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Stormy Corner

Here are some memories of Stormy Corner

Article by Geoff Howard reproduced from the Advertiser 5th March 1998

Berry Street

Berry Street and the Beehive Pub STORMY CORNER claims a unique place in our Streets of the Week ... it no longer exists! That isn't strictly true, because Berry Street, Crow Orchard School and the Tawd Vale Inn remain as remnants of a unique community. But Stormy as everyone knew it dissapeared under a mass of concrete and tarmac when the new town and it's ancillaries arrives some 30 years ago. Memories survive though of Rose Gibson the Pea Queen, the Rendezvous Club, Seven Stars and Bee Hive pubs, and the Tuppeny Pit.
Yes, Stormy merits a place in this series even if it was a village consisting of 5 streets in all, Berry Street, Summer Street, Whalley street, Morrell Street and Moss Lane, probrably no more than 70 houses altogether.

Back in the 1920's, Ethel Oakley was a babe in arms when her family moved to Stormy. She lived there until she was about 15. "The people there were wonderful, we were all their children and we could go into their houses at any time." Her father Edward barrow was only 11 when he started work down the Tuppeny Pit, on turning 13 it was suggested he should ask for a pay rise. Pit Manager 'Felix' Marsden was waiting with his answer: "You want a rise? Go and stand on those two bricks over there." Ethel recalls: "On a Friday night Mother and I would walk up to the pit, collect dads tally and pick up his wages. He always wanted her to do that."

Memories of Billy Mayor, coalman and undertaker with his glass-sided hearse and team of four black horses topped with plumes. Billy lived in one of only a couple of houses in Morrell Street, horses always immaculately groomed. He also ran a waggonette to Ormskirk on market days. And what of Harry Whistler the Cobbler from Berry Street, often to be seen returning from his regular work down the pit wearing odd clogs? One was his own, the other would belong to a workmate and Harry would be taking it home to mend, leaving one of his own in temporary exchange. The Pea Queen Rose Gibson acquired her nickname because it was she who organised the gangs of pea pickers transported to outlying farms in the season.

Summer Street Summer Street at the corner to Berry Street. The shop on the left used to be the Co-Op stores

Ethel Oakley recalls with a smile the fascination of the grills at the front of midwife Nurse Hopley's home in Stormy. "When we heard that someone was expecting, we would gather there as children and peer through. We thought there was a tree growing down there which produced the babies Nurse Hopley brought into the world."
Former Skelmersdale United and Burscough secretary Ken Hilton, now acting in that capacity with Vauxhall club Southport, was born in Stormy. "I still have vivid memories. It was a rarity to see a policeman, there was never any need of one, and I can picture now the lamplighter doing his rounds with his flame to ignite the gas lights. For about 11 years of my life I lived there, and it was a sad day when we had to leave."

In the Rendezvous Club the men would gather to play dominoes and billiards, but anything they won was paid out in tallies. That meant that Mrs Edwards who owned the place was on a winner..... the tallies had to be spent in her toffee shop on the corner of Summer Street.

Life was a picnic of sugar butties!

The Endowed School, now known as Crow Orchard County Primary School, was a great social centre for the people of Stormy. Whist drives, hot pots, dances and the Sunday School were all held there. Jack Vipond gave woodwork instruction in an extension built on, and Alice Mary Turner taught cookery and laundering, Skelmersdale schools attending in rota.

When Derek Birch and his mates came out from Liverpool for a drink at the Seven Stars back in the Swingin' Sixties, he little knew what fate had in store for him. "We'd get a bus out to Skem and walk down there. The Seven Stars was somewhere different, a free and easy pub, sadly the first to close down."
Now Derek and wife Barbara run the tawd Vale, where the conversation so often revolves around Stormy and it's folklore.. And beneath the pub, a relic from Stormy's past, iron tracks on which the pit tubs once ran serving as ceiling supports in the cellar.

Many years ago, there was also a Colliers Arms public house in Stormy. Later it became a private house, but the bar pumps remained until it was demolished. Whalley Street was home to Brown's sweet shop and in what was known as Barn Houses, Ethel Oakley and others gathered for very special evenings. That was when Mrs Chambers would transport local children into a fascinating world with her Magic Lantern shows.

Edward Draper's charabanc and Stormy residents The Draper family who owned the village stores were well known. Daughter Doris taught piano, Vincent was the owner of Mason's Minerals and the Adelphi Wine Stores. Jim Draper managed the store where he kept a credit book. And customers could pay sixpence a week, religiously entered into the back pages, to pay for toys or Christmas presents. It was an old fashioned place, sugar and tea weighed out, and always a chance to catch up with village gossip. Outside, the petrol pump which served the village was sited.

In a row of cottages alongside, Police Sergeant Rasburn lived, and in Moss Lane the home of Mr Webster the cobbler. He always kept a box of liquorice allsorts on his bench for the children going home from school to sample, as Ethel recalls. She remembers as if it was yesterday picnics at Cave's Farm. "We had our sugar butties and a bottle of water with us, then Mrs Cave would invite us to go and get our chats. They'd been in the boiler, she kept a saucer of salt and some forks on the top, and they were so good we didn't worry about whether the chats had been washed or not. Then we would be asked if we wanted to wash it down with milk straight from the cow. What a picnic that was."

Back in the early 1920's Stormy actually had a small school of its own, but it closed the year before Alice Ashcroft was due to start there and she went instead to to the Endowed. Now living in Spa Lane, her thoughts echo those of everyone else who knew the place. "It was a very friendly area, everyone was willing to help each other. It was just the best place to live and you can't say more than that."