The Prescotian Webzine

Extracts from 'Prescot when I was a Boy' by Arthur S. Roberts [Published 1987]
Arthur S. Roberts
PGS 1922-1926
Continuing along High Street beyond the Hope Street opening, the next building is the Hope and Anchor Hotel. This commodious establishment abuts on what was the picture framing business of Mr.Harland, whose wife taught geography at the local Council School. The Preston family lived in the adjoining house, and next door to this was the tailor's shop of Messrs. Roberts and Bromley. Jack Saggerson's garage and taxi service carried this block to its end at STorth Court, beyond which was the Grammar School and its playground shielded by a wall and iron railing.

When Thomas Eccleston offered the land for this school, an error on the part of the surveyor resulted in more land being available on the south side of Hackley Moss than was intended. On hearing that the old school building was unsafe and inadequate, Eccleston offered a piece of land twenty yards square. The error occurred when the surveyor mapped out his plan on an area twenty-five yards square. The school was transferred from its old site (opposite the Church), where, according to a minute in the records, it was described as being unsafe, 'due to the proximity of increased vehicular traffic passing its door'. The changeover took place in 1759, and the Grammar School was housed at this new site until the present building was erected in 1924. The first two years of my time at Prescot Grammar School were spent in this building and the places annexed. After the transfer of the school to the new premises the old building was used as a clinic. This was later demolished and is now one of the many car parks in Prescot.

The Royal Hotel yard was a broad expanse at the top of Derby Street, which I believe was used for stabling when the Royal Hotel was a coaching station. This was before my time, but I remember when it had the Assembly Rooms and two cottages at its northern extremity. I recall that the Ormandys and the Shuttleworths were the tenants of these cottages. What the Assembly Rooms were originally used for I do not know, apart from balls and social functions, but the upper floor accommodated Forms 3A and 3B of the Grammar School at the time when I joined the school in 1922. In those days, and in fact until the new school in St.Helens Road was opened, it was necessary to deploy certain of the lower forms of the school to venues up and down the town. The Assembly Rooms housed two of these forms as did the Wesleyan schoolroom and the Parish Rooms. Constant changing from place to place for various lessons, and the time taken in getting there,- reduced the time allowed for lessons. However, due to the inadequacies of the school buildings this constant movement was inevitable.

From the King's Arms, the road to St.Helens branches at right angles from High Street and Varrington Road. A grocer's shop appears to have stood on the corner, but my earliest recollection was of Joe Smith's greengrocery which adjoined the newsagency of J.Edwards in High Street. In 1913 Joseph Burke's cookshop was next door, and this was later occupied by the Molloys, whilst John Fowler's hairdressing saloon was on the other side of this.

The latter was taken over by the late Bill Birchall who used to cut my hair when I was a boy. An incident which I well remember, and which proved the authoritarian nature of the schoolmasters of the day, occurred on this very spot. It was a Saturday morning, and on leaving the barber's shop proudly displaying my newly cropped and brilliantined head, I refrained from putting on my school cap.

There appeared to be no one about and it was Saturday, so I nonchalantly made my way towards High Street when a stentorian voice accosted me with the words, 'Boy, put that cap on'. It was an unwritten law that members of the Grammar School when outside school premises must wear caps at all times. I recognised the unmistakable voice as belonging to the headmaster, Mr.C.W.H.Richardson, and suitably chastened, I hurriedly donned my offending headgear, and hoped that the incident would be forgotten. lot so, as at assembly on the following Monday I was hauled out by the Head who asked if I was ashamed to wear the Grammar School cap. I wonder what the reaction of a scholar would be today?

Farm land worked by Mr.Metcalfe reached from the St.James Road side of the Lane Ends back along St.Helens Road towards the town centre. This was enclosed by a sandstone wall, broken only by three cottages and the entrance to the farmhouse until it reached the eastern side of Cross Street. The building of the new Grammar School in 1924 took a fair proportion of this farmland. The cottages half-way along the road were demolished, and the farm house became the residence of the Headmaster. This in turn was pulled iown, and the wall continues unbroken from Lane Ends to the entrance to the school and playground. Five houses stand between the school yard and Cross Street, the next street off St.Helens Road. Beyond this was an old established public house, 'The British Soldier'.

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