Photos of Wigan
Photos of Wigan

Photo-a-Day Archive
Photo-a-Day Archive

Photo-a-Day  (Friday, 7th February, 2020)

Soldier and the Cafe

Soldier and the Cafe
Mesnes Park, Wigan.

Photo: Mick Byrne  (Panasonic DMC-TZ100)
Views: 1,987

Comment by: Veronica on 7th February 2020 at 07:35

What a great pity the original soldier went AWOL. I believe from previous comments it was buried in a rubbish tip in the park. It would be marvellous if some day it was resurrected.
Is the rock the same though?

Comment by: irene roberts on 7th February 2020 at 09:38

This takes me straight back to childhood. Every Sunday after Sunday- School my Mam and Dad took me to either Wigan Park, (we never called it Mesnes Park), or Haigh Hall. I put my hands in theirs and we strolled under the trees in the warm dappled sunlight of long ago. We always went in the café and sat upstairs. Milk-shakes were a shilling and my Mam used to say, "Ee, Bob, it's dear" to which my Dad replied, "It'll do 'er good, milk". In the end I usually chose a fizzy Vimto with a blob of ice-cream in it. There was something special about that café that, as a child, I sensed but couldn't put my finger on; I was grown up before I realised it had a 1920s feel. When we came out my Dad used to look at the statue of the soldier, (not the one in the photo above, but the original one), and read the inscription out loud. Do you remember the annual Wigan Show? When I was 22 I had a sketch on display and Mam and Dad, much older by then, accompanied me there and we went once more into the café. The milk-shakes were no longer a shilling and they'd never heard of the Vimto- with-ice-cream-blob, but that special ambience was still there. A few years later a little boy and girl put their hands in mine and we too walked through dappled sunlight towards the café. The duck-pond was being drained at the time and was just sludge and my inquisitive son fell in and came out looking like the creature from the black lagoon! We never made it as far as the café and I had to hire a taxi to take us home! Only recently I held two more little hands when I took my grandchildren in the café. I stood in the doorway for a moment and could feel my Mam and Dad standing there with the great-grandchildren they never knew in the café where they used to take me and, do you know, it really hasn't changed all that much!

Comment by: RON HUNT on 7th February 2020 at 10:27

Once again Political Correctness deemed that the original statue wasn't in keeping with today's values as it showed a soldier with a gun!!! Hence it couldn't be replicated. What about all the statues around the country showing soldiers with swords and guns Should THEY all be removed and replaced with something else?

Comment by: Rev David Long on 7th February 2020 at 11:57

Ron - it seems folk have objected to the statue having a gun long before 'Political Correctness' (or just common decency, in most circumstances) became a whipping boy - I've a cutting from the Wigan Observer of September 1919 about an ex-soldier being jailed for breaking the gun off the statue. Seems he climbed over the railings, shouting 'I'll pull the **** down. It's a *** disgrace.' Despite being a discharged soldier with a family, and having suffered shellshock, he was jailed for three months.

Comment by: Garry on 7th February 2020 at 12:22

Irene your spot on, the place hasn't changed that much, but people have, that's the sad part.

Comment by: Lloyd on 7th February 2020 at 12:30

bad old days irene

Comment by: Poet on 7th February 2020 at 12:46

We constantly judge the past by our own standards. All the memorials and statues we have erected didn't necessarily mean the same to past generations. Where we feel gratitude and respect they may have felt only anger and dispare at unbearable loss.
Time has let us recover from the carnage. We have a different worldview. Not so them.
There is footage of Churchill being quite viciously derided by blitzed out Londoners who would probably have torn down any statue of the great man at that moment.

Comment by: DTease on 7th February 2020 at 12:55

Irene, your Wigan roots go very deep do they not?

Comment by: irene roberts on 7th February 2020 at 14:09

Bad old days, Lloyd?? Yes, DTease, I am very proud to come from Wigan. Yes, I know the town has gone downhill from how it was in my childhood but it is no different to many other towns in that's happening all over.... but The Park is still lovely.

Comment by: Janet ( jouell ) on 7th February 2020 at 14:27

Irene, you have a lovely way with words and I love your passion for the past and childhood. I feel the same way about my childhood and memories ..

Comment by: Mick on 7th February 2020 at 15:22

Irene we didnt have pigeons in them days, now you cant move for them.

Comment by: RON HUNT on 7th February 2020 at 16:23

I don't think they would change this statue if it ever got damaged
I can't EVER see the Americans changing the VIETNAM VETERANS MONUMENT or THE KOREAN MONUMENT in D.C.
Guns, Swords, weapons, are a part of war you just can't ignore the fact and airbrush them out of history

Comment by: irene roberts on 7th February 2020 at 16:56

Thanks, jouell, for your kind words. I know you like to look back too.

Comment by: Poet on 7th February 2020 at 16:59

Ron is right . We should never airbrush history yet our perspective inevitably changes over time.
The statues of Cecil Rhodes , Cromwell, Edward Colston and Bomber Harris have become very controversial as views change.
And probably most Americans these days see Vietnam as a shameful thing.

Comment by: Rev David Long on 7th February 2020 at 17:17

I've found very few statues as WW1 memorials - St Peter's Westleigh is the only one in the Borough - and most of those you do find are similar to that one - a soldier with upturned rifle, head bowed in sorrow at the loss of his pals. Gung-ho scenes are more common on Boer War memorials - but I think the often senseless carnage of WW1 touched more people personally, and most memorials reflect this, being crosses or cenotaphs, with no statuary at all. Post-WW2 there were not only fewer memorials, but they were even more muted. I think those responsible for replacing the Mesnes Park statue struck a sensible balance, given this history - it's also less likely to get damaged than the original.

Comment by: tuddy on 7th February 2020 at 19:53

Rev David Long, There's a similar WW1 memorial on the bowling greens at Alexandra Park.
Nice memories Irene, bet you shined Powel's shoe as well.

Comment by: irene roberts on 7th February 2020 at 21:23

Yes I certainly did shine Powell's shoe, tuddy, and when I took my grandchildren Edie and Oliver to the café there were little Wigan children being lifted up by their parents to rub the shoe and make a wish, as my Dad lifted ME up. I hope all their wishes come true. xx

Comment by: Blob on 8th February 2020 at 01:04

Why did all you Labour Wiganers polish a Tory MP's shoes ???

Comment by: Mick on 8th February 2020 at 11:08

Nice one Blob, non of them thought of that before.

Comment by: Poet on 8th February 2020 at 14:44

Ah, the Labour Party! Now where are they going to put the memorial to them?

Comment by: irene roberts on 8th February 2020 at 15:21

It's rubbing the shoe that matters to Wigan's children. It wouldn't mean a thing to them if it belonged to Jack the Ripper. It's a Wigan tradition and long may it continue.

Comment by: Lynne on 20th February 2020 at 21:03

Pictures of the pavilion whizz me back to my childhood and the books of Rupert Bear. I can just see Rupert,Ping Pong and Tiger Lily playing in Nutwood. I suppose it's because of the "oriental" style of the building.

Comment by: Peter Molyneux on 24th February 2020 at 10:53

Fond memories from 50's after Sunday

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