours, as Mum Withington had a fall in childhood and was not good at walking. The car was garaged at a house nearby in Mill Lane, opposite New Street. To pay the neighbour, Mrs Turner, for letting them use her yard, the family would sometimes take her out with them for a drive in the country.

The family who lived on the left of no. 283 Mill Lane were the Browns and Mr. Brown and his two strapping sons worked at Lea Green Colliery. For every shift they walked to work together and back home again, hail, rain or shine with their clog irons ringing on the road. Faces as black as coal! When it snowed, the snow and ice collected under the clog irons and they had to keep stopping to knock the clogs against the nearest wall. They then bathed in a hip bath in front of the fire at home, father first then each son in turn.

Clog maker John Heyes in his Oxley Street backyard - contributed by Brenda Macdonald & Joan Heyes

Clog maker John Heyes pictured in his Oxley Street backyard

Clog maker John Heyes of Oxley Street

This photograph is of my paternal grandfather, John Frederick Heyes who lived with his family at 11 Oxley Street, off Robins Lane. He was a boot and clog maker, and made clogs to order for the miners. The picture was taken in front of his backyard work shed in his leather apron. When my Dad was a boy, he used to be sent into St Helens on his father’s bike to buy a side of leather. However, he couldn't ride the bike and sit on the seat as it was far too big for him, so he sat on the cross bar. He took string with him and tied the stiff leather to the side of the bike and rode home with one leg threaded through and under the cross bar in order to reach the pedal.

John Frederick worked from home every day, so he liked to go to the Glassmakers Arms after dinner to socialise and my Dad would be sent to bring him home when the family was ready to go to bed. John Frederick died in Peasley Cross Hospital in August 1935, aged 49, of dropsy and is buried at Top Church with his wife Alice. She fell down the stairs at her Oxley Street home in December 1920 whilst pregnant and bled to death. Mum remembers John Frederick's funeral very well, as she had to borrow a black dress, which was far too big for her. It was also the first time she was introduced as my father’s "young lady"!

Thought to be the TB sanatorium by the Peasley Cross Borough Sanatorium - contributed by Brenda Macdonald & Joan Heyes

Thought to be the TB sanatorium by the Peasley Cross Borough Sanatorium

The TB sanatorium in Peasley Cross

St.Helens Sanatorium
This picture (above) shows TB patients and nurses, probably at the Borough Sanatorium which was on the opposite side of Marshalls Cross Road to the main hospital. This was where Will Henry Astbury was treated and Mum and I think that Will, who was born in Baxters Lane in 1891, is seated second from the left. Although Mum remembers the TB sanatorium as being in St.Helens, our photograph of the building in a field doesn't match this picture (right) that we've just seen. Perhaps as TB was infectious and with the main treatment then being fresh air, the building was set aside from the main sanatorium and located in the nearby gardens. Can anyone confirm this? Will was married to Alice Heyes's sister, Sarah Prescot and they had a baby boy, John Astbury. Will was sent home from the TB sanatorium as incurable and died in 1917 at Walisdale Cottage, his in-laws' Mary and Charles Prescot's home in Gerrards Lane. In his final days, Will was nursed by the nuns from the nearby convent and Mary and Charles paid them in eggs and chickens for the convent's use.

Will Astbury in his Lancashire Hussars uniform and wife Sarah c.1915 - contributed by Brenda Macdonald

Will Astbury in his Lancashire Hussars uniform and wife Sarah c.1915

Will Astbury and wife Sarah c.1915

This photo is of Will and his wife Sarah, in happier times, taken during the war in his Lancashire Hussars uniform. Three years after the death of her husband, Sarah and baby John emigrated to Australia to join her two brothers who were living in Newcastle NSW. And therein lies another story...
BRENDA MACDONALD (née Heyes) & Mother JOAN HEYES (née Williams), Sydney, Australia

'Dancing in Sutton & St.Helens During the 1940s' by George Houghton

During the 1940s the popular pastime for teenagers was dancing and every town and village had one or more dance halls. In fact you could find a dance venue seven days a week if you wanted to. Sutton was no exception and St Anne's Hall on the corner of Robins Lane and Edgeworth Street was always packed with young people tripping the light fantastic to the strict tempo music of a small dance band led by local musician Billy Briscoe on the piano. The Edgeworth Street Conservative Club also had dance nights.

A little further afield was Parr Oddfellows Hall and Burtonwood Church Hall, which incidentally had very well attended Sunday night dances. St Helens town had an abundance of places for dancing including the Town Hall, Co-op Ballroom, George Street, Holy Cross, Boundary Road Baths, and Engineer Hall. All of these places provided entertainment for the youth of the day and brought happiness in a troubled world, many a romance started by being able to do a few dance steps to the Waltz or Quickstep!

'Dancing in Sutton During the 1960s' by Patrick Smith

St.Michaels Church, Sutton, St.Helens
We used to hold Parish ‘Barn Dances’ at St. Michael's Church where the curate was Dennis Ryder. The Church building was a very adaptable place where one could screen off the Altar while dances were on or open up a stage at the other end for entertainments. The usual group were The Poachers, who were led by Roy Hordley, who taught chemistry at Cowley, and his wife Rene who played double bass. Rene used to collect old rubber gloves which she wore whilst playing to protect her fingers. There were a couple of other players at least and we used to pack the place. I know that David Edgell met his wife Irene at one of these dances and 47 years later they are still together and going strong. How unfashionable these days to be faithful! David, by the way, was the son of local 'Bobby' Ray Edgell, who was later ordained into the church.

All the young lads went to see the local ‘talent’ and the dances were non-alcoholic but damned good fun. When the Parish Hall opened in 1966 it was, of course, tailor-made for such events offering more space and so much of the social life moved there.

Patrick Smith's Standard 8 vehicle which was used to convey the GTOs to gigs - contributed by Patrick Smith

Patrick Smith's Standard 8 which was used to convey the GTOs to gigs

Patrick Smith's Standard 8 vehicle

About 1964 I joined a group which we called The G.T.O's. Local boys Andrew Tither and Graham Mascord played bass and drums respectively. I sang and a big guy called Arthur Owen played lead guitar. Arthur was, I think, from Chorley and was pro-standard. He used to sub for several Merseyside groups if they lost someone to illness. We had a roadie called Jim, I think. Above is pictured my Standard 8 on Ainsdale beach, which was used to convey the GTOs to gigs. It’s pictured with a wood and canvas canoe, that was built by Wilf Powell, whose father ran a Scout troop in Sutton

Now Graham, Jim and Arthur were all psychiatric nurses at Rainhill Mental hospital, and on one occasion I went into the hospital to try to get Arthur to play in a rush job. Imagine my surprise on rounding a corner to confront a boy who was 1 year behind me at Cowley and who was a patient! Anyway the GTO's folded when I moved on from the vicarage in 1966. Andrew Tither lived just off Marshalls Cross Road, and I think his Dad drove a shunting engine at a local glassworks. Our roadie drove an Austin Champ! What a thing. We arrived for gigs with my Standard 8 and a Champ. What a jetset lifestyle! We were once offered a contract by a couple of guys from Liverpool, but I never trusted anyone who wore a bow tie. So no go!

'Early 'Arry of New Street' by Patrick Smith (son of Rev. Reg Smith)

During our 7 years at the Sutton Vicarage, we came across a number of characters, one of whom was Arthur Robinson. He must certainly rate as an "oddball" and was an elderly man in 1959 when we arrived in Sutton. Arthur lived near the bottom of New Street in an even numbered house and had worked at the sheet works where the railway manufactured tarpaulins to cover loads on trains. Arthur was a widower, I believe, and was a man who refused to conform. For example, he insisted on always arriving after church services had begun, which led to him being given the nickname of "early 'Arry”.

He had another awkward habit, which was that he carried his own 'old' hymn book which had been superseded in St.Nicks and All Saints. So he insisted on singing a different hymn to everyone else, however my father soon got on his case! Dad rooted through the church and came up with an 'old' hymn book and then delighted in announcing "We shall sing hymn 236 in Ancient and Modern or if you use the old books, number 448". You get the idea? It was more work for Dad, but he wasn't going to be beaten!

Dad's predecessor as vicar of Sutton was Rev. Tucker-Harvey and he’d married Arry's daughter to her husband. The story I was told was that at the point of 'anyone who knows just cause or impediment', Arry jumped up and said "I object!", whereupon Tucker-Harvey told him to sit down and "shut up”!

This old guy just had a pathological dislike of taking orders. He was told at work that he was due to retire and that there would be a presentation in the canteen at such and such a time. Arry turned up, was thanked and received his farewell gift and went home. Next day he simply turned up at work again and at about 10 a.m. jumped up and said "I won't be treated like this"! He then announced that he was resigning and went home. No-one was allowed to get the better of him in his own mind. He wore a 3-piece suit, fob watch and chain and bowler hat and was unmissable! We used to laugh when he came late into church, but I think Arry was just a lonely, cantankerous old guy. He's long gone but it must have given the Vicar a turn when the man whose giving his own daughter away, then objects to it. They truly don't make them like that any more!
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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