Many Runcornians in the past made their mark in the literary field, industry, commerce, sport and in the Armed Services.
The famous author Sir Hall Caine, who wrote such well known novels as 'The Deemster', 'The Manxman' and many others was born at number 29, Bridgewater Street.
Miss Mary Baker, who wrote many children's books and was a founder member of the ‘White Ribboners Society. Members of this Society wore an enamel brooch in the shape of a bow of ribbon, and promised to abstain from alcohol and tobacco. She lived in a house called 'Beaconsfield' on Weston Road. On the outskirts of the town, at Daresbury church is buried Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Not correct - he is buried in Guildford, but he was born at Daresbury) who wrote Alice in Wonderland and many other children's stories under the pseudonym of Lewis Carroll.
At the top of Westfield Road still stands the house Crofton Lodge, (since demolished and new houses built on the site) which Dr. Annett used in his experiments in the discovery of a vaccine against anthrax. Many local tannery workers were exposed to this disease through handling hides in the many tanneries in the town. This is now part of the large firm of Glaxo Limited.
In 1936 the Rt. Hon. Neville Chamberlain flew to Munich to meet Adolph Hitler in peace talks. He flew back with an historic piece of paper saying peace in our time, which as we all know did not materialise. The pilot who flew him was an old boy of the Parish School, G. Robinson.
A boy who came to the town as a poor urchin later became one of our most respected citizens, Mr. D. Shaw (Daddy). As a boy he spent every copper he earned helping the boat people with their craft up and down the canal locks and in providing a hut for the boat children to play in away from the dangers of the canal muddy waters. The Mersey Mission to Seamen sent him to Liverpool to be educated and later appointed him as the local chaplain to the Seamen.s Mission, to look after the welfare of the large number of seamen who visited the docks. He provided a plot of land in the Cemetery out of his own funds to provide graves for seamen who died in the port (In 2012 this memorial was restored and re-dedicated). His whole life was dedicated to the welfare of seamen and the boat families. He carried on his duties until his death at 91 years of age.
One of the characters I was always please to visit was Jimmy Gough the clogmaker in Regent Street. We would visit his shop to have new irons fitted to our clogs, which only cost a few pence. He always had his mouth full of clog nails and it was amazing how he could converse with us and tell us some fine stories with his mouth full of clog nails.
The Undertaking business of Booths in Bridge Street, who also provided a cab service and ran a wagonette to Warrington. I can recall making this journey with my parents and we had to alight when we came to the humpback bridges over the canal to lighten the load for the horses. They provided white horses for weddings and black horses for funerals. The horses were also used to draw the fire engine from the Fire Station on Delph Bridge to local fires.
Many of the local tradesmen were household names and provided the townsfolk with many home made products. Billy Worrall for his tripe and cowheels; Billy Wickstead for his humbugs and pork pies; Kennedys and Watkins and Parks groceries; Savage's butchers at the foot of Savage's Bridge - all their beef was slaughtered on the premises. He would give the boys pig and sheep bladders which they would blow up and use to play football and rugby. G. Duckett, fruit, fish, and vegetables - I can recall my mother giving me a shilling on a Saturday night to go to his shop just before closing and I would be able to purchase a rabbit, turnip and a bag of potatoes all for that shilling.
All these fine characters have now disappeared and the townsfolk still remember them with nostalgic pride, the laughter and service they once received from these characters of the past.