A PICTURE of a young Arnold Schwarzenegger visiting Wigan more than four decades ago has become an unexpected online hit.
Published in our 160th anniversary supplement last week, the image of Arnie posing in Kitt Green with Miss Great Britain Kathleen Winstanley appears to have captured the imagination of thousands of readers.
Taken in 1968, when Arnie was in his early 20s and making his way as a professional bodybuilder, the picture has been shared almost 300 times from our Wigan Today website’s Facebook page, generating just shy of 28,000 views.
Kitt Green beauty queen Kathleen was dating the Austrian muscle-man before he moved to the US and launched his stellar movie career.
Kathleen, who has since moved down south, told the Observer: “I find this amazing that the photograph has stirred an interest, but I suppose it’s to be expected with who Arnie is now.
“We had gone on a few dates, it was a fun time. We had met when he was part of a competition in Manchester in the lead up to the Mr Universe. He and his friend stayed at our house and I drove them back to Manchester the day after.
“It was very early on in his career and he didn’t speak much English. Luckily I knew some German so we got by. He and his friend (who is also in the picture) stayed on the bed settee downstairs and it broke!”
Catherine and Alan Smart, who moved into their house on the opposite side of Prescott Lane in 1965, told the Observer that it was amazing that a old picture of their street had attracted so much attention.
Alan, 73, said: “I do remember Kathleen living there, she was quite well known because of her beauty queen competitions.
“Unfortunately I can’t remember Schwarzenegger’s visit but it’s a cracking photo isn’t it? Kathleen certainly looks the part.
Catherine, 67, added: “There’s not very many people who live round here now who would remember that time, apart from a few older families, everyone else is new to the street and would have no idea of this visit.”
As yet our attempts to contact the 66-year-old Terminator star have proved unsuccessful although a copy of the picture has been sent to the former Governor of California via his Twitter account.
And as one would expect, the visit of Conan the Barbarian to Kitt Green has opened up a vast array of Arnie gags. Among those worth mentioning were Richard Cowley’s “Ay up lad, I’ll be back tha knows,” and Leslie Lee Riley’s “I heard Arnie stopped someone in Pemberton. He said “Give me your boots, your jacket and your motorcycle.”
Anyone with any other stories about Arnie’s visit to the borough, can contact James Illingworth on (01942) 506274 or email email@example.com