Lancashire nostalgia in 1977: Preston poly expansion, beefy runaway, 'drunken' swan and topless pop group

Here's a look at some of the stories that were making the headlines back in 1977:
These buildings, part of the St Peters art centre complex on Fylde Road, form some of Preston PolytechnicThese buildings, part of the St Peters art centre complex on Fylde Road, form some of Preston Polytechnic
These buildings, part of the St Peters art centre complex on Fylde Road, form some of Preston Polytechnic

Big land boost for Preston Poly’s future

Four years after Preston got its polytechnic the town has been told just how big it is going to be. An area of 37 acres astride Fylde Road has been officially designated polytechnic land and will be reserved for its future development.

Most of it is already cleared and ready for its campus role or housing college buildings. But other sites have been earmarked for the first time.

The escaped bullock causing havoc at Preston's cattle market on Brook StreetThe escaped bullock causing havoc at Preston's cattle market on Brook Street
The escaped bullock causing havoc at Preston's cattle market on Brook Street
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The decision, following a county council review of the polytechnic’s future needs, has been welcomed by the principal, Dr Harry Law, and its first council chairman, Coun Harold Parker, as essential for proper planning.

Coun Parker predicted it would eventually result in “the nicest urban polytechnic campus in the country.”

“I think when the development evolves, the public will agree it will be an asset to the town, not to mention the economic, educational and social benefits of having it in Preston,” he said.

The area officially designated takes in all the old and new Harris College buildings in Corporation Street, the new student residence on Brook Street and the St Peter’s art centre complex on Fylde Road.

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Look back at a selection of pictures from 1977 here
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Pair of beefy runaways rustle up a riot on streets of Preston

Two bullocks made a bid for freedom as they were on their way to Swift’s abattoir in Brook Street, Preston - and for two hours led cattlemen and police a merry chase around town streets.

The bullocks jumped a cattle grid as they were being unloaded. One was caught an hour and quarter later, but the other remained free.

It was finally cornered behind the locked gates of the National Coal Board depot in Fletcher Road.

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But the bullock - described by one of the chasers as being like a champion racehorse - was still giving headaches to the depot staff, police and cattlemen.

For nearly an hour it darted in and out of sidings and between mountains of coal. Then - when they thought it was cornered - abattoir men tried to lead it into a waiting truck.

A large mobile coal digger, lorries and fencing were erected as barriers to prevent a further escape.

But as it was chased towards the truck, it jumped a wooden barricade and was free again.

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The 800 cwt, two-year-old Fresian was finally cornered behind the depot’s offices - and led away.

Swift’s abattoir manager said it was “highly unusual” for cattle to jump a grid and escape.

‘Drunken’ swan went on a bender

Hic! It looked like a case of wide-eyed and wingless as an aging swan staggered its way along the Lancaster canal near Preston.

For the usually-elegant bird careered through the water, crashing into the banks and barging willy-nilly into canal craft. In fact, to the amazed onlookers it looked as though the swan had had a beakful.

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Eventually residents in nearby houses in the Ingol area became concerned about the dodgem-car tactics of the bird and Preston police were called in to investigate.

But when a “flying squad” swooped on the canal, they found not a potential jail-bird suffering from drunkenness - but a partially blind swan.

The bird was taken to an RSPCA home in Southport where a vet diagnosed an eye infection which had temporarily blinded the bird.

A Preston police spokesman said the Ingol residents took a great interest in the canal swans.

Topless all-girl rock group smash rule for night spot

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A night spot which operates a strict dress rule for its patrons has booked a controversial all-girl rock group with an equally strict rule... of undress.

The Danish group, the Ladybirds, who insist on playing topless, are part of a £150,000 New Year package unwrapped by management at the Park Hall Leisure Centre, Charnock Richard, near Chorley.

Their most expensive ever line-up for 1978 includes first time appearances for Jimmy Tarbuck, Lulu, and Peters and Lee, with return visits from established super clowns like Ken Dodd and Tommy Cooper.

But by far the biggest eyebrow raiser is the booking of The Ladybirds on the same bill as comedian George Roper in mid-April.

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The group who come from Copenhagen have triggered off civic protests in English towns from Plymouth to Morecambe but have survived unscathed for some eight years now.

Park Hall Cabaret boss Mike Sullivan, who earlier this year banned customers wearing jeans, polo neck sweaters, tee shirts and leather or suede jackets, admitted: “We have had reservations in the past as to whether Park Hall is the right place for this type of act but we are convinced they’ll got down a bomb.

“I expect one or two protests but we have put them on the same bill as George Roper who normally attracts a male audience.”