MEMORIES of Whitehead Park by a Nostalgia reader known as "Lancashire Lass" prompted Ian McGuiness to send in this/these picture(s).

It shows a young Ian in the late 1940s with his grandfather Jim Killingbeck in front of the bandstand at Whitehead Park.

He remembers the chairs for the audience and band were stored underneath the wooden decking where the musicians would sit, and there was a drinking fountain in full working order nearby.

The bands must have made a lasting impression on Ian, a retired chartered accountant who loves playing trombone in in the East Lancashire Concert Band and he has played with Radcliffe Brass Band, Smithills Community Band and the Fusiliers Band in Bury, too.

To this day, his memories of the park are vivid. There was the old tram car body, for instance, perched next to the bowls hut where women used to play cards, and a dilapidated old bus that served as a store. Meanwhile the park keeper lived in the grand house near the entrance, according to Ian.

Ian, aged 69, also recalls the exciting fun and games he enjoyed with friends in and around the park, growing up in Newbold Street and Scholes Street. Health and safety was low on the list of priorities of the authorities, then...

"The children's playground was full of 'skull fracturing' heavy equipment and stone flags, and in between each ride was loose shale," he said.

"The park was located next to several 'adventure playgrounds' — there was the gas works with huge stock piles of coke, ideal for sliding down on improvised sledges.

"Next to the gas works was the canal feeder and this afforded the opportunity for boating in zinc baths — only posh people had indoor baths then.

"Where King George Playing Fields now are were the ruins of Mucklow's dye works and the swamp of the drained mill lodge.

"Before the playing fields were built, the site was a council landfill tip. Lots of exciting things were delivered on lorries for us youngsters to play with... corrugated asbestos sheeting and steel drums filled with mysterious chemical 'gunge', for example. But most exciting was the rat hunting!"

But there were adults going about their business, too. On Sunday mornings, Ian said, local residents would be up and about for a spot of "coke-picking". With fuel scarce, they'd scour the road for piece of coke fallen off lorries or railway wagons.

Meanwhile Wellington Barracks on nearby Bolton Road was still in full use by the Lancashire Fusiliers at this time, and it, too, provided plenty of opportunities for play...

"We used to sneak into there and go into the air raid shelters," said Ian.

"These were long underground corridors with benches at each side and a couple of small cubicles housing chemical toilets.

"What memories!"