Like many other community groups who have used the Trinity Church Centre, we are sad to hear the news that the building is going to close. We have held our meetings there for many years and enjoyed all the benefits that the building offered. We are very grateful to everyone who has worked tirelessly to keep the Trinity Centre open for members of the community. Our April meeting was sadly the last time we will meet there. From September, our meetings will be held at Beacon Hill Methodist Church Hall. Details of dates and speakers will be posted on our website as soon as the arrangements are confirmed.
More than 200 photographs helped describe The Changing Face of Barrow as local historian Bill Myers gave his presentation to our members and visitors at the April meeting. Ironically, for an afternoon devoted to developments during the town’s last 60 years, this was the final history talk to be held at the Trinity Church Centre, Abbey Road. It has been the Society’s regular venue for several years but is to close and the site sold for new uses.
Topical themes such as bank closures, the fuel crisis, the wearing of masks and rising food prices were given an historical twist as pictures were featured of old Barrow power stations, petrol station advertisements and pub price lists.
Barrow was once pretty self-sufficient for its energy needs. Until the 1960s there was a town centre electricity power station at Buccleuch Street. Vickers had its own power station and town gas was produced from baking coal in retorts at Roosecote – long before natural gas came ashore at Rampside.
Prices in Barrow have always been going up. At the start of the Second World War beer could be bought for seven old pennies a pint- around 3p in modern money. The average price of a pint went from £1.90 in 2000 to £2.81 in 2010 and this year it is £4.07. In 1961 a Chinese restaurant opened in Duke Street. The Sunlight restaurant offered a three-course lunch for the equivalent of 17p and this new cuisine proved very popular.
As voters got ready to pick candidates for a new-style of local government for Furness on May 5, pictures were shown of celebrations linked to past Barrow civic anniversaries. These included the centenary of the borough in 1967 and that of the Town Hall in 1987.
It was pointed out that another major change was that there were now fewer Barrovians. The high watermark was around 1915 when the district was packed with munitions workers and the population was estimated to be in excess of 90,000. By 2001 the Barrow Council district had 71,900 people. This had fallen by four per cent to 69,100 by the time of the 2011 census and was down by another 3.9 per cent to 66,700 by the 2021 census.
There was also chance for some nostalgia about the traditional shops which vanished to make way for Debenhams and the Portland Walk shopping development in the mid-1990s. The price of change was high. The full length of Forshaw Street was to go, along with parts of Preston Street, Dalton Road, William Street and Cavendish Street. Among those businesses told they would have to close or move were: the Market Tavern, the Regal Bar and Theatre, the Travellers Rest, the Labour Club and Frank Wood’s gentlemen’s outfitters and hat shop.
With the Queen about to celebrate 70 years on the throne, there was a chance to enjoy pictures in Barrow from the 1953 Coronation and the Silver Jubilee of 1977.
Bill Myer’s talk was more nostalgic than ever because it was the last time our meetings would be held in the Trinity Church Centre. We appreciate the continuing support given to our Society and look forward to the Autumn programme of talks which will be held at Beacon Hill Methodist Church Hall.