Looking Back To ... 1973

1973 was a year of change and progress. A year in which more large slices of the old town came tumbling down and new developments took place. A year of events, big and small, of council plans and moves towards local government reorganisation.

We begin the year with the Town's new arrivals! Four Wallasey women gave birth at Highfield Maternity Hospital. The first arrival at 3.15 am came in the shape of Marie, a second child for Mrs. Ann Edwards, of Boyd Close, Leasowe. Marie weighed 6lb 4oz. Mrs Ann Josephine Denman, of MacKenzie Road, Leasowe, gave birth to 8lb 2oz Susan at 5.20 am, while Mrs Jane Evans, of Sandymount Drive, New Brighton, had her third child, a boy, weighing 6lb 3oz at 1.45 pm. The last arrival was at 10.30 pm, when Mrs Eva Devonish. of Burkett Avenue, Leasowe, gave birth to her fifth child, Helen, who weighed 7lb 3oz.

National News : 1st January - United Kingdom joins the European Economic Community (EEC)

A school of dolphins arrived at Guinea Gap Baths, Seacombe for a two-week stay in January. The 'Florida Dolphin Show' was staged by Wallasey Town Council Recreation Committee and the Queen's Entertainment Centre. The dolphins came from the Gulf of Mexico and performed at 3 pm, 4.30 pm and 7 pm with additional shows at 11 am at the weekends. One of the stars was Flipper the dolphin who leaps and somersaults, and given a little encouragement, would do something pretty close to talking!

Margaret ParkerAlso this month saw the tragic murder of Miss Margaret Parker, a 37 year-old spinster of Gorsedale Road. The woman had been an ex-Wren and her diary proved that she had men visitors. She was found murdered at her home with severe head injuries on the 7th January. She was naked from the waist down and had had sexual intercourse. A total of 75 detectives were employed trying to track down her killer and frogmen and police dogs were also searching for the blunt instrument believed to have caused her death. Margaret had worked as a clerk for the docks terminal in Liverpool for more than 20 years. She would often frequent various public houses and clubs in Liverpool where she met Continental lorry drivers. Dozens of lorry drivers were questioned by the police. There already had been other attacks in the town in the last six months which pointed to the work of a methodical sex maniac. An 18 year-old girl had been attacked in Matthew Street in August 1972. She managed to scream and scare her attacker off. Another lady had been attacked on Clarendon Road whilst walking home. She died later in hospital. A 19 year-old was also found savagely attacked in Marsden Road. She had suffered hammer blows to the head. She recovered after an operation. No one knows if there was a connection between the spinster's killer and these horrific attacks. The Police questioned seamen who were in the port at the time of the murder. The murderer was never found.

Police get a 'move along there' order as the station closes
27th January, 1973

The wallpaper is faded in rectangular patches where large pieces of office furniture have stood. In some of the deserted rooms, old-fashioned telephones are to be seen. Solid oak desks are stacked in twos in the passageways. On a window-ledge a forgotten potted plant is going yellow.

The dust is already setting on bare parquet floors, behind the locked front doors of the old Wallasey Police Station in Manor Road - locked after 70 years, for good.

For at the weekend, Wallasey Division of the Cheshire Constabulary completed moving house into a brand new Police station further up the road. Nearly 200 Police pensioners, serving officers, and former officers, said farewell to the old building on Monday night at a special party.

Mr. W. Kelsall, deputy Chief Constable of Cheshire, officially handed over the keys to Mr. H. St. C. G. Gasking, Wallasey Magistrates' Clerk.

And if those old walls could talk ...

Chief Insp. Donald Clarke, who joined Wallasey Police in 1947, reminisced about one of the most more unusual incidents that have taken place in the old building's.


"One day we were busy in the front office with three prisoners, and suddenly we heard a commotion outside the shutter. A taxi driver backed up into the office carrying a semi-conscious man.

He said, "Help me, there's another two out there!" The prisoners ran out and assisted with carrying them in. It was a Liverpool taxi driver who had seen the men in the water at New Brighton."

In the old building, the Magistrates' Court and associated offices still flourish, and will now have room to expand. Downstairs, the room vacated by the CID, photographers, constables and officers, will be taken over by the probation service, though some parts of the building, such as the cells and the Police kennels, may be hard to find a use for.

The station was built in 1900, as the headquarters for Wirral division of the Cheshire Constabulary. Before then, a court house and Police station were housed in a building in Liscard Road, now the Continental Bingo Club. It was built shortly after 1845.

With the incorporation of Wallasey as a borough, in 1910, the town took control of its own Police Force. Ten years later, the Council bought the Concert Hall for £20,000 as overflow accommodation for the Police. In 1940, a new wing on the main station was opened by the Earl of Derby.

Civil Defence

During the war, the cellars, suitably fortified, were used as a Civil Defence control until. In 1967 Wallasey Police again became part of the Cheshire Constabulary.

Another of Chief Insp. Clark's anecdotes runs as follows:

"Detective Constable J.J. Fearon, attached to the traffic Department, was sent to an incident in Seabank Road, where a workman sitting in a workman's tent had discovered a snake. He succeeded in putting it in the boot of his car and driving in to the rear of the Police station. When he arrived, he opened up the boot and the thing jumped out. It has never been seen since."

Somewhere, in the gloomy foundations of the old Police station, there lurks, perhaps a giant anaconda - supporting on his sinewy body the entire Police station, as Atlas does the world.

Was this the real reason for the move to the new building - plate glass, tiled floors, modern wood fittings, and freedom from ferocious reptiles?

Guinea Gap Baths dolphins
Here from the Gulf of Mexico, Flipper the dolphin, who met Wallasey Mayor George Clark at Guinea Gap Baths, Seacombe.
A cartoonists point of view of the New Brighton LOLA campaign who announced a French Resistance-style campaign against the Town Hall in a bid to change its mind about stock racing at the Tower Stadium.

Faulty electrical equipment is thought to have caused the fire which completely gutted the first floor of the Tudor Club, Tivoli Buildings, New Brighton promenade, in the early hours of Tuesday morning, 6th February. The fire began about 3 am after the club had closed about 2.15 am. Six Wallasey Fire Brigade engines rushed to the scene and it it took 40 firemen and 200 gallons of water a minute for nearly 2 hours to get the blaze under control as part of the roof fell in. Nothing was salvaged from the fire, with an estimate damage at around £30,000. The ground floor premises had been used as an amusement arcade. The building was demolished in 1976.

Firemen expect the damage caused by a serious fire at the Tudor Club, Tivoli Buildings.

A secret group of New Brighton local residents. who were against plans to allow car racing as a permanent attraction at the Tower Stadium, was formed. They called themselves LOLA (League of Law-Abiding Anarchists) and their tactic was to make round-the-clock telephoning of the Town Hall and a constant stream stream of people making inquiries at local government offices. Other tactics included making mass payment of rates on the last possible day and the presentation of cheque's written on unusual objects! Their aim was to cause disruption until the Labour-controlled Town Council changed its mind. A spokesman for the group said "It is possible that we might be charged with conspiracy. Eminent counsel has made this clear to us, and so we have adopted the methods of the French Resistance in not knowing each other's real names. We each use a pseudonym by which we are known to each other. This will obviate any legal action against us, in case we do stray accidentally outside the law, although this is not our intention."

A row erupted between the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company and the Wallasey Council. A proposal by the Docks Company to impose a 15 mph speed limit for vehicles crossing the dock bridges was described by the Town Councils Highways Committee as "nonsensical". The Dock Company's plan was to reduce the speed limit on all roads and bridges within the local dock system including the Four Bridges, Penny Bridge and Duke Street Bridge but the Dock Road, Seacombe would be excluded.

February would see the sea green buses, which served the town for 40 years, make their exit this month, with a £1 a head journey by one of them around the borough.

Discrimination against women was alive and well and being practised in a Wallasey Village pub. Mrs. Liz Bereton, the first female member of the 'Society for Preservation of Beers From The Wood', was refused a pint in the saloon bar of the Black Horse. She was told two halves would be acceptable.

Newsagent Walter Stroud delivering his own newspapers followed by his five ex-paper boys and girls who had been picketing outside his shop. Left to right are Steve Neilson, Stephen Henderson and Jimmy Jones. At the back are Debbie Henderson and Odette Jones. The children had quit on Tuesday morning, 14th March, when Walter Stroud, of 64 King Street, refused to grant them a 50p wage rise. Negotiations broke down after the strikers were offered 25p rise. Though they were prepared for a long strike, the paper boys and girls were eventually replaced.

Plan For A Huge Seacombe Estate
18th March, 1973

Nearly 200 houses are to be demolished in Seacombe in Wallasey's biggest-yet clearance scheme. Plans are being drawn up for a massive new look for one of the oldest parts of the town, subject to Ministry approval.

The four-acre site bordered by Oakdale Road, Byron Road and Wheatland Lane would become a residential estate. There would be mixed development of houses and maisonettes.

The houses to be demolished all date back almost a century and are among the oldest in Wallasey. Residents will be re-housed by the Corporation.

The Town Council's plan to compulsorily purchase and demolish the whole of 'Poets Corner' - Milton, Shakespeare and Byron Road's - and a number of houses in Wheatland Lane (Nos. 40 to 46) and the Oakdale Road (Nos. 71 to 93) was this week the subject of a public inquiry at the Town Hall.

Inspector for the Department of the Environment, Mr. P.E.T. Rake, said he had received more than 60 objections to the compulsory purchase. Only six objectors attended the inquiry.

For the Corporation, Mr. C. R. Rees, assistant solicitor, said all the properties involved had been declared unfit for human habitation. They were all generally in a state of disrepair.

Most of the houses comprised two ground floor and two first floor rooms and had access direct from the pavement. There was evidence of damp in all of them.

Mr. Roy Potts, Assistant Borough Architect, said the total area of land involved was 15,924 square yards. The local authority planned to use it to continue its programme of urban renewal in Seacombe.

No Baths

Chief Public Health Inspector Mr. Arthur Ridgway said that of the houses the council wished to demolish, 166 were without baths and 76 without hot water systems. Almost all had outside toilets.

"The only satisfactory way of dealing with the properties is by demolition," he said.

Registering objection to the clearance scheme on behalf Milton and Shakespeare Roads estate agent Mr. Albert Ellbeck said a number of the houses could be repaired at reasonable cost. They were well cared for and did not deserve to be declared unfit.

In March it was announced that Labour veteran Councillor Don Kennedy, aged 76, would be Wallasey's 59th, and last, Mayor of Wallasey. His appointment, to take effect in May, caused a bitter row with leaders of the other local parties who accused Labour of using the mayoral chair for political ends.

On Wednesday, 21st March saw a remarkable walk-out by fourth formers at Oldershaw Grammar School in protest of being deprived of a games period. One-hundred pupils refused to go in for afternoon lessons and stayed on the school playing fields. They were also joined by 100 third-formers who came out in sympathy. Headmaster Mr. M. Mullett described the incident as "disgraceful". Leader of the rebels was 15-year-old Trevor Langton, of Trafalgar Road, who said "we were kept in after morning assembly for singing practice. This meant that we only had about 20 minutes of games, so we decided not to go into school in the afternoon". He continued, "our main grievance is that we have to have two assemblies a week - one would be a enough, The friction has been building up for some weeks, so we decided to take some action".

Oldershaw Grammar School
Oldershaw Grammar School

The end of March saw a full-scale strike when the entire staff of the ancillary staff at Victoria Central Hospital, Mill Lane, took part in the nation-wide hospital workers' strike. The domestic staff, including porters, stopped work over pay on Monday, 26th March and resumed again on Thursday morning, but the catering staff would not return until Monday, 2nd April. The basic wage for a hospital porter working a 40-hour week was £17.50 and for a female domestic £14.50.

Hanging : MP backs move
31st March, 1973

Wallasey's MP Mr. Ernest Marples has given his support to moves being made by a Group of Conservatives in the House of Commons to have the issue of capital punishment re-examined.

"I share with many people a growing concerns about 'mugging' and crimes of violence", he said. "I feel that the whole question of capital punishment is due for a fresh airing."

Mr. Marples will be holding an office service this morning at Churchill House, 8 Rake Lane, Wallasey. The office will open at 9 am. To make an appointment, ring 639 4157.

Music News : 21st April - 'Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree' by Dawn became the years top selling single.

"Put pigeons on the Pill" was urged by an animal lover in May. Mrs Gertrude Hauser, superintendent of Wallasey Dogs Home, launched a campaign to stop Wallasey council using a narcotic mixed with corn to rid the town of the unwanted birds. She says that numerous birds have died after eating the poison seed, leaving chicks in nests to die of starvation as well as cats becoming ill after eating the dead birds, she claimed. She thought it was a humane method of controlling pigeons by using the birth control pill and pressed the Wallasey branch of the RSPCA to adopt the idea. However the suggestion was never adopted by the either the RSPCA or Wallasey Council.

National News : Ist May -1.6 million workers went on strike over government pay restraints.

The first ever elections were held for the new Wirral District Council, due to come into force in April, 1974. Labour won half of 18 Wallasey seats, Conservatives won 6 and the Liberals 3. Leading Labour and Conservative councillors were among the casualties in the May election. Labour leader Councillor Bill Wells said "the results are a little disappointing, and will lead, I think, to a period of indecision in Wirral. Still, we are proud that half the population of the town has voted Labour". There was a low turn out for voting which was blamed on the bad weather and a football match replay in Liverpool.

Leasowe (11,464)
C.J Wells (Lab) - 2106
J.G Clark (Lab) - 2129
W.K Fox (Lab) - 2062
Mrs C.G Arrowsmith (Con) - 828
G.R Ward (Con) - 896
Mrs. J.M Ward (Con) - 870
Three Labour wins
Moreton and Saughall Massie (7.070)
J.D Edwards (Lab) - 1318
G.E Watkins (Lab) - 1288
Mrs. E. Lewis (Lab) - 1230
J. Hale (Con) - 1080
I.H Walker (Con) - 1132
J. Webster (Con) 1083
G. Coffey (Lib) - 328
D.A Franks (Lib) - 313
Mrs E.M Lawrence (Lib) - 345
Three Labour wins
South Liscard, North Egremont, South Egremont, Marlowe (13,317)
S.Gershman (Lab) - 2028
V.McGee (Lab) - 1985
S.Owens (Lab) - 1955
M.Ebbs (Con) - 2142
V.Lynn (Con) - 2041
S.Morgan (Con) - 2147
Mrs. M.Jones (Lib) - 738
W.L Gordon (Lib) - 732
P.A Caldwell (Lib) - 751
Three Conservative wins
New Brighton, Warren Wallasey (14.546)
P.Jones (Lab)- 432
Miss A. Moore (Lab) - 392
E.J Byrne (Lab) - 405
G.W Shaw (Con) - 2812
Miss P.G Stubbs (Con) - 2848
S.H Weston (Con) - 2818
J.Fishwick (Con) - 713
J,W Southworth (Lib) - 2944
N.R Thomas (Lib) - 3153
Mrs K. Wood (Lib) - 2946
Three Liberal wins
Upper Brighton, North Liscard, St. Hilary (11,809)
Mrs B. Lloyd (Lab)- 796
Mrs J. Pryke (Lab) - 811
Mrs E. Williams (Lab) - 872
R. Humphrey-Jones (Con) - 2176
J.E Redhead (Con) - 2363
G.M Thornton (Con) - 2140
H.O. Thompson (Con) -466
Mrs. J.A Wark (Lib) - 1588
P.E Tyrer (Lib) - 1939
G.A Glover (Lib) - 1383
Three Conservative wins
North Seacombe, South Seacombe, Somerville, Poulton (12,664)
Mrs.P. Bentzien (Lab) - 2332
T. Duffy (Lab) - 2268
S. Wickman (Lab) - 2252
Miss E. Bestwick (Con) - 883
D.W Fielding (Con) - 772
F. Hunter (Con) - 916
D.B Cassidy (Lib) - 294
Mrs. J.M Hayes (Lib) - 279
T.J Wood (Lib) - 253
Three Labour wins

A Reprieve, Please, For A Landmark
12th May, 1973

Old Mother Redcap's cottage is a ruin. Down on the promenade it stands as an eyesore and as an indictment of non-action over the years. The old landmark has become a sore thumb.

A NEWS reporter who visited it this week writes:

The cottage has been crumbling for some five years. Vandals have given their attention. Now it has been reduced to a shell. It is a skeleton of a place.

It is battered and broken. its doors have been ripped away. Its timbers are shattered and rotting.

Old rubbish has been dumped in its once pretty little gardens. It is a massive mess on the seafront.

It started life round about 1595, built of red stone with walls nearly three feet thick. The outside walls were covered with thick planks from wrecked ships.

The front door was of oak, five inches thick and studded with square headed nails. Under the building was a deep cellar.

In the 16th and 17th centuries it was tied up with privateers, smugglers and the press gangs. Mother Redcap, who kept it as am inn, was a great favourite with sailorman and was said to have hide for them their gold and valuables.

In 1690 the troops of William III camped at Leasowe whilst waiting for embarkation for Ireland.

There is a tradition that despatches were conveyed in a roundabout way to Chester from Great Meols to Mother Redcap's, and then by fishing boats up the Mersey to Stoke and Stanney.

The history books record Mother Redcap as being a comely, a fresh-coloured Cheshire spoken woman. At one time she had a niece to help her in the tavern.

The old place has in its time been a private residence, a club and a cafe. Now it is a sorry wreck.

Is it too late for the town council to step in and save it? Can't something be done to give it a last minute reprieve?

It deserves better of the town it has been a part if for so long.

Romance and adventure surround the crumbling bricks and shattered woodwork. It is one of the town's last remaining links with a colourful period of its history.

To leave it as it is is more than sad. It is shameful.

On 5th May, two sisters, one aged 63 the other 54, were murdered in Greenwood Lane. They had received horrific injuries to the head and neck as well as stab wounds. One woman was nailed to the floor with a 6 inch nail through her breast. The ambulance was called when the men found the sisters in pools of blood. A neighbour said she had noticed that one of the sisters had became withdrawn and interested in Spiritualism. The tragedy happened on the birthday of one of the ladies. Two youths, Anthony Atherton >

(also known as Mark Anthony Stanhope) and Terence McGee, who had been kind to them when there was trouble with vandals on bonfire night had taken lodgings with them. The young men, aged 19 and 22, were apprehended by the Police and later charged with the murders. They were tried in the Liverpool Crown Court where they pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility but not of murder. They were jailed for life.

Sport News : Bill Shankly's Liverpool FC win the First Division for the eighth time. Arsenal second, three points adrift.

A group of angry Seacombe residents marched into the Town Hall on Monday, 14th May, and demanded to see the Borough Architect Mr. R.E. Shaw. They were complaining at the apparent lack of interest shown by the Wallasey Corporation with regard to a block of Brighton Street derelict shops (corner of Leopold Street), which they claimed were a great danger to children. The following day workmen arrived and erected hoarding's around the site and blocked up the back entrances. The residents felt they won the first round of the battle to see the buildings knocked down. The Chairman of the Seacombe Environment Action Committee said "We, as a committee, were formed to help to clean up the filth and dereliction of the Seacombe area. Many of these properties have been in this condition since 1945, and whilst realising redevelopment of the area is being considered, the public of this area have a right to be protected from filth, vermin and debris". Mother-of-four Mrs Eileen Develin, of 1 Harcourt Avenue, explained: "We have been waiting for a long time for something to be done about these shops. They are in a terrible state and a great danger to children and health. Long-distance lorry driver, Mr Billy Hopkins, of 7 Harcourt Avenue, organised a petition against the shops 18 months before but nothing happened. "It goes to show", says Billy, "that you get nowhere with Wallasey Corporation unless you go down to protest". He added that if the shops were not demolished in the near future, the residents would take things into their own hands. Eventually these buildings were demolished. Plans were put forward in June to the Town Council by Hammond Estates to build 52 flats on the site of Maris Stella, Rowson Street. Maria Stella closed the year before. It wasn't until 1981 that the flats were actually built by Rodney Housing Association. Also plans were put forward by Whitbread to demolish the Seacombe Ferry Hotel and erect a smaller pub and car park. The building was one of the largest licensed premises in the town and was, in 1973, 80 years old. Part of it was damaged in a fire in April 1970 and a week later the restaurant and residential facilities were closed. Only the main bars remain open. The application was refused by the Council on the grounds of inadequate parking space. It was not until 1978 that the go-ahead was given to demolish the building and by the following year the new pub opened with John Stanley and his wife, Shelly, being the first licensee. On 4th August 2011, after a serious of local disturbances, the pub was demolished.

An unmarried Gandy Belt factory worker hit the local headlines after scooping £362,550 jackpot pools win. Denis Plant, of Gladstone Road, Seacombe, became Wallasey's most eligible bachelor! However, due to the overwhelming strain of becoming the town's most sough-after man, Denis had to go into hiding. "I feel that I must get away from here for a week or two so that I can think things over", said Denis, "I have not really thought about how I will spend the money, although I will most probably get myself a flat somewhere and buy my father a bungalow, which he has always wanted". Denis caused a row when he went to collect his winning cheque in London because he refused to pose for photographs with TV star Hughie Green. He stormed out of the hotel, refusing to talk to the newspapers. He explained, "I expected publicity and I didn't mind it in moderation. But things really got out of hand in London and I just wanted to get away". The winning coupon filled in by his father whom Denis lived with. Explained Denis, "I was going to the cinema in Liscard and as the collector was coming round that night I told my father to fill it in for me". According to father Mr. Plant, no special system was used to pick the draws. "I just went down the list and marked the crosses against the numbers. I told Denis to check the coupon Sunday night and when he realised how many draws he had he rushed out to the Plough Inn at Moreton to tell his mates".

The last of the town's royal swans, Bethy, was killed by vandals on the lake in Central Park. A grave in a quiet spot in the park was made for her.

June also saw the announcement that Ernest Marples, MP, had decided not to stand as Conservative candidate for Wallasey at the next General Election. Mr Marples said, "It seems to me that Parliament isn't doing very well at the moment. I feel that I have been there long enough and that this is the right moment to leave." Marples had been MP for Wallasey since 1945. Between 1951 and 1954 he was Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry for Housing and Local Government. In 1954 he was Ministry of Transport for 5 years. At the General Election Lynda Chalker of the Conservatives would be returned as the new MP for Wallasey and served until 1992.

The last - and longest-serving - Town Clerk of Wallasey, Arthur Graham Harrison, announced his retirement. He relinquished his office in March, 1974, as the town ended its 60 years as a county borough and became part of the Wirral District Authority. Harrison served the authority for some 23 years.

Man with a hate of pornography broke shop window
7th July, 1973

Hatred and contempt for pornographic literature led a man to break a shop window in New Brighton, seize some offending magazines, and run off with the intention of destroying them, Wallasey Magistrates heard on Monday.

Gerard Peter Martin, aged 20, of Wellington Road. New Brighton, admitted criminal damage to a window worth £45.76p, belonging to Philip John Smith. He also admitted trespassing on the premises and stealing property worth 50p.

Insp. W.G. Adams said that the man who lived over the shop, Mr. Derek James, of Victoria Road, heard the sound of breaking glass at 3.15 in the morning. He went to investigate, and saw Martin running off down Richmond Street. Police later arrested Martin in Wellington Road.

In a statement he said: "I smashed the window of the shop because I wanted to get rid of all that filth". He added that people who read such books should be helped, and not exploited.

Mr. B.K. Holland, defending, said Martin had broken the window out of a desire to prevent pornographic material which the shop was carrying from being sold to people for whom he showed some concern. He had also been drinking that evening, but neither factor was entirely to blame. Martin was a church-going Roman Catholic with sincere views against pornography.

He had not broken the window and stolen the magazines for personal gain, nor as a common act of vandalism.

The Magistrates fined him £10 for breaking the window, ordered him to pay £45.76p restitution, and fined him £5 for entering the building as a trespasser.

Family flee as blaze guts house
14th July, 1973

A Seacombe family lost their home on Monday when a blaze swept through their Albemarle Road house. Mrs Sybil Hastie, and her daughter, Corrinne, were forced to flee after a lighted taper set their settee alight. The fire started at about 4.50 pm.

Neighbours alerted the fire brigade when flames began to shoot out the door. The family living in 19 Albemarle Road, next door to the Hastie family, Mr and Mrs B. Minshall, also had to vacate their premises as smoke filled the area.

Wallasey firemen fought for more than two hours to quell the blaze, which caused considerable damage.

Mr Hastie, who is a merchant seaman, was out shopping when the fire started, and returned to find his house gutted.

Mrs Mary Butterworth, of 20 Albemarle Road, took the Hastie family in and made them comfortable. They were all suffering from shock, but did not go to hospital.

The family's pet dog was retrieved from the house by neighbours, but a pet cat was overcome by smoke and died.

The Liverpool Salvage Corps later attended the scene to shore up the house. The hastie family are temporarily living with a relative in Bright Street, off Gladstone Road, Seacombe.

A spokesman for the housing department at the town hall said that they are in process of finding the family alternative accommodation.

The Hasties' home was up for sale at the time of the fire.

Hammer attack victim lives in fear - QC
21st July, 1973

A 23-year old Wallasey man who attacked a 19-year old girl with a hammer, fracturing her skull, was jailed for seven years at Liverpool Crown Court on Tuesday. Mr. Justice Chrichton told David Leslie Barnes, of Seabank Road: "This was a terrible crime. You might have killed that girl."

The prosecution accepted a plea of not guilty by Barnes to attempting to murder Miss Corrinne Hastie on December 22nd. He admitted wounding her with intent.

Barnes also received sentences of 12 months concurring for burglary and for theft. The judge ordered him to serve concurrently a six month suspended sentence imposed for wounding with a flick knife the woman with whom he was living with.

Miss Rose Heilbron, QC, prosecuting, said Barnes quarrelled with the woman with whom he lived and went out drinking all day. Shortly after midnight he met Miss Hastie, whom he did not know, and struck her a number of blows on the head with a hammer, causing severe fractures of her skull and brain damage.

The girl was now frightened of everyone and it was not known what the further effects of her injuries might be.


Barnes was seen on February 21 by Detective Chief Inspector Wilfred Marsden and Detective Superintendent Desmond Green. He admitted the offence and others.

Det. Sgt. Dawson said that Barnes had previous convictions for possessing an offensive, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and the malicious wounding offence for which he received the suspended sentence.

Mr. Richard Pickering, defending, said medical reports made it clear that Barnes suffered from a personality disorder which almost brought him within the scope of the Mental Health Act. He had a childish reaction to frustration and nervous strain which was reflected in his background of previous offences.

The woman he wounded with a flick knife had now become reconciled and they had resumed co-habitation. She was anxious to support and help him because she felt he was in need of help.

Barnes fully appreciated the gravity of his offence and was deeply rependent.

New Brighton Pier was reprieved from the demolition gang. Holiday crowds poured into the resort to find the pier bolted and barred and the Council considering reports suggested it could be included in the new coastal park. This never happened and the pier was finally demolished in July, 1978.

8th August saw the final of Miss New Brighton at the Open Air Bathing Pool. The winner was 23-year-old Liverpool model Gaynor Lacery, the first Liverpool winner of the Miss New Brighton context since 1959. The blue-eyed blonde, with vital statistics of 36-23-36, was chosen out of 18 finalists. She won £250 in cash plus a Silver Trophy and a gold watch. The judges were comedian Ken Platt, Everton FC captain, Howard Kendall and Sheila Buxton, singer/actress and Stuart Gillies, singer.

The 1971 Census report was released this month of August and it showed that the Town's population had fallen by 5 per cent. The 97,215 population is a decrease of 5,994, or 5.8 per cent. The area most hit be depopulation was South Seacombe (down by 22 per cent) and South Liscard (down by 15 per cent). There are 17,760 persons of pensionable age in the town, 5,145 men aged 65 and over and 12,615 women. This is 18 per cent of the population. Women outnumber men by more than 5,500. The census also showed that half of Wallasey's households are owner-occupied. Among the town's 33.165 resident households 52 per cent (17,205) owned their own prosperities, 21 per cent (7.020) rented from the corporation. 24 per cent (7,930) rented unfurnished accommodation and three per cent (1,000) rented furnished accommodation.

A decision was made by Wallasey and Birkenhead to have the headquarters of the new Wirral District Council at Wallasey Town Hall from April 1974. The legal and administrative departments of the new local government set-up would be based at the Town Hall in Seacombe. Birkenhead will accommodate the housing, education, finance and social service departments at their municipal offices.

More than £20,000 worth of damage was caused by a fire which swept through a two-storey building at the then Cadbury-Schweppe factory, Moreton, on Tuesday, 4th September. The fire was discovered at 2.30 am within the building, known as 'D' Block. The night shift were on a tea break at the time. The blaze was under control by 5 am by the Wallasey Fire Brigade.

Pregnant wife's pangs of hunger led to chip shop struggle
8th September, 1973

A pregnant woman's craving for Spanish omelette and chips in the early hours of the morning led to her husband's subsequent arrest by Police, Wallasey magistrates were told on Monday.

While at the chip shop, 23-year-old Alan Peter Cook, of Manor Road, became involved in an argument with the proprietor. He became violent when the police were called and he was taken to Manor Road Police Station and charged with being drunk and disorderly.

Cook denied the offence in court, but was found guilty and fined £5. He was given 14 days to pay.

Inspector W.G Adams, said that the incident took place at about 3.40 am at Davey's chip shop, in King Street.


Constable S. Cook said: "The defendant was standing by the counter in the shop and I told him the manager wanted him to leave. He then replied, 'I want six of chips and I am not leaving until I get them'. I asked him again to leave quietly and he said, 'Try it, it will take bigger men than you.' "

Const. Cook added that Cook became abusive and when he was taken to a police car, he began to struggle and tried to get back into the shop.

"I cautioned him and he became very violent," added Const. Cook, "and it was necessary to put handcuffs on him."

Cook was later taken to Victoria Central Hospital for an injury to his left eye.

Not Enough

Cook told the court: "My wife was pregnant and I know it sounds a bit corny, but she fancied Spanish omelette and chips and so got up and went to the chip shop.

"The amount of chips on the plate did not seem enough and I asked the man behind the counter for some more. He said I would have to pay more and he would not give me any. We decided to call the police to let them sort it out.


"I admit I was shouting a bit, but I was not drunk. The policeman grabbed hold of my arm and I grabbed hold of the counter, and he hit me in the eye with his stick or baton.

"When we got outside, I was punched and kicked and my hair was pulled out."

Const. Cook said: "There was a bit of pushing about because the defendant became violent."

'Help stop this desecration' headmaster appeals to public

Vandals Turning Off The Sun At Solar School
22nd September, 1973

Mr. Leslie Bradshaw, headmaster of St. George's Middle School, Leasowe, appealed to the public yesterday to help combat the vandalism which is crippling the school's revolutionary solar heating system. He urged them to help the police track down the culprits by reporting any incidents.

Over the past 10 months vandals have caused £950 worth of damage by smashing the special sheets of glass used in the heating system, which traps and diffuses the sun's radiation. Classes have had to be diverted and some children have been injured by broken glass in their classrooms and on the playing fields.

The school is the first, and possibly the only one in the world to use the system and attract visitors from all over the globe, including Iron Curtain countries.

Mr. Bradshaw said: "If the vandalism continues at its present rate, the school will not be in a fit state to be used this winter. Temperatures could be reduced severely."

Experts have looked into the situation and Wallasey architect Mr. Roger Shaw has warned that the window smashing could upset the balance of heat in the school.

Coun. Wallace Philpin, chairman of the Education Committee, forecast that the system could be "completely ruined" unless immediate action is taken.

The school was opened in 1961 and it is only recently that it has been subject to vandalism. It is thought that one of the major causes was the building of a pedestrian underpass beneath the New Brighton link to the M53 motorway.

"This underpass is a meeting place for the worst elements of society," said Mr. Bradshaw. "The playing fields have been fenced off, but it has been smashed down so often the Corporation have left an opening for them to get through.

"As a despairing suggestion I have called for the windows to be covered with wire netting. It might look awful, but not as bad as broken windows."

"We have almost had two prosecutions against people who have been caught, but they both had to be withdrawn because no one would give evidence. I do appeal to the general public to report anything they see which they think is suspicious to the police."

End Of The Ferries Pier
13th October, 1973

In a series of ear-shattering bangs and great clouds of smoke a piece of New Brighton history is disappearing. The pier which led to the ferryboats is being demolished.

The last of the landing stage was blown up this week. Now the concrete sections of the pier are being dismantled.

The work is likely to take until the end of the year. Those old builders built well and the structure is a tough one.

Bottom left picture is the big bank which signaled the end of the landing stage. Pictured bottom and right are two of the team of workmen who are laying the explosive charges.

The New Brighton Ferry service closed over a year ago, despite protests and petitions to keep it going as a summer time attraction. Its boats carried millions of passengers and brought trippers to New Brighton in great droves.

On 28th October Wallasey's most successful racing driver, Brian Hough of Mayfield Road, was killed when his 5.4 litre T.V.R. sports car crashed in the seventh lap of his last race of the season at Thruxton, near Winchester, He was 37 years-old and leaves a wife and two children.

Two Egremont residents had a narrow escape on 10th November when a 70 year old church was being demolished at the rear of their houses crashed into their back kitchens. Mr. J.S Watt, who lives at 3 Lucia Road, was shaving in his kitchen when the side of the wall of St. Columba's Church, crashed into the room. He was not injured. His neighbour, Mrs. Margaret Robinson, 75. was in her bathroom at the time. Loose bricks in a cellar of the Church caused the main wall above to fall without warning. The demolition firm, Hughes Brothers of Bromborough, set to work to restore the damage of both houses.

By the end of November petrol panic hit the town as the fuel crisis began to make itself felt after OPEC proclaimed an oil embargo. Wallasey's fire safety chief warned motorists storing petrol in their garages was like having bombs in their hands.

November saw the end of the longest running seaside summer show, 'Melody Inn'. The show ran for 26 consecutive years at the Floral Pavilion Theatre.

Poulton seaman stole chickens while on drinking spree
1st December, 1973

"A very severe headache" was how a Wallasey magistrate described the case of a 62 year-old seaman who was said to have gone out chicken-stealing while he was drunk.

George Edward Williams, of Gorsefield Road, Poulton, admitted stealing three chickens, worth £3.76, from Marks and Spencers' Liscard store after a drinking bout in the Tower public house.

Inspector W.G. Adams, prosecuting, told the court that Williams had been going to sea ever since his early teens, but found it difficult to get a ship now because of his age.

His social security had recently been cut from over £18 to £13, which was, Williams claimed, insufficient to support himself, his wife and his 11 year-old child.

The police were called and Williams was taken to the Central Police Station in Manor Road.

Conditionally discharging Williams for one year, bench chairman Mr. Rollans said he found it difficult to understand how a man of such experience and knowledge should make such a serious and silly mistake.

His clean record had been taken into account, but it did not excuse him from going out chicken-stealing while half drunk.

It would be wise, he said, for Williams to steer clear of old shipmates in pubs.

On 13th December, the Conservative government, under Edward Heath, announced the "three-day week", in response to the miners strike and the rising cost of coal because of the oil crisis. From 31st December commercial consumption of electricity would be limited to three consecutive days each week. This also meant that Wallasey residents would also be affected with power cuts and many homes were lit by candle light.

Music News : 15th December - 'Merry Xmas Everybody' by Slade became the Christmas number one single.

Shopping at the Co-Op
Golden Meadow Butter 10½p Garden Peas (small/large) 8p/13p McVities Digestives 5½p
Country Life Butter (½lb) 9p Birdseye Fish Fingers (10) 20p Teatime Assorted Biscuits 13½p
Silver Soft Margarine (½lb) 6p Beefburgers (4) 22p Martini Red/Dry Wine 92p
Mantuna Teabags (¼lb) 6p New Zealand Lamb Chops 33p LB Pomagne 28p
Tetley Teabags (72) 22p Heinz Salad Cream 20p Benson & Hedges Cigarettes 28p
Ovaltine (8oz) 19p Oxo Cubes (12) 11p Andrex Twin Toilet Roll 10½p
Instant Coffee (4oz) 22p Kraft Sliced Cheddar Cheese 19p McLeans Toothpaste 18½p
Heinz Baked Beans 6½p Shredded Wheat 12p Haze Air Freshner 14p
Heinz Spaghetti 6½p Lucozade (large) 18½p Kleenex Tissues 10p
Heinz Dairy Custard 7½p Ryvita (6oz) 5p Dettol (large) 27p
Heinz Soups 7p Penguin (6 pack) 10p Harmony Hairspray 22p
Ship Chopped Ham With Pork 11p McVities Ginger Nuts 5½p Bodymist Antiperspirant 24p

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