and Pat Bailie spent on afternoon with LES LYON,
a senior Old Prescotian who attended the school
1920 -1926 a period which bridged the move trom
High Street to the St. Helens Road premises.
In 1920 when Les
entered the school, life in Prescot was vastly
different from today's pattern. Although there
was a flush toilet in Knowsley Hall, a fact which
Les discovered in the course of his work, such
luxuries were very rare in the town. Neither were
many premises equipped with running water, the
larger houses, pubs and commercial premises
having their own wells. One such well, Les
remembered was in a passage-way opposite the
Wesleyan Chapel in Atherton Street. There was no
main sewerage system but surface water was
drained into a maze of brooks, one of the larger
ones being in Market Street.
been asked to do some work for my namesake,
another Lyon, and a chap named Royle and in their
photographic premises at the top of Market Street
I found a brook running under the floor. Along
Market Street it ran to Sewell Street, through
the Carrs and then down Whiston Lane on its way
to the Mersey."
middle of the Carrs, an area overgrown by a mass
of blackberry bushes and used as a playgroup by
the children of me town, was Jingler's Cottage.
Through the undergrowth ran the brooks over which
Les and his pals used to play jumping over them,
'dantering'. Old Jingler liked to have youngsters
around, provided they did not interfere with his
goats. A delightful old character, he also kept
ducks and chickens nearby. Jingler was able to
observe the goings on from one or other of the
many windows of his hexagonal house. The Grammar
School itself was located in the building in High
Street which many years afterwards became the
School Clinic. In addition, classes were held in
many buildings scattered through the town.
I first went to PGS, my first class was IIIb and
as well as IIIa, it was in the Assembly Rooms in
Derby Street. They were near the Royat Hotel in a
duck cobbled courtyard. The licensee of the Royal
was Mr Taylor, a member of a grammar school
family. The rooms were very comfortable and had
high ceilings and good hardwood floors. Heating
was poor, though, and we had iron stoves with
'crabs' on top. Classes IIa and IIb were in the
old post office at the top of Church Street but
unlike my old pal Alec Weston, I never was in
either of those. Near the school in High street
was another building where Miss Huckte took art
classes. This later became a picture-framing
shop. My favourite teacher of all time was the
Head Master, Mr. Richardson - Old Man River, what
a man he was - absolutely magic -1 shall never
forget him - never.
assemblies were sometimes held in he Westeyan
Hall but this bunding was mostly used for singing
lessons with Mr Stevenson. Incidentally, I was
taught to play the piano in this building by two
clear old ladies, Miss Quick and Miss Winstantey.
Other teachers of the time were Miss Forshaw,
Miss Milburn, Miss Huckle and another lady. Mr.
Whitworth taught French- a lovely little fellow
who went to France every year for his holiday.
Joe Hammond was a member of staff as was Eddie
Wood who became our neighbour when we lived in
was a local tenor singer and a member of the St
Helens Amateur Operatic Soctety and the Good
Comrades choir which was well known throughout
Lancashire. About the time I joined PCS, along
with another boy from the school I became a
member of the Parish Church choir. Apart from
other lads who attended the Higher Grade School
in St Helens, everyone went to the Council School
We used to hear the tales of Old Ogle who
reputedly haunted the church. The church boasted
the largest bible-class in the area. The vicar
was Canon Lovat who was also Chairman of the
Governors of the School
could serve a full apprenticeship. Richie allowed
me to leave school at the age of 15. Then I
served my time as a Joiner with Halsalls, an
'all-hand firm where no machines were used. The
brother of Mr Halsall, my employer was a governor
of the school. It was usual for apprentices to be
sacked immediately they finished their seven
years 'time'. I was fortunate enough to remain
with the firm for an extra twelve months until I
was 22. Later on I completed my technical
training at the Gamble Institute in St Helens. Mr
Halsall had once catted me to the office where a
pile of drawings was on the desk. One was of a
door with a circular Hght or window in the upper
part. I had to take the drawings home and study
them well enough to be able to start making the
door the next morning The next day I was called
to the office again about 8 25am.I told Mr
Halsall that the drawings seemed to be of a cycle
shed with an upstairs stores. The door in the
drawings was the one I was to make.
door was to be a test of my craftsmanship and, of
course, it had to be done without the assistance
of any machinery. Mr Halsal had a collection of
beautiful tools which he kept in a large chest. I
had peeped into it once or twice. He said that I
was to make use of any of his fine tools for
making the door. The design was complicated and
it had gun-stock shoulders on the stiles. The
first job was to halve an 8"x2" piank -
with a hand-saw -without 'going over the line'!
With a variety of planes and other tools the
various timbers were trued, mortised and shaped
and I finished the task in about four days.The
door was satisfactory and so Mr. Halsall made me
responsible for the complete job of building the
cycle shed. I was allowed to choose two
apprentices and one labourer to assist me. The
labourer, an old man, used to cook his whole
dinner in a tea can. When this was discovered by
the school, a meal was provided for him each day.
first day, a Monday, we arrived on the site at
about 8.40am with our hand-cart all ready to mark
out the building. From the school came Mr
Richardson himself. His great roar silenced the
playground, "Quiet ! Quiet, boys.
Attention!" I was delighted when he
introduced me to the boys as 'Mr Lyon' and not
'Lyon II. ''This is one of our Old Boys and he is
going to build us a cycle shed and sports store.
We will now give him a warm welcome."
It was the
only time in my life that I had three cheers
Every day he came to note progress and make
comments. When the shed was finished I went to
work on Richie's home, Yew Tree House, at the
corner of the sports field. Much later in my
career, after war service andwhen I had been
appointed Divisional Supervisor of Works in the
Department of the County Architect, I was
responsible for the building of the new chemistry
laboratory and later still I was involved in the
building of the present school in Knowsley Park
Lane. I think I had about twenty-three Clerks of
Works at that time.
with me, I remember Harry Harding, Reg Bean,
Lionel Pode, Jack Foster, Jimmy Jackson. Tommy
and Ralph Topping, Alan Wainwright and Dennis
Wainwnghl (eventually an orthopaedic surgeon). I
did my military training with the Black Watch
with two PGS boys, Arthur Edge and Jack Foster.
Among my memories are the seven a side soccer
tournaments and I played in the final one year. I
was usually a full back but I was put in goal.
Richie was behind the goal and every time I was
attacked the Old Man would bellow."Cool it.
Lyon Cool it " When he had said this a few
times I told him that I was already frozen stiff
and he laughed his head off. My sergeant-major in
the Black Watch had a voice which was just like
Richie's and he also made the same clackety sound
on the ground with his amminition boots like
Richie had done years before. Richie would have
made a smashing sergeant-major. "