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The Penketh Recollections of Mr Frank Thomas
Submitted by John Ditchfield - Nov 1998

What follows is a history of Penketh in the 20th Century this history was submitted by John Ditchfield and is based on the recollections of Frank Thomas a Penketh resident with memories going back some 80 years.



The area now covered by Southlands Avenue, off Hall Nook, was a large house owned by a Mr Aitkin who had a business in Widnes. Each morning he was taken to his office in a carriage drawn by two horses which was driven by a man named Peter Willie Boardman. When Mr Aitkin died, he left his house and a large amount of money to the Salvation Army for the care of old ladies who had nowhere to live.

The land at the rear of Mr Aitkins house, where Oakmere drive is now, Mr Aitkin left to Mr Boardman. This land contained Stables and a building to garage his coach. He also left some land situated further down Hall nook, upon which bungalows now stand, to his Gardener, Mr Tom Nicholson; who lived on Warrington Road near the Mission.

The land on the other side; (West) of Hall Nook , from Well Lane to Warrington Road was owned by Robert Garnett, who lived in a large house situated where Woodley Fold is now located. The name Rober Garnett is mentioned on a marble plaque inside the Methodist Church.

When Mr Garnett died, his house and land was sold to Mr E Lunt, a local builder, who then sold the house to The Church of England which re named it to "St. George's' Home" and used it as a home for homeless boys. The remaining land was used for house building and the first house to be erected on this site was built on the corner of Well Lane & Hall Nook, for Mr Tom Pusill.

St Marys Mission Church St Marys Mission Church in this picture opened In July 1889. It stood on the ground opposite the Late Shop on Warrington Road where St Pauls Church is today. At the bottom left of the photograph the Post Box can be seen which is still in use today.(1999) The Church building in the picture suffered dry rot and was replaced in 1971 with the church we can see today.

Mr Pusill owned the Warrington to Penketh bus service which was called the "Suburban Bus Service" and the spare land at the end of Stocks lane, next to the church, or opposite the "Late Shop" was used as a bus terminus for the Suburban Bus Service. The return fare to Warrington was 6d. for shoppers or 4d. for workers. 6d (sixpence) converts to two & a half pence in today's money. Running along the wall at the back of this land & behind the Church, in Victoria Rd stood two cottages. The man living in the first of these cottages had a small furnace in a workshop attached to his house where he made pliers & nippers.


The dual carriageway as we know it today was little wider than Chapel road, and ran as a continuation of the road upon which the LATE SHOP now stands and it followed a path in front of the Honda Garage, then roughly where the central reservation of the dual carriageway is today in the direction of Warrington. The RED LION PUB was a low building which stood very close to the main road on the corner of Chapel Road and it had a big & very popular Bowling green to the rear of it. Kwik Save use this land as a car park today.

The old Pub was demolished to make way for the new road. Also demolished were a pair of houses, a shop & house, a garage owned by Dick Edwards (Red Lion Auto's) a butchers shop & a row of houses. The tenants of these houses had to get their drinking water from a pump at the rear.

The village paper shop was in this row of houses and at the end was Pusill's Bus Service Garage, next to the Playing Field, part of which remains on the south side of the dual carraigway. This Playing field was given to the village by Mr Wythenshaw who was part owner of Penketh Tannery, a very large Tannery employing a lot of Penketh people.

All these buildings were demolished to make way for road widening and for some strange reason, only the Red Lion Pub & Red Lion Garage were re built. The building now occupied by KwikSave was the new showroom for the garage, hence it's unusual appearance today. All this happened about 1964

The shop now used as a Pet Shop (opposite Kwik Save) used to be a Bread & Cake Shop where the Routledge sisters baked their own bread & cakes which they sold in the shop, and behind these shops there used to be another row of old cottages, now pulled down.

Chapel Road

On the opposite corner of Chapel road, where the Church car park is today, stood the Post Office, Run by the Mather Family, & next to that, on Chapel Road was the Blacksmith's Shop where Mr Webb the blacksmith would shoe horses & ponies. He also made iron gates, plenty of which can still to be seen in the village today.

Opposite the Chapel, (now a row of shops) there used to be a farm run by the Stafford family and they worked this farm until about 1964 when the land was sold to Alex Wigan for house building.

Cobblers square on Chapel Road Frank Thomas used to live in the middle cottage in this picture. The cottages on the right of this picture (Greystone Cottage) still stands today.
Cobblers Square

Further down Chapel Road stands Greystone Cottage, but years ago, where the lawn at the side of this cottage is today, there used to be three cottages and this was known as "Cobblers Square" so-called after a cobbler named Gandy. These cottages were demolished in the late 1950s.

A little further along the road was a foot-path running along the hedge to Station road, a short length of which still exists today at the end of Polpero Close. Next to this hedge stood a lovely old house where Springwood Nursery stands today and it was called "Vine House" which is the correct name for the new house used today as a nursery.

The deeds for the original Vine House contained a clause stating that should the building ever be knocked down it could never be replaced so when the original building became uninhabitable the building we see today was built over the top of the old one, then the old one was knocked down inside it. This way, there was never a point in time when Vine House was not standing.

The field adjoining this house was farmed by Mr Warburton who had his buildings next to "Three Elms House" on the corner of Station Rd & Tannery Lane, (Now an old peoples home.) Mr Warburton farmed this land for many years and was eventually granted legal ownership. Later he sold it to Alex Wigans, the builder who built Falmouth Drive in 1966.

Further along Chapel Rd was the "Penketh Leather Manufacturing Co." known locally as "The Cutting Shop" where shoe soles were cut from the leather produced at the tannery. This was owned By Mr Lee (of Vine House) and his two sons, Hector & Reg Lee. With the advent of synthetic soles the "Cutting Shop" closed (about 1963) and was bought by Boultings. Two days before they were due to move in, this building, which apart from the brick facade was made of wood, caught fire and burned to the ground, then the building as it is today was built. The only remaining original part is the tower next to Vine House.

On the corner of Chapel Rd & Station Rd., opposite the shop, is a small house which was used as a chapel many years ago but when the Chapel we know today was built, it was used as a private dwelling.

Where Roeburn way now stands there used to be a very big, lovely old house owned by a Mr Parker. This house was built entirely of sandstone blocks, as was the boundary wall, some of which can still be seen today from Rothay Drive right round the corner on Station Road into Tannery Lane. There is a Post Offfice Letter box let into part of it today.

The Tannery buildings were occupied by Polycell for a few years after the Tannery closed down in the late 50s then later by a number of small businesses. The Tannery buildings were finally demolished about 1996/7 & houses built on the site.

Remembered by Frank Thomas Chapel Rd. Submitted by John Ditchfield Chapel Rd. Nov 1998.