Geoffrey Shryhane’s Wigan World

Geoffrey Shryhane
Geoffrey Shryhane

IT’S the little things in life I miss. The clip-clopping sound of horses pulling carts on our streets is just one.

Another – those envelopes with embossed stamps which were dropped by the post office in the 60s.

Slap me down if you like, but I miss smoking factory chimneys, foggy days and the sound of my late lamented cat plucking the side of the bed.

I miss scratchings from the chippy, the smell of Mrs S’s scent and of newly ground coffee at the long-gone shop in the Royal Arcade.

What else do I miss... oh yes, the sight of hundreds of laughing girls leaving Coop’s sewing works and making their way up Wallgate at dinner time.

I still long to hear the cries of newspaper sellers in the town centre, the hissing of the geysers in Wigan Woolworths, and see the melting coloured lights on curtains between acts at Wigan Hippodrome.

I miss with heavy heart the hissing of the steam engines at Hindley Station, and the blazing coal fire in the waiting room on winter days.

I miss pressing Button A and Button B in the public phone boxes of my youth, when making a call meant a refreshing short walk in all weathers.

I miss the smell of a 1960s after shave lotion called Onyx, and of orange peel and dust in Wigan cinemas long demolished.

What do you miss? Drop me a line here at the Observer or e-mail me at

YOU’RE are never too old – or should I say mature – to learn something new.

When I think of the Leeds Liverpool Canal I remember its awful stench.

I had a school mate who lived near the “cut” down Ince and during periods of hot weather, the waters had everybody gagging.

But the folks who lived with the canal on their doorstep assured friends “we don’t smell it.” Well, lucky them.

The other day, I caught Tony Robinson’s – that should be Sir Tony – exploring the Leeds Liverpool in a TV programme, and it soon became obvious that its story is amazing in a history-changing sort of way.

Started in 1770, the canal ground to a halt at Parbold when money ran out. It proved a stroke of luck because industrial Lancashire was changing fast. And in the 1890s, a different canal route from Parbold was approved ... t hrough that mightiest of coal towns, Wigan.

Tony Robinson took in the canal at Crooke, where for years, a coal tippler worked 24 hours a day transferring coal from wagons to boats.

It was a world of noise and filth as was Wigan with its numerous smoking chimneys.

Wigan had a sixth of all Lancashire pits ... King Coal ruling every inch of its grimy way. After 46 years, the Leeds Liverpool canal was complete – and with industry gone, it has turned into a pleasurable leisure waterway.

BUY a book about Wigan and help folks with Alzheimers.

Writer Tom Dakin of Gidlow Lane has a good reason to support this worthy charity ... his wife Barbara, who is 78, is a sufferer and now resident in Ashfield House at Hindley Green.

Tom has given over 100 copies of his book “Not Far from Wigan Pier” and volumes of “Life in Water” about his career in the water industry to Wigan Alzheimers Society.

Not far from Wigan Pier is semi-autobiographical and is a large print book with entertaining and enlightening stories.

Said Tom: “Barbara is suffering from vascular dementia which is a cruel condition affecting more and more people as we live longer.”

Want a copy, then call in at the Alzheimers Society office at Wigan Investment Centre, or ring them on 01942-498193.