Ray’s invite to past glories

Rugby league legend Ray French with Senior Library Assistant Paula Keaton (left) and Community Library Officer Mandy Brown
Rugby league legend Ray French with Senior Library Assistant Paula Keaton (left) and Community Library Officer Mandy Brown

CROSS-code rugby legend Ray French MBE popped into the newly reopened Local History and Archives Library to promote his forthcoming talk about rugby in the good old days.

Part of a two-day heritage celebration in the Gamble Building on Victoria Square, Ray will regale listeners with stories about rugby in the 1950s and 60s.

The event, taking place this Friday and Saturday (August 31 and September 1), will kick off a month of borough-wide heritage celebrations. Library staff will also encourage visitors to take advantage of the two million-plus historical documents held at the library and explore parts of the building not normally seen by the public.

The St Helens Township Family History Society will also be on hand on the Saturday morning to help people find out more about their family history.

The overall theme of the event is the early part of HM The Queen’s reign - the 50s and 60s - when Britain became more affluent and underwent profound social change.

All age groups are welcome, with treasures from the archives on display along with old films of the town.

The following week, on Thursday, September 6, St Helens Council will be hosting a heritage–themed grand tea dance between 2pm and 4pm in St Helens Town Hall.

Aimed at celebrating the music and decoration of the Victorian era, it will include live music from host and compere Alf Christinsen and the chance to practice ballroom, sequence and old time routines.

The Heritage Open Days then begin the following day, on Friday, September 7.

Free access will be offered at venues including St Helens Town Hall, the Friedns Meeting House, Masonic Hall, The World of Glass, Citadel Arts Centre, Smithy Heritage Centre, Dream and Fir Tree Farm.

This year, the council will also be hosting a fantastic showcase of vintage cars at their Classic Car Show on Saturday, September 15, in Church Square - including a replica of the iconic James Bond 007 Austin Martin DB5.

Also look out for a special Viking Day on Saturday, September 29 - packed with Viking-themed entertainment including re-enactments, arts and crafts and street performances.

For more information about what’s happening in St Helens go online at: www.whatsoninsthelens.com or pick up a copy of the Heritage Festival brochure with full event listings from your local library, council offices or participating venue.