The following text is from an article in the Advertiser on 28th May 1970.
Mr Hugh Edden, 95 tomorrow…
Found Happiness Lay in the Old Town
Skelmesdale New Town rolls across the countryside and had now completely engulfed the old mining town, the passing of which is mourned by many senior residents, who were born and bred in the place.
One of these old – timers is Mr Hugh Edden, who tomorrow celebrates his 95th birthday.
Mr Edden lives with his youngest daughter, Margaret and her husband, Mr Horrace Dugdale, at Midge Nook, Moss Lane, Skelmersdale.
Amazingly alert and active for his great age, Mr Edden will chat about Skelmersdale he knew in the days of his youth.
He will recall fascinating facts about life well before the turn of the century, when collieries such as the White Moss Chapel House, Bromilow, Lord Lathom’s Crow Orchard, Primrose, Tawd Vale (later to become the Glenburn) were in full production and when their sub-terranean galleries were crowded with labouring men.
He was born on May 29, 1875, at the old Fox and Goose public house, which was pulled down last year and which stood on the Wigan Road. His father the late Mr Hugh Edden, was the licensee of the pub for the last 30 or 40 years.
After attending the Skelmersdale Endowed School, Mr Edden disregarded the advice of his schoolmaster who wanted him to become a teacher and went to the White Moss Colliery to serve his time as a fitter/turner.
That was when he was 14, and he will tell you that his weekly wage at that time was 1s 4d.
“Money was scarce in those days, but we were happy and always enjoyed my work.”
“My job was to maintain the complicated head gear and sometimes I would have to go underground when a pump broke down,” he explained, adding that his apprenticeship was served under an old fitter who hailed from Wigan and who “certainly knew his stuff.”
When he came out of his time he did not get the full journeyman’s wage -4s 10s a week- for some time, because “you had to wait until somebody died and you could take over his job.”
He was 26 when he married Miss Margaret Williams, a Durham girl who had come with her family to live in Skelmersdale. The couple were married in the rooms adjoining the old parish church, which was then being pulled down because it was unsafe and the new St. Paul’s was only being built.
For the first two years they lived at the Fox and Gosse and their home was in Florence Road, Later they moved to Barnes Road and later still to Church Road.
Mrs Edden died 30 years ago. The couple had four children – two boys and two girls and their younger son Horrace, lives in a church Road house. Their elder son Hugh, died in 1939 and the other daughter, Elsie, died in infancy of diphtheria.
Mr Edden worked at the various collieries until they closed down and then went to spend the rest of his working life at the Skelmersdale Shoe Company.
Meanwhile he had developed an interesting music and he learned to play the violin.
Shortly before his marriage he formed a string orchestra, which was often engaged to play at dances and other local functions.
He still plays the violin and he often gives his daughter’s family a lively tune.
“I’m pretty fit, but I don’t remember dates too well – never was able to remember dates,” he says.
He’s seen Skelmersdale rapidly developing and he does not think too much of it.
“I hope they will be able to find jobs for all those people,” he said as he looked out of one of the bungalow windows which overlook the Up Holland end of the New Town.
He does not get about much nowadays, but he likes to walk around Mr Dugdale’s poultry farm on sunny days.
Akeen church man all his life he regrets that he cannot now attend. For over 50 years, he was a chorister at St. Paul’s and on the wall of the bungalow’s hallway there hangs a handsome barometer, which was presented to him when he celebrated his golden jubilee as a member of the choir.
So as he cannot now get to church, the church sometimes comes to him, for the Vicar celebrates Holy Communion for him at the bungalow.
Perhaps it is because of his staunch Christian faith that Mr Edden has lived so many happy years.
He does not say so, but he does volunteer the information that he has always enjoyed the company of young folk, as a result he has always kept a youthful outlook on life.
His way of living might well have contributed too, for he does not smoke and hardly ever touches a drop of strong drink.
“I’ve tapped many a hundred barrels of beer, but I never used to drink a drop of it,” he says, adding that when he was a young man at the Fox and Goose they used to “break up” their own spirits into bottles and measure from 40-gallon casks.
“A small whisky was only 2d a tot and beer was sold at 2d to 3d a pint. We would bottle the spirits to customers’ orders and when we did we would have to add the statutory amount of water,” he explains.
If Mr Edden has any sort of handicap, it is that he is a little hard of hearing. But this does not spoil his enjoyment of the television as he uses a hearing aid.
The programmes he likes best are those dealing with sport, especially football and wrestling.
He is a great fan of Skelmersdale United and keeps a good eye on their successes.
“The last time Isaw them play was at Manchester when they played Enfield after the drawn Wembley game three years ago,” he said.
He used to play for United many years ago when he was in his early twenties and he also served on the committee. He recons he is the oldest player still living and he explains that when he was a member of the team the club was in the Lancashire Lion’s League.
Mr Edden has had a truly worthwhile life. He never sought public honours, but was always trying to help others. When one speaks to him one finds it difficult to accept the fact that he is 95.
Only last week the family drove him over to see his great friend, Mrs Anne Gregson, mother of Skem United’s chairman Bill Gregson, at Thorn Tree Farm, Prescot Road Aughton. Mrs Gregson recently celebrated her 93rd birthday, so the pair had a pleasanttime talking about their younger days in Skelmersdale.
Bill was able to show Mr Edden some of the trophies which United has won and was also able to give him details of future plans.
Hugh Edden has a remarkable story to tell and his memory is almost perfect – apart from remembering exact dates.
He is an old man with a very youthful outlook on life and in conversation with him one fact very soon emerges … He does not regret one minute of his 95 years.