'Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it'. This motto once adorned the stonework above the main entrance to the Runcorn parish School. Fortunately this motto has been preserved and has been erected in the boundary wall of the new school built further along Church Street.
This motto was strictly observed by the teaching staff of this well known school of years gone by.
The Headmaster in those days was a Mr. A. Lindsay, whose wife also taught in the school. He always wore a straw boater in the summer and a black homburg in the winter. He was very strict on discipline and would hand out punishment with the knowledge that the recipient was fully deserving of it, but was also a very kind and understanding gentleman.
The other teachers were Miss Hufton from Widnes, old Mr. Smith, who came from Acton Bridge and travelled each day to Runcorn; he was never without his bowler hat. This old teacher carried on teaching well after his retiring age. A very popular teacher was Mr. Kilcross, a keen sportsman and it was due to his guidance that the school excelled in many sports as swimming, football, rugby, running, etc. The School produced many fine swimmers such as E. Ireland; G. Bushell; E. Duckett; W. Pollitt; G. Riley and others.
It was only natural that the boys became proficient swimmers for we all learned to swim in the Canal near the old Transporter Bridge, which we called the 'Ferry Hut'. We would swim across the Ship Canal, climb the gantry wall and walk over to Widnes, making our way back before the tide came in and trapped us on the other side. One of our favourite pastimes was to stand under the Transporter car as it was leaving the Runcorn side and shout up to passengers to throw down pennies please and watch the boys scramble in the water, this often proved fruitful and much amusement to the passengers.
We always looked clean and tidy when at school, we wore large celluloid collars, boots or clogs, according to the circumstances of each boy´s family. We had to line up each morning to be inspected by the teachers, and woe betide any boy who was not up to the standards of cleanliness and tidiness that the school required; this meant a visit to the headmaster to receive six of the best. None of this discipline did us any harm as most of us became useful members of the community.
There were many other schools in the town whose standards were equal to my own school, these were - Balfour Road, Trinity, St. Edward´s and the schools in the villages of Halton, Weston, Weston Point and the Primary Schools of Victoria Road, Granville Street, Shaw Street and the Ragged School on Mill Brow.
Times were hard for most families in those days and I can recall the queues at the various pawnbrokers on a Monday morning, when father's best suit, shoes, and other items of family valuables were pledged for a few shillings, to be redeemed the following Saturday, to be worn to attend church, chapel, and Sunday School, which most families did in those days. The local pawnbrokers were - Sam Imison, Church Street; Tom Brown, Bridge Street; Bert Lightfoot, High Street; and Alf Dodd's three shops - one in Princess Street, others in Cross Street and Egerton Street. This is one part of the past I am pleased to see has disappeared.
The food we could purchase was good and wholesome, like Billy Worrall's tripe and cow heels; Joe Percival's tasty 'Dreadnought' sausages; Page's black puddings and savoury ducks (faggots). Thursday was called savoury duck day, and my mother used to send me with a basin and a large jug to Page's to purchase six savoury ducks and a jug of gravy - what a marvellous meal it was in comparison with the modern pre-packed frozen food sold in the supermarkets today.
We don't see many of the games we played as children; today all Hi-Fi, radio and television. Very rarely do we see children playing hopscotch, skipping rope, marbles and pitching cigarette cards against a wall to see who could cover the most. I can recall playing on the soap waster by Johnsons' soap works, which is now Broadway. There were large stacks of staves used to make barrels and we would make a den amongst them and pretend we were outlaws in the far wild west.
What happy days they were, the happiest days of my life.