HE was known as the Whistling Busman -- though he was just as likely to be found cheerfully yodelling, playing his mouth-organ or wisecracking with the passengers. This character from the past (a sort of on-board busker, except that he didn't take the hat round) is fondly recalled by Tony Forrester of Bishop Reeves Road, Haydock, who wonders if anyone can put a name to him. For Tony knew the Haydock-route conductor only by his nickname.

"When he wasn't performing inside the bus, he'd stand on the platform shouting 'All aboard for Yick'", recalls Tony. "He advertised Haydock better than any TV advert".

After collecting fares, he'd holler out: 'Is there anybody here riding buckshee (free)'?

Though he's unable to provide the proper name of that larger-than-life character, Tony recalls that he lived near St Helens town centre, at the lower end of King Street . . ."between Hankinson's garage and Arthur Burrows's parlour shop".

This kind of shop -- by no means uncommon half a century ago -- was where the occupant set up in business by placing a counter in the front parlour of the house. SaysTony: "Many a time, I went to Arthur's for threepenn'orth of Spam".

And he kindly adds: "Whenever I read your page there is always something on it that reminds me of past times". Among them the Warrington air crash. "I was on crash duty at the time from Stretton air base (HMS Blackcap)".

The pubs and dance halls, the tanner hops, beer at eight old pennies a pint, boyhood rugby games in the old Brook area of St Helens with a ball made from screwed up newspapers tied with string. "I've been there, done that and got the T-shirt", says Tony.

A letter from one of his childhood classmates, Roy Lally, which appeared recently, triggered another memory for Tony of happy days with friends down Gerards Bridge. "The Maguires, Connors, Caseys, Morrisons and Langleys. I wonder if I'm still remembered by them?"

Tony also has a stab at that old chestnut, about how Haydock got the nickname Yick? His own personal theory is that it sprang from the back of the destination rolls on early 'fifties buses. Placenames, which could be spotted through a glass inspection panel as the conductor turned the handle to locate the chosen destination, were contracted to the likes of PSCT, for Prescot, BKBK, Blackbrook, and STHS, St Helens.

"Haydock appeared as HYK. So how would you pronounce that?" asks Tony.

A nice try, but I prefer a theory forwarded years ago by a local historian. It appears that the old term for a bargee's labourer was yicker (and of course there's a canal on the Haydock border with Blackbrook).

BUT I'm afraid there's not much romance about that nickname. I suspect it was flung out as an insult to the good folk of Haydock, those barge yickers being noted for being strong in't arm but a bit weak in th 'yed.