Sad loss of our unique royal wall

Memories and musings with our columnist Geoffrey Shryhane...

Monday, 23rd January 2017, 10:46 am
Updated Monday, 23rd January 2017, 11:47 am
A slightly younger Geoffrey Shryhane at the royal tribute wall

We go back to 1953 to recall how a group of schoolboys from Hindley decided to buy a pot of paint and create a little piece of history.

People living in the shadow of the brick wall at the end of Pump Street, off Market Street, had no idea that their “wall” would achieve fame.

The bunch of lads, including my old mate Allan Fort, were not noted for their artisic prowess but that didn’t stop them hatching a plan to put Pump Street on the map.

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With a pot of cheap white paint from nearby Woolworths, the boys set about creating a right royal coronation tribute in letters two feet high.

It must have been good paint – because it was still possible to read the image 50 odd years later.

Said Allan: “Painting the tribute took quite a while. In fact, we made mistake on one of the words and just crossed it out with paint. It added extra character.”

But sadly the wall was demolished not long ago and the royal message became rubble.

Added Allen: “Way back in 1953 Coronation fever swept the whole country. There were street parties in Hindley and a bunch of us lads thought it was a great idea to make our own contribution.

“There were four terraced houses in Pump Street and one of the lads lived there.

“We got together and decided to do a tribute painting on the blank wall which went at right angles to the houses.

“It took us ages fiddling around with the royal message but in the end we kept it simple. We didn’t bother at all that we made a mistake and had to paint over it.

“I don’t think any of us thought the royal wall would last for so long. To think it’s 60 years ago and more and even at the end the letters were still fairly clear.”

It’s true. It’s sad that Hindley’s royal wall has bitten the dust. But everything comes to an end.

There was just the sound of silence when the new year came in. No mill hooters sounding. No church bells ringing. Not even a drunken song bird making his way home.

Ethel and Doris had invited a few friends round for hot pot and ale. It was now quarter to the new year witching hour but nobody had arrived.

Ethel, who had been suffering post-Christmas down in the dumps syndrome, yawned and told her friend: “Ah feels reet insulted. They aw said they’d come but wheere are thi?”

Doris poked the fire, saying: “Don’t upset yersel cock. I thought a ‘ot pot fir 24 was gooin’ it a bit but there’s time yet.”

Ethel heaved herself out of her new leatherette recliner and, old slippers almost flapping out a tune, went to check the new year gourmet treat.

Then the knocker went and the sound of carol singing and coughing was heard.

“Oppen dor,” said Doris, her face lighting up. “Ah knowed they’d come.”

And come they did, more than a dozen, laughing, popping Doris’ festive balloons, unfurling mini streamers and laughing at nothing. More revellers arrived.

“Ush” shouted Ethel. “Big Ben’s gooin’t bong in a minute.” As as the clock sounds faded, it was time to link hands for Auld Lang Syne.

As the hot pot (with crust) was being enjoyed, Doris and other ladies are dabbing away tears.

“Life’s not same wiout our Joe,” one visitor said.

“Oh ah remembers? He was a king to his wife and 11 childer. When was he took?” Ethel asked.

“Oh about 1956 but I never forgets ‘im. I still don’t know ‘ow e walked into the path of that lorry,” came the reply.

A cruel wag whispers in a loud voice: “‘E were plastered.”

The party breaks up and happy, tipsy folk make their way into the night. It’s true, there’s half a pan of hot pot left.

It’s going to happen. We all know that one day, our amazing Monarch will pass away.

And I reckon millions of royal-lovers held their breath when the Queen wasn’t well over Christmas. Missed church twice she did.

They said she was suffering from a severe cold – but in matters of this sensitive kind, truth can and often is the first casualty.

As the festive season melted into the New Year, the papers reported that the Queen had not been seen in public for 24 days. But apparently she was “up and about” even looking at government papers in her red boxes.

There was a sigh of relief on Sunday when Her Majesty turned up church, smiling and radiant in royal blue. What else?

But when Elizabeth II shuffles off this mortal coil there will be a sea change in this country. It won’t be the same. Elizabeth is unique. Irreplaceable.

Yes, we’ll have King Charles, true enough. But it just won’t be the same.

So let’s hope the Queen keeps on truckin’ for another decade. Just now, I think we can rest easy.

In these dark and dank days of the new year, it’s always great to have a jolly good laugh. Well you won’t if you read this pitiful report from the Observer in Edwardian times.

A little girl named Jeraldine Morris, aged four, of Preston Road, Standish, has come to her death by being burned.

The Coroner heard evidence that at in the early afternoon of Christmas Eve (1903) the mother left her little girl with her friend, Ethel, aged five and carried on with her housework.

She cautioned them not to go near the open fire but shortly afterwards, Ethel shouted out: “Jeraldine’s on fire.”

The mother found her little daughter in flames and attempted to put them out with her hands. When this failed she ran for water which put out the flames.

The child was badly burned and a doctor was sent for. In about 20 minutes, Dr Ormsby’s assistant to Dr Wilson, was in attendance and the suffering child was tended by him until she died three days later.

The jury returned a verdict that the child died form burning and that the death was accidental.

At the close of the inquest, the Coroner mentioned that it was the third inquest that day through the same cause and he recommended that parents with young children should have fire guards to prevent such tragedies.

Just when you think your personal library of local books is complete, another pops up.

And it’s one which has totally escaped the attention of your “My World” writer for almost over half a century.

Trawling through the “Wigan Books” section of the internet, it was good to know that there are so many books about our town.

One of the older ones is by the former Wigan tax inspector John Hilton who many decades ago penned a book highlighting the wonderful local places for family recreation.

A further trawl on the net brought up a Wigan book which, apparently, has more than a touch of the erotic.

It’s title – A Girl Like Wigan by John L Leeming.

The brighter than bright colour cover showing a rather attractive young lady.

Penned in 1961, I was intrigued to know more about the young lady’s exotic adventures in Europe. Well you would, wouldn’t you.

But after a long search, I found only frustration. Not one site gave a full outline of the story.