8. Leisure and Pastimes

In the days when radio and television was not thought of, except for a few crystal receivers, people always found some kind of entertainment.

For the young there was the regular cinema matinee at the Palace Cinema in High Street on a Saturday afternoon. The Manager was 'Daddy' Stratton who kept us all in order. The admittance was one penny and included a stick of toffee. It was natural that we never missed this treat, because we could not bear the suspense of finding out how Pearl White or Tom Mix got out of their terrible ordeal; to see such stars as Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Fatty Arbuckle, Jackie Coogan, and many others.

The highlight of the year was Whitsun week; we would don our new clothes which for some of us had to last for the whole year. On Whit Monday we would assemble at our Sunday School, collect our banners and join the procession with the other churches, chapels, and other various denominations, led by the local bands, and boys' bugle bands. The Bands taking part were the Pioneer Band, Runcorn Silver Band, Preston Brook Silver Band, Bootle Concertina Band. The procession would wend it way through the town to the park where a service for all denominations would be held; then back to the church or chapel school for tea.

There was always a large fair held on the ground between Penketh Lane and Nelson Street, with large steam roundabouts, coconut stalls and numerous freak sideshows.

Tuesday was the annual trip to Liverpool and New Brighton on 'Shaw's Boat' - so called because it was organised by the Seamens' Mission. The steamers were the 'Royal Iris' and the 'Royal Daffodil', these two Wallasey ferry steamers were famous for the part they played in the blockade of Zeebrugge harbour during the 1914-1918 War.

The Winter nights were spent indoors reading such comics as Film Fun, Gem, Comic Cuts, Jester, and books like Sexton Blake, Hotspur, and Billy Bunter at Greyfriars. If we were allowed out we would gather beneath a brightly lit shop window and play guessing games.

For the young there were the usual dances held at the Brunner Guild Hall, the Master of Ceremonies was Mr. J. Povey and the band of three consisted of Wally Quewly, Jack Manwareing, and Billy Dean. The select dances were held at the Devonshire Café in Devonshire Square with Billy Morton and his band.

For the adults there were the three cinemas; the Palace, the Kings in Public Hall Street and the Empress in Lowlands Road - this cinema had a short life as it was demolished to make way for the approach road to the high level bridge. Although the films were silent there were epics like 'Intolerance', 'Armageddon', 'The Way of All Flesh', etc. and stars like Anna May Wong, Mary Pickford, Lon Chaney, Raymon Navarro, the films being accompanied on the piano with musicians like H. Sproston, A. Harding, following the tempo of the film. There was also the Theatre Royal in Duke Street, where plays and vaudeville were put on. This theatre was burned down in 1906.

Most Sundays were spent attending church or chapel with a pleasant walk after the Service to Higher Runcorn and the hill, or through the fields to Halton castle and on the Clifton through Grice's fields. All these pleasant walks have now disappeared in the development of the New Town.

There were numerous public houses in the town and most of them would be filled with the working men and some of their wives, enjoying a singsong after a hard week's toil. Most of these houses had pianos and the volunteer singer would be accompanied by such pianists as L. Ravenscroft, Blind Joe Pickstock, A. Savage, and many others. Most of these houses have now closed or been demolished for the new development. Some had unusual names - Hole in the Wall, The Balakalva, the Crimea Tavern, Camden Inn, the Sloop, Uncle Tom's Cabin. The entertainment in these old convivial houses was greatly appreciated by most of the working class in the past and it is a pity that this has been replaced by Juke Boxes etc. Such is progress.

A list of some Runcorn pubs, past and present, at the time this articles was written.

Alcock Street Fox Tavern
Ashridge Street Bridge Inn George and Dragon
Brunswick Street Anchor Inn Rutters Vaults
Bridge Street Bricklayers Arms Manchester House Wheatsheaf
" " "The Raven Glass Barrel
Church Street Blue Bell Cornwall & Devonshire Fleetwood Arms Ferry Hotel
" " " Lord Rodney Man at the Wheel Rifleman's Arms Rose & Crown Blue Ball
Canal Street Foresters Arms
Devonshire Square Duke of Devonshire
Egerton Street George & Dragon;
Ellesmere Street Spring Vaults
Fryer Street Friendship Tavern
Greenway Road Cleveland Hotel
Granville Street Seven Stars
High Street Holyhead Harbour Queen's Head Stanley Arms Child & Angel
Halton Road Rope & Anchor; Bulls Head; Bird in Hand Dog & Partridge (old) Half Way House
King Street Three Crowns
Lowlands Road London & North Western Hotel; Vine Hotel
Mersey Road Boathouse Mersey Vaults Rose & Shamrock
Nelson Street Albion Nelson Vaults
Mill Brow Moulders Arms Millstone Inn
Loch Street Sloop Inn
Heath Road Crown Vaults
Percival Lane Mariners Arms; Duke of Wellington; Waterman's Arms Hole in the Wall
Pool Lane George Inn
Queen Street Theatre Vaults Queens Hotel
Regent Street Countess of Ellesmere Shamrock Inn
" " "Crimea Tavern Blue Ball
Top High Street Derby Arms
Rutland Street Nelson Inn
Shaw Street Swan Inn
Surrey Street Camden Tavern
St. John Street Royal Oak
Victoria Road Ship Inn
9. Prominent Runcornians To Joe's Jottings
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