Goose Green , Wigan , WN3 6SB
01942 243068

Goose Green - When I Was Your Age. By W. Mayers

The following passage recalls the memories of local resident Bill Mayers, from his schooldays during World War 2.
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My earliest recollections of Goose Green are of when my dad took me from my home, in Worsley Mesnes, to The Bull, on Warrington Road. I often played near the terraced houses across the road, whilst he played bowls on the bowling green behind the pub. The terraced houses had two or more steps up to their front doors and were perpendicular to Warrington Road, by Elsey's Vinegar Works, which in those days actually produced the vinegar, rather than just bottling it, as they do today.
I remember the little toffee shop that was there. St. Paul's Avenue was a rough dirt track, rather than the well laid out road, which it is today. The Conservative Club, (which still stands today, looking far less resplendent) was opposite St. Paul's Church, which was encircled by iron railings, which were taken away during the war, to be used to make tanks and Andersen shelters.
Clapgate Lane was, also, only a rough road through the fields, with just the old farmhouse, which still stands on the left hand side of the road, about a third of the way up the lane. Most of the houses, facing the school, on Warrington Road were much as they are today.
The people who lived in Goose Green mainly worked in Trencherfield or Eckersley's Cotton Mills or at Pemberton Colliery, which have all gone now. The old St. Paul's Day School was on the same site as the present one. The old Coach Road, (part of which is still behind our church), went all the way up through the fields to Billinge and Rainford in one direction and split in to paths leading to Worsley Mesnes, Tippings Arms and St. Paul's Ave. in the other. The one called St. George's path came out by St. Judes'.
When I was doing research some time ago, I discovered that Marus Bridge was named after Marcus, the Roman commander of the district, in about 130 A. D., during the updating of the really bad road system. The traffic cut ruts in to the old road. This road was called Warrington Road and, actually, led to Warrington.
During that time, the Marus Bridge was built. Although his name was Marcus, the area was originally called Maurus Bridge, which has become shortened to Marus Bridge with the passing of time.
There was a small Roman outpost, which was situated on the site now occupied by Sainsbury's, to 'police' the district. Roman swords have been found on the site. Stones over a brook are reported to have been there since Roman tines. The last of the work was only destroyed during the building of the present dual carriageway, in the early 1960's. The walls were castellated (like a castle). -Look at my impression of what it looked like, in the picture, in your classroom.
Before the Second World War (1939-45) gas lamps were used to light up the roads. I remember trying to light a firework from a gas lamp, when it went off and blew the top off the lamp. On another occasion, we tied the back of a steam lorry to the same lamp. The driver got in, started up and ripped the lamp out of the ground. We were all lined up in the street and had a sound 'telling off' for our wrongdoing.
Going to the baths, in Wigan, was financially, out of the question, so we often just stripped off, regardless of sex, leaving very little on and jumped in to the canal for a swim. In those days, we lived in a much closer community and everybody in the street knew everybody else -rather like in Coronation Street on television. Church was very central to far more people than what it is today.

Long before the war broke out, newspapers and radio were pointing towards the war, so it came as no surprise, when it actually happened. I was playing in a back garden when I heard the broadcast by the Prime Minister, Mr. Chamberlain, which announced the outbreak of the war.
As boys of ten, my friends and I didn't realise the seriousness or the implications of it all, but we were very interested in looking at the maps which appeared daily in the newspapers, which showed its progress.
I remember hearing the traitor, who was nicknamed, "Lord Haw Haw" broadcasting on the radio. He always began his broadcasts, "Germany calling ..."
He regularly tried to mislead the English people about the progress of the war. Before the war he had spoken, at times, in Wigan Town centre.
As the war went on, people around our family and, also, us were regularly, receiving tragic news of relatives who were fighting in the war, so we regularly comforted one another in class. At school, most of the male teachers disappeared, as they went off to war and were replaced by unqualified teachers, who were willing to fill the gaps that were left.
We didn't have the same lessons that children had had before the war and lots of things, like Bunsen burners, in laboratories were unused. In the early part of 1940, most of the days began with a rest period, because often, we had been up all night in the bombing. If the school bell went three tines, unless it was a practice, we all went into the Andersen shelters, in the much the same way, as your fire drill today, except that it was for real!
School punishment was very different in those days. Mrs Glassbrook used to rap our clenched knuckle several times, as hard as she could, with a 12" ruler and if it were for something that she considered particularly bad, she would rattle both hands. If it was more serious, we were sent to the Headteacher's room and told to tell him that we had been sent for the cane. He always said, "Wait" (whilst one thought about it). Then he came to the door, looked very sternly at the culprit and marched down to the classroom to find out why the person had been sent. After all this, the culprit held out the hand to be caned on the very tip of the extended fingers, by a 20 inch long and three quarters of an inch thick cane. If it was considered very serious both hands were caned. The culprit returned to class with hands held under the armpits.
Enjoyment was made in any way we could. There were very few luxuries, like bicycles, because our parents were poor. Things went according to Seasons. There was the conker season, the roller skating season and piggy season.
Most of us wore clogs with wooden soles. We would walk to Poolstock where they made metal spikes to go in to the front and back of our clogs, so that we could go ice-skating on the frozen pond where St. Jude's Church now stands. I do not recommend that you try this, but the water there was very shallow. Then there was the month of catapults, in which we got into trouble, because we graduated from stones to arrows.
Looking back, I must admit that I am appalled at the tricks we got up to. A lot of us collected pieces of shrapnel, which cane from shells or bullets that had broken in the air. In fact, some people had a prize selection of specimens.
We also had pops (marbles) of which some had half a bucket full. There was one thing that we knew very little or nothing about and that was bullying. In fact, I can't recollect a single incident of it. There was more of a sense of togetherness, perhaps, because there was always a great sense of danger from the Germans who weren't very far away.
There was always a big turn out on Walking Days. We also had a field treat and the school sports day was much more of a special occasion. Then there was the Annual Trip to Southport on a bus.
We got 1/6 spending money (seven and a half pence, in today's money).
I remember once spending ninepence on a set of spoons as a present for my mother and still thinking that the other ninepence was a lot of money.
During the war, two bombs dropped by St. Paul's Church. One blew part of a greenhouse right over to Poolstock!