Wigan Boys’ Club was a real lifesaver for needy teens

Boys Club was a real lifesaver for needy teens
Boys Club was a real lifesaver for needy teens

Our top columnist Geoffrey Shryhane takes a look at a predecessor to Wigan Youth Zone...

It is time to pen some facts on a club of old which did much to put many lads on life’s right tracks.

I write, of course, about Wigan Boys’ Club and say that some old timers are still around to recall the facilities which kept boys off the streets.

I have written before how our very own Dave Whelan was an enthusiastic friend, as was the late Professor Anthony Ledwith who became President of this country’s illustrious Royal Society, and who invented a rare type of glass.

In their young days, Dave and Tony often told how their lives might have gone in totally different directions but for “the club” which was on a site near what is now Asda. Clayton Street to be exact.

I came across some facts on the club whilst ploughing through an old copy of Wigan Council’s Past Forward magazine.

The club – affiliated to the National Association of Boys’ Clubs - was established n 1936 by leasing figures in Wigan life, and the founders set out to attract boys of the very needy aged between 13 and 17 with the main aim of providing an alternative to the street corner.

The club also involved the boys in boxing, woodwork, boating and swimming and they also had their own band which performed on the steps of London’s St Paul’s Cathedral on the morning of the Queen’s Coronation.

Holidays all over England were a organised.

The club financed many different activities and one of the highlights was a week under canvas at Parbold, reached by way of the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

New premises were financed in Soho Street at Robin Park by which time other clubs were also thriving.

Changing times resulted in this marvellous club being wound up in 1972.