IN PICTURES: Golden days of the Preston's famous beauty queens

Preston's Elizabeth Grant had a fabulous 2016 and featured frequently in the Lancashire Post's pages: Miss Preston, Miss England, and a contestant in the Miss World competition in Washington DC, writes John Grimbaldeston.

Monday, 4th June 2018, 2:43 pm
Updated Monday, 4th June 2018, 2:57 pm
Gillian Duxbury pictured by former Post photographer Roy Payne
Gillian Duxbury pictured by former Post photographer Roy Payne

Yet this was not an unusual triumph for the city, success in beauty contests is something of a Preston tradition.

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In ‘The Professionals’ she was Bodie’s – or was it Doyle’s? – the two seemed inter-changeable – girlfriend.

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There was probably a little less testosterone in the studios in some of her other appearances: she was a ‘Dolly Dealer’ in ‘Play Your Cards Right’ and appeared with the Two Ronnies and Larry Grayson.

A contemporary was Karen Mortenson-Fowler. She was Miss Preston Guild in 1972 and went on to take part in Miss England, Miss United Kingdom and Miss Great Britain finals, all of which were televised.

Karen held the prestigious Guild sash for 20 years until passing it across to Hazel Taylor in 1992.

Recalling her reign on a visit to the city for the 2012 Guild, Karen said: “I remember being crowned. There were more than 500 girls in the competition, all the girls were from different companies like M&S and British Leyland, but I got through one of the public heats.

“There were 36 girls in the final. I was just 17, I was at school doing my A-levels. I won a 10-day holiday to Miami for two, and £200 spending money.”

Another contemporary, Pauline Green, came from Ribbleton. Her first competition win was as a 20-year-old in 1966, Miss Schubette, a competition run by the London-based fashion and design company.

This was the first of a string of triumphs over the next eight years which saw Pauline meet a host of celebrities and, while she kept her feet on the ground, have glimpses of a glamorous world.

She was part of the Daily Mirror’s Miss Gorgeous Girls Gala, where stars such as Sir Tom Jones, Acker Bilk, Georgie Fame, Lulu and The Bachelors played second fiddle to Pauline and the rest of the “Gorgeous Girls.”

Other personalities she met were Bob Greaves, of ‘Granada Reports’. He was the compere when Pauline became Miss Lancastria in 1970, and Sir Norman Wisdom when she was part of his stage show. The prize for Miss Hibernia included a trip to Dublin, and it was off to Jersey after being crowned Miss Jersey May Queen.

Closer to home in the late 1960s Pauline was runner up in the Miss Blackburn Rovers beauty contest. Other titles were a little more prosaic, but show how beauty contests were once used to promote companies or causes, whereas today enterprises are more circumspect and aware of political correctness in the ways they advertise themselves.

Road safety and pets do not instantly suggest glamour, but Miss Road Safety and British Pet Queen were two of Pauline’s titles.

She was Country Princess at Garstang Show in 1969, and she can be seen passing on the sash to her successor in a YouTube video, accompanied by her then fiancé, Michael.

They married in 1971 and Pauline became Mrs Reeves, and, strictly speaking, broke the Preston connection as they moved to Wilpshire, near Blackburn.

Pauline continued to enter competitions until 1974, and used her expertise in her working life, firstly in the employ of Preston photographers Arthur Winters, and then as a beauty consultant to Elizabeth Arden.

Though such competitions may be a little less prolific these days, and still a little contentious, those who competed, and indeed their partners, enjoyed experiences they would not otherwise have had.

Pauline sadly died in May, 2016, and it is thanks to her husband Michael for sharing his memories and photographs for this article.