Friday, 29 November 2013

Vale Street and the passing Peace Procession.

St. Mary's RC Peace Procession - September 6th 1919
 - Showing the procession at Vale Street

I’ve always found this particular photo fascinating!  It really does give a lot of interesting information.……

Dustbins and Dustbinmen – Today if I traverse this section of Blackburn Road, the very first thing I will notice is lots of “green wheely dustbins” in a line and stood there regimental at each of the front entries to the individual properties along this stretch, they look like “sentry boxes”.

When this photo was taken in 1916, and for a further 80 years afterwards, one thing for sure is that you didn’t see any “wheely bins” outside of the front doors. It does not seem so long ago and I can easily remember and picture in my mind the old dust cart going up the side of Vale Street, (opposite Bob Gardner’s shop) and were the old bus shelter used to be (Vale Street Bus Stop and Fare Stage), from were they then collected the filled “dustbins” from the REAR of the properties shown in this photograph.

Those days the bins were made of thick heavy duty galvanized tin and must have been so heavy, especially when 50% of the bin was filled with yesterday’s coal ashes. Yet them dustbin men seemed to lift them up and sort of twist them around and onto their backs. They did it in a way that they made the whole exercise look so easy, so it was obvious there was a “knack to it all”.  Then they had to carry the fully loaded bin anything up to 50 yards before they could empty it into the dustbin wagon.

Bob Gardner’s Grocery Shop - I can also see old Bob Gardner’s shop in the photo above which shows advertising boards to the exterior walls.  I wonder if it was a grocers shop back in 1916 when the above photograph was taken.  I can only remember Bob Gardner’s shop from the 1950's, but it may have been going for many a year before that for all I know. Unless I am looking back with “Rose Tinted”, the shop was special, much like a delicatessan shop you would see on the high street today and selling lots of well known old established products like “epicure” and others.

Two larger than life guys ran the shop, but the main man was Bob Gardner, who you would see wearing his dark rimmed spectacles and always had his full length bleached white overhall smock on and sometimes wearing a white linen hat, which would always be spotlessly clean, that was Bob and he was so proud of his pork specialities which he offered from the shop.

Most days you would see the full sides of pork hung up in his shop. You may have been lucky enough to be able to smell the light aromas offered up by “smoking or curing” processes which would have been taking place in the back rooms of the shop.

As a young one them days, I suppose one of the most jolly memories was the mural which was painted on the left side of the shop entrance on a 10ft recess wall  It mentioned something about “Bobs is the best for home cured bacon and illustrated three large fat pigs holding hands whilst in a upright dancing pose.  I wish I had taken a photo of that mural at the time. 

The Procession - But what is so interesting to me about this particular photo is the actual length of the line of participating marchers doing the Peace Procession, you can clearly see what appears to be the front of the procession with the choir and bandsmen, but never would I have believed that the marchers would have stretched so far as to see the tail end of the procession still going the other way (in a Accrington direction).

So what was the length of that procession?  I would have expected the marchers column went as far as Worsley Park, via Hud Hey for a little way before doing a sharp right into Brook Street and then right again and back onto Blackburn Road and showing it as in the photo having just past Vale Street. That must have involved hundreds of persons.

The Tram It will have been about 30 years previous to this photo that trams had started to come through Blackburn Road and so they would have become well established as the chief mode of public transport of the day.

It must have felt strange having a tram held up part way down your procession.  I guess there would be plenty of excuses going why the poor tram driver could not keep to his strict timetable. 

All the young chaps wore flat capsIt was without doubt the “in thing” those days for young males to wear “flat caps” and this is seen within this photo and many more photos of the period. 

Vale Street – As shown on the left of the photograph would have been the main thoroughfare those days for the “clink and clank” of clogs and clog irons has all the surrounding people would have used this Street to access their places of work in the many textile factories in the bottom, which would have included: Union Mill, Grove Mill, Albert Mill, Britannia Mill etc.