Lancashire nostalgia in 1978: North End win promotion; prison tipplers; and Flycatcher Joe

Here's a look at some of the stories that were making the headlines back in 1978:

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 12:31 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th May 2021, 12:32 pm
Preston North End manager Nobby Stiles (far right) celebrates promotion in The Orchard restaurant
Preston North End manager Nobby Stiles (far right) celebrates promotion in The Orchard restaurant

Preston North End are toast of the town

Jubilant Preston is to make its soccer heroes the toast of the town.

As a wave of euphoria swept the town at the news of North End’s promotion to Division Two plans were announced for a massive civic reception.

Kirkham Open Prison governor Mr Jack Beaumont

And a plea has gone out for the public to give the players and officials an end-of-season tribute in a planned town centre “thank you”.

Preston’s Mayor, Coun Joe Hood, a lifelong Preston fan, has arranged the reception and the players and officials will appear on the balcony of the Harris Art Gallery in front of the Flag Market.

Young fans immediately began celebrating North End’s success and manager Nobby Stiles said that for him gaining promotion was “even better than being in the England team which won the World Cup in 1966.”

He added: “I would like to thanks all our supporters who have been terrific this year.”

One of the many odd characters to roam the streets in Lancashire

Coun Hood said that the club’s achievement was the “icing on the cake” for him as far as his year in office was concerned.

He hopes that the public will respond by giving an end-of-season salute.

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Look back at a selection of pictures from 1978 here

It’s ‘time gentleman please’ call to cheeky prison tipplers

Police are stepping up security checks in a town’s off-licences in a determined bid to stamp out bedtime boozing sessions at the nearby prison.

Inmates at Kirkham Open Prison have been holding night time drink sprees and a shop assistant in the town has told how a group of men - thought to be prisoners - bought whisky, sherry, beer and cigarettes from her.

Off-licences throughout the town have been advised by police to immediately contact officers if large quantities of drink are ordered.

The police believe that prisoners may be “going over the wire” at around dusk and returning to the open camp with supplies before the last roll call.

One shop assistant in a town centre off-licence told of how a group of men went in one Sunday night to buy drinks.

“There were quite a few of them and they all bought something,” she said.

“In all, I would say they bought about seven bottles of whisky, five bottles of sherry, a few cans of beer and some cigarettes.

“A few minutes later the police came in and told me who they were. I thought the men looked a bit unusual but I had not realised they were prisoners.”

Prison governor Mr Jack Beaumont said the only drinking incident he knew about was about three months ago.

Remembering the long ago characters of Lancashire...

Nearly every town or city has its share of peculiar well-known characters.

Harmless individuals generally, they stand out from the rest of society because of their unusual conduct, dress or occupation, to add a touch of colour to everyday life.

Many of the North West’s better-known unusual personalities have faded away.

Names like Preston’s Flycatcher Joe, Blackpool’s Sep Smith, Chorley’s Dodd Gaskell and Lancaster’s Ned Pennington have all left their mark in local folklore.

Flycatcher Joe was one of Preston’s strangest characters. He was an itinerant hawker who wandered through the streets selling his home-made fly papers at two for a penny.

At about the same period there was Firewood Jack, a peg-leg hawker who was noted for being a town jester in his public baitings of officials of law and order. Crowds used to listen to his crude but original sarcasm directed against police officers.

A woman who was shrouded in mystery was the Veiled Lady of Preston. She was said to have an excellent singing voice and to have entertained customers in many of the town’s public houses. A heavy veil hid her identity and it was rumoured that she was a fallen opera star.

Odd characters they may have been but their approach to life had a refreshing frankness which will make them long remembered.