Dr Tom recalls the time when Saints played on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day

St Helens Star: Dr Tom Preston with the 2013 Christmas tree on Victoria Square Dr Tom Preston with the 2013 Christmas tree on Victoria Square

CHRISTMAS Day is less than a week away but celebrations for the festivities began over a month ago.

Which would no doubt have caused a stir 60 years ago in St Helens.

“Just before Christmas 1952, the vicar of St Thomas's in Westfield Street, gave a sermon at Liverpool Cathedral in which he claimed that there was a growing tendency to celebrate Christmas too early! What would he would have thought of 2013?” asked Dr Tom Preston, the St Helens Council heritage outreach officer.

In recent weeks Dr Preston has given informative talks about fond Christmas memories drawing audiences to Moss Bank and Eccleston libraries.

He related how in 1955 children could visit Father Christmas in his grotto at the Co-op stores after "flying the spaceship with Dan Dare" from the Eagle comic.

Sportsmen in those days thought nothing of playing two games in three days in atrocious weather conditions with Christmas Day sandwiched in between.

“There was eight inches of snow on the Saints' pitch at Knowsley Road when they beat Oldham 18-7 in front of 19,000 spectators on Christmas Eve and then on Boxing Day they lost 9-18 to Leigh in front of 21,000 fans at Knowsley Road,” recalled Dr Preston.

He is pictured here beside this year’s Christmas tree in front of the Town Hall on Victoria Square shortly after it was re-erected after being toppled in high winds earlier this month.

Compare today’s Victoria Square scene with the image provided by Dr Preston of the tree outside the Town Hall which was taken in 1952 following a snow storm.

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