Our House was happy... and tragic

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THE recent look at Oddfellow Street, before rows of houses behind Blackpool’s Golden Mile were flattened, has brought two very different memories of the same building - the former Our House pub.

From Chester, Wayne Challinor writes: “I used to live in Our House in the 1950s when I was about five and it was like living in a village quarter.

“The pub days were finished and Our House was room lets. We later moved to Brunswick Street, Grasmere Road, Dean Street, Mayfield Avenue and then Stonycroft Place.

“My sister Cecilia Jenkins, of Harrington Avenue, South Shore, sent me the article and it brought back so many memories,” says Wayne, who can be contacted by old friends at waynechallinor@gmail.com or 26 Homedee House, Off Garden Lane, Chester, CH1 4HD.

Bob Mallinson recalls Our House for a tragic reason, from the days when he was a Blackpool ambulanceman.

Having seen the Oddfellow Street article online, he writes: “I attended a multiple gassing incident at that address in 1959. Just after 8am on the day in question, being ‘first jump’ we were sent to attend to somebody lying in the street outside Our House.

“We were based then in the old tram sheds in Princess Street, not far away. We saw a figure lying on the ground near the door and there was a strong smell of gas coming from the building.

“My partner at the time, George Middleton, went to the casualty, who was breathing, while I went to the door. The smell was overwhelming, but I could see other bodies inside.

“Realising we couldn’t cope on our own with this incident, I returned to the vehicle, and radioed for assistance, and also for the Fire Brigade. George and I managed to get one person out of the building, and other ambulances began to arrive, plus Deputy Ambulance Officer George Mallory.

“Then the firemen arrived, went into the building and brought other people out.”

Bob says: “Eight people died, some were unconscious, and others stupefied by the gas. We took one person, who we had revived with oxygen, to Victoria Hospital, the other ambulances took the remainder.

“On one of the other crews who attended this incident was Eric Hall, who died recently at the age of 94.”

Bob says: “That was actually my second major incident, the first being the Redmans Cafe collapse in Bank Hey Street in 1956.

Back in 1927, Bob’s parents Henry (Harry) and Nellie (nee Birtles), St John Ambulance volunteers, had set up their own venture, Invalid Transport Service (ITS), based in Ryburn Avenue, Marton. They approached the various GPs and Victoria Hospital management, who all gave their support.

When the Labour Government founded the National Health Service, ITS became an agent for the NHS.

By 1956 ITS had 12 operational ambulances, two spare reserve ambulances, and six sitting cars.

Bob says: “My dad was having a period of ill health and decided it was time to wind-up the business, and in April 1958, the council took over the whole ambulance service.”

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