Evacuee in Wigan learned to love lobscowse

Young evacuees from London were sent around the country to avoid the bombings
Young evacuees from London were sent around the country to avoid the bombings
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Our top columnist Geoffrey Shryhane takes a look at a more happy aspect of World War Two...

There are people living in our town who still recall the arrival of child evacuees during World War Two.

READ MORE: Ken Dodd's link with Wigan...

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I say “during”, the fact is that the war was almost over when these kiddies with their gas masks and little suitcases got off the train at Wigan.

They were met by the then Mayoress, Mrs Dowling and a story at the time trumpeted “Wigan opened its arms to the evacuees”.

A reporter who had travelled with the children told how “they ate and sang all the way”.

They were assured that there were no “doodlebugs” and there was the reassuring news that not one evacuee was left without a home.

One, Reg Chatting, from Essex, recalled being an evacuee in Wigan as “some of the best days of my life”.

He told how living in London’s dockland, he and thousands of others lived with the constant nightmare of heavy bombing.

He remembered: “I was first evacuated for three months, but then had to return to the horror of the London bombings...the German V1 and V2 rockets. Coming to Wigan was great. The journey took many stops and lasted hours. I was just ten and I immediately noticed that people in Wigan seemed to speak a different language.

“On arrival we were taken to a church hall and I was immediately told to go and buy a postcard at the local shop. I did and sent it to my mother.

“I stayed with an elderly couple in Corporation Street, Poolstock – Mr and Mrs Hayworth. They were so warm-hearted and their home was spotless.

“They took me to Blackpool – it was my first real holiday. There were people there from all over the country … evacuees just like myself. I went to Highfield School and learned how to play rugby, tutored by Mr Gaskell. The headmaster Mr Bradley was really kind.

“Mr and Mrs Howarth had a son the same age as me and thankfully we got on very well together. We used to go to the shops and I learned to like meat and potato pie, fish and chips, lobscowse, barm cakes and mushy peas. Great.

“Then the war was over and I returned to London but never forgot the kindness of the couple who took me in. And the Wiganers who took us to their hearts.”