Christmas Songsters

December 13, 2008 at 17:32 | Posted in rugby league, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Christmas Songs

You can’t move, can you, at this time of year without an assault on your ears. I was less than inpressed by the solitary tin-rattling Salvation Army person accompanied by recorded band music through a speaker. The Sally Army ain’t what it used to be, it appears.

These young people, members of Barrow’s A590 Youth Theatre, were out and about in a corner of the indoor market this morning. Their rendering of traditional songs sounded a bit listless, but when they switched to something more upbeat and show-tuny they set about them with great gusto. Their parents probably weren’t even born when Brenda Lee rocked around the Christmas Tree, but they clearly enjoyed doing it for themselves. But is that young woman on the far right having a crafty fag while the conductor isn’t looking?

The name of the troupe raises an interesting point. The A590 is the 50 km trunk road leading to Barrow from the M6 north of Lancaster and coming to an end at Biggar Bank. It’s often been called Britain’s longest cul-de-sac. There can’t be many towns which so readily identify with the road in and out.

Willie Horne

April 1, 2008 at 14:15 | Posted in Barrow, rugby league, sport, statuary | 3 Comments

As a Victorian town, Barrow has its statues of long-dead local worthies.  A berobed Ramsden the Railway Baron gazes up his ceremonial avenue of Abbey Road, while similarly berobed Schneider the Ironmaster glares at him from the top of Duke Street.

Barrow’s real hero, though, is Willie Horne, and he can be seen at the unfashionable end of Duke Street skipping impishly, in heavy studded and laced boots caked in mud, towards that great touchdown in the sky.  Barrow’s rugby league team is now a modest affair, playing National League 2 games at their ramshackle Craven Park stadium, but once they were a power in the land, appearing in five Challenge Cup finals and winning it once, in 1955 when they beat Workington Town 21-12 at Wembley, with Willie Horne receiving the cup as captain.  He also captained Great Britain, and some – mostly diehard Barrovians I suspect – regard him as the greatest rugby league player there ever was.

That was Barrow’s finest hour, and one often feels that the town tries doggedly to cling to it, for in some ways in Barrow it is forever 1955.

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