Coffey Time with Chris Coffey

St Helens' journey to electrification

St Helens Star: At the Electricity Showrooms on Bridge Street a brightly illuminated front window contained many modern appliances and looked very impressive at night

4:08pm Thursday 23rd October 2014

THIS year marks the 120th anniversary of the passing of the Act of Parliament that authorised St Helens Corporation to generate and distribute electricity, writes Stephen Wainwright.

Remembering the electricity revolution

St Helens Star: St Helens Corporation even used coal wagons to promote electricity

2:41pm Thursday 23rd October 2014

FOR decades the cost of electricity simply priced out the working classes.

Viaduct was the clue to unlocking photo's location

St Helens Star: Can readers tell me 'where we were' in this week's photo?

9:51am Thursday 16th October 2014

THE atmospheric image featured in our ‘where were we’ feature a fortnight ago stirred up a mixed response from Coffey Time readers.

Local history dates

St Helens Star: St Helens Pals

9:41am Thursday 16th October 2014

Here are a series of local history dates for your diaries.

A home rented by the viaduct's boss

St Helens Star: (11428929)

9:37am Thursday 16th October 2014

THIS picture shows Stephenson’s Cottage near the bottom of Emmitt’s Brow, which reader Nick Coleman refers to in his comments in the story about Newton lock (right).

Remembering old school days

St Helens Star:

5:31pm Tuesday 14th October 2014

OUR school memories features continue to prove popular.

An evening of Jacobean japes

3:33pm Tuesday 14th October 2014

I DO enjoy organising special events. Two years ago I set up an evening at the Citadel that commemorated the sinking of the Titanic. It combined arts with local history and was done in partnership with our local Titanic group.


St Helens Star: 'Manure manufacturers Crone & Taylor of Sutton Oak were happy to show off the smoky atmosphere on their letterhead'

11:14am Tuesday 14th October 2014

IN the first half of his special feature last week Stephen Wainwright explained how St Helens' vast industry meant it was considered a dirty, stinking place in the 19th century, here, in the second instalment he focuses on how the town tried to heal its reputation.

PICTURE: Where were we?

St Helens Star: Can readers tell me 'where we were' in this week's photo?

11:39am Thursday 2nd October 2014

CAN anyone pinpoint the location that this atmospheric photograph was taken. Take a closer look and there are plenty of clues to offer assistance. To get in touch email or ring 01744 817130. Alternatively write to 37 Holbrook Close, St Helens, WA9 3XH.

Locomotive memories

11:31am Thursday 2nd October 2014

DAVID Lyon writes: “After reading your piece about the Whiston locomotive that was at Bold Colliery I thought I would give you a few more facts.

The benefits of being in a society

St Helens Star: Sankey Canal in all its glory

11:29am Thursday 2nd October 2014

THE first newsletter from the Friends of The World of Glass dropped through my letter box the other day.

It wasn’t the ‘hell-hole’ they say it was, was it?

St Helens Star: Take the Sankey Canal walk with SCARS and recall when St Helens was busy with manufacturing. The canal went into the factory and two Mersey Flats (boats) can just be seen

11:15am Thursday 2nd October 2014

WHEN you walk through the streets and parks of St Helens today, it’s hard to imagine that it used to be considered a dirty, stinking town, writes Stephen Wainwright in the first part of a special article he has put together for Coffey Time.

New book to tell mysteries of of Crank caverns

St Helens Star: Former Star journalist Sue Gerrard with her new book about the Crank Caverns

11:15am Thursday 25th September 2014

THE LEGENDS of the Crank Caverns are told in a fascinating newly publicised book.

School days with a Saint teaching games

St Helens Star:

11:06am Thursday 25th September 2014

IN keeping with our theme of looking back on school days from bygone times, here is a picture that has been sent to me by Coffey Time reader Terence Preston.

Findings of two years' research set to be unveiled

St Helens Star: Ann-Veronica Howitt, Brian Renshall and Judy Lowe of the Rainhill Civic Society, who have been researching the village's involvement in World War One

10:49am Thursday 18th September 2014

THE fascinating stories uncovered by two years of toiling research will finally be told at a special exhibition later this month, writes Simon Mulligan.

Memories of Victory Day

St Helens Star: (10383895)

10:49am Thursday 18th September 2014

THIS week’s memory soaked photo was sent to me by Ann-Marie O’Connor.

Mystery of rugby medal from 1920s

St Helens Star:

10:43am Thursday 18th September 2014

WE’VE been sent a puzzler about a rugby medal won in the 1920s.

Up early for my copy of Pals book

St Helens Star:

10:27am Thursday 18th September 2014

I WAS pleased to set my alarm to join many others queuing up at 10.15am to get into the Volunteer Hall to pick up my copy of the new book ‘St Helens Pals’, compiled by David Risley and Richard Waring.

This old gate was a stroll in the park

St Helens Star: (8966469)

10:54am Thursday 11th September 2014

READERS were in touch to tell me this picture, which featured on August 8, is the Bishop Road entrance to Victoria Park.

Unearthing the stories behind the women workers of World War I

St Helens Star: It is believed this patriotic picture was taken at a munitions factory during World War I

10:50am Thursday 11th September 2014

HERE is a wonderfully atmospheric image that is believed to have been taken at a St Helens munitions factory during the First World War.

Old photo of school stirs up several memories

St Helens Star:

11:38am Thursday 28th August 2014

WE HAD a healthy response to this image published on August 14.

Delving deep into the rich history of St Helens

St Helens Star:

11:27am Thursday 28th August 2014

TWO more books have been added to the rich collection of gems that celebrate the history of St Helens’ industry and communities.

Calling all school chums

St Helens Star:

11:09am Thursday 21st August 2014

CONTINUING the theme of school day memories, Joe Butler has shared with me this picture of Grange Park Secondary Technical School.

Tragic tale of Sutton pub landlords

St Helens Star: Incident between rival fans at pub

11:06am Thursday 21st August 2014

LOCAL history expert Steve Wainwright, of the excellent website Sutton Beauty And Heritage, has been sharing some fascinating details about the history of the Red Lion pub in Sutton and its landlords.

Plenty to see and do throughout August

St Helens Star: The search is on to find the owner of the ring

10:53am Thursday 21st August 2014

THE Townships Family History Society 'help and workshop' evenings are held at the Local History and Archive Library, 1st floor, Central Library, Victoria Square on Tuesdays between 3.45pm and 6.45pm.

Stepping through the looking glass

St Helens Star:

11:02am Thursday 21st August 2014

THIS picture has the caption 'Pilkington Glass 1918'.

Turn bottle shop into a museum of town's life

St Helens Star: Where were we? Send your answers to this picture puzzler to Coffey Time

1:30pm Thursday 14th August 2014

THE remains of the Cannington Shaw bottling shop has, as many regular Coffey Time readers will probably know, been declared both an ancient monument and a historic treasure at risk.

I've been on a mission Stateside in the name of Stan

St Helens Star: Stanley Laurel, right, and Oliver Hardy in The Music Box

3:41pm Friday 8th August 2014

I HAVE recently returned from a holiday in Hollywood, California, where I was attending the bi-annual International Sons of the Desert Convention.

Can you pinpoint this landmark

St Helens Star: (8966469)

10:16am Thursday 7th August 2014

HERE’S another ‘where we were’ puzzler for readers to get their teeth into.

Loco was in disguise

10:29am Thursday 31st July 2014

BRIAN Orrell has written to Coffey Time in response to the locomotive ‘Vulcan’ that featured in this column on July 17.

Township's foundations built on coal, glass and canals

St Helens Star: Horse and carts share the roads with buses along Church Street, St Helens at the start of the 20th century

12:03am Thursday 31st July 2014

WE have covered the brief histories of the ten townships, so now it is time to look at our present town centre, which before the 1750s did not exist.

Cemetery to mark WWI centenary

12:02am Thursday 31st July 2014

Here are couple of heritage dates for the diary. On Saturday, August 2 the Rainford Roots community project is hosting a Tudor craft day at Rainford Village Hall, Church Road.

The St Helens mayor who packed a punch

St Helens Star:

10:08am Thursday 17th July 2014

CAN you imagine a remarkable Victorian scene in St Helens town centre with a cow stuck within the roof of a solicitor’s office in Hardshaw Street?

Vulcan loco makes welcome return home

St Helens Star:

10:05am Thursday 17th July 2014

A LOCOMOTIVE that has strong connections with Newton-le-Willows will make a nostalgic return.

Medal-winning hero was from Pocket Nook

St Helens Star: FIRST WORLD WAR TRENCHES     YPRES? (7548284)

9:57am Thursday 17th July 2014

BERNARD Revill tells me his mum, Veronica, was reading a Coffey Time article relating to the First World War.

Steam survivors fly the flag for St Helens

St Helens Star:

10:32am Thursday 10th July 2014

THREE steam age survivors will be flying the flag for St Helens next week at a Staffordshire festival.

Share your Moss Bank memories

St Helens Star:

10:27am Thursday 10th July 2014

REGULAR contributor Kevin Finney shares his memories stirred by my piece about the Moss Bank railway crossing.

Murder most foul and a memorial concert among this month's history events

St Helens Star:

10:19am Thursday 10th July 2014

Local history events coming up this month

Contact Chris Coffey

St Helens Star: Gloucestershire university launches first ever online degree

10:02am Thursday 10th July 2014

Email or ring 01744 817130 or write to 37 Holbrook Close, St. Helens, WA9 3XH.

Animals were often the victims

St Helens Star:

6:20am Thursday 3rd July 2014

AFTER reading the story about animal antics in old St Helens related in Coffey Time, Steve Wainwright described how animals such as cows and pigs could wreak havoc in offices and homes.

Boys' Brigade president comes to the rescue!

St Helens Star:

6:20am Thursday 3rd July 2014

BILL Clarey, vice president of the North West District of The Boys’ Brigade and president of the St Helens and District Battalion has come to the rescue!

Soldier's descendants sought

St Helens Star: Lest we forget: 2014 is the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I

1:22pm Thursday 26th June 2014

BILLY Mckinney tells me that although he hails from Scotland he has lived in Earlestown for over 20 years is a regular reader of the Star, enjoys Coffey Time and wonders if readers can help him find relatives of WW1 soldier Private Lake.

Local history exhibition

1:16pm Thursday 26th June 2014

ATTENDANCE was disappointing but otherwise the annual local history exhibition in the Central Library was excellent and great fun. My thanks to the 13 exhibitors, and to all who helped out.

Villagers remember the Great War

St Helens Star: The Great War took seven men from Tatton Street

1:12pm Thursday 26th June 2014

RAINHILL Civic Society is planning an exhibition to commemorate Rainhill’s part in WW1 that will be seen in St Ann’s Church on Friday and Saturday on September 26 and 27.

Roots team revelations at Rainford

St Helens Star: Excavated items come under scrutiny

1:09pm Thursday 26th June 2014

RAINFORD'S Roots team of volunteers has been busy washing, sorting and bagging finds from the four community excavations in the village.

Search is on for the Brethertons

St Helens Star: A stableyard scene at Rainhill Hall

12:59pm Thursday 26th June 2014

RAINHILL Hall, now known as Loyola Hall, was the family home of the Stapleton-Bretherton family, many of whom had military connections.

Local history events diary.

1:56pm Thursday 19th June 2014

Friday, June 20 (1pm-4pm) and Thursday, June 26(1.30pm-3pm): Archaeological excavations in the rear garden at Rainford Library will be open to the public on Friday and the following Thursday there will be a guided heritage walk of the excavation and wider area given people an opportunity to see what's been happening at the dig.

Contact details.

1:54pm Thursday 19th June 2014

Email or ring 01744 817130 or write to 37 Holbrook Close, St. Helens, WA9 3XH.

Where, what and why?

St Helens Star: Where, what and why?

11:21am Thursday 19th June 2014

TOMMY Jensen found this intriguing picture on the good old interweb and we are both curious to know more! Captioned ‘1st St. Helens B.L.B. Camp August 1916’ can anyone tell us what a B.L.B. was? Emblazoned with the name ‘United Transport Company’ the heavily laden lorry was probably commandeered for transport duties. Any extra theories or information would be most welcome.

Were you part of the Stuttgart 1962 visit?

10:59am Thursday 19th June 2014

STUTTGART MEMORIES Roger Kilshaw contacted me after the article in CoffeyTime (May 15) regarding the post-war link with Germany. “Your article brought back some happy memories for me,” wrote Roger.


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