A FRIENDSHIP spanning half a century and 1,000s of miles has been rekindled - all because of trips to Blackpool.

Pensioner Alice Darby - now aged 68 - was a pretty young mill girl when Frank Crankshaw last saw her.

She left such an impression on the then 17-year old, he decided to track her down 50 years later.

But Frank had moved to the USA and after much searching, made contact through a friend from their home town of Adlington.

It was his memory of works' trips to Blackpool from the weaving mill where they both worked which stuck in his mind for five decades.

Alice, who now lives in Farnworth, had the surprise of her life when the man she only remembers as a young lad, suddenly sent her a letter.

The former weaving girl said: "I was over the moon.

"I could not believe that someone actually remembered me.


"He said he'd always had this photograph of me in his wallet.

"He has had it for the last 50 years.

"He said I was very sweet and he had never forgotten me."

Speaking from her home in Philips Avenue, Farnworth, Alice confessed she did not immediately remember Frank.

Her memory was jogged when he sent her stacks of black and white photographs of them on their works' outings - now from another era of clogs and flat caps.

But Alice, a widow with two great-grandchildren, says there is no chance of the friendship turning into a long-distance love affair - Frank is now a happily married man.

Alice, whose maiden name is Slack, used to live in Anderton Street, just across from the Adlington mill where she worked when she left school at 14, which was bombed in World War II.

She remembers Frank, who worked in the warehouse, as being "a lot of good fun".

He swopped rainy Bolton for the sunshine state of California in the USA as a young man and now lives in San Diego

But Alice was amazed at how much of British life Frank has forgotten.

She worked as a lollipop lady in Higher Market Street, Farnworth before retiring two years ago - but Frank did not know what a lollipop lady was.

She said: "He just said he thought I would have something to do with lollipops because I was such a sweet person!"

And she added: "It just goes to show you shouldn't give up on a person and you can track them down all these years later."

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