Ninety years ago, ten workers from one of Southport’s most historic buildings celebrated as they won a life-changing amount of money in a sweepstake.
The windfall led to a very rapid engagement for one of the winners!
‘The Ten Orphans’, as they were known, had a lucky escape after initially being offered money for their ticket ahead of the race, but thankfully they had refused.
The friends all worked together in the now Grade II Listed building on the corner of Lord Street and Bold Street in Southport town centre, on the opposite corner to Casa Italia.
The building at 509 – 515 Lord Street hails back to the Edwardian era, with the first recorded tenants operating from there in 1908.
The remarkable story of ‘The Ten Orphans’ was recalled by Stand Up For Southport member Fiona Hodge, after she saw the news that building work has now begun to convert the landmark premises into two repurposed shop units on the ground floor with nine apartments in the floors above.
Fiona Hodge said: “My grandmother, Betty Bury Hulm, began working there (for McBride) as an apprentice tailoress around 1922 and remained in his employ until she married in 1934, though I believe she did do some home-based work for him on an ad hoc basis after she married.
“I believe the workroom was on the top floor (certainly on one of the upper floors), and I think she described it as being an open gallery type space.
“I think my Mum recalls accompanying Dad to the shop to pick up / collect work for Granny, in which case, McBride or a subsequent owner of the business was still there into the 1960s.
“If there are any original features surviving of the interior, I would very much like to see pictures, before any of this is removed and / or access lost due to the change of use.”
Fiona Hodge recalled the magical day when her grandmother and nine colleagues enjoyed a fantastic windfall.
She said: “In 1932, ten employees of McBride’s (including Granny) formed a syndicate called The Ten Orphans to purchase a ticket for the Irish Sweepstake – in a nutshell, there were a number of cash prizes awarded immediately following the draw, most being £100, but if your ticket was drawn against a horse that ran in a particular race (in this case, the Cesarewitch), you would win a significantly larger prize – if that horse won or was placed, then the return was enormous.
“The Ten Orphans drew Claymore, a runner in the race. Granny was on the ‘cake run’ when the news came in – one of the group rushed to fetch her, and she dropped the cakes – she was worried about the cakes, and told not to worry, they could buy plenty more cakes!
“They wanted to go to the race, but they were all working on the day, so they listened to it in the workroom.
“Though in the lead at one point during the race, Claymore came nowhere, but still netted the group £1,458 (nearly £150 each – around £6,800 today, but about a third the value of the house Granny and Grandad bought a year or two later).
“Grandad had to rush out to buy her engagement ring quickly, before the money came through, so that no-one would suggest she bought her own ring!
“Granny’s sister, Flo, was also one of the syndicate.
“Granny said that one of the syndicate emigrated to Australia and set up a new life there on his winnings.
“They were offered money for their ticket ahead of the race, but refused.”
Building work has begun on transforming the Grade II Listed building at 509 – 515 Lord Street in Southport on Monday, 14th June.
The work is expected to take five months, with Bold Street closed to traffic, but permission is in place to allow for up to 18 months if necessary.
The landmark property was previously home to landmark local businesses including Sheldons, Man To Man and Denise Fashions.
It is the latest example of a growing trend of revitalising vacant upper floors in the Lord Street Conservation Area.
Ironshore Global Limited is leading the project to convert the premises into retail units at ground level and nine self-contained apartments (three per floor) in the storeys above, with access from the far end of the Bold Street. Atelier MB Global Architects will design the scheme.
Bringing more people to live and work in and around Lord Street was one of the ambitions of the Southport Town Deal as a key method of revitalising Southport town centre.
In its application, Atelier MB Global Architects said: “Lord Street, Southport is a fine civic space and was a significant retail destination for many years, but in common with much of the retail sector it has been in decline in the recent past.
“In common with its neighbours and other buildings on Lord Street, the elevation is dominated by the glass and iron canopy which shelter shoppers from inclement weather. Above sits three floors of former office / retail space.
“In recent years the lower floors have been difficult to rent and have only attracted transient short term tenancies. However, during this time the upper floors have been virtually unused. “Despite this the building is in reasonable condition and has a significant amount of original architectural detail remaining.
“The building has been in the same ownership for some time and in the early years the shops and upper floors were let successfully. Recently, however, it has become more difficult to attract tenants, especially for the upper floors.
“The owners, in an effort to create value to maintain this important heritage asset, are proposing to convert the upper floors into residential apartments. The ground floor will remain as A3 retail and we are proposing some small alterations to split the ground floor from the upper floors.”
Bringing building back into full use would help with the ambition to bring more people to come to live and work in Southport town centre, giving a new impetus to local businesses and improving the appearance of the buildings there.
Atelier MB Global Architects said: “The conversion will have minimal impact on the exterior of the building, which is considered to be its most significant feature, architecturally and historically. The shop frontage will be retained and the ground floor will continue in active retail use.
“The proposals will preserve the character of the building by retaining and repairing its significant features.
“Its traditional retail ground floor use will be kept and the property will be enhanced by the virtue of its reuse and its careful repair.
“It will no longer be three quarters vacant and will have secured a sustainable use. This use will not only ensure its condition is improved, it will also result in occupation and maintenance in the longer term, securing the future of the listed asset and enhancing its contribution to the Conservation Area through appropriate reuse and repair.
“The proposed changes offer wider public benefit through the preservation of the building.”
The building was listed at Grade II in 1972, and has a long history of use going back to the Edwardian Era.
In 1908-09 numbering, occupants were – 509: Smith Jas and Sons, Dyers and Cleaners; 511: Luna Madame, Fancy Goods Dealer; 513-515: Righton, Jas, Chemist and Druggist, also at 48 Hoghton Street.
Smith dyers and cleaners remained at the premises until 1924 and Righton the pharmacist was a tenant until the 1940s (although they changed units to 511). In 1910, 511 was occupied by a ladies tailor and in 1914 the tenant was listed as WA Rimmer, hairdressers, wig makers, hair workers, chiropodists and manicurists.
In 1924-5, 509 was occupied by Rothwell W. Household Linen Specialists and 513-515 was Surpass Shoe Co. Ltd. As 515 is also listed as McBride; Ladies Tailor and Furrier, it is possible that this was when the upper units began to be used as retail units.
Upper floor use for offices is evident in the 1927-28 entry which reads as follows: 509: Maison Vandevelde-Soul; manufacturers of real laces and hand embroidered linens; 511: Righton, Jas.; 513- 515: Surpass Shoe Co; the leading shoecraft specialists; 515a: McBride Wm. And Ladies Tailor and Furrier; 515a: Conservative and Unionist Association; 515a: Women’s Unionist League; 515a: Junior Unionist Association. A variety of uses continued with the entry for 1930-31: 509: Neubert Optician; eyesight specialist for spectacles; 511: Righton, Jas, Pharmacist; 513-515: Dolcis Shoe Co.; 515a: McBride Wm; Ladies Tailor and Furrier; 515a: Southport Unionist Association; 515a: Women’s Unionist League; 515a: Junior Unionist Association.
In 1933-34 the occupants were – 509: Neubert, Optician, Eyesight Specialist for Spectacles; 511: Righton, Jas; Pharmacist; 513-515: Dolcis Shoe Company Ltd.; 515a: Southport Unionist Association; 515a: Southport Women’s Unionist League; 515a: Southport Junior Imperial League; 515a: Persian Carpets and Rugs (S. Tiourian proprietor).
By 1939-40, upper floor uses are no longer noted. This could be because the upper storeys were used as storage for the units below. 509: Neubert; Optician, Eyesight Specialist for Spectacles; 511: Righton, Jas; Pharmacist; 513-515: Dolcis Shoe Co. Ltd.
In 1951 there were two ground floor tenants, and an optician operating from the first floor. 509-511: Sheldons Chemists Ltd. Manufacturing and Dispensing Chemist; Neubert Consulting Optician (1st Floor); 513-515: Dolcis Shoe Co.
The last trade directory entry is 1960: 509-511: Sheldons Chemist Ltd. Manufacturing, Dispensing and Photographic Chemists. Neubert Consulting Optician; 513: Dolcis Shoe Co. Ltd.; 513-515: Robins. E. Ltd; Ladies and Children’s Outfitters.
The ground floor unit continued in use as a retail premises into the 21st Century.
The last tenants were Kedem Cosmetics and Status, but the units have remained empty and looking derelict for the past few months.
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