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Tony Flynn

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  1. Their target? Not cash, or jewellery, but simply wood for fuel. It was the first winter of the Great War in Salford, and while coal was not officially rationed until 1916, supplies of fuel and light were restricted and many families were suffering. Looking through the record books, the winter temperatures in Salford were not particularly harsh. But the Defence of the Realm Act, passed in August 1914, allowed the government to take charge both of coal production and supply, and there is no doubt that nearly all of the coal that was being produced at this time would have gone to the mills, mines and factories producing weapons and munitions and the war effort in general. Mysterious figures were spotted carrying railway lamps lurking in the shadows of Weaste, ready to pounce and steal timber of any description, even front and back doors were not safe from this unscrupulous bunch of plunderers. The local residents were furious and one told the Salford City Reporter that "this nefarious practice starts at 11.30pm and continues until nearly 6am." We learn that this gang of villians were stealing trees from the estate of Mr Edward Tootal - known as the Weaste Estate - going as far as the railway lines on the Eccles New Road side. It is worth remembering that the Tootal Drive and Meadowgate Estates had yet to be built and early maps show that the area of Tootal Drive spreading up to Buile Hill Park was known as Bluebell Woods, a good indication of the rural nature of Weaste at the time. Trees were spotted stripped of their bark and chopped down awaiting collection which would happen several hours later, the noise of their waggons carrying the timber would be drowned out by the noise of the passing steam trains. It was reported that gas lamps had been tampered with, however, The newspaper then goes on to say that: A favourite time to steal the timber was apparently when there was storm raging, as the noise drowned out the sound of the cart wheels as they shifted their ill gotten goods to nearby houses. One resident complained that dogs which used to bark through the night were suspiciously quiet - no doubt silenced by "mystery biscuits" fed to them. The following week the Salford City Reporter stated that the situation had got much worse, as trees were reported as being stolen near Weaste Hall by gangs using coded whistles and using scouts as look outs in back entries where the sound of wood being sawed up could be clearly heard! The police came in for criticism saying that they "pay little or no attention to the action of the men in the night time", and more damningly that, "they only walked down one side of the thoroughfare - possibly Weaste Lane - and return with extreme quiteness apparently taking no notice of what is going on around them." Some of these thieves were a little more enterprising and would under cover of darkness sneak into the rear of large houses in the area and steal the wood which the owner had stockpiled over the year. Others stated that the money saved by not purchasing wood enabled these men to spend it in other directions, possibly food for their families? I looked through further editions of the newspaper and found no stories of the timber plunderers being hauled up before the local Magistrates Court and the story seemed to fade away. Can we assume that by Christmas 1915 the Great War had started in earnest and that more local men had enlisted in the army? On reflection it seems staggering to read about the moral outrage that the actions of these desperate men had caused. I know full well if I had no money for coal and there were trees close to my house I would be out there chopping a few down to keep warm, and possibly keeping my eye out for a Christmas tree to add to the festive season of goodwill. Image taken from 'Salford 1900-1914' by Roy Bullock Wood you believe it? This article was first sawn on SalfordOnline on the 9th December 2014, it is reproduced here courtesy of a man often described as thick as two short planks, Mr Tony 'Timbbbbbeeeerrrrrr' Flynn.
  2. The boat which was built in 1891 is an exact replica of the boat used by Queen Victoria when she visited Worsley in 1851, alighting at Patricroft train station before transferring to a horse drawn barge to Worsley to visit the Duke of Bridgewater. It is recorded that the said about her canal trip to Worsley, how she, "enjoyed the silent glide through the countryside", as you can imagine at that time Monton was still a fairly rural hamlet. To help recreate that "silent glide", Phil has converted the boat, Victoria R, from a diesel engine to an electric one. This is a 72 volt, 50 amp motor, powered by 36 batteries housed in concealed comparments, giving a running time of 16 hours of cruising time, on one charge. Phil has ambitious plans for the Victoria R, it is 250 years of the opening of the Bridgewater canal and next year will be the 160th anniversary of the visit of Queen Victoria. Plans are afoot to celebrate this event, with Phil hoping to get a member of the Royal family to reenact the canal journey that Queen Victoria made in 1851, this time on the Victoria R. This article first appeared on SalfordOnline on the 22nd of April 2010, it is lovingly reproduced here with the many thanks of noted historian Mr Tony Flynn, a man who we are told is no stranger to cruising.
  3. Local miscreants faced the wrath of Stipendary Magistrate Mr Leslie Walsh, a man still remembered in Salford by a lot of people, sadly not with a lot of affection from the accused. March 1965 saw James Levins, 50, from Eccles New Road, charged with assaulting Salford Warrant officer PC Emlyn Watkins in a "bersek" attack in which he allegedly struck the Constable in the face with a pineapple, causing his chin to bleed profusely. Mr R Newton, prosecuting, told Salford Magistrates Court that PC Watkins went to Mr Levins' home with a default fine warrant for 10 shillings and waited outside for him. Mr Levins drove up in his car and PC Watkins showed him his warrant card. Mr Levins pushed past him and told him to "---- off" PC Watkins then told him that it was only for ten shillings and that if he didn't pay, he would take him into custody. He then reported that Mr Levins said: "It'll take a better copper than you to take me in" then allegedly hit him in the face with a pineapple causing cuts to his chin. The officer grappled with Levins and managed to drag him across the road to a police box and phoned for assistance. Meanwhile Mrs Levins ran up and started shouting that the officer was killing her husband, a crowd gathered and the situation looked like it might turn nasty. He was taken into custody at the Crescent police station and charged with assault. Mr Haynes, defending, said PC Watkins had a grudge against his client for reporting him for using bad language, which the officer denied. Mrs Bardsley of Brookland Street told the court that she saw Mr Levins hit the officer in the face with a pineapple and strike him repeatedly as he was being taken to the police box. The accused made an impassioned plea to the court stating: He added that when PC Watkins shown him his warrant card he put his hand in his pocket to get the money, but the officer grabbed him and frogmarched him across the road. The Stipendary Magistrate Mr Leslie Walsh weighed up the evidence and gave his verdict. He said: Mr Levins was found guilty of assaulting PC Watkins and fined £40 with 10 guineas costs or three months in jail. Image edited from original by Greater Manchester Police via Flickr This article first appeared on SalfordOnline on the 3rd of March 2015, it is lovingly reproduced here with the many blessings of my old fruit, Tony Flynn.
  4. The blaze started at around 8.30am when flames erupted from a terraced house on Myrtle Street. An inquest heard how the homeowner Mrs Cotgrave had awoken that morning an hour earlier and put some coal on the fire. She had not used a metal fireguard because the fire was still low. Some of her eight children were awake and others were still in bed at this time. Shortly after 8am, 14-year-old Leo took his four-year-old sister Patricia to Greengate Nursery School, while Anthony, 6, was sent upstairs to get his brother Christoper, 9, and sister Alma, 7. Also upstairs was the oldest Cotgrave child, 16-year-old Veronica. Mrs Cotgrave went into the scullery to make a cup of tea and was distracted by her three-year-old son Billy who was crying on a camp bed, and her three-month-old baby son Paul. When she returned to the living room she found the ceiling a mass of flames with burning pieces of plaster and paper falling onto the floor. She screamed for the children upstairs to come down at once, then grabbed Billy and Paul and took them to a neighbour's for safety. Tragically the flames were so intense and the smoke so thick that by the time she returned she was not able to get into the house, and she was seen crying and screaming in the street. Neighbours rushed in to help, including John Gough, who lived a few doors away. He raced around to the back of the house and put a ladder against the upstairs bedroom window, attempting to catch Veronica as she tried to climb from the smoke-logged room, but she slipped and fell onto the scullery roof. She escaped with her life but suffered burns and cuts to her arms. Another neighbour Robert Gemmell tried climbing up the drainpipe at the front of the house in an attempt to rescue the trapped children but was beaten back by the smoke and flames. Salford fire brigade arrived shortly afterwards and found flames shooting through the front door and windows, because the door was open and windows smashed, the flames spread quickly through the house making it an inferno. They turned water jets onto the staircase and firemen wearing breathing apparatus made their way into the house. They found two children unconscious in the back room and another child in the front bedroom also unconscious Anthony, Christoper and Alma were taken outside where they were given first aid and the kiss of life; their father George Cotgrave rushed home from work when he heard the news, just in time to see the three being brought out of the blazing house. At first there seemed some signs of recovery but sadly all three children were pronounced dead at arrival at the hospital. Mrs Cotgrave was also taken to nearby Salford Royal Hospital for treatment and sedation and later questioned about the cause of the fire. The inquest was held on Wednesday 24 February where the Assistant Coroner Mr L Gorodkin who started by stating that their was no negligence by Mrs Gotgrave and the deaths were due to sheer accident. The coroner recorded accidental death verdicts on all three children, with cause of death being smoke inhalation. He praised the bravery of the neighbours who attempted to rescue the children and mentioned the bravery of Firemen Albert Shaw and Raymond Wilde for entering the smoke filled house. Mr Gorodkin told the inquest that it would be impossible to say how the fire started because of the extensive damage to the house. It was thought that the fire had started when the clothes drying in the kitchen suddenly caught alight, causing this terrible tragedy, but this could never be proved. The house was shortly demolished afterwards as part of the Greengate slum clearance problem, sadly too late for the Cotgrave children who perished in the blaze. This article first appeared on SalfordOnline on the 10th of Feb 2015, it is republished here thanks to an agreement twice as complicated as Brexit and involving free tea bags with Tony Flynn.
  5. You may have noticed we are expected to experience some rather windy weather over the next couple of days due to the now Ex-Hurricane Ophelia, but if you lived in Eccles in January 1965 you would have experienced a whole lot more. The Eccles Journal reported that on Friday 5 January, the residents of Eccles had a series of narrow escapes from serious injury as a whirlwind swept across Winton and Ellesmere Park, rippping slates from roofs, demolishing garden fences and causing havoc. The most serious damage was in the Welbeck Road area where a sight screen was torn from Monton Cricket Club and hurled several yards away onto the tennis courts. Mr Gordon Lowe who lived at 6 Welbeck Road returned home from shopping in Manchester to find part of his roof missing, with bricks and roof tiles that had crashed into his front bedroom. Mr Lowe, a chief accountant at Lankro Chemicals in Eccles, told the newspaper: Mrs Boardman of Breck Road had a narrow escape from death when she was taking washing in from the garden and seconds later a chimney pot came crashing down from her roof and shattered on the spot where she had been standing. The trail of destruction carried on in Welbeck Road with one resident Mr Hanlon telling of how the sky suddenly went black, followed by terrific gusts of wind which lasted for up to two minutes and he felt his house shake. Ridge tiles were ripped from his roof and had smashed through his garden fence, demolishing it completely. Mr Stanley Cooke explained: Dozens of homes on Rocky Lane lost roof tiles and television aerials were thrown into the road such was the force of the storm. It appeard to blow itself out shortly after but not before gusting through the council estate at Ellesmere Park where once again it caused damage to roofs, demolishing chimneys and skylights. Does anybody remember this happening? It sounds a pretty severe storm and especially as it happened in the early afternoon when the sky suddenly went black, which in itself would have been quite disturbing I should imagine. This article first appeared on SalfordOnline on the 12th of January 2015, it is reproduced here with the blessing of Tony 'The Tornado' Flynn.
  6. John was born in Hope Hospital and lived in Higher Broughton above Friedman's chemist shop, directly facing the Rialto cinema. His love of the cinema came about through visits to the cinema often accompanied by his dad, who John admits was "not a sitting still sort of guy" but more at home in the pub". When films started with the classic MGM lion roaring, he would walk out, saying "I've seen this one". School for young John was St Thomas's (later to be St Andrews) which he remembers as rather a tough school and his classmates being "teddy boys in training, awful people." Redemption came through a certain teacher, Mr John Malone, who is described as "a rugged outdoor type of man" who could hold the class enthralled with his reading of poetry; in particular 19th century prose but also taking time out to read "chick-friendly" Byron and Shelley for the girls in the class. Mr Malone had another talent, singing in a doo wop band, appearing in a tuxedo on the Carrol Levis Show performing 'At the Hop' by Danny and The Juniors - not your average teacher. Talk then turns to one of John's best known poems, Beasley Street, which was based on Camp Street, an area of big houses converted into flats containing, how shall we say, the lower strata of society. What I found really interesting is how the poem is linked to the film, 42nd Street. Also, how many people know that Beasley Street is named after the jockey Bobby Beasley who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup Cup in 1974? In this second video interview with John Cooper Clarke, we get to hear more stories from the great man including the acceptance of his poem, 'I Want to be Yours' onto the GCSE curriculum and much more. In recent years has John found a new lease of life for his work with the lead singer from The Arctic Monkeys Alex Turner citing him as a major inspiration in interviews. More recently John appeared in the film Ill Manors - written by rapper Plan B - in which he is seen performing a poem entitled, Pity the Plight of Young Fellows. One our readers Meriel Malone, a poet in her own right who appeared supporting The Fall at this years Salford Music Festival asked John a question, you will have to watch the video to see what his answer is and what advice he gives to Meriel. I mentioned the Salford Music Festival to John who said that he had no objections to appearing at next year's show, so let's keep our fingers crossed. The conversation then leapt to the demolition of the flats on Littleton Road, and how John's mum who lived in Hanover Court had a grandstand view of the controlled explosions which brought the blocks of flats down, which resulted in her having a front room full of eager "thrill seekers"! Finally I'll bet that not many people have heard of John Kilty: Mr Kilty who in John's words was a "beatnik alcoholic, a role model" but not your common or garden drunk because he read books and his father worked at Jodrell Bank...cue a great punchline by John. I have to say that I found John to be a really approachable man, possibly because he remembered me from many years ago and our mutual love of Salford and its many characters, football, Tootal scarfs and obscure music. Whatever the reason I am pleased to call him my friend and I'm certain that if you were to spend five minutes in his company you would feel the same. Long live The Bard of Salford. This article is a combination of two which first appeared on SalfordOnline in October 2012, they are reproduced here courtesy of a local leg end himself, Mr Tony Flynn.
  7. Stories of this match have reached almost mythical proportions; stories of the crowd ranging from 10,000 to 20,000, the Mayor of Salford greeting the teams on the pitch, open top bus tours of Salford by the winning team, (The Grove incidentally), even stories of the match winner and the final score. However, SalfordOnline were delighted to hear from 98-year-old Charlie Oldham, who was not only at the game as as spectator but was one of the founder members of the Salford Sunday League Committee which was formed in 1947/48. Charlie has a remarkable memory, and was able to set the record straight once and for all. Charlie told us that the match had attracted attention throughout Salford and the initial print run of 10,000 tickets for the final sold out so quickly that another 5,000 had to be printed to cope with demand. Charlie approached the manager of Salford Rugby Club, a Mr Jim Douglas, and asked if the game could be played there, with the money being split 50/50 between Salford Sunday League Committee and Salford Rugby Club. The tickets cost 1 shilling and Charlie told us the fascinating detail that with their gate money Salford Rugby Club were able to purchase Tom Danby in August 1949 from the Harlequins, the first England Rugby union International player signed by Salford. On the day of the match George saw the size of the crowd and urged Salford to open a paying gate to deal with the large number of fans with no tickets, he reckons that were well over 16,000 in attendance, I'm certain that many must have climbed over and saw the match for free! As for the match, sadly the Mayor of Salford did not meet the teams, instead the pub landlord's shook the hands of the players along with committee members of the Salford Sunday League. The final score was 1-0 for the Grove with the goal a header being scored by Billy Hanlon in the Weaste Cricket Club end. As for the open-top bus tour of Salford by the Grove team - sadly not true - however a double-decker was used to take the triumphant team back to the pub on Eccles New Road, for a celebratory pint or two. Charlie also told us that he knew the bookie George Lowther who had betting shops in Weaste, and asked him if he would purchase a shield for the game and it would be named in his honour, this he duly did and paid £20 for it. The First Division Champion Cup which was also won by the Grove that year, holds a fascinating story in itself. Charlie and fellow committee members decided that a new cup would be in order for the start of the first season of 1947/48, they contacted a woman in Chorlton-cum-Hardy who was selling a silver cup for £100, they visited the lady and found that it was a bowling cup complete with a crown green bowler on the lid. The cup was purchased and Charlie took the lid to a jewellers shop on Trafford Road, Salford called Spinks, and for the sum of £5 they transformed the bowler into a footballer, and if you look at photographs of the cup you can see the man on the lid has been turned into a footballer! Charlie who was a painter and decorator lived on Bridson Street for many years, know lives in Warrington and will be celebrating his 99th birthday soon, it was a pleasure talking to him, and listening to the many tales of old Salford that he could tell, he really should write a book. So from everybody at SalfordOnline.com we thank Charlie for his time and trouble and helping to set the record straight on that momentous day in Salford in May 1949. This story first appeared on SalfordOnline, in March 2013, it is reproduced here with the permission of Salford International Winger, Tony Flynn. Video by Joe McCarty.
  8. The naming of Monks Hall could go back as far as the 1200's. It is known as a Tudor residence with modern additions, which would make Monks Hall almost as old as Ordsall Hall if not quite as grand a residence. From the 1230s the monks of Whalley Abbey owned much of the land in Eccles, which could haven given the hall its name. Alternatively, in 1394 there was living in the town a Henry de Monks; it could be that his family may have given their name to the house or taken their name from it. Situated on Wellington Road, this once-famous museum stands empty and has been sadly neglected for the last ten years as legal wranglings over planning permission to build flats on the site drag on. This building has not only an amazing history attached to it but it still has a place in the hearts of many people of Salford and Eccles, who have memories of visiting the attractively laid out gardens and special exhibitions. After the Reformation in 1660 the hall became a place of worship for the Nonconformist congregation established by the Rev Edmund Jones who in 1662 was expelled from being the Vicar of Eccles and when the congregation moved out a family named Willis took up residence. In 1836 Monks Hall was a farmhouse and it was further modernised in the 19th century. No mention of Monks Hall is complete without the story of the Monks Hall Hoard; when a new road was being constructed in 1864 a hoard of 6,000 medieval coins were discovered close to the boundary wall, money probably buried by the owners of Monks Hall when the country was torn with civil strife. In the latter half of the 19th century the building became a doctor's residence and for 50 years was the home of a Dr George Sidley and subsequently his son Dr I. M. Ridley. Dr Ridley was also the Doctor in charge of children at St Joseph's Home in Patricroft and often children would be invited along to the house for a look around. Eccles council purchased the house from him in 1959 after he had retired from practice, the house, land and furnishings cost £7,155. The opening ceremony was carried out on Thursday 6 July 1961 by Lord Derby, assisted by the Mayor of Eccles, Ald R. Benson, Cllr G. Edwards, Cllr Dow and Dr Owen, Director of the Manchester Museum. Interestingly enough the first exhibition was a collection of memorabilia loaned to Monks Hall by Manchester United, it contained such items as gold medals, trophies, team pennants, international caps and football jerseys worn by such stars as Billy Meredith and George Wall. Such was the interest in the new Monks Hall museum that it attracted a 1,000 visitors in just three days after the opening, obviously many of them had come to gaze at the Manchester United display! Over the years the museum held some fascinating exhibitions including artwork by LS Lowry, Harold Riley, and Geoffrey Key, also local schools and painting and photographic societies held regular exhibitions there. Many people still fondly recall the bee hive which you could observe through glass panels as they built their honeycombs, and the prehistoric dug out canoe on display in the magnificent gardens, which was found in the bed of the River Irwell when the Manchester Ship Canal was being excavated. I can recall a room at the museum that displayed children's toys from over the years, including dinky toys, dolls and games. There were also a couple of large grandfather clocks including one made in Eccles by a certain James Collier, again, where have they gone? As you went into the garden there was a replica of Nasymth's hammer and other items relating to the industry of Eccles. Sadly and for reasons unknown to us the museum closed its doors for the last time in the late 1980s. It remained empty and neglected for over a decade until a local business man, Grant Chapman purchased the museum and turned it into Monks Hall Restaurant in April 1997, this too closed in 2002. Property developer Mark Hammond then purchased the land with plans to turn the museum building into four luxury flats with a further 24 flats at the rear. No work has ever started on this development and the building looks as if it is ready to collapse following years of neglect and vandalism. So the future of Monks Hall looks bleak and I fear that once again another of our fine buildings will disappear and we will be left with just our memories. The above article first appeared on SalfordOnline and is lovingly reproduced here with the permission of a man with a few habits, Mr Tony Flynn.
  9. Based on Newton Street in central Manchester, this unassuming building holds some incredible material for serious researchers, as well as an awesome array of guns, knives, bats and even a mace confiscated from enthusiastic criminals. Librarian Duncan Brodie tells us about the Salford Aliens records - a world-class collection of discovered in the bowels of a Salford police station in 1999. The original Victorian cells would have held up to 12 men each as they awaited their fate - and all are open to visitors to pore over and enjoy. Just don't forget to ask for the key before you enter... This first video only scratches the surface of the treasures you can find within, and we'll be going back to the museum to uncover more fine detail in the near future. The Greater Manchester Police Museum is open to the public every Tuesday from 10.30am � 3.30pm as well as Thursdays at the same times during the school holidays. Archive appointments can be made on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays (during term-time) and Fridays. Find out more at the Greater Manchester Police Museum website. This article appeared on SalfordOnline on the 9th of April 2014, it is republished here with the permission of Officer of the Lore, Mr Tony Flynn.
  10. Salford, as with many big cities in the North West of England was to endure heavy German bombing in the Second World War and it is recorded that 215 people were killed, 900 injured and 8,000 homes damaged or destroyed in the city. There were many personal tragedies but this incident is particularly poignant. In the early hours of 2 June, Manchester and Salford came under heavy bombardment from German bomber crews raining death and destruction from above. As the air raid sirens went off the Salford Royal nurses, most of them trainees, took shelter in the basement of the hospital hoping for safety. Sadly the hospital took a direct hit from an enemy bomb which tore through the building. A rescue party was set up to try and rescue the people still trapped in the rubble, led by surgeon Dr Robert Wyse. Despite the imminent danger from severed power cables, escaping gas and 30 tonnes of falling masonry they managed to claw their way into the basement which was pitch black and ankle deep in water. Incredibly the team managed to rescue three nurses who had been trapped under the rubble and who had been missed by an earlier search party. It was reported that Dr Wyse actually amputated a trapped nurses limb in an effort to save her, sadly she was to die from her injuries. The bodies of the 14 nurses were found in the ruins of the basement. Amongst those who perished were three nurses from the Sutton area of St Helens, they were Ellen Sheridan, Rose Moffatt and Margaret Lowery, all aged just 19. These three young girls had all joined the nursing services together and had only just started their basic training. All three were buried in the same grave at St Anne's churchyard in St Helens amidst outpourings of grief from family and friends. In September that year Dr Wyse was awarded the George Medal for his incredible bravery. In February 1944 a memorial was unveiled by the Duchess of Kent listing the names of the nurses who perished on that fateful day. A memorial fund was also set up which raised £14,500 to fund new beds in memory of the nurses. With the formation of the NHS Trust in the mid-1990s this saw the closure of the Salford Royal Hospital on Chapel Street, with the building now turned into The Royal Apartments. The memorial is still in place and is worth looking at the next time you pass by the building - a fitting tribute to these brave young women who died so tragically and so young. This article first appeared on SalfordOnline on the 2nd of June 2014, it is republished here with the blessing of Leading Salford Historian and part time paper and comb player, Mr Tony Flynn with video editing by Young Tom Rodgers.
  11. Fudge and Speck, Roger the Dodger Jonah, Big Head and Thick Head, Grandpa, The Nervs, Faceache, Frankie Stein, Bing Bang Benny? If so did you know that they were all the creation of a Salford man, the late great Ken Reid? Ken Reid was born in Manchester in December 1919 but moved to Salford aged two, and lived at Irlams o'th Height where his parents had a shop. He soon showed a natural ability for drawing and at the age of 14 won a scholarship to Salford Art School on the Crescent. After leaving art school Ken rented a small studio off Water Street, Manchester in 1936 and waited for the work to roll in, sadly he was in for a long wait. Fortune smiled on him in 1939 when Ken's father took him to the Manchester Evening News offices with samples of his artwork and told the Commissionaire that they had an appointment with the Art Editor, Mr Barton. When they were introduced they admitted that they didn't have an appointment but the editor thought that Ken's work deserved to be seen. Impressed with his work, Mr Barton told him to create a children's comic strip for the paper, and so Fudge the Elf was born. Fudge made his first appearance in the paper in April 1938 and told of the elf's fantastic adventures with his friend Speck, they would get involved in incredible scrapes, falling down wells, taking magic potions, fighting an amazing collection of enemies, meeting wizards, witches etc and looking back at these stories it is incredible to see not only the detail in the drawings but they verge on the science fiction, fantasy style world, really amazing for the time. The Fudge series was that popular that a Fudge the Elf doll was specially made for the readers, also a hard back annual was brought out each year, a total of six in all, all very collectable now, so popular that Savoy Publishing reproduced several of the annuals in the 1970's. In 1953 his career took another turn when his brother in law Bill Holroyd also a cartoonist for DC publishing introduced him to the owners, who invited him to create a cartoon character for their comic The Beano, and he produced Roger the Dodger, the cheeky schoolboy who used to get into pranks at school. Other characters followed including Grandpa, Bing Bang Benny and my personal favourite, Jonah the goofy toothed, jinxed mariner who was dogged with bad luck and usually managed to sink the ship. Odhams publishers saw Ken's talent and poached him away from DC Thompson in 1964 with that simple ploy of more money. Again new characters were created including Frankie Stein, Jasper the Grasper, The Nervs, and Faceache a boy who could contort his face into grotesque features by the "scrunge" method. Ken was named the Best Writer and Best Artist by the British Society of Strip Illustrators in 1978 and was given the award by Bob Monkhouse, himself a good cartoonist. Sadly Ken suffered a fatal stroke in February 1987 at his home at Hospital Road, Pendlebury, ironically he was doing an ilustration for the cartoon character Faceache at the time. He is buried at Agecroft cemetery and his grave is well worth a visit for a certain reason, his son Tony has had a small plaque of Fudge the Elf set into the gravestone with a list of the cartoon characters that he created around the plaque. Ken Reid is in my opinion one of the greatest cartoonists that has ever lived and deserves much more appreciation than he has received. I would urge anybody with an interest in cartoon art to have a look around for his stuff, it is truly amazing stuff especially the Fudge and Speck drawings. On a final note, why not a blue plaque on his house on Hospital Road, Pendlebury where he lived for so many years? Ken Reid I salute you. This article first appeared on SalfordOnline on the 11th of July 2011, it is republished here with the blessings of Tony 'The Terror' Flynn.
  12. Thinking that this was a joke or the proverbial fisherman's tale we carried on filming. Just as we were packing our cameras away to leave, I was amazed to see a young lad rush past carrying a keep net, and inside it was a giant terrapin, some four or five times larger than the domestic animals being sold in local petshops. The lad, Lee Phelan from Salford, explained that many years ago terrapins were popular household pets, presumably from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles craze from 1980s children's TV. People apparently got bored with the poor creatures and dumped them in the canal, where they have flourished and bred and over the years, and according to Lee the canal is teeming with them. He was keen to point out that they can give a nasty bite and should be handled with care, and most importantly, he was returning the reptile to the canal. If you are interested in catching one, all I would ask is that you throw the terrapin back into the canal - the same as you would with a fish after you have caught it - and let other people marvel at the secrets lurking in the Bridgewater Canal. This video first appeared on SalfordOnline on the 26th of July 2011, it is reproduced here with the blessings of the Old Age Ginger Turtle (He dyes it we have proof), Mr Tony Flynn.
  13. The Public Hall on Franklin Street, Patricroft opened in 1871 and was owned by Samuel Hooley, a coal dealer who also had a lucrative sideline in hiring out wagonettes and coaches. He was also know to be a lead member of the Temperance Movement in the Eccles area with the Patricroft Blue Ribbon Army using his hall as their headquarters with Mr Hooley giving lectures on the demon drink. By 1905 the hall was being used for weddings, concerts and general meetings with, as the Eccles Journal noted at the time, "An attempt is being made at this hall to bring cheap and light entertainment to this area of Eccles". History was made in March 1907 when a company called Dykes Celebrated Ensign Animated Picture Company put on a performance of moving images, this was followed shortly afterwards by the Madame Ragne Dehn's Animated Picture Company. Hooley saw the potential and the money to be made from the animated picture companies and it was decided from then on, that the Public Hall would only show films. By 1908 the Public Hall had changed its name to the "Picture House, Public Hall, Patricroft" and was redecorated and benches installed, no expense spared there then, and the admission was 1d, 2d and 3d, and entertainment was about to change forever in Eccles. By 1908, various film companies would exhibit at the Public Hall, including the Parisian Bioscope Company, The Mikado Animated Picture Company, The Star Animated Company, whilst local girl Miss Flora Buxton would sing in the interval, what more could you ask for? The Picture House provided many benefits for the people of Eccles, for the sum of a 1d or 2d they could escape the drudgery of their lives and escape into a world of fantasy, humour and education. In August 1908 the Continental Animated Picture Company showed films showing the Abram Colliery pit disaster of that year in which seventy six men were killed, and The Olympic games that were held in London that summer. On the other end of the scale you could witness such rib ticklers as, "The Cripple comes a Cropper", "Carlo Steals the Sausages" and that firm favourite, "The Adventures of a Roll of Lino". By 1909 the cinema had a manager, Mr G. Parr who served up such films as Louis Bleriot flying over the channel and Dr Crippen being brought ashore at Liverpool after being arrested at sea for the murder of his wife. These films must have sadly been lost for ever, the film was cellulose nitrate which was highly flammable and could disintegrate very easily. It would be marvellous if any of these old films could be discovered, many films were shot on the streets of Eccles and Salford and were shown the next day at local cinemas, makes me sad to think of what we have lost. 1914 saw the outbreak of the Great War and the Picture House was soon showing patriotic films such as "Under the German Yoke" and one called, "A Belgian Girl's Honour". At the screening of this film a Belgian soldier who had lost a leg fighting against the Germans was brought onto the stage and gave an account of the fighting in Belgian and the so called atrocities being carried out by the beastly Hun, mainly propaganda to be honest, having said that, they did shoot the nurse Edith Cavell for alleged spying. Time was catching up with Public Hall cinema, just down the road The Palladium cinema opened in April 1915, and compared to the Public Hall it was a luxury cinema, fitted seats, fire doors, an orchestra, and no way could they compete. The last film shown was in September 1916, and was called "Stingaree", this chap was an Australian super hero who could vanish at will and defeat any number of enemies, a regular all-round good guy. The hall then went back to being used by Mr Hooley as a coal yard and stables and over the years has been a garage and a joiners' workshop. It is still standing on Franklin Street, so next time that you pass, take time to have a look and reflect on what was Eccles's first cinema. This video first appeared on SalfordOnline on the 11th of August 2011, it is reproduced here with the blessings of not so silent youtube movie star, Tony Flynn (He does his own stunts) and was edited by Alasdair Ricard.
  14. We start with views of Winton Park with sailors and RAF men men home on leave playing with local children; it really is an age of innocence past. The park seems full of young children all having fun with hardly any parents in sight, that would be rare today. Notice the old fashioned pram being trundled across the park, nothing like the space-age contraptions that the modern mums of today have. Allotments are making a big revival these days but back in the 1940's they were actively encouraged by the government to help alleviate shortages and it is recorded that by 1945 there were some 1.4 million allotments in Great Britain. Here we see John's father Tom Martin on his allotment in Peel Green tending his vegetables and interestingly enough a pet goat which no doubt would end up on the family dinner table. Meat rationing in Great Britain didn't end until 1954 so any extra food would be a huge bonus, especially if there were several mouths to feed. It is interesting to see the fashion of those times, the men would appear to be wearing their best suits complete with shirt and ties, a rare sight these days unless at a funeral or wedding, also the haircuts appear very severe for the men. Smoking in public back then was not considered to be a health risk and was a constant sight. Take a look at the young boy playing with skipping ropes, can you imagine giving a young boy today a skipping rope as a toy! This is another long-gone street past time. The two young ladies in this video, Annie Martin and Joyce Pimblett look very stylish and carefree posing for the camera. Their fashions are interesting to note: you have to remember that clothing was rationed throughout the country until late 1949 and the style was to make do and mend or else make your own clothes from whatever materials were handy, curtains etc. The people in this video though do look very happy, I don't think it was for the benefit of the camera, I think that these people have come through a rough time with all the hardships that World War II brought and are looking forward to a happier and more peaceful time. This article first appeared on SalfordOnline on the 12th of August 2013, it is lovingly reproduced here courtesy of space age contraption Mr Tony Flynn.
  15. In one heated tank are two snakes, one is a huge and I mean huge, albino Burmese python which is nine feet long and growing, plus a smaller boa constrictor, coming in at a mere four foot long! The albino python is named Athena and the Boa constrictor is named Noah, as in Noah the Boa presumably. Mike first got interested in snakes and lizards when as a young lad he and his brother John used to visit their aunt in Colne, her next door neighbour had rooms and rooms of snakes all in heated glass cases and from this their love of lizards grew. In the other corner of the front room is a tank with a collection of bearded dragons, Goliath, Spike and Jaws. Mike's four children love the creatures and have no qualms in handling them, I sadly had to decline his offer to hold the albino python. If you're at all squemish, look away now. Mike feeds Athena on dead, frozen guinea pigs, complete with fur, whilst Noah who is still growing lives on dead, frozen rats, again swallowed whole. The bearded dragons eat dead locusts, grubs, insects etc, which I suppose is preferable to eating a dead rodent. The food is purchased online or from local pet shops, a dead guinea pig will set you back £2.50 or four for a £10 if you are interested. Mike's brother John was at the house when I called, he tells me that he breeds lizards and scorpions and finds it a fun hobby, so the love of reptiles obviously runs in the family.

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