Column: All aboard for a trip to the seventies

Carol Forster
Carol Forster

Way back in the sand dunes of time, the scene in Lancaster town centre was quite different from today.

Firstly take Market Square. In front of the museum, was a parking area beside a grand black wrought ironed entrance with fascinating clouded glass underfoot; the entrance to some strange underground toilets no less!

Those around at the time will recall this well.

A number of shops were there beside the current library, including a sports shop which sold those Airtex blouses so beloved of the schools and much tennis related regalia.

However, perhaps the biggest difference from now was that buses actually used to drive up Penny Street and then along Market Street, as far as King Street, where they would turn to their next destination, past Wigley’s book shop and opposite WH Smith.

Smiths, in fact, used to be where Waterstones stands today.

Those of a certain age will recall waiting at a bus stop on cold, windy days near a kiosk, in Market Square, waiting for the next bus, which could take eons to arrive.

Back in those days, they weren’t quite as reliable as now and much less frequent but once arrived, you would gladly hop on to see the swaying bus conductor and his fascinating ticket machine, with sweaty brow and a good memory!

I can’t actually remember what year all this changed when the area stopped accepting traffic and became pedestrianised ( though with the constant delivery vans driving through, maybe it never really did).

Those who think the Market Street area a hub of activity these days, would have found it even more so back in the early 1970s and before.

Buses heading south in those days did not spoil us with today’s frequency to the university underpass, but tended to do a loop in the Hala/Bowerham area, and from the top of Market Street, they would head past a cluster of shops including the aforementioned Wigley’s and lovely clothes shop, Renes on the corner.

All of this was, of course, by the old indoor market, which was simply wonderful.

Modernity does lack all that charm, save Primark which is marvellous!

Ah memories!