Geoffrey Shryhane’s Wigan World

Geoffrey Shryhane
Geoffrey Shryhane

IT would be sad if Wigan World didn’t celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ only appearance in Wigan on October 13, 1964.

Two concerts at the Ritz Cinema – both sold out, and armies of screaming girls which meant the music of the Fab Four was inaudible.

Wigan was around the fourth date on their national tour, and by February they had well and truly conquered America.

Some say Elvis never quite recovered from the Beatles’ success.

Wigan World has the iconic photo of the lads arriving at Wigan in a police van.

Today audiences are snapping away with their mobile phones. Very different in ’64.

I suspect there were very few photos.

But today, Wigan World is appealing for memories of Wiganers who experienced the madness of that Beatles concert.

Where you there? What was it like? What do you remember? Do you still have your now iconic ticket stub?

My idea is to devote the whole Wigan World page to your Beatles memories.

So if you can assist, drop me a line here at the Wigan Observer, Martland Mill, Wigan.

Or email at

WERE they real or figments of the imagination?

So who remembers Red Clogs? The man in the night with the rag arm (‘Im in’t neet wi’t rag arm), Icky the Fire Bobby and Jinny Greenteeth.

The first, second and fourth had a frightening aspect and were most likely fictional. The third – Icky - might have been a real chap.

Red Clogs was said to haunt the fields of Whelley of yesteryear and kids were told he could do them “big harm” if he grabbed them on dark nights.

One rumour was that Red Clogs was killed in a terrible pit catastrophe and all the rescuers found was a pair of red clogs.

As for the Man in the Night with the Rag Arm, he was well-known in Hindley and as a kid, my mother used to threaten he’d get me if I was a bad lad.

I recall peering through a gap in the curtains to see if he was about, one arm swinging and swivelling totally out of control.

“Mam ... it’s that man with the rag arm,” I shouted when I thought I’d seen him. On that foggy night, it turned out to be “Juddy” the ancient newspaper delivery pensioner, who was still going round selling the Football Pink at 8 o’clock.

Legend has it that Jinny Greenteeth was a slimy kind of witch who lived on the edges of stagnant ponds, all ready to lurch out and drag you into her murky depths.

As for Icky the Fire Bobby ...

He was a bogey-man character famous in Liverpool and used to threaten children or take the blame for unexplained events.

A story says he was based on a real person ... Joe Hickey, a book-keeper in Liverpool in the 19th century who always wanted to be a fireman.

Health prevented this but he took to going out at night dressed as a fireman carrying an axe and a fire extinguisher.

I MAKE no apology for mentioning the “porring” again.

The exhibition – compiled by Anna Smith - is still on at Wigan’s Museum of Life and a very special new exhibit has just been unveiled.

It’s a painting of two miners porring the shins out of each other by the artist J Lawrence Isherwood.

When she read about the show, Molly Isherwood, the artist’s sister-in-law remembered a “porring” painting in her collection, one that had never been displayed.

When shown the painting Anna Smith decided that although the show had started, it was vital to have it on show.

Molly said: “I’m really pleased the painting is on show. I don’t know where my brother-in-law saw any porring matches, but his painting brings out the violence of the sport.”