Memories of growing up in a prefab in Clock Face, St Helens

Terry contacted us with vivid memories of his family prefab in Clock Face, St Helens. He was told there was no information about them in the local archives. We thank Terry for contacting us and sharing his memories with us:

Clock Face was a small coal mining village on the South Lancashire coal field near to St Helens. When my Dad returned from service with the RAF in the Far East circa 1947 Mum, Dad and me moved into a brand new pre fab 11 Lindale Avenue where we stayed until 1959. In between times brothers Brian and Kevin came along really prompted the move.

We moved to the pre fab from my Grandma’s 2 up 2 down terraced house in St Helens opposite the Co-op Dairy in Lowe Street. There was quite an enclave of the family in and around Lowe Street but “Our Ada (my Mum) had a bathroom, hot water and wonder of wonders a fridge”. I can remember the family coming in procession to inspect these wonders. Grandpa, and uncles coming with towels and coal to sample the luxury of a bath that was not a galvanized tube in front of an open fire. This of course didn’t last long as baths and showers were being installed in the local collieries.

Our pre fab was in the second phase, first phase was Pollit Crescent and Pendlebury Street but ours were “posher” as we had a proper outhouse divided into coal and general storage while the first phase had reclaimed Anderson Shelters. Second phase was Agnes Street, Lever Street, Boden Street and Lindale Avenue. Third phase was Burnage Avenue and Hammersley Avenue. I well remember walking to St Teresas’ School watching the pre fab lorries waiting, then lunchtime crane positioning them and by home time another pre fab had appeared. To a 4 – 5 year old magical, today even more so as no one thought anything wrong with school kids wondering through a building site to and from school. The photograph is of St Teresas’ walking day along Hammersley Avenue circa 1954.

There were other pre fabs in St Helens, in Sutton and Blackbrook while some of the two storey types are still present today in Clinkham Wood.

A few years ago I did contact St Helens Council Archives but sadly they have no records of any of these pre-fabs. As to numbers no real recollection except Lindale Avenue was numbers 1 ~15 odd only as allotments were across the road.

Today, what was a clear view across to Billinge Hill near Wigan is totally obstructed by the sprawling Four Acre Lane housing development and overhead power lines. The fields, hedgerows, ponds and woods of my childhood no more, neither are the collieries and sadly, my old primary school and community.

But of the pre fab fondly remembered from the cramped 2 up 2 down northern terraced house, warmed, cared for and full of love as it was to the undreamed of luxury of hot water on tap, a bath, a fitted kitchen what a change what a wonder for a 4 year old?

Dr Terence Cummings

If you are on Facebook, a page called The Clock Lot has photos of the Clock Face prefabs, which are the AIROH aluminium type.

Comments about this page

  • What a pleasant surprise to read Terry’s contribution. We lived in number 9, next door to the Cummins’s. Kevin and I are about the same age and used to play in gangs with the Plok girls from number 3 in the field at the back of our prefabs. A huge hole in the middle of the field, covered in corrugated iron was our den until ousted by a gang from Gartons Lane.
    There was a strong community spirit and my mum (Nora Marsh) and Ada often helped and looked after the old and vulnerable nearby. My mum and Ada were lifelong friends.
    I went to Sutton Manor kindergarten with Ste from Pollit Crescent and Ken from Bentley Street. We’re friends to this day. I remember we’d run ahead of our mums on the way to kindergarten hoping the gates would close across the main road to let a Steam train loaded with coal go through.
    The pedestrian bridge at Clock Face was another place where we’d hope to be enveloped in steam, soot and oily smells when the trains passed underneath.
    I’m proud to have lived there with such wonderful neighbours.

    By Kerry Marsh (17/01/2022)
  • Thank you for your lovely memories Chris

    By prefabmuseumsite (30/01/2018)
  • Like Dr Cummings I grew up in St.Helens,Sutton to be exact,a very grotty industrial polluted area.My best friend pat lived on Carnegie crescent by the side of the library.the were a lot of prefabs there and she lived in one . I was so envious of Pat living in the prefab as she had a bathroom a fitted kitchen and it was Warm!.I also desperately envied the large garden where Jim grew enough fruit and vegetables for his family with ample room for a long washing line and play space for the children. The man next door had large shed in his garden which seemed(in memory) to have curtains instead of sides where the man lived a lot of the time as he had TB. The prefabs had plenty of space around and seemed to be a lively community, different to the Victorian terrace where I lived . Our house was dark and cold and damp, with just a poky back yard ending in the outside lavatory, next to the midden ,backing on to the entry or narrow ginnel between the terraces.

    By Chris belton (28/01/2018)

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