Local stories

This section of the website will soon be updated with recorded interviews with local people, who shared their stories and memories as part of the project.

Please check back here in a couple of weeks' time! Thank you.


This section will include recorded interviews with...

Jack

Jack remembers growing up in Leigh, with his father in the army during the Second World War and his mother working as a silk weaver making parachutes for the war effort, Jack was mostly looked after by his Grandparents. After school he worked with his grandfather in his shop on Lord Street for 14 years before moving to the Prudential insurance company. Jack’s Great Grandfather was a miner, but following an accident down the mine which crushed his legs, his Great Grandfather was determined that his children would never work down the mine.

Jack remembers his time as a child playing in the flashes, where he would build rafts. He would often get there by hitching a ride on a canal boat carrying coal. At the time the tow paths along the canals were out of bounds because they were just used for industry. Now they are a pleasure to walk along and Jack still enjoys going to the flashes once a week for a walk.

Eric

Eric’s Great Grandfather was killed at the age of 24 whilst working down the pit. Following his death, the rest of the family avoided working as miners and Eric remembers being told to work hard at school so he wouldn’t have to work as a miner down the pit.

Eric describes how the flashes have been created due to mining activity, but also because the area is prone to flooding. He explains that the Romans roads in the area are not straight as they usually were, because they had to go around the areas which would flood. He also remembers a flood in 1963, which was so bad a man had to go to the pub in a rowing boat! Eric remembers children drowning in the flashes when he was young and how people walked through corn fields to get there. In recent years the farming of crops has reduced and the fields have since been built on.

Evelyn and Susan

Evelyn remembers her parents telling her to stay away from the flashes because children drowned there. Evelyn’s dad worked down the pit and she remembers the impact on her family when he died when she was just 12 years old. After school Evelyn went to work at Taylor’s Bakery and then Woolworths until she married at the age of 21.

Susan is originally from Edinburgh and moved to Leigh 10 years ago. She recalls how it was difficult at first to fit in because she was not from the area. Now, Susan has some very good friends in Leigh. She talks about changes in the last 10 years including improved facilities such as a new swimming pool and cinema providing activities for children.

Evelyn and Susan discuss the community spirit and employment in Leigh, explaining that since industry has gone there are few opportunities for young people to find work in the area.

Kenny

Kenny trained for 5 years to be an electrician, during which time he was stationed at Kirkham on his National Service. He remembers his time working for Granada TV as an electrician; a job which took him all over the world.

Kenny recalls how the flashes were derelict when he was young but he would still sneak in and have a swim. He also swam in the canal, often jumping off the bridges into the canal. He now regularly goes for walks around the flashes and the canal.  

Tony

Tony has worked at the local library for about 20 years and has lived in the area for about 10 years. His research has provided him with a wealth of knowledge about the history of the area and he shares just some of this research in this interview.

Tony talks about the famous people that have been born or have lived in the area, including actors, musicians and writers. He discusses past industry, the railways, canals and toll roads, and tells us about the past social activities for the people of Leigh, including pubs, the Jazz Club and restaurants.

Jacqui Roberts, Jan Johnson and Alice Fowler

Jacqui remembers many stories about growing up in Lowton. She talks about taking her picnic across the fields around Lowton and waving to the train drivers as they passed. One of Jacqui’s most vivid memories is travelling on the train to Manchester and getting her white gloves dirty on the steam train. In Manchester she remembers asking her mum where all the children played because there were no fields like where she lived.

Jan moved to Atherton from Salford in 1972. She remembers how different Salford was to Lowton, thinking it was lovely because it was ‘behind the times’. She recalls family trips to Hey Hall and Rivington for picnics and how her children were able to play in the countryside and up trees which was very different to Salford. Jan also talks about family life when she was younger and how hard times brought people together.

Alice came to Lowton from Liverpool in 1985. Alice remembers discovering new places on the bus and the different social activities she enjoyed, such as the Mothers’ Union and Women’s Institute. She also recalls her first trip to Leigh market and the cafe at the Parish Church which served tea or coffee and toast. Alice also talks about the industry in the area during the 80s which has now disappeared.

Karen Dagnall

Karen remembers growing up in the 1970s. Her play ground was at the Three Sisters, which consisted of three huge slag heaps (three hillocks made of waste material from coal mining, left over following the closure of the Garswood Hall Colliery in 1958). Karen remembers celebrating the centenary of Bryn St. Peter’s School and playing near Drummers Lane. She also recalls that many of her friend’s dads were miners, some of which died in a pit explosion in the 70s.

Ian Winstanley

Ian grew up in a mining village and his biological grandfather died in 1916 working down the pit. Later his grandmother re-married a collier and it was his stories that sparked Ian’s interest in coal mining. He has since carried out 20 years of research into the Lancashire coal mines and he shares some of his research and personal stories in a series of recordings.

Ian tells us about the Pit Brow Lasses and children workers and the sorts of jobs that were done in the mines, including colliers, drawers, trappers and pony tenters. He explains the horrendous conditions that workers faced and tells of the terrible accidents and disasters that often saw one or two workers a week killed. He also shares the less solemn stories associated with mining, from the mice sandwiches through to pigeon flying and drunkenness.