The Good Old Days
We will start by going by tram from behind the Wheatsheaf pub on Great Moor St. This was the terminus for the Deane and Daubhill trams. These ware the 'E' and 'R' trams, which was an initial in a square box on the front of the tram. 'R' ran to Four Lane Ends and met the electric trams for Leigh and Atherton. So if you wanted to go further you had to change. The fare then was tuppence to the four lanes then pay again on the trolley bus.
At the time, if you wanted to go to any other part of Bolton you had to mostly go from Trinity Street Station where the main start was. For example the 'N' to Horwich, which ran along Bradshawgate, into Deansgate, turning right at St Paul's Church, up St. George's Road to the Crofters (which was the penny stage), up to Albert Road, on to the 2d stage at Princess Road, then the Beehive and the Mechanics Institute and on to the terminus at the Crown - Hotel in Horwich.
On holiday period trips to Rivington Pike, the fare was 3d return. The ticket was half pink and half white and if you wasn't going all the way the Conductor would punch a hole in the side of your ticket at the mark showing the stage at which you had to get off. If you didn't get off and the inspector got on, he would put you off or make yen pay double fare. The last tram from the Crown Hotel in Horwich to Trinity Street was eleven o'clock. If it was a clear night and there was a slight wind you could have the clatter of the wheels echoing through the air. Being the last tram the driver would let it go as fast as he wanted back to the sheds, which was in Shifnall Street behind the Kings Hall Buildings.
Giving you an idea of the trams we had to go to any part of Bolton the initials on the front which everybody knew were:-
A - DARCY LEVER
B - BREIGHTMET
D - DUNSCAR
E - DEANE
F - BLACK HORSE FARNWORTH
G - GREAT LEVER
H - HALLIWELL
M - SWAN LANE
N - HORWICH
0 - DOFFCOCKER/CHORLEY OLD ROAD
R - FOUR LANE ENDS
S - BROWNLOW FOLD
T - TONGE MOOR.
That was the last initial for the trams before the buses started. My father got a petition up for the first bus to run from town. It started from outside Whitakers and ran to Third Avenue and back, the fare was 1½d. Going back to the early twenties, we always had yearly trips to the local places like Rivington Pike, The Jumbles, Entwistle and Barrow Bridge.
All the towns people looked forward to a fine day for their trips out. The most popular was the Blackpool excursion for 3/-, with a pass for the dancing in the Winter Gardens thrown in. Others included going to Belle Vue to see the lions, tigers and monkeys the children thoroughly enjoyed it. The greatest thing to look forward to was the annual holiday every June.
It used to be a week, but it was change to a fortnight in the thirties, I used to look forward to the seaside at Blackpool with my parents. Watching the Peirots on the Pier, bathing in the sea, and after tea spending the night in fairyland opposite the Central Pier. They had everything for the younger people.
Going back to the trams, every morning you had to be up early enough to give you time to get to your work. If you didn't make it early enough to catch your usual tram there would be a queue at the stop. By the time you reached the step to get on, the conductor would separate the last two on with his hand and shout 'that's enough'. He'd ring the bell sharp. This was a strap which ran along the ceiling of the train to the driver. He would give it six sharp pulls and the tram would be off, leaving you to walk to town or to wait for the next bus, which would be about another twenty minutes. By the time you reached work your check number would have fell in the box and you'd lose ¼d to ½d hour in wage packet, besides getting a good reprimanding for being late.
Monday morning was the worst day of the week and every tram was packed full. Everybody had to squeeze on to the long cane seats, which held about fourteen people. You had to sit facing the people on the other side of the tram, in between five were allowed to stand and 'strap hang', (this was holding on to a strap fixed to the ceiling).
I remember one morning, the tram was packed and everyone was staring at each other, or talking about the great time they had at the weekend, when some bright spark dropped a stink bomb and caused pandemonium, it was a story with out words.
As we grew older, the lads on the corner of the street started to talk about us all going on the Wakes holidays together. We all started to save up for it. There was five of us and we all had to send a five shilling postal order to register our stay in Cunningham's camp in the Isle of Man, (that's 25p in new money). When we arrived we had to pay £2/10d balance for the week. Breakfast, Evening meal and supper were all in on the price. While boat fare was 15/-return including train fare from Bolton to Fleetwood and back.
The holiday was a .great success, so when we came home we started saving up for next year. It was with this in mind that I returned there this year ( 1988). The same trip on the boat alone was £100, for my wife and myself. The horse drawn trams which used to cost 4d all along the promenade, are today 50p half way or 50p(10/-) per stop. So if you ever want to go and see the Isle of Man, you will have to win on Littlewoods.
Turning back to the twenties again, another part of our leisure time was spent at the many picture houses round Bolton. There was practically one picture house to every neighbourhood, as TV was not even thought of then. The only pleasure some youngsters got was looking through the Bolton Evening News for where there favourite film stars where being shown. Take for instance Great Lever, they had the Atlas on Fletcher Street or the choice of walking down to the Queens down near the station. People in Deane had the choice of a few. They could take the Windsor or the Regent or get on the tram and go to town to the Olympia. Those living in the Victory area of Chorley Old Road had the Mount on Shepherds Cross Street, The Royal on St George's Road and the Rialto on the same road. The Halliwell area had the Palladium, The Royal, previously mentioned or go across to the Belle on the corner of Astley Bridge. But whatever the circumstances, There was always a penny tram ride to town.
In town there was The Grand theatre, The Princess where the Theatre Royal was, next door to the Legs O Man pub on Churchgate; The Lido; The Imperial at the top of Bridge Street; The Paragon next to the Wine Lodge on Bradshawgate; The Lido on Churchgate; The Beehive in Bark Street, The Tivoli up Derby Street, and so on.
As the months and years rolled by things become more modern. Crystal radio Sets came out along with valve sets and earphones, then TV and the picture houses became bingo halls. How things have changed since the decimal coinage came into use. Teenagers' walking round like advertisements and the only thought on their mind is money. How they get it doesn't matter. When I was 14 to the age of 21 I served not only my joinery apprenticeship but learned how to respect my elders. If you got yourself in a severe case of trouble it was the police and court and a sentence to five lashes of the birch or the cat'o'nine tails.
The birch was a whip made from the twigs of the Birch tree, hence the name. The cat'o'nine tails was a long leather whip small tacks in the end which used to draw blood, salt was rubbed into the wounds this was supposedly to stop the wound getting infected, But it made it more painful.
When I was 17 you could go to Fords works at Preston and buy a new Ford chassis complete with engine, wheels, headlamps and an orange box to sit on and drive it home, this cost £75. Today it would cost you that to renew the tyres.
The times since then have certainly changed. If the teenagers of today see what they want they make their minds up to get it, no matter how or no matter the consequences of doing it.