Adlington - my
Author - Bill Hart,
ADLINGTON CARNIVAL QUEEN QUITS: SHOCK!
Please forgive an indulgence, but this headline threw me into a week of uncontrollable laughter. It is a village newspaper's lifeblood. It is
wonderful and it is unmistakably British.
The trouble with living in a small village is well----that they are small.
Well, Adlington's not that small, but, say if this hamlet had an American
equivalent, they would call it a city.
That's the trouble between them and us. They think big. Even when we think we are thinking big the Americans come up with something bigger. For
instance I read a newspaper article explaining why American Car Sales Executives wont speak to their British colleagues working in the same
company selling the same products, because over here we call ourselves Car Salesmen. It's like finding something smelly has attached itself to your
new shoes. His brother sitting on the other side of the pond would blow the Chief Executive of ICI away. He would be The President of Numbing Narcotics
And so the British way is to understate everything. Imagine if an English
guy named McDonald had invented the hamburger. I'm sure he would have called it the Small Mac.
So it is with our local town and village weekly newspapers. I'm agog with wonder at how so little is said in so many printed words. I'm sure also,
that the headline writers must be in tucks at each weekly editors meeting, when they try to outdo each other with the most ridiculous and innate
headlines ever: -
PENSIONER'S TABBY CAT GOES MISSING AGAIN: LATEST.
MOTORIST FINDS FLAT TYRE: EXCLUSIVE.
I can just see them rolling out into the night and into the nearest pub and crying helplessly into their beer. "And we get paid for this Haaaa!"
But small is this village. Around 6000 people inhabit the place. Based on a working class population made famous by a small deceased Victorian Builder
with a ladder and handcart, known by the name of Leonard Fairclough. The company thrives now as world famous multi-national civil engineers
AMEC. That, I think is Adlington's only major claim to fame. Oh! And a ten-foot sandstone statue of Queen Victoria situated on the rooftop of his former
corner terraced house in Park Road.
After that, the village is overrun and teeming with pubs pretending to be restaurants, real restaurants and takeaways. Eating out in Adlington would
not be Egon Ronay's idea of a bun fight but the variety of popular international cuisine to be found here is staggering. No one will ever die
of starvation living in this village. A pint of Theakston's best bitter is £1.65 and Greenhalge's meat and
potato pies (YUM, YUM) are 75p.
Adlington is also slightly unusual, as it is a village on a slope, divided
by a railway line. The Manchester to Preston main line slices through its
very heart, cutting the swathe of village life and culture, completely in
two. The upper and lower or t'top-end and t'bottom-end.
I'm a bottom-ender because I live in L A, or Lower Adlington, that is,
beneath the railway line. I'm also an outsider, because I wasn't born here. But, locals have told me, in code, that I'm 'alright for an
Adlington, Lancashire has at least two of everything. In its divide, a
friendly but serious rivalry exists between its inhabitants upper and
lower. Some people will not travel the short ¼ mile which separates the
two distinct village centers. So each half the village has to offer the
identical facility to its villager's top and bottom. Two 'A' roads to major
nearby towns, two Fish and Chip Shops, two Pie Shops, two Butchers, two Post Offices, two Chemists, two Indian Takeaways, two Cash Points. two
Chinese Takeaways (both top end), two Mini-Markets, two Florists, two Dentists, two Hairdressers, four Newsagents (two at each end) and two pubs
with the same name, The Spinners Arms. Yup! Top Spinners and t'bottom Spinners.
The village has 14 Pubs. (You guessed, seven at the top and seven at the bottom).
I love Pub names. One top-end Pub, with a most intriguing and mysterious name, is the Elephant and Castle. Not much unusual in that you might say.
But, Adlington and its district, is famed for its former mediaeval stopover coaching houses and day-trippers calling to eat Pub Grub on their way home
from Blackpool Illuminations. Not for elephants and castles.
Names like The Wagon and Horses, The Grey Horse, The White Horse and The Bay Horse reflect an era long gone and the passage of time. Whilst name's
like The Cardwell, The Clayton Arms and Ridgeway Arms honour local industrialists, families and dignitaries. Others like The Bridge Inn, The
Railway Inn, The Millstone, The Squirrel Inn, the posh Yew Tree Inn (nick-named the Mop and Bucket---that name brings them down a peg or two)
and the Happy Pig (unfortunately renamed the Thatch and Thistle) are self-descriptive. But, The Elephant and Castle in Adlington, stretches even
my over-worked imagination a tintsy, wintsy bit! And, it is situated at the end of a thoroughfare called wait for it Babylon Lane!
I don't know about you, but this kind of thing drives my imagination wild with bellicose-like intrigue, especially after five pints of Theakstons
'Charging war-like Elephants in exotic Babylonian combat armour. Castles with scarred blackened battlements. Spears and bows and arrows and yelps
and fires and hot molten lead and blood curdled screams and singed hair and peeling burnt skin'.
This is Adlington on a normal Saturday night!
I can imagine all those years ago when the first of the settlers had to
think-up names for streets and roads. "Ah well," would say the elected
leader of council. "It has come to our notice that names have to be found for all of the streets in the parish. They must be sensible and proper
names with nothing controversial, personal or rude."
'First then, the name of the street overlooking the cemetery.'
'All in favour say aye.'
'Now, the street next to the gas works?'
'Gas Works Road' and so on.
Things had to get a little bit boring eventually and anyway, meetings like this were often held in the upper rooms of pubs and a 'go for', or Gofer,
would be appointed to nip regularly to the bar and procure copious golden-pints of liquid refreshment for the hard labouring officials.
After a couple of hours, I imagine things started to relax a little, so by
the time they got to the end, something like this must have happened.
"And sho finally ladies and gentlemen, letsh have some really good
imaginative shuggestions for the road between the Bay Horsh and the
Elephant and Cashle."
So some clever dick says "Babylon Lane".
'All in favour say aye.'
So, whatever the top-end can do, the bottom-end can do too.
Lower Adlington has a pub called The White Bear. I'll let that sink in a
little. Are you ready for this? I bet you can tell me and write the story
behind this? I've left you some space.
OK! I'll help you, but only a little.
Once upon a time, a traveling fun fair arrived in Adlington and...
and they named the Pub after the bear and called it The White Bear.
Give yourself a round of applause!
I love this village. It suits my every whim and need, multiplied by two. I
can even stand it now when everybody you meet without fail, greets you with,
It also once had two (or three) banks, two railway stations, two petrol
stations, two DIY stores and two public urinals where now there is but one of each. The remaining urinal sits adjacent to the 'Elephant' in Babylon
Lane. So if you're a bottom-ender in need of a pee, then we have a quick sprint up Railway Road to the top end and.. "Fuck that! We've got the canal
at the bottom-end."
I bet there is a place in America called Adlington. There usually is a USAnamesake somewhere and I'll bet your bottom Dollar that it will be big andcalled Adlington City. But, and I'll bet you again, that size for size, it
hasn't got two of almost everything like we have!