Lib Dem Leadership Hustings – Manchester event – Swinson shaded it for me

I attended the Lib Dem Leadership hustings event held in Manchester yesterday evening to help me decide whether to back Jo Swinson or Ed Davey. I came away more impressed with Davey than I expected to be but Swinson shaded it for me because of her engaging and down to earth way of connecting with her audience.

Those who know me well will realise that I had wanted Layla Moran to stand for Lib Dem Leader but probably for all the right reasons she decided not to. I’m guessing that she wants to get more experience under her belt before taking such a step.

I thought Davey was very good on the issues of climate change and the economics of switching from fossil fuels to renewable ones but Swinson was better for me across the whole range of questioning she came under at the event. And that range of questioning covered saving the NHS, stopping Brexit, investing in rail transportation in the north, equalities, education, climate change and other issues too.

I do however subscribe to Jonathan Calder’s view that this contest is between two Steel’s with no Pardoe. And for those not well up on Liberal history, when David Steel became Liberal leader his opponent was John Pardoe who was seen as being a more radical alternative for leader. It’s that more radical approach that I want to see from both the present Lib Dem leadership candidates. I don’t do Centrist moderation, it’s too comfortable – be more Pardoe please and challenge us all, whether we be Lib Dem members and supporters or not, to back a more radical and socially progressive Liberal movement.

Oh and by the way whilst backing Swinson, I will be content with either winning the contest so long as they embark on a radical agenda of course…….

Maghull – 2020 will be 100 years since the Town’s most famous resident brought his ‘O’ Gauge trains to the market

I still have to pinch myself when I think that world famous toy manufacturer/inventor Frank Hornby lived for most of his adult life in Maghull on Merseyside, but live in this dormitory suburb of Liverpool he certainly did at two houses – The Hollies on Station Road and Quarry Brook off Hall Lane. Both houses still stand and whilst The Hollies is very much still a private residence (with the first ever English Heritage Blue Plaque on it outside of London) Quarry Brook is now the 6th Form Block of Maricourt High School.

Michael Portillo with Frank Hornby Trust Chairman Les French as seen on TV.

So having rehearsed that bit of local history what about the upcoming anniversary? Hornby’s most famous products are Dinky Toys, Meccano and Hornby Trains. It’s the latter we looking at now as his first ‘O’ gauge trains appeared in 1920, so 2020 is a big year particularly for those who collect them. And it’s a worldwide hobby too as the transmission of Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys TV programme has demonstrated. I’m talking about the one that was filmed in Maghull and related the story of how model railways became so popular as a consequence of people riding on real railways. As that TV programme gets shown around the world the Maghull based charity the Frank Hornby Trust gets queries quite literally from across the world. Only recently I had an email (I’m one of its Trustees) from Australia asking me what the opening times and days are for Maghull’s Meadows Leisure Center so the enquirer could see the Frank Hornby Heritage Centre displays within it on a visit from Down Under.

100 years of Hornby ‘O’ Gauge

And even more recently I had the pleasure of meeting an elderly lady called Noel from Ashton-In-Makerfield who called at the Heritage Center to donate some items of Hornby ‘O’ gauge tinplate which had belonged to her now deceased husband who wanted the items well looked after. The items date from the 1930’s and are in lovely condition, so of course we were delighted to accept them into our collection. The engine and carriage below are from that donation:-

I understand that members of the Hornby Collectors Association are in the process of organising a 100 years celebration event next year that it will likely be held on Merseyside, so once details are finalised I’ll return to this matter with more information.

Oh and by the way our small Hornby Heritage collection in Meadows Leisure Center is a little short of good condition Dinky Toys if there are any potential donors out there?

Crosby – What will become of that lovely old library

The now closed former College Road Library in Crosby is of course a Carnegie Library and it’s a building of some merit. So sad to see it stranding there empty. Out of the shot is a Sefton Council ‘To Let’ sign.

It’s not so long ago (2012) that a fierce community-based campaign was run to save the library from closure – I covered the campaign on this blog site – see link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2012/11/22/save-our-libraries-a-look-at-college-road-library-in-crosby-sign-our-e-petition-at-www-seftonsays-co-uk/

I really do hope that a useful purpose can be found for this listed building, a long slow decline with minimum maintenance would be a terrible end.

Maghull – My old school is changing fast

I was at Maghull High, previous names Ormonde Drive Secondary Modern & Ormonde High, from 1969 to 1975 and recall the multi-storey block which you can just about see in the background (almost covered by the tree) of the shot being built. That was in the days when disability was hardly a consideration – the block was built with no lift!

I also recall the old Woodend Primary School (which was on the same site) and which I attended for my last two terms of junior school (I’d moved from Rochdale) before going to the high school across the playing field. Sadly, Woodend Primary School closed some years back despite huge efforts by campaigners, with my old friend Andrew Blackburn being just one of them. Indeed, I recall us delivering leaflets in the locality trying to persuade parents to send their youngsters to the ‘hidden’ school. By hidden I mean that it could not be seen from any road as it was tucked away behind houses on Ormonde Drive and Liverpool Road South and its secluded location may well have contributed to its demise. But then in an odd twist it rose from the ashes to become the 6th Form block of Maghull High.

Teachers? I recall the head of Woodend a Mr Hadaway and a teacher Mrs Hughes. From Maghull High I recall teachers Jack Petty (what a lovely man), Ken Livesey, Annabella Cowel, Ray (Rog) Jeffreys, Miss Rimmer, Mr Grindrod (red faced and nearly always shouting I recall)…

Kids I recall? Just one from Woodend and I only recall his nick-name ‘Trolley’ – I wonder who he is? At Maghull High I recall many fellow pupils – Tony (Tad) Jarrett – died @1990, Pete Roberts, Jenny Webb, Russell (Fod) Foderingham, Andrew Beattie – died 1999, Phil Keeling (now Watterson), Keith Connor, Mike Ashley, David Johnstone, Gill Bryers, Alan Latham, Paul Gardner…………. and many others.

And all these memories came flooding back as a consequence of my stopping on a cycle ride along the Cheshire Lines Path/Trans Pennine Trail to photo my old school being rebuilt.

Lydiate and its Great War 1914 – 1918 – A lovely remembrance booklet

I think I mentioned a while back that Lydiate Parish Council had put some money towards this booklet which was produced to look at the impact of WW1 on the farming village of Lydiate, and how children today are remembering the young men from their community who gave their lives.

Local author and historian Pam Russell was the guiding light together with Kath Coyle – WW1 Lydiate project coordinator.

24 young Lydiate men died while serving in WW1

24 young men from Lydiate (or with strong links to it) died while serving in WW1 and the booklet celebrates the life of each one with individual write-ups. I was interested to have confirmed something which another well known local historian (Bruce Hubbard) had told me some time ago i.e. that one of Lydiate’s fallen is not on either war memorial in the community – Herbert Finch who was killed on 19th October 1917. It seems he lived near the Lydiate/Maghull boundary so may have unfortunately been overlooked by both villages. He is however commemorated at Tyne Cot memorial in Belgium. Wouldn’t it be fitting for his name to added now to either the memorial at Our Lady’s Catholic Church or the one at St. Thomas’ CofE Church?

There’s also a brief history of Lydiate through the ages and of Lydiate life in 1914 within the booklet.

As well as the booklet there’s a website about the project at ww1lydiate.org.uk which you can access via this link:-

madcos.org.uk/project/ww1-lydiate/

I think many primary school children from Lydiate’s 3 schools may have a copy of the booklet and you just might be lucky in tracking a copy down if you call in at Lydiate Village Center on Lambshear Lane.

A great tribute to the fallen, congratulations to all involved.

Sefton High Schools – DfE reveal schools that are failing to meet government performance standards at GCSE

The Liverpool Echo has the article on its web site – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/merseyside-schools-were-named-amongst-15727697

I’ll start this posting by saying that I’ve never been particularly enamored of school league tables as they are only one aspect of what we all hope schools are trying to achieve with our young people. However, they’re a reality no matter how blunt an instrument they are and of course, many parents will use such performance standards at GCSE to decide which school to send their youngsters to.

Schools on lists such as these will surely be under pressure to improve their results and performance, indeed some could be dealt very heavy blows by the stats.

There are 3 Sefton High Schools on the list of schools across Merseyside/Liverpool City Region. And on a second list (within the Echo article) of Merseyside schools that are coasting, there are a further 3 although two of them duplicate schools on the former list.