Friday, January 5
As we drove past the pile of rubble that was recently a derelict town centre shop, the two ladies in the back looked over and started to reminisce about what it once was. Having gone through it's uses in the last few decades they started trying to remember what is was when they were young. Now seeing that as they later told me that they were both in their eighties they must have been talking about the 1930s and 1940s. After a few minutes of memory racking one of them suddenly piped up "I remember now it was that gay gents hairdresser." Yes your right said the other , and then seeing my mouth open and ears flapping wagged her finger at me and said "yes that was before it was fashionable, we did have gays back then, but we called them something else." "Yes" the other lady joined in " the younger generation think that they invented sex, well let me tell you there was just as much of it about back then, if not more" They went on to tell me that even though it was a working class shipbuilding town Barrow was very tolerant and did have a thriving gay scene. Even before the invention of the so called gay bar some local pubs were well known meeting places. Two they remembered were the Welcome Inn, where lesbian's met and socialized and the White Lion which was a notorious gay male pickup joint. Amid much giggling and shushing they told me of things that happened in the blackout that "would make your hair curl"and that Barrow's nightlife was much busier and naughtier back then. Because of it's docks and especially during the war Barrow had lots of sailor's and soldiers who drank in different pubs from the local munition workers and shipbuilders. The ladies told me of two they remembered, which are long gone now, the Snipe and the Bull which were the favorite hangouts of local ladies of the night. "Not that we went in there you understand" they said but they went on to tell the local legend of the ladies having a price written on the sole of their shoes, marvelous what you could get for half a crown back then.