Pat re-lives crowning glory

Procession from the Little Marton School, where church and Sunday School services had been held, to the new St Wilfrid's Church on Langdale Road, Mereside in 1956. Phyllis Cowling, the late mother of Pat Marsh, is first left. Below Pat is crowned Rose Queen in 1959.

Procession from the Little Marton School, where church and Sunday School services had been held, to the new St Wilfrid's Church on Langdale Road, Mereside in 1956. Phyllis Cowling, the late mother of Pat Marsh, is first left. Below Pat is crowned Rose Queen in 1959.

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Gordon Cardwell’s recent photographs featured in Memory Lane showing pupils from 1954 and 1955 at Little Marton School, Mereside, brought back memories for reader Pat Marsh (nee Cowling).

Not that she was on either of the line-ups. After all, she only went inside the school, on Bowness Avenue, on one day of the week.

Pat, of Vernon Avenue, Marton, explains: “I actually went to Hawes Side School and later Stanley, but the Little Marton building was used for worship before St Wilfrid’s Church was built in 1956 on Langdale Road.

“I used to attend Sunday School which was run by a Mrs Simpson. The building was one big hall with a partition to split it into two classrooms. On Sundays the partition was opened, all the desks were piled up at the side of the room and a table was used for the altar.

“I know it all sounds very makeshift but there was a lovely atmosphere there.

“I do remember that you had to hold on tight to your collection money. I was not the only child who played with their pennies and lost them when they rolled along the floor and then in between the floorboards. I am sure they must have found a lot of coins when the building was demolished.”

Pat, who shares two photographs - one taken 57 years ago this coming weekend.

She says: “The picture of the procession dates back to Sunday July 22, 1956 and shows some of the congregation as they marched from Little Marton School after the last-ever service there to the first service to be given in the new St Wilfrid’s Church.

“The procession was so long that when those at the front reached St Wilfrid’s those at the rear were just leaving Little Marton School.”

Pat’s late mother, Mrs Phyllis Cowling, can be seen first left on the photograph.

Her other picture has special significance for Pat, who, in June 1959, was crowned Rose Queen at St Wilfrid’s by Miss Oldham, who was the headmistress of Elmslie School on Whitegate Drive. The houses in the background are on Clifton Avenue.

Pat’s best friend Dorrie Gibbins was her attendant and the page boy was Alan Boyd. Also in her entourage were Marlene Chapman, Jennifer Valentine, Ann Gillings, sisters Carolyn and Susan Winters, Sandra Bird, Susan Hobson, Kathleen McFadden and Heather Fundray.

The ceremony was held during a fund raising spring fair in the church playground, and, as Pat recalls, also included a baby show, stalls and sideshows.

Pat, whose family was one of the first to move on to the Mereside estate, on Langdale Road, still worships at St Wilfrid’s. During her childhood she was in the Girls’ Friendly Society, the Brownies, Guides, and was one of the King’s Messengers - the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.

She also attended the church youth club and her mother ran the drama group.

First priest in charge was Bill Hodgson and St Wilfrid’s became a parish in its own right, rather than being under St Pauls, in 1957.

On May 28 of that year St Wilfrid’s school was dedicated by the Archbishop of York, Dr Michael Ramsey, who later became the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury.