OFTEN frowned upon nowadays for objectifying women, beauty contests were absolutely huge in the 1960s and were regularly broadcast on prime-time television.

In November 1960, Bolton claimed Miss UK as one of its own because the title holder was the wife of Bromley Cross man Noel Fairclough.

Probably the only Miss UK to be called Hilda, the 26-year-old was interviewed by The Evening News just after she failed to win the Miss World contest.

This being the 1960s, a time when journalism was dominated by men, Hilda’s all important statistics - 37, 25, 37 - were trumpeted as early as paragraph three of the news story.

Readers also learned that she was 5ft 6in tall, red-haired and brown eyed - “My hair is naturally dark brown but my eyes are my own,” she said.

She also revealed that she hadn’t felt nervous during the Miss World event because her mind was on other things.

“I was too worried at getting no cleaning done for three weeks and I knew that Noel would have left more than enough shirts to be washed,” she said.

As part of her ceremonial duties, Hilda had a free trip and 10-day stay in Paris. Noel remained at home leading to fears that without his dutiful wife there to prepare his meals, he might starve.

“We have a big fridge and he’s very good at cheese and toast and boiled eggs,” said Hilda.

Fortunately, there was back-up in the form of Noel’s mother.

“She’s fabulous. She feeds him up terrifically,” said a relieved Hilda, no doubt assuaging some of her guilt for neglecting to wash his shirts.

Speaking of food, Hilda said that just because she did not diet, it did not mean that she was having soup and suet pudding three times a day.

Concern about having soft flesh was solved by going to health and strength classes.

“It keeps you firm,” revealed Hilda.

One Bolton woman who was aspiring to follow in Hilda’s footsteps was 20-year-old receptionist Dorothy Holt of Stonestead Way, Bromley Cross.

She was named Manchester’s Miss Italy in a contest held in the Ritz Ballroom during the city’s Italy week.

Her reward for winning was a week’s holiday on the island of Elba.