Emblematically Speaking - Prestwich Heys

Tue 15th August 2017 | Prestwich Heys
By Stewart Taylor

Prestwich Heys FC

This club emblem is particularly interesting as it is an amalgamation of a football club emblem and a town coat of arms.

The bottom half is a variant of the original club emblem and originates from Heys Road School for Boys which opened in 1936. The school has changed names several times during its history, and is now known as Prestwich Arts College.

It was from the school that the Heysians was formed which was, essentially, a social network for both current and former pupils to pursue a range of activities out of school.

This included theatre groups, walking groups etc. and, of course, the football team which was known as Heys Old Boys.

The helmet represents wisdom and security as well as strength, protection and invulnerability, all of which sound quite appropriate for a school old boys football team. Quite what the other elements in red to either side of the helmet represent is not at all clear.

It could be thought that they are a representation of decapods – often shrimps, lobsters etc. but the original school emblem shows them more as plumes coming from the helmet. Plumes generally represent “nobility” in heraldic design, and that could be considered to be aspirational..

The club changed its name in the mid-sixties at the time of their famous FA Amateur Cup runs, which drew thousands to the old ground of Grimshaws on Heys Road, and saw the club as the leading amateur club in the region.

At this time the club were rewarded for this success with the honour of being able to wear the coat of arms of Prestwich, which at the time, was its own municipal borough. Since 1973 Prestwich has formed part of Bury. Only Prestwich Heys and Prestwich Cricket Club have this honour.

The Prestwich town coat of arms is the top part of the current emblem. The shield of red and white features two red roses - symbolic of the county of Lancashire.

The two gold swans heads come from the arms of Baron Cawley of Prestwich and could be representative of poetic harmony. Frederick Cawley was a wealthy cotton merchant and represented Prestwich as a Liberal MP from 1895 to 1918. He was created a baronet in 1906 and ennobled as Baron Cawley in 1918.

A fleur-de-lis below is indicative of faith, wisdom and valour, which is often used as a symbol of St Mary to whom the parish church, appropriately located on Church Lane, is dedicated. The rose and fleur-de-lis design is repeated on the crest.

The fleur-de-lis appears yet again in association with the two supporters. To the left is a Wyvern regarduant (head turned backwards) and to the right a Lion in similar pose.

We all know of lions of course, and the use of a Lion as a device in heraldry represents courage and majesty. A Wyvern is a creature of legend with a dragon’s head and wings, a reptilian body, two legs and a tail. The use of this device, meaning valour and protection, is frequent in heraldry.

The supporters are derived from the wyvern and lion of the Egerton family, Earls of Wilton. The first Earl of Wilton was Thomas Egerton (1749 – 1814), who was one of the subscribers to the Manchester, Bury and Bolton canal navigation.

It is recorded that he lived for part of his life at Heaton Hall, which is part of the Heaton Park estate which lies close to Prestwich.

The motto 'Recte Fac Noli Timere' (Latin) translates as Do right, Fear not.

(With thanks to Stephen Howard of Prestwich Heys AFC for his help in compiling this article).

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