Transcript of High Street Sound Walk in Barrow-in-Furness: 'Barrovia'

This is a transcript of 'Barrovia', a High Street Sound Walk in Barrow-in-Furness.

[traffic noise seagulls]

Susan Benson: In 1911, the borough council accepted a grant of twelve thousand pounds from Andrew Carnegie to build a new library building, and they began building the building, which is why there's a date over the front door that says 1915, but the war stopped the building and they didn't start again until after the war had ended. And it was finally opened on October the 5th, 1922, by the Mayoress, Mrs Walker Fairbairn, with Alderman J H Brown, who was Chairman of the Library and Museum Committee. The architect was Mr J A Charles and Mrs Fairbairn was presented with a large gold key when she declared the library open, and she was also given a copy of Wordsworth's Poetical Works bound in polished Levante leather. At that point, they would issue about a thousand books a day and they had 10,000 borrowers.

[birdsong]

Sarah Miller: I spent a lot of time in Barrow Library because I couldn't really afford books as a kid, and the library in Barrow felt like a huge library back then. I mean, the kids' libraries on the side of the library but I would always try and get in the adult section anyway, because I'd read and read so much stuff. And I wanted to read new books and adult books. And I always remember, you know, my library card was like my best friend, really.

[indoors ambience]

Colin Garnett: Cumbria County Council, they got some funding, but it's a County Council building, and they wanted to do the Seaside theme, which we love. Even the seagulls and the ship and the sails. And then it's got some lights in there, so it all lights up and, you know, having, when you're reading pirate books or anything about the sea, it gives you that great experience being part of it.

[birdsong some traffic]

Sarah Miller: So for me, it was like, it was like an island refuge of, of learning and of stuff. I learnt most of my stuff from the library when I was a kid. And because I felt like I learned more out of the books there than I did in a classroom sometimes. But yeah, Barrow Library, it had a little tiny museum, and it wasn't like a museum now. Barrow has a lot of artefacts, actually, I always remember it had a penny farthing bike and it had a mummy's hand. Yeah, wasn't on display after a certain amount of time. It probably wasn't a mummy's hand it was but it was almost like, you know, those museums that have like a load of Roman coins and some things from the furnace abbey. And it was just like a load of little glass cases and it had a little Victorian woman's costume and a bit of a carriage and it would have some flat irons and things like that. And you'd wander around the cases. And every now and again, they have a special exhibition, but it costs money to put like new exhibitions on. So it would just be a little tiny proportion of what the Barrow Collection was really.

[indoors]

Susan Benson: The museum itself was opened in 1930, and I expect a lot of people will remember going upstairs and looking at the stuffed animals and the ship models, which, they've all gone to the Dock Museum. So that closed once the Dock Museum had opened.

[return to outdoors ambience]

Sarah Miller: ...Loved it...

...It was great wasn't it ...

Kathleen Irwin: It was only a small room, but I was going to say that can say that I loved going to the library, but I was more interested in going upstairs to the museum and seeing the penny farthing.

Sarah Miller: Yeah

Kathleen Irwin: It was just, it was very sort of dusty, like Madame Tussauds little room but it was just magical. I loved it, going up there and looking at the Viking, whatever and bits of flint and... I didn't see the mummy's hand, but my mam and my auntie Cath saw the mummy's hand.

Sarah Miller: I remember a couple of homeless people used to sit in Barrow Library and were allowed, because all the magazines and stuff, they used to get then and they'd be able to read all day and blokes who were on the dole in the late 1970s, early 1980s, when there was more unemployment. You know, men would be there looking for jobs, but they'd also be passing time and feeling like they were out of the house doing something for the day. And so the library wasn't just about books. It was about reading all the papers or reading particular magazines, specialist magazines they used to get.

[indoors]

Susan Benson: People have always liked coming in to look at newspapers. And unfortunately, we don't have any now. But they actually had 142 newspapers and monthly periodicals in the early days of the library.

[return to birdsong]

Sarah Miller: It was a community resource, it still is a community resource. I think they're really underrated. And librarians... the fact that they are getting rid of librarians. You know, librarians weren't just people who checked your books out. They were people who would inspire you about books or talk to you about your homework or, and say, what you're looking for? They wouldn't do your homework for you, but they'd say, oh, we've got three books on that. And there's something in the adult library that you might like as well. And all the time you were going back with new books.

[indoors]

Susan Benson: Oh, the other thing I maybe should have mentioned is the fact that the archives are here now. So the archive office was opened in 1979. And with the refurbishment, we're still here.

[birdsong]

Sarah Miller: And as an adult, I mean, I've been back to Barrow Library to do poetry readings. And we did a live ghost story readings in the library that went out as a podcast. Barrow Library just had the idea of let's bring that back and got us in to do it. And they got to do it a couple of years. It was brilliant.

[traffic noise]

Charlie MacKeith RD: ...just trying to get my bearing yeah...

We're on the east side of the junction between Duke Street, Abbey Road, just east of Ramsden Square, right by what's locally known as the 'House of Lords'. Historically, it's the Workingman's Institute, burnt out in January 2017. Sorry state. No more than, at the moment, a retained facade and plans are happening, we're trying to work out what the hell to do with it. And the latest Pevsner Guide of Cumbria describes it as, quote, "a silly French chateau". So how the hell are you going to save a building that's described like that three or four years ago? And apparently, the same author says the building behind us, this is the York Stone former Conservative Club, is "looking down disdainfully on the working-m...". It's not true at all. Here in Barrow, we have Abbey Road as a planned new street. 1860 onwards. First building on it is the Workingman's Institute in 1871, this idea that you could lay out what's called a skeleton plan, a street from somewhere to somewhere else, known, or unknown, and then start to populate it with a series of pavilions and events, bathhouses, clubhouses. But the first one that's done is a library, a reading room for the mental improvement of working men. It's the largest and earliest listed workingman's purpose-built workingmen's club in Britain. That in itself is significant. Next to it, although there's a 20th-century bar added to it, behind is what used to be a skittle alley. Behind that was a small-bore rifle range. So the idea on your street, you had activities that went from around about 1900 greenhouses with growing plants. But before that, you were actually doing scale weaponry training and a skittle alley. All these lovely things happening. There was supposed to be a gymnasium next to it, at the edge of what's now the library. So you have this idea of physical well-being, mental well-being, and then physical cleansing with the bathhouse. Really simple. Lovely. There's quite an unusual feel to it. It's not dense. It's not tight. And the buildings, I mean, then trying to compete with the grandeur, I think, first of all, set by the roundabout. So we've got these two flanks of banks. The library wasn't there. The jute works wasn't there. It was very much a kind of, you know, a pioneer town in a western. There must have been some kind of rule somewhere because the street is twice the width of the height of the buildings on each side.

[traffic noise ends]

Susan Benson: Statue of Sir James Ramsden in Ramsden Square at the moment faces up Abbey Road. But initially, this statue was put up in 1870. He faced the other way. So he faced down to what is now Halfords and Tesco. And he was turned around for some reason in 1891. People have said it was because Princess Louise came and you couldn't have his back looking at her, but she didn't come till the early 1900s when she opened the Nan Tait, the technical school as it was then, and minutes of the borough council don't tell us why he was turned around. But the other thought is he was turned around because they realised that the wealth of the town wasn't coming from across the sea in ships. It was actually going to come from this country and would come down Abbey Road, which was the main route into Barrow at the time.

Sarah Miller: You know, people forget that about Barrow that we are a community of immigrants. You know, the shipyard, the Barrow Island Flats was about Irish immigrants coming and opposite where B&Q was on Duke Street, opposite the library. I mean, that was a jute works that they brought to Barrow to because the Irishman just used to get drunk and fight a lot and they wouldn't stay. So they needed a women's industry.

Susan Benson: Sir James Ramsden felt that we needed to have jobs for women and girls rather than just single men coming into Barrow to work in the steelworks and the shipyard. If they could bring their families with it, it would be a much more settled town.

Sarah Miller: ...keep the men in order, because he needed them for the shipyard and the railway and the steelworks that was here...

Susan Benson: ...so they opened the jute works, but it never really competed with Dundee, which was the main jute works then. And it did have two serious fires. And in the end, it was demolished...

Kathleen Irwin: ...well before that, there was the Cornish tin miners working on the iron ore mines. You know, when we had the biggest and then developed into the biggest iron and steelworks in the world at one point. So, you know, we always have been, although we're out on a little limb here, we always have had an influx of people from all over. My ancestors, are Isle of Man and Irish. And then before that Spanish...

Sarah Miller: Because people think of Barrow as being a very, you know, until recently, it's been a very not ethnically diverse community. But there's been a Chinese community in Barrow for so long. But they, they're very, not hidden, but they're you know, there was a lot of Chinese. There's been a lot of Chinese restaurants. And I'm not saying that that sounds like stereotypical Chinese, but that that community was there and that's what brought them to Barrow. And, you know, they would. My daughter's friend, even in the19 80s, she went to Manchester to live with family to go to Chinese school when she was a bit older.

Kathleen Irwin:...we had the shipyard then we had the iron and steelworks.

Sarah Miller:...and munitions works as well. We had forty-six thousand people working in the shipyards. And those women, predominantly women, taken, I mean, they were reserved occupations, tradesmen, all the yards have now been knocked down were women, women, working munitions and women from Barrow. And we did get bombed. Barrow station got bombed, Duke Street got bombed. A lot of the area around the center of Barrow, you know, was a high risk. They were under threat. You think, oh, we're not London out here in Barrow. But, you know, we were, you know, a big part of the war effort, we're still a big part of the munitions and nuclear industry, you know, nuclear submarines and stuff. But back then we built warships, we built guns we had... We were, well, bomb-able as they say...

Kathleen Irwin: ..where the Odd Frog is now, it used to be Guenther's Bierkeller, and you were allowed to, like you used to serve in steins and you could dance on the tables and the chairs, that was good. We've never had anything like that in Barrow. That was great...

Sarah Miller:... we had guys in lederhosen doing...

[claps legs]

...and that was hilarious.

Kathleen Irwin: I had my mam on the table with a stein in her hand in that pub and she was sick, when we got home.

[laughter]

Kathleen Irwin:...Geoffrey Morris' Dance Centre! I just remembered. On Ramsden Square. It's a bank or solicitors or something now. And Geoffrey Morris was a dance teacher wasn't he. And I used to go to disco dance classes. I did a couple of ballroom and salsa, but I like disco dance. And I got me three medals, my bronze silver and gold with a little picture of John Travolta on which I still have. And that was the place to be was Geoffrey Morris. Absolutely...

Sarah Miller: ...Yeah everybody went to Geoffrey Morris...

Kathleen Irwin: ...Disco dancing lessons in the days of Saturday Night Fever and Grease...

[traffic noise]

Charlie MacKeith RD: This is Home Images. And, you know, it's an art gallery and it does framing and things, but they've got a real emphasis on local artists.

..worth talking to ...

[shop door entry bell]

Steve Cook: So there used to be like a meeting spot for people, they used to meet under the statues in Barrow and Dukes Street and you got Ramsden Square. So they'd say, I'll meet you under Ramsden. So they'd just meet there a certain time rather than going to Costa for a coffee or anything like that. And they'd just chat about the world. They could just stand in the middle of the road and one guy would buy a newspaper and read it out to all the other people. Or the kids would just play there...there was a guy telling the story to the old chap, there's a granddaughter and nana there, the little girl looking at the boys across the road there, people reading newspapers to each other. So it was like a community, Duke Street.

[outdoors - seagulls]

Charlie MacKeith RD: This was conceived as a Grand Square. I mean, an extraordinary space paved or hard-surfaced, maybe within gravel or whatever, from edge to edge. I mean, a huge space for a community of by then that may have been getting up to thirty, forty thousand people. Really bizarre. I mean, this is a decent-sized city square...

[indoors ambience]

Steve Cook: You know, two old dears going into the hat shop across there, the ironmongers where they used to put bags of coal and shovels outside and people to pick them up and then couldn't do that nowadays. It'd be gone, be in the back of the car, you know, the policemen walking around watching the two little lads, looking dodgy there, the old couple courting couple, the little flower girl, up there, the guy carrying the washing for the lady. All sorts of things that were there that you don't see now.

[outdoors ambience]

Charlie MacKeith RD: Architecture is no more than the setting for the activities that go on within it and outside it. That doesn't mean that it's immaterial, it has to inform those settings. But thinking of the street as a piece of architecture and as a room, we can't go out and stand in that street unless by some accident like Covid or a fire somewhere in the street is closed, or a performance event.

Leslie Trotter:...We're on the corner Buccleuch (silent ch) Street. Now, not Buccleuch (hard ch) Street as the people pronounce it from out of town. No, this was always the midland...

Sarah Miller: ...I remember my A-level art teacher always saying, when you go into town, look up. When you go down any, well any part of Barrow but even down Duke Street, look up and you can see so many beautiful bits of stonework and attic rooms with beautiful window frames, and there's so many different ones. And then you can see the odd one that's been bombed out because it looks like 1970s structure stuck in the middle of these lovely Victorian, you know, with lovely little patterns in the brickwork….

Leslie Trotter: ...Yeah this was always a bank, I don't know what it is now. I think it was Barclays. Barclays Bank Chambers...

Charlie MacKeith RD: This side of the street, the west side is listed. The side that Barclays Bank is on, the east, this is the only listed building. The proportions are speaking to me. I'm enjoying it. You could say really simply in architectural historian terms. It's an Italianate renaissance palazzo model for a bank. It's in a lovely soft yellow York stone. But there's something really quite witty in it. There is nothing symmetrical about this building. Someone has had real pleasure. So if you look at the top level, we get these lovely carved in images or symbols. I don't know what they are, I need to look at them. They could be flowers. They probably come from an ornament pattern book. But on the left-hand side, we've got on a pilaster that's wide enough to take four of them. The next one along has three, the next one has three, three, two and a half, two, two, and then again to three. And then that offset irregular pattern comes down to a blank sandstone wall below it, which is directly above what would have been the door to number 96, that's then been blocked in to put in the night drop when the whole... so maybe there were offices and what would be traditionally called 'chambers' above it. But someone has had extraordinary fun doing this. I mean, it's a real drawing board game.

Leslie Trotter: That's gone but next to that there was Halfords where I bought one of my first bicycles from and they've moved into Dalton Road. Freddie Grub. It was twenty-seven pound and seventy-six pence. Fifty shilling a week.

[birdsong]

Sarah Miller:...I remember my mum telling me when they got bombed out walking up Duke Street with a budgie in the cage, because although they come out of the shelters and gone back to the house, the windows were blown out and everything. And the house was a mess. But there's still, the budgie was still alive. So she had to walk up Duke Street in a nightdress carrying a budgie in a cage to go to their auntie's for the night...

Leslie Trotter: Boss Hair Beauty that was always Middletons hairdressers. Had my first DA cut there - my father went spare. Came back with a DA, that was a thing in the 1950s won't it.

[indoors ambience some background music]

Dave Turner: Yeah we're proper on fire at the moment at TNT Records. We have bands upstairs rehearsing every night of the week, two or three bands most nights. Drum lessons for all ages, you know, guitar lessons. We like to keep it quite local. We opened in December 2018 and the first year of business, we actually gained a big award of 'Record Shop of the Year'. The local music scene's thriving. You know, there's just not really many places to play at the moment. And it's got a lot of history with the street, the street, like it's a pleasure to come to work to Duke Street every single day. The sun's shining, you know, when it does heh-heh in Barrow. It's a great location, nice open road, main road coming in, main bus route. When we opened the shop we thought the bus stop out the front, bit of, bit in the way, but it really wasn't. It's a good thing, to be honest with you. And we love being on Duke Street. We're going to stay on Duke Street as well. You know, it's a shame to see empty shops in any street in Barrow. So obviously, lockdown hasn't helped that at all. Every lockdown we had less shops reopened. And we're lucky that the online side of things really, really kicked off for us. And we also now ship out all over the world. You know, we're getting hundreds and hundreds of orders per week. Every building around here on Duke Street is different. Every single building and Dandy's over the road, they've been here 30, 40 years plus. It's you know, they're thriving. They're what you look at that we want to be looking at and just opening up every single day. Just keep moving. Keep moving, you know, go with the times. You know, we've got quite a few that practice upstairs with us and you can go on all three floors some nights. And hear a totally different, different vibe with music. And it's absolutely great.

[outdoors and traffic]

Leslie Trotter: This space here, where there’s boards, that's had quite a variety of businesses on it going back to 1900, it was Ashurst's Garden Centre that had flowers and wreaths and that sort of thing. And then Trustees Bank took it over. Then it became the Careers Office, then the United Friendly insurance, and then the council put this nice little tribute to the Barrow Shipyard on it. Don't ask me when because I can't remember. It must have been a bit back because they've gone rusty haven't they. I'm no art connoisseur but, yeah, I suppose for a tourist it's more interesting to somebody from out of town. I think most locals my age know how it all started and are worried where it's going to finish.

Charlie MacKeith RD: And the garden here we're standing by The Book and to be honest, I've never seen anyone sitting in there. I don't know how I would want to sit in it. When you see the original carved panels that are in the town hall that these are based on. They are quite breathtaking pieces of post-war industrial carving. What it could have done is to link this street with the bomb damage rebuilt, post-war social housing behind. And as a linker and a stitcher. And it actually raises another lovely thing that I'm excited by with the Barrow condition, which is when is a back a front and when is a front a back? So that's now named Slater Street. But it was actually called Back Duke Street and Clifford Street was also named Back Duke Street. So that when you lay out a grid as a plan and you don't, as a non-designer and you're not looking at what happens at each corner, what happens at each point, you're left with this sort of bizarre uniformity.

[music carnival sounds and percussion]

Sarah Miller:...The carnival used to start often at the top of Duke Street, and it'd sort of line up kind of at the start, and then they'd come down and round Ramsden Square Roundabout and then onto Duke Street. The dancing girls were all in a little group bunched together, and then they'd be holding hands, but then they'd spread out and they'd take over the whole street. And then when it stopped, the floats would stop and there'd be a band playing. But then the dancing girls used to dance bits of their dance routine. The nanas would have the deck chairs out and everything and camping stools and the blankets. And they'd all watch people as they came past. And so the dances used to stop and the floats used to stop and throw, like squirt people with water pistols and throw sweets out to the kids, and things and lollipops. It was fantastic, you know, walking down Duke Street. You start off on that big wide street and it feels like, yeah, the whole world watching you, especially when you have a kid or, you know, a young mom who's a teenager, who's never done anything creative before. It was brilliant...

Kathleen Irwin:...My mom got abducted by a caveman and carried up Duke Street. You stood there with your little bag of pennies and your big bag of two pences to throw at the floats and hopefully not put somebody's eye out. Pub and the different factories would get together and do a big float. And they put a lot of effort into it, I bet a lot of toilet roll used that day and paper flowers but it worked...

Sarah Miller:...Throw a lot of Scott’s Toilet roll.

Sarah Miller: People used to work on the floats for ages making toilet roll - mams used to make toilet roll flowers to stick on the sides. And the carnival queen always had a float made of toilet roll roses, pink and white usually. And there'd be her sat on a sort of throne with her little ladies in waiting on the side and there'd be the retiring queen on a smaller truck usually.

Sarah Miller: It was North Lonsdale Hospital so one of the earliest ones I remember, there'd be nurses, but they were blokes dressed in nurse costumes. Probably not very PC now. But blokes dressed in nurse costumes, pushing a hospital bed would be in the parade because it was all Furness General Hospital and raising money for the extras at the hospital, equipment even, for the NHS.

Kathleen Irwin: The Barracudas, a carnival band that would accept anybody, whether you could just rattle tambourine, shake a shaker, bash a cowbell, but then equally you could be taught to play an instrument, particularly Barrow Carnival was a good one because we used to get up early, get down to the town hall, get dressed up, get our instruments out. And everybody was really excitable and...

Sarah Miller:...Welfare State.... at one of their shows they had a song called Lena’s Liners and I always remember her dancing and she was wearing a boat hat and she had a flag and she must have been in her 70s. And the Barracudas changed her life. You know, she'd met him through a talking project with Age Concern that Pete was doing things with finding stories from all the residents. And she was in the barracudas shaking her shaker sometimes. Sometimes she'd have a big costume on and, you know, she'd be there with, you know, kids of three and four who were all, you know, wearing, dressed as fish, trying to control them, but, you know, kind of them shimmying in and out like in a strange out of control school of fish going through town. You know, one year it was, there were people dressed as the costumes were cranes when Barrow had lots of cranes, obviously. And when the shipyard had fourteen and a half thousand people coming out on to the other end of Duke Street.

[outdoors and traffic]

Dave Turner: We're standing in front of Mellens, now the solicitors conveyers, whatever. This was Becks the Butchers. They sold the best pies in Barrow. The shipyard lads would rush over the bridge and they'd be queueing here at lunchtime for Beck's pies. It was a nightmare. You always avoided Michaelsson Bridge at five past 12. If you were a pedestrian, you'd get trampled to death. If you were a bicycle, you'd get run over. No, you just kept out away. No, it was a no go area. Jefferson's took over the next two shops, which I can't remember what they were. That’s Jefferson’s now, which originally it was the Hartington. Yeah, the Hartington that was built in 1864. There's a pub, as you can see, they've extended next door, took all these buildings down. It was a pub come bar and apartment. But this is now, that's Jefferson's group, as you can see. But originally it was The Elephant, which is like a wine bar. Prior to that, it was called The Wheelbarrow, which is another pub next door to that. This one, it used to be a wet fish shop, Jean's wet fish shop.

Far as I can remember it used to be the only one in Barrow. He had a roaring trade. Yeah, wet fish shop. You know, not fish and chips. The lads that had been down the channel fishing or out off Roa Island would bring them there, sell them to Jean's and they'd be on the slab two hours later. You know really nice fresh fish. We’re next to Wilkos now, on the left hand side of Wilkos. Going right back it was Pass’s. A lot of people remember Pass’s, big musical store, fancy goods, this that and the other. In the 1960s, you'd go downstairs, put a record on, listen to it and decide if you wanted to buy it. Well, if you're like me, a bit sneaky, you took your tape recorder recorded it and you said you didn't want it. You'd like a big department store. Yeah. Oh, that's right, and then Dandy's Furniture Store took it over. They were further down on the opposite side. They took that over. They moved out in 1999 and it became Yate’s. In the later years it became, Yate's Wine Lodge. And then it was... part of the staircase, or something, it was structurally unsound. And as you can see now it's a car park for the Hartington...

[birdsong]

Kathleen Irwin:...The Hartington and then they opened Yate’s, which used to have some live music, but usually just sort of, you know, disco type music. But because they had cheap drinks, it was absolutely heaving. And you stuck to the floor when you tried to go up to the bathrooms. And then the bathroom was usually about half an inch full of water because they couldn't keep on top of the amount of people they'd let through the doors. Yeah, Hartington was always really busy and that was just more of a, that would be busy between about eight and 10, 11. And then they'd move off down, Cornwallis Street after that to try and get in before you were charged, because you could get in if you went in before 11 you didn't have to pay. But then after that, you had to pay...

[outdoors and traffic]

Dave Turner: ...And next door the Wilkos that used to be the Palace Cinema. Saw my first Superman film when I was about 12. But as you got a bit older in your mid-teens, the Palace was a must if you had a girlfriend because it had double seats on the back row, you could have a little sneaky cuddle up there...

Susan Benson: So the public hall was originally part of the market, and it had the Town Hall, the original town hall on top before they built the present town hall. And then it became the Public Hall. Yes. And that's where people would go and meet their future husbands and wives dancing, my parents in law met there I think.

[night club: music and cheering]

Singer with On the Loose Band (man): ... I want to see you enjoying yourselves...

Dave Turner:...Oh, Mike’ll tell you all about nightclubs and...yeah. He played in Phil ...he played for Phil Collins...

Mike Kidson: Barrow Public Hall it's gone now, sadly. But we used to play there quite a lot as kids in bands. You know, I was only probably 16 the first time I started, so that would be '65. And Richard Kay, the local agent, always made sure that his local bands, you know, including us which included everybody, actually, we always got a chance to play with one of the big names that were there. And I remember playing with Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers at the time. A mate of mine, Pete Kassell, played with The Kinks. The Who played there, and I was fortunate enough to work for them in the 80s. And Pete Townsend remembered Barrow said, I would never go there again. He said at throwing out time when the pubs started pouring into the hall, they all started throwing bottles and coins at him. So they weren't happy with that. The New Revellers would be the resident band, and they would play for I don't know what time they started, but they'd finish by about 10. And then the pop bands would go on after that, local bands. I'm only guessing, but I think the Public would hold about 800 to a thousand, maybe, because there was no seats obviously, everybody was dancing. So it's hard to tell but the Rink on The Strand held 3,000, which it was a sad loss for Barrow when that went really ‘cos that could have been a venue for bringing bigger acts in. I remember playing upstairs at the Criterion Hotel and you played the drums were set up wi’ back to the window. You had your back to the window so people could actually see there was somebody in there and hear the noise and hopefully come in.

And then there was the Imperial Ballroom, which was a fabulous little place to play. And I remember seeing Patents Pending in there. It was one of the big Barrow bands at the time, and they just started and I couldn't believe it, they had congas and percussion, and it just sounded like Santana. In fact, they were doing Santana at the time it sounded great. In fact, just over the bridge on the corner of the bridge, it was the Burlington Hotel where everyone used to rehearse. And then you would do a gig in the Burlington and carry your gear over to The Imp or The Cri, by hand, didn't have much in those days and played there. And it was yeah, it was a wild old place. Then Rick Lucas ended up buying all the buildings along there and starting all of his club empire. And it carried on from there. I mean, it was crazy in those days, I believe. I mean I wasn't around to see a lot of it, but I did come home occasionally and think, oh, my goodness, you know, freezing cold and they're just there in little tops and shorts and like, you know, how do they do it?

Sarah Miller: ...As we got older, it was the clubs, really the, like we'd go to what we call 'The Strip' and Scorpio One on a Friday night, used to play all the kind of alternative music in the 80s. So we'd go over to what was the Grain and Grape then, and there'd be the Cellar. We'd go down to the Cellar Bar. It was a really tiny space, but they had loads of bands on, alternative bands so we'd go there and then at about 10 o'clock half past 10 we'd head over to queue to get into Scorpio One.

Kathleen Irwin: ...You wouldn't think of it to look at The Strip now because it just looks completely derelict. But on a Friday or Saturday night, you had to queue to get in every bar and there was a proper like 10- or 15-minute wait.

Sarah Miller: ...And it was quite a mixed bag because they'd be kind of really alternative people, but really mainstream people on The Strip back then because it was like the alternative was in the mainstream with bands like The Cure and things happening. But there were also people who were listening to mainstream pop music. So we'd all be kind of in the same space. And you'd kind of move along from one end of the street to the other usually. And there was quite a few. And there was, they changed names, but there'd be like Martini's…

... Highlander…

... and then onto...

Kathleen Irwin: ...O'Sullivan's, Kavannahs...

Kathleen Irwin:…..The Cri, Circus Circus...

Sarah Miller: ...It used to be Allsorts before that, didn't it. They painted all white and have ladies legs underneath the bar for a while and it was... They tried to make it classy. That used to be what was the Grain and Grape thinking they thought they'd make it modern like a London type club and it had all these plastic legs of ladies and fishnet tights, (laughing) holding the bar up. Yeah, had people, they'd have, like, a little dance floor at the back. They made a documentary and it became 'The Gaza Strip'. And they tried to make out it was, you know, like The Bigg Market at Newcastle and that there was all this violence and stuff. And there was a bit of fighting. I'm not going to say that drunk people... don't fight... but...

Kathleen Irwin: ...but it was like anywhere else. People have a few too many. There's always the odd character that's called somebody else's pint a half and you know, a few slaps and fisticuffs started and it's usually soon sorted it out...

Mike Kidson: ...the reason The Strip was there though was because the police station was opposite and the police wanted to be able to police everybody...

...Yeah, it was a bonus for the police. Any, shall we say, won't' use the word trouble, exuberance, they could literally grab their ear and drag them across to the police station. You don't need the Black Maria they could just walk them across the car park...

Jack Webster:...So with the Gaza Strip, I think this could be developed into restaurants and cafes. Perhaps have flats above to make use of that upper-level space. And I think you could, because we are a seaside town, effectively, you could turn those places into arcades, amusement arcades, and try and make it more into an attraction for people outside as well...

[Outdoors]

Charlie MacKeith RD: The Town Hall, I mean, amazing. I mean, just extraordinary. There's a lot of, you know if we're talking about the statues being turned around. The great architects who were working here and the town architects, although they were Lancaster based, Paley and Austin, thought they got the Town Hall in the bag and six local architects supposedly asked the town to go for a competition. And through the competition, it was handed to an Irish practice. That did Chester Town Hall as well. And the judge is Alfred Waterhouse, the architect of Manchester Town Hall, probably one of the greatest architects we've had. And people might just see in his work a Victorian architect. Oh, no. He really knew how to blend. That the spaces between heaven, earth and, I mean all the kind of great architecture was going on in them. I'm not saying necessarily is here, but this is a kind of fabulous gesture that if you were in a small, decent sized Belgian Square, you turn a corner into a large market square. That would be at the end of it and it would be fantastic. Here, it's just kind of shoehorned into a space in 1882 with the end of a street that had previously had a beautiful market behind at one side and ended in this termination of little farms. And then along comes this beast and it’s back to the tomb, the memorial, like... anything around it...it's not good enough for it. Let's tidy it up. And the town halls got, I think four fronts, four backs never really know your way around it, but I will never forget Parkinson's law. One of Parkinson's laws, the one that is never talked about, is his law of architecture and that great institutions will destroy themselves at the point of memorializing themselves in architecture. British Empire with the Raj with Lutyens. And it just goes through this catalogue of all these projects. And I started noticing once that's locked in your mind. You've got AT&T in America. They build the disgusting Chippendale tower by Philip Johnson. It is de-monopolised within years of that happening. And in a way, one might say the Town Hall is just the climax of that kind of what Barrow was, just as the world takes on the iron ...and the lovely gag for me is the other end is the 1922 or 1915. 1922 Carnegie Library endowed by Carnegie. Carnegie puts in writing that actually he was embarrassed about what he stole when he came to Barrow, to have a look at the iron... steelworks in the 1870s or the 1860s. He came, he saw, he thought I could do this better than the state. He was then able to reendow most of the Western world with libraries and this is lovely at the opposite end of this sort of aspiration that this cornucopia was going to go on forever ...and then it's, not bailed out, but there's a kind of charity gesture at the other end from the person who’d learned really how to take that on rather than concentrate on this mad kind of late medieval representation of oneself. It is a space that just needs to be enjoyed as a party space, just this fabulous place to vent, hold forth for meetings and opinions and party.

Dave Turner: You see the wall over there with the pebbles in? That goes back 400 years. Barrow was just a small hamlet in the parish of Dalton, and it all came under the auspices of the Furness Abbey. But the farm dates back to then so it's at least 400 years old. People pass it every day don't realise it was here. That's part of the farm buildings there. There... a dry sandstone stone wall there... and there's one right down at the bottom on the car park but sadly it's fell into disrepair. It's only about that high now, well it's just what they found I suppose in those days. Wouldn't be mortar, would it, it'd be... whatever they built Furness Abbey with. The Albion's been here from day one I think. I think that was the first thing they built. Pub and a church. In that order.

[piano playing - song]

[song]

“There sure is full employment on Trident submarines. Working in the shipyard, my belly's full of beans. Got a crane inside that yard, much bigger than Big Ben, big for lifting submarines in a town where men are men. A town where men are men? Well, Larry, we're here in this beautiful..."

People ask me where I come from and I say I'm from Barrow-in-Furness.

[piano]

Steve Cook: When I say Barrow-in-Furness, I always think of the people coming out of Vickers, because it's been a long-standing event, really, everybody coming across the bridge. They used to be sixteen thousand people working in the yard at one time. And that all come out at the same time. And all try and get across the bridge, which is tremendous. If you look at that, it's just the people all standing there posing for a photograph. Nobody smiled in those days. In fact, probably a lot of them don't smile coming out of there now anyway, to be honest but erm, you've got the town hall clock on the left-hand side still beaming down over it. You got Newland Street, which was bombed in the Second World War, where Craven House is now. You've got the Majestic that's still there. But that's how it used to be. You just used to go nowhere near Michaelsson Road Bridge when Vickers were coming out. And if you were learning to drive, sometimes the driving instructors would take you just as Vickers were coming out to see how good you were. And if you survived that, you could do anything. You can do the M5, you can do the M1, whatever - if you could get through that, you're okay.

[piano keeps playing]

Sarah Miller: I mean, I remember standing at the other...roundabout just before the high-level bridge on Duke Street, when my granddad was still working the shipyard, he was one of the last shipwrights there, and he came back out of retirement to build the Invincible, which was ..stand and wait for him coming out of work. And I don't know how I was allowed to, I was only about seven or eight. And I'd stand on that side of the bridge and there'd be about fourteen thousand people come out and they'd all be running towards you. And they'd be like to be like the old corp blue and cream buses. And there'd be like, mainly blokes on bikes, but blokes running, and they'd be carrying the butty boxes under their arms and running like crazy. And it just looked like they'd come out, the buzzer would go off and three gates would come out and they all trek over the bridge. But it just, it was like some kind of 1920s silent movie, going home for their tea when you still got a pay packet and everybody had fish and chips.

[seagulls]

Sarah Miller: ...on a Friday because they'd got a pay packet, you know, brown envelope with money in. It was a rush hour. Barrow had to rush hour and it came over the high-level bridge and on to Duke Street and some fork off down Greengate Street. Everybody was wanting to get home, they wanted to get home for the tea. They'd been working. And usually what would happen is they'd sort of start finishing the job, making sure that they were ready so they'd all be standing at the gates, but they couldn't leave. The gates weren't allowed to open until the buzzers went and you'd hear, the big buzzers from Barrow, you could hear on the other side of town almost. And then they'd open the three gates and everybody had set off and they were all trying to beat each other. It was moving as like this army of blokes in overalls.

[piano ends]

Sarah Miller: The Civic Hall, when I was younger, and my mum worked there then, in the cafeteria and then it became The Forum and then it became Forum 28 in the late 1980s, because when the Forum 28 reopened, it opened as an arts centre. Now, its remit is as an entertainment centre, because the arts development in this town is sadly gone. So you would get amazing stuff that was subsidised. Now things have to sell and things sell. I mean, in the 1970s, the wrestling sold. I loved the wrestling. They used to have Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks. I met both of them. And all the amateur dramatic societies obviously who I've not been involved with but, you know, they all did big musicals. They would what they'd do is try and recreate musicals they'd seen in London in... a smaller space for people who couldn't get to London. And yes, they were only amateur actors, but, and amateur singers, but they were really good, a lot of them. And it obviously, there'd be a pantomime at Christmas. I'm sure there still is a pantomime, but the pantomimes weren't bought in pantomimes. They were often local pantomimes which were made and had a celebrity guest and local actors and amateurs. And yeah, I remember going to the pantomimes and they were fantastic.

[birdsong]

Kathleen Irwin: ...and my other favourite memories of The Forum is I got a kiss of both cheeks off Billy Ocean...

...Town Hall Centenary...

[fireworks - crowd - sounds of a parade - kazoos]

..we were dressed as chimney sweeps on the back of a float with a big mechanical elephant...

Sarah Miller:...what were we doing?...

...cleaning at the back of the elephant ... Queen Victoria's backside... But I'm quite a big girl. I was a smaller girl then, but I was still the best-fed chimney sweep in the whole of the world. I think...

[bells chiming]

Kathleen Irwin: ... stood outside the Forum singing to the stars and singing to the sea...that was a rather nice evening...

Sarah Miller yes, whilst people abseiled down the Town Hall and it was a magical moment...

[brass band plays syncopated percussion and cowbell festive parade continues]

...I'm not often affected, by... I mean, I love shows and I love theatre. But it was a moment where you saw Barrow. People were crying. People were literally crying. And there was hundreds of people. They weren't just the kind of people who go and see theatre and art people. It was people from the town who'd come out and... you know, all the smoke bombs going off from the top of the Town Hall, Queen Victoria's knickers hoisted as a flag. And then the choir singing and everybody was just like...

Kathleen Irwin: ...yeah it is great for all different communities that had been involved because Welfare State had come to town and introduced us to people who we didn't realise you could actually make a living out of doing that sort of thing. We were introduced to stuff that we never knew existed, basically. Lots of really interesting musicians and performers and makers and there was just stuff happening everywhere which culminated in this really wonderful celebration down the length of Duke Street behind the Town Hall. Yeah, I'd say people from all walks of the community got involved on a huge scale, didn't they?

..it really was a big, big Barrow bash, basically.

[band music and percussion continues to end - fireworks wooshing- fades]


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