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Tales from a Sporting Life, Percy Youd (1879-1963) Book Cover Tales from a Sporting Life
Memories of a Mersey man who made his mark

by Percy Youd (1879-1963)

Text originally typed by Ken Bazley and edited by Anne Loader
With additional material by Phyllis Bazley and Anne Loader

ISBN: 978-1-901253-31-3

(Old ISBN: 1 901253 31 7)

188 pages, paperback, 146mm x 208mm.
104 B&W photos plus original document facsimiles and plans

Published by Leonie Press, May 2003.
Reprinted March 2007

Price: £ 8.99 UK Postage and Packing:

About the Book

When Percy Youd was born in Frodsham in 1879, the Manchester Ship Canal was soon to be excavated like a raw gash across the nearby marshes. He grew up to be a naughty boy who 'wagged off' school at Overton, played practical jokes and was banned from his corrugated iron church for ringing its bell with stones shot from his catapult. From an early age, natural ability and a marksman's eye singled him out as an outstanding shot with anything from a muzzle-loader to a 12-bore shotgun. His quarry included game in the Cheshire hills and wildfowl on the Mersey estuary. He was a fearless fist-fighter and an excellent athlete, setting a record for the gruelling Helsby Hill Race (he trained on sherry) - among many other sporting achievements.

Percy's first job in 1893 was at the Helsby cable works and in 1902 he moved to its sister factory at Prescot as a foreman. A few years later the company asked him to take on the tenancy of the Imperial Hotel on the edge of the 'Wire Works' complex and he turned it into a popular and well-known sporting venue.

He later moved to Birkenhead and Ellesmere Port where he was a keen member of the Conservative Club and set up in business as an auctioneer. He led many shooting parties and his marksmanship was often the subject of betting. He organised a 100,000-name petition to try to save his Chinese friend, convicted murderer Lock Ah Tam, from the gallows and claimed friendship with Selwyn Lloyd who was MP for the Wirral and eventually became Chancellor of the Exchequer, Foreign Secretary and Speaker of the House of Commons.

In old age Percy wrote some of his memories down in a 22,000-word unpunctuated "lump" of vividly descriptive prose which was discovered after his death - including the script of the Frodsham 'soul-caking' play.

This book contains the gently edited text of Percy's manuscript on the right-hand pages, while the left-hand pages are devoted to background information in the form of family portraits, old photographs and postcards, corresponding modern views, press cuttings and explanatory text. There is also an account by his daughter Phyllis (aged 88 years when the book was published) of her childhood with him in Birkenhead lodgings during the 1920s after he abducted her from his estranged wife. Their landlady had a crystal ball and never gave the girl a proper meal.

"Tales from a Sporting Life" paints a portrait of an extraordinary man in a vanished "macho" world.

Kind collaborators in the project include the Cheshire Record Office, Knowsley Museum Service, Frodsham and District History Group and the Manchester Ship Canal Company. To assist genealogists and local historians the book has been comprehensively indexed. The index can be consulted on-line, so that you can see if there is mention of a person, place or event of interest to you. To access the Index, click hereBook Index

About the Contributors and Editors
Percy Youd
Percy Youd

Percy Youd, author of the main part of this book, was an unwilling scholar who spent a great deal of time 'wagging off' school in the 1880s. He left school at 13 and went to work in the local factory. However, this book shows that he was bright, extremely observant, had an excellent turn of phrase and was probably an excellent raconteur. We only wish he had been at school on the days when they taught punctuation... His major talent was sport: football, athletics, fist-fighting, bowls, billiards and shooting. He was a man's man and lived happily in a masculine world of betting, bowling and wildfowling, but his family life was sad when he became estranged from his wife and children. His death was front-page news in his local newspaper.

Phyllis Bazley, Percy's daughter
Phyllis Bazley

There is also an account by his daughter Phyllis (aged 88 years when the book was written) of her childhood with him in Birkenhead lodgings during the 1920s after he abducted her from his estranged wife. Their landlady had a crystal ball and never gave the girl a proper meal.

The book was launched on May 16th, 2003 at Castle Park, Frodsham, which was a couple of weeks after Phyllis's 89th birthday. The second part of the book chronicles her experiences living with Percy in digs in Birkenhead and afterwards with her mother in Helsby. Many of the photographs in this section of the book came from her own collection and one from 1910 showing her old home, Colliers Square from Helsby Hill, was taken from a picture hanging on her sitting room wall! Phyllis died in June 2008, aged 94.

Ken Bazley, Percy's grandson
Ken Bazley

Ken was responsible for seeing Percy's book in print. He approached the County Record Office with it and and was recommended to get in touch with Léonie Press. He was the first to tackle typing out his grandfather's 22,000-word lump of prose, and did an excellent job. One aspect of the tales that really enthuses him is Percy's teenage experiences of the soul-caking tradition. Ken is a great enthusiast of folk music and morris dancing and spent many years acting in soul-caking plays. He was thrilled to discover a photograph showing his father, Edwin Bazley, soul-caking in Helsby as a young lad in the 1920s and Ken has also found a photograph of himself taking the part of Colonel Slasher in 1985. Both pictures are included in the book.

Anne Loader
Anne Loader

As you would expect Anne makes some considerable input as the Designer and Editor of all the books we produce but with "Percy Youd" she became fascinated by the story. As a journalist and amateur historian she loves doing research and when she decided to print background material and old photos on the pages facing Percy's text she became hooked. "We have had many trips out - to Prescot, Ellesmere Port, Birkenhead, Frodsham and Helsby - armed with notepad, camera and video camera. All of these, and hours spent surfing the internet, have produced lots of 'eureka!' moments which have been immensely satisfying," she says.

Reviews and Further Information

Peter Massey has done a lengthy review of the book in Green Man Review. This is the summary.

Tales from a Sporting Life is an extraordinary description of a vanished world and what must have been an extraordinary man. Ken Bazley and his mother Phyllis are to be congratulated for bringing this in to print. It is well worth a read. The book was edited by Anne Loader and published by Leonie Press of Northwich, Cheshire, England. They specialise in publishing local history and novels of Cheshire. The story of Percy Youd is one of an excellent catalogue of local Cheshire works they have put together.
The full review can be found at Green Man Review - Book Reviews - Youd

Related Information - June 2006

Cheshire Murders, Alan Hayhurst Book Cover If you are particularly interested in the Lock Ah Tam murders Sutton Publishing has just published "Cheshire Murders" by Alan Hayhurst as part of their True Crime History Series.

Alan covers 13 famous murders which occured in Cheshire between 1776 and 1928 and dedicates 14 pages to the Lock Ah Tam case. Anne found the book a fascinating read.

He uses material from Percy Youd's book and also uses two photos of Knutsford Prison in the chapter on a double murder at Smallwood in 1883 which he kindly attributes to us. They were taken from "Knutsford Prison - The Inside Story" by David Woodley but actually belong to Knutsford Historical Society.

Cheshire Murders by Alan Hayhurst, published by Sutton Publishing, 2006, ISBN 0-7509-4076-X, £ 12.99

You can order a copy of the book from us, see below, or from any good bookshop by quoting the Title, Author, ISBN and publisher details given above. However, the following local bookshops have had copies from us for sale. It would be wise to telephone to check availablity with them before making a special journey.




 Prescot  Prescot Museum, 34 Church Street, Prescot  0151 430 7787
 Heswall  Linghams Booksellers, 248 Telegraph Road, Heswall, Merseyside  0151 342 7290
 Northwich  Weaver Hall Museum, 162 London Road, Northwich  01606 40394
 Hartford  Hartford Post Office, The Green, Hartford, Northwich  01606 74121
 Runcorn  Curiosity Bookshop, 52 High Street, Runcorn  01928 575956

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