AS FAR as I know, my grandfather was the first of his family with the surname Coffee, and he lived around Mill Lane, Sutton. The two daughters, Vera and Nancy, married and changed their names.

Ernie went to Upholland. My father Eric worked on the railways in the Sutton area, and John lived for a while at the bottom of New Street, and later on Mill Lane. My cousin Ant lives in Haydock and my other cousins moved out of the area.

My reason for telling you this is a query from a reader, who wrote: “Did you have any brothers/relations with same surname back in the middle to 60s, who worked at United Glass 1965-68 or worked for the Gas Works driving and delivering coke/coal etc.

“I had a friend whose name I thought was Chris? Dave? Eric Coffey.

“He did at one time, live on the right side of Borough Road (even number) and at that time he was married with one child? He would be around the same age as myself or very near. A pretty quiet lad and very likeable lad. I hope I have rocked your memory, if not, someone may come along and let us know.”

As far as I know, no, but there are a few Coffeys in town.

n On Monday, May 8 the Queens Park Local History Group have as their guest speaker Vic Davies who will talk about St Helens of the Past. It starts at 7pm at the Greenalls Club on Alder Hey Road.

On the same day, the Rainhill Railway and Heritage Society have as their guest speaker Christina Spencer, who will talk about murder, deceit, and everlasting success! Yes, it’s the history of the Bibby Shipping Line. It’s 7.30 at Rainhill Village Hall.

n On Friday, April 21, Britain went a full day without using coal to generate electricity for the first time since the Industrial Revolution, the National Grid told us. Britain’s longest continuous energy period without coal until then was 19 hours. It is thought to be the first time the nation has not used coal to generate electricity since the world’s first centralised public coal-fired generator opened in 1882, at Holborn Viaduct in London.

Considering how long it has been since our local collieries were closed, and how many hundreds of years of coal remain beneath our feet, and how much of our local economy was wiped out in a few years, (together with our railway coal trains) and the research into burning coal cleanly was abandoned, I have another reason to doubt the wisdom of Whitehall and Parliament.

n Lorraine Ward is our new Conservation Officer (a part-time role) and is now aware about the St Helens Heritage Network and our monthly email newsletter. As we have no funding, I cannot afford printed issues. However, as I send them to your local library, at 5p a page they will print them off for you.

n Mark Cunliffe writes: “Regarding the column which featured aerial shots of Westfield Street. I may be wrong but I’d hazard a guess that the colour photo is from some time in the 1990s, or possibly the ‘80s. I think the tell-tale here is the fact that the Helena House Co-Op site appears flattened and empty. It’s certainly before the late ‘90s then as Wilkos was up in its place by then and Westfield Street itself started to become more bar-orientated with Nexus on the corner – and that’s not seen in this photo.

“I think Westfields was the first wine bar in the street, around 1999, followed by The Dali Bar where Courtmans Gent Outfitters used to be. Before the street became so bar-heavy, I remember the vets in the street with its trough full of water at the doorstep for passing pets. The store that is now Cash Converters used to be a ladies clothes shop (can’t remember the name) and I think that’s what it would be in this photo.”

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