Strobe lights, like lightening, flash across the sky,
Search lights seek out the enemy, as we hold in our cries
Huddled together we can hear the warning siren
the loud roars of the engines on this night who will be taken,
Always a happy family, at least we are here together
Hard to remember life before, fear in our heart feels like forever
No soothing smiles to be found as danger fills the skies
The air filled with uncertainty, as the fear grows in our eyes.
Where will the next strike be we silently wonder
Will we lose our homes, our lives, or please God not each other
As we hear the crashes to earth, not knowing who has been hit,
Who will be next? Will we find craters where friends once lived
Crumbled buildings to be searched for those who don’t make it through
As Doodlebugs filled night skies and we pray for tomorrows of blue.
by Laura Bevan
Based on Evelyn’s Story
We huddle in here
under the bald head
of a bare bulb
and the upside down stairs.
Walled in by magazines,
knitting patterns and
boxes of might-be-needed things.
We sniff up the tang of
Cherry Blossom shoe shine,
musty cloths and a manky mop.
Blood red beets and tiny vinegared skulls
glisten in trembling jars.
A jangle of keys for doors to lost worlds-
we are tied in with string in our prison.
We hold our breath and each other,
listening for the drone of
The sudden halt of an engine,
the deafening silence-
“is this one for us?”
Not this time, it rocks the nearby school
and we can breathe again.
The dreams still haunt me,
the child’s mind like a sponge
absorbing good and bad.
But I saw the beating heart of London
rising above a sea of rubble,
defiant in the smoke-
St Paul’s, a symbol of hope,
the turning of the tide.
sailing out on open water
under a wide open sky
or under the grimy spires
of a Northern town
freedom tastes the same-
Rita Furnival February 2021
Based on Judith’s story
4 years old, sitting on the kerb, sun beating down,
Popping tar, fingers sinking into the molten stickiness.
Then the ground shakes, tar is forgotten
Distant tremors echo down the narrow street
A roar of horses galloping, soldiers marching to an invisible drum?
The noise becomes a crowd, emerging round the corner.
Miners. Black and filthy, swinging snap tins, their shift done.
Voices and clogs pass by, going home to washes, food, family.
The street is quiet again. The tar bubbles flattened by the clamour.
Based on Silas’s story
An opera house of great renown
had a namesake in our humble town.
A little gem, now sadly gone
but stories and memories linger on.
Cinema, dances, bingo hall,
the elders of Runcorn can recall
a meeting place beyond compare
to show their moves and fashion flare.
Young Hugh came down from Geordie land-
he had no choice, his fate was planned.
He grew up hardy, through the years:
some fights, some laughter, also tears.
A teenager right at the start
of rock and roll, he looked the part,
a teddy boy, sharp suit, slicked hair,
iconic music they all shared.
Famous names, the Beatles too,
excitement building, joining the queue.
a night of dancing, chippy then home-
they had it all, no need to roam.
Lots of mates, good times and girls,
the beat generation, a social whirl.
One young lady caught his eye
in a passageway as he walked by.
“Here, can you take this cup?”
He looked her down, then looked her up.
So courting started, then wedded bliss.
His early traumas he didn’t miss.
He put his roots down in this place,
a life well run in the human race.
A spot where he can really belong
on the staircase of life, with memories strong.
La Scala means staircase in Italian
Rita Furnival January 2021
Based on Hugh’s story
When I was 22 weeks old, I was in a carrycot in front of the fire at home. My sister was trying to get the fire going and dropped some paper on the rug. It caught light and the fire quickly spread to the carrycot. I was pulled away, but not before my legs had been burnt.
I spent my first few years in Alderhey hospital having skin grafts and operations to improve my condition. When I went to school, I was behind the other children, as there had been little education in hospital. I remember teaching myself to swim at school swimming lessons at Runcorn baths. The teacher left me in the shallow end, as they thought I couldn’t join. After months in bed in hospital, I was a good observer and I watched the class and practiced, until I mastered it.
When I was 10 I caught diphtheria. I had to go alone to the hospital. It felt like a long ride there and when we got into the ward, it was very long and the windows were tall and narrow with arches at the top. They were covered with bottle green blinds, which made the light very dim and eerie.
Outside the windows, a platform ran the length of the ward. On Sunday the beds were turned towards the windows and the families could stand on the platform and see into the ward. This was the only contact I had with my family for 3 months.
I left my job in London to take a 5-week trip to Canada and the States. This was the late 1950’s and it was quite an adventure.
I went to the US via Canada and Niagara Falls. She stayed in Washington DC and visited the Pentagon and the White House. There was no security in place at that time. It was so different to how it is now. I then took a bus trip to Virginia and then on to New York. At the time, my Father worked for Odhams Press and the company office in New York looked after me there. I sailed back to England from there.
My Grandma often took me down to the Conservative club to sing. I had a good singing voice and one night I sang “Bless this House”. Someone came up to me and suggested I go for an audition the following day in Liverpool for a Mr Dale.
When I got there, there was a queue of boys waiting to audition. I went in first and I sang for Mr Dale. When he heard me sing, he smiled and dismissed the other boys, announcing that he’d made his choice. That’s when I joined Dudley Dale and his gang of Singers and Comedians. I toured the country’s theatres with them, including the London palladium.
David, Evelyn, Hugh, Joan, Judith, Ken, Patricia & Silas
Shared their stories and views about how society has changed
Laura Bevan & Rita Furnival
Creating poetry inspired by the stories
Millie Chesters (Illustrator) – Created illustrations inspired by the 8 stories
Picture Halton – Photograph archive used to source Halton related images.
brought this project to life, interviewing our 8 local residents & liaising with all involved every step of the way.
Website design – Bringing the vision to life
Visual presentation of stories
Everyone vital to the project helping to source images & record audio of poems