Blackpool friends reunite 50 years after gruelling pram walk to London

They raised £300 for Shelter at a time when wages could be around £5 per week

Three friends who made headlines when they undertook a charity pram push to London as teenagers have met up 50 years later to reminisce about their epic trip.

School pals Paul Naylor, Mark Waddington and Michael Brennan were aged between 15 and 16 when they were waved off on their three week journey from Blackpool Town Hall by Mayor Edmund Wynne in July 1972.

Staying in church halls, they were greeted by mayors in every town they stopped and spent their last night sleeping in a crypt. On reaching Trafalgar Square, the trio (by then joined by a couple more walkers) were met by Oscar winning actress Glenda Jackson.

More: Blackpool chippy’s middle of the night food plans that are putting off nearby hotels

They had raised £300 for homeless charity Shelter, which Ms Jackson also supported. It is a total dwarfed by today’s fundraising targets, but was raised at a time when wages were £5 a week. Provisions were carried in the pram, Paul undertook the first leg of the journey to Preston barefoot, and in days well before mobile phones were invented, the pals had no way of contacting their parents back home.

The pram was pushed along a route which took them through dozens of towns including Preston, Manchester, Macclesfield, Coventry, Luton and St Alban’s before they arrived in the capital. They were described by the Luton News as “footsore, but not yet weary” after featuring in the newspaper during the 310 mile push.

Paul, Michael and Mark were reunited at the South Shore home of another former Blackpool Mayor Robert Wynne to recreate the original photograph of them setting off taken by the Blackpool Gazette, with Robert standing in for his late father Edmund.

Paul said: “At the time of the pram push the three of us were aged between 15 and 16 and were classmates at Arnold School in South Shore. We decided to do the pram push and raise money for Shelter, and set off on July 15 1972.

“It was a different world then. Our parents didn’t bat an eyelid, but before hand we had rung up various churches along the way who gave us accommodation. But these were the days when there were no mobile phones, so we had no way of keeping in touch except finding a phone box.

“In each town we were met by the mayors who signed something to say they had met us on the route and we were looked after along the way. For some reason I started out walking barefoot to Preston! But none of us suffered from bad feet or anything.

“We carried all our provisions in the pram, and we did have an issue with the pram at one stage but went to a bike repair shop to get it fixed. When we arrived in London we were met by Glenda Jackson, who was a supporter of Shelter, and she ended up getting in the pram!

“She was really interested in what we had achieved and how some 15-year-old schoolboys had set about walking from Blackpool to London.”

The group spent their last night sleeping in the crypt of St Martin’s-in-the-Field’s Church at Trafalgar Square.

Paul added: “I remember when they closed the doors behind us, it was really dark. We raised £300 from the pram push, which in those days was a lot of money when you think my first wage was £5 a week.”

Along the way the trio were joined by another classmate Graham Ashworth, who was 14, and a local teacher Jim Livesey who was asked to join the pram push by Shelter.

Paul, who still lives in South Shore, went on to be an electrician but also sang in Blackpool band Stiff Richard, while Michael has had a career as a media and video editor and Mark worked as a tax advisor.

Paul said: “We had not seen each other for a few years, so it was great to get together and recreate the moment we set off on the pram push.”

By

Shelagh ParkinsonLocal democracy reporter
  • 05:15, 26 AUG 2022

1 Comment on "Blackpool friends reunite 50 years after gruelling pram walk to London"

  1. Very good write-up. I certainly appreciate this website. Keep writing!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*