Geoffrey Shryhane’s Wigan World

Geoffrey Shryhane
Geoffrey Shryhane

I’LL tell you. If I had an old penny for every person who’d asked me when Wigan trams went out of existence, I’d have at least 42p.

No seriously, many locals of all ages have an interest in trams. Sometimes, it seems they think about nothing else....trams, George Formby and Uncle Joe’s mint balls.

No seriously (again) a document has just fallen into Wigan World’s hands which tells all there is to tell about trams. For tram fans it’s worth its weight in gold.

The Wigan tram story falls into seven distinct sections covering Orrell section, Martland Mill, Standish, Aspull, Hindley, Platt Bridge and Ashton. We’ll not bother with stage coaches today – or any other day for that matter. But it’s true that horse buses ran in Wigan from 1880 to 1883; steam trams from 1882 to 1904; electric trams 1902 to 1931 and trolley buses from 1925 to 1931.

Let’s look at the Orrell section: Horse trams began to run in Queen Street in Pemberton in 1880, and the line was extended to Wigan Market Square later in the same year.

Steam traction was gradually introduced two years later and operated until April 1904. In July of that year standard gauge electric trams made their first appearance. Two years later the lines were extended to Abbey Lakes and the last tram ran in 1931.

If you’d like a copy of the whole document, please send a stamped addressed envelope to Geoffrey Shryhane, Wigan World Desk, Wigan Observer, Martland Mill Lane, Wigan. WN5 0LX.

THANKS to our weather, we live in a green and pleasant land. And it’s thanks to our climate that things in our gardens and parks and forests thrive.

But it’s a fact that trees are so little and vulnerable when planted. Then they grow a bit. Then a bit more and before we can say “ginko biloba” (the name of the oldest tree in the world) the mighty oaks have reached to the sky.

Then roots – like those of many trees – start their terrible underground antics. And before we know it, those bully-boy roots are cracking our walls and infesting our drains.

There’s only one reason willow trees thrive near water. They are voracious suppers.

Time to call the tree man. Sorry, tree surgeon. In his white coat, I can just see and hear him saying: “I think this giant acorn tree needs a good dose of working medicine. And pass a bandage.”

Enough nonsense.

Some good neighbours of mine have just had two giant trees removed. One a willow.

Their disappearance has opened up quite a view from the window of the outside loo.

Here at Wigan World towers, I’m lucky to be surrounded by mature trees. After 37 years, I don’t notice them much, but by heck I would if they were suddenly gone.

That said, the amount of leaves that have to be bagged come November is a mammoth task. Costly too.

In the end, love ‘em though I do, trees are two-edged swords. I tell them straight: “Invade my drains and you’re gonners.”

Alas, they take no notice at all.

ELSIE and Edna were on their third cuppa when Elsie, in her ample wrap-around pinny, her hair in different coloured rollers, asked Edna had she heard about their Spot.

“No,” she says. “’is ‘e dead?”

Elsie: “I wish he would snuff it. No ‘e took it in ‘is ‘ed to ramble off. We ony noticed he’d gone when our Petal Ann said ‘er’d not sin ‘im since Sunday.”

Edna: “An wot day did ‘e go?”

Elsie: “Friday. We aw thought he’d bin kilt on’t cartroad. Honest I was that upset fir a minute or two. Spot’s a beltin’ dog. It’s just that ‘e bites, scratches doors, pees in’t lobby, snookles down in’t beds and breeds ‘is own fleas.”

Edna: “Well ‘e’s ‘ere now. Wot ‘appent?”

Elsie: “Wor’ appent? Somebody font ‘im in Platt Bridge. Tram Street to be exact.

“Thank the good lord ‘e ‘ad is disc on. Police brought ‘im ‘ome in a van.

“Well, when it pult up, we thought our Bert had been up to ‘is tricks agen. But no, Spot jumped awt and run reight in’t ‘thouse.”

Edna: “I bet you was proper glad. Did you ‘ug ‘im?”

Elsie: “’Ug him! ‘Ug him? Did I ‘ell. I felt like givin’ im a bloody good ‘idin’ but our little “Petal-Ann was over’t moon, kissin’ an strokin’ ‘im. Any road I waited til ‘er’d gon’t bed.”

Elsie: “Then wot?”

Enda: “I give him a por when nobody were lookin. That’ teach him’t ramble off to Platt Bridge.

“Oh aye-up Edna, I’ll aft’fot go. He’s cocking ‘is leg up in’t th’all.

“ S P O T.”