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yolly

Our old Helena House

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Can anyone remember just how many function rooms/dining rooms there were in Helena House? I was last there around 1976, and I can remember at least 3. The place was a maze, full of rooms and I wish I'd had the chance to explore it more.

 

1. A restaurant (very well frequented in the 60's) at the back of the building on the 1st floor, just past the Toys dept. It had waitress service. Food was great even if you did have to wait a bit.

 

2. A dining area that you could book that was accessible via a back door on Claughton Street (directly opposite Rigbys Art shop). You went up one and a half flights of tiny dingy circular stairs, and it was there to the left. Seated about 40.

 

3. A room on the 2nd floor. You took the lift up from the Books dept, and when you got out you were straight into it. A mini dance hall that was used for weddings, it held about 150 people. I was there in 1970 for a friends wedding.

 

4. The main dance hall on the top floor that I never had the chance to see as it was closed, around 1966 I think.

 

 

 

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I can only remember the supermarket bit and the front doors, and the blue stamps :)

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Guest Honey

and not forgetting the blow out which was a meeting place, many a first date started out there!

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Yes, I remember the blow out very well and when I was younger I used to frequent the Toys Dept. very often.

I can't remember exactly how many function rooms were at the top, but I do remember going to a wedding in one

and I think we went to the Restaurant a few times, one time was after a relatives funeral.

Such a shame they knocked it down, a lovely building.

 

There are a few threads about Helena House if you search, this one might give you some answers.

 

http://www.sthelens-connect.net/forums/topic/54465-how-big-was-helena-house-ballroom/

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.. A dining area that you could book that was accessible via a back door on Claughton Street (directly opposite Rigbys Art shop). You went up one and a half flights of tiny dingy circular stairs, and it was there to the left. Seated about 40..

 

I think yolly, is right about the 'back steps from Claughton Street' leading into an area that could be reserved for small Private Occasions - we had the meal in there after my Nan's funeral in Oct 1965 - but I'm sure it was on the same level as the 'Café/Restaurant', screened off from the rest of it by some kind of partition/trellis with flowers in planters. That staircase gave some degree of privacy for entering/leaving. If you were part of a wedding/funeral group, you'd hardly want to be trailing everybody through the rest of the Main Store Building.

 

I only ever went into one big dance hall on one of the the Upper Floors. It was accessed via that main Staircase Entrance by the bus stops on Ormskirk Street. I worked for Fibreglass at the time, and our Annual Christmas Dance for that particular year was held there - must have been 1969/70/71 because those were the Christmases that I worked for Fibreglass.

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I remember going there as a youngster with my mam to collect her "divi" when we queued up on the maint stairway in the main entrance in Ormskirk Street

Who remembers the Co-op dividend scheme?

I can still remember my mam's membership number 14918.

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I too queued with Mam for her divi (16570) on those crowded steps in Ormskirk St. Divi day was a big day in our house - however much she got we'd go round town and buy treats we couldn't afford at other times.

 

I visited the Grotto at Christmas even got a photo somewhere sat on Santa's knee, I was crying. Later I went with (must have been rich) friends to book holidays in the travel agents and of course the obligatory funeral and wedding breakfasts in the fancy restaurant. Sometimes on Saturday afternoon a group of us teenagers would go into the restaurant and eat toasted tea cakes and a cuppa tea, we would spend hours in there just chatting. The waitresses wore a formal black and white uniform - with starched pinafore and frilly cap considered really posh!

 

Those back stairs from Claughton St, were a godsend if you needed to use the toilet without going through the shop. I used to catch the Parr bus in Claughton St, to visit an aunt in Derbyshire Hill, the bus used to start the journey from there.

 

I occasionally went to the hairdressers and bought stockings and make-up from their ground floor beauty department. Around 1961/63 we danced to Bert Webbs band in the main ballroom but the 60s music scene was changing and we started going to the Plaza, and Cats Whiskers instead. We could jive at the Co-op but we were restricted to a roped off area so as not to get in the way of the Waltzing/foxtrot proper dancers.

 

Even later my younger sister worked in the food hall and I got to see many of the upstairs room, all very grand and reminiscent of a time quickly passing.

 

Great memories of Helena House

 

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Lots of fond memories of dancing in both the big rooms upstairs including the Pilkington Transport Christmas Dance and many other do's. I always thought that end of St Helens died when they pulled down Helena House. Great memories..

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Went to the christmas party there with my wife working as a double glazing sales man for St Helens Glass when Tony Ryan owned it each ticket you were given to attend had a number on the number matched prizes on a big table there i jest not somewere were holidays abroad everyone got something a really fantastic firm to work for then

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Went there for my Grandmothers funeral in 1967 and my Grandfathers funeral in 1969.Had my wedding reception there in 1970 and the evening one in the main ballroom,it was a building that should have been saved.

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Definitely should have been saved, tessmop.

It was one of the biggest institutions of st helens. Had all the services, and was brilliant community centre. There was (and is) nowhere like it.



ps thanks for the link Phyll, have been reading the thread and the memories.

Shame Daves link about the Penny Rush is no longer available though.

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I remember it well ,I used to work in the Toy Department with Karen And Rodney, also remember Bill Swift whom ran the restaurant. we used to go to the Raven for a lunch or the Charcoal Grill, Happy Days

Edited by Paul Baddley

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We used to go in the sephton for a few scoops, then into the dance hall and with the circling coloured lights spinning and the band playing "blue star", we crunched toes all night long console.gif

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Was a great place, have many happy memories of the Christmas Grotto, lovely underwear dept, bought our first bed, iron and ironing board from there when we got married. Used to go in the cafe, and my sister had her evening wedding reception there. Can also remember been drunk after finishing college at Christmas and standing in the little back door trying to sober up before going home whilst sheltering from the cold! Used to wait at the blowouts for friends/boyfriends before hitting the bright lights of St Helens and the delights of the Fleece disco.

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The top floor was the Mayfair suite which was quite large. I had my wedding reception there, leading off from there was a smaller room. I can't quite remember if there were stairs leading down to it, or it was all on one level.

The blow out was the meeting place for everyone, maybe because if it was freezing cold the blow out was a welcome relief from the cold while waiting to meet someone.

I remember the travel agent at the top of the shop which you could reach through the menswear department.

The cafe I think was just as you went in through the doors.

In my opinion when they demolished Helena house, they did not just demolish a building, they demolished one of the most loved building in St Helens.

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I can remember going in the Supermarket part with my Auntie were she bought milk checks that you put in the bottom of your empties for the co-op milkman to collect and then leave you with a full one!

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I played santa in the basement of the co op in 1983.the only job I got the sack before I started

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I can remember (as a titch) queuing with my mum (and lots of other people) up the main central stairs to cash in her DIVI.

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I can only remember two function rooms upstairs at Helena House not counting the restaurant, a large one that I frequented on many various occasions and a smaller one the I can't remember ever being in. I think there were steps up to another level I but I remember being told that was to an office level.

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I only ever went to one function at Helena House Mayfair Suite - Fibreglass Christmas Dance - perhaps in 1970/71. We usually had them in Perceval Suite at Ruskin Drive, but don't know why it was in Helena House on that particular year - maybe double-booked or something.

 

I just remember that it was a very large room but we had to go into another room for the bar and the buffet; could that have been the one that some people are calling 'the smaller room'?

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I was best man at my brothers wedding and the reception was held in the ballroom, which I remember was pretty big. I had just taken delivery of a brand new Ford Capri and we gave one of the guests a lift to the evening do, but unfortunately they had stepped in dog s..t whichwas deposited in the rear footwell, and boy, did it stink, funny the things which you remember.

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Remember the dance hall with Bert Webb and his band.Bert had a lovely daughter who we all fancied can't remember her name.A local singer we knew as Geogia because that was the song he was faimous for also Bernie Clifton used to also give a song or two.No booze in there either had a few in the Sefton first.Never remember any trouble 'Good old days

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