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Off to Big School

Author: Peter Keat Published: 29th April 2008 06:20

 

Off to Big School

Looking at the time of year it dawned on me that it was about this time in the school year that most of us first started at Court Lane Secondary School. Amongst the odds and ends that I got last Christmas I received a pack of facsimile newspapers of the 1950's so I thought it would be fun to look at the ones for September/October (The Daily Herald and The Evening Standard) 1957 and see what was happening in the news 47 years ago !!!!!!!

Front Page news was the success of the Russians in putting a satellite in space and getting it to orbit the Earth. This amazing piece of technology was about the size of a medicine ball (remember them from the PE lessons?) and weighed 180lbs. The Russian Premier Mr Khrushchev felt that this was so important that he made an announcement about the success himself.

Further down the front page there were reported riots in Warsaw, Harold Wilson was talking about a Government leak over the increase in the bank rate and a report that the Mortgage rate was going up to 6%. Turning to page two we read that at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton the delegates pledged to do away with slums whilst further down the page was a strange little article which told that the leaders of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa want to put beer on ration! The motion was defeated. Whilst here at home the higher rate of Family Allowance went up to 10/-.

Flipping through more pages. Prince Charles was in the sick bay at Cheam School with a bad cold, local children wrote to him to wish him well and The Queen telephoned to the school to enquire about his condition, but did not visit. Whilst at the Paris Motor Show the new Vespa baby car stole the show.  It was capable of 60 mph, did 60 miles to the gallon and cost a startling £300.  They must have had a short life as I do not remember them at all, does anyone else? Mind you we were spoilt for choice on petrol then Esso, BP, Shell and National Benzol to name just a few

On the entertainment front in London  Max Bygraves and Joan Regan were starring at the London Palladium in ‘Were having a Ball', Dickie Henderson and Sabrina were at The Prince of Wales in ‘The pleasures of Paris' and at The Strand Peggy Mount and Shirley Eaton were starring in Sailor Beware.  On BBC TV we could have watched episodes of Wells Fargo, Dixon of Dock Green or What's my Line and on ITV Charlie Chan, Wyatt Earp and OSS. However the most popular film of the day was still ‘The King and I' with Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr, who also was starring with William Holden in the film The Proud and the Profane..

Now let's look at the top ten, and please note all those long lost record labels. 

 

No 1 Diana by Paul Anka (Columbia),

No 2 Last Train to San Fernando by Johnny Duncan (Columbia),

No 3 Love Letters in the Sand by Pat Boone (London),

No 4 Tammy by Debbie Reynolds (Vogue/Coral),

No 5 Island in the Sun by Harry Belefonte (RCA),

No 6 Wanderin' Eyes by Charlie Gracie (London),

No 7 With all my Heart by Petula Clark ( Pye-Nixa)

No 8 All Shook Up by Elvis Presley (Columbia)

No 9 Handful of Songs by Tommy Steel (Decca)

No 10 Water, Water by Tommy Steel (Columbia)

New releases featured ‘Please Mr Brown' by Sarah Vaughan (Mercury), ‘Where the Flamingo's Fly' by Peggy Lee (Brunswick), ‘That's How it Is' by Rosemary Clooney (Phillips), ‘Ding-Dong, Rock-a-Billy Wedding' by Marion Ryan (Pye-Nixa) and ‘Teenage Wedding' by Bonnie Lou (Paralaphone).  I bet there were a whole lot of names and songs that you had forgotten amongst that little lot!

One thing that I did notice was that the American folk group The Weavers which featured the singer and banjo player Pete Seager,  and who actually only got together four or five times a year to record and play concerts, were virtually banned from performing in the USA because they fell foul of Senator McCarthy's witch hunters.

I cannot finish without a look at the small ads from firms such as Headquarters & General Supplies, Kencast, Gamages, The London Surgical Appliance Company and Marshall to name but a few. Bargains were to be had just for the price of a stamp. An Accordion could be bought for 5/- a week or a guitar for 10/3d, Army Blankets for 10/6 each, a hernia belt for 25/-, or a concrete garage from just 9/8d per week. 

Now what about the larger quarter plate adverts, what were we being sold from them?  Smart Harris Tweed suits for the ladies from Barkers of Kensington for just £7/9/6 or for him a Daks suit for £26. Persil washed whiter and cleaner, Tyne Brand sold Stuffed Pork Roll and the KB television company would sell you a TV or a radiogram for 75gns. If your family did not want to buy a set Radio Rentals would rent you a TV for just 8/- a week. The Amateur Photographer was on sale for 1/- and Woman and Beauty for 1/6d and if needed you could buy a Little X Corselette from Silhoutte it would cost you just 39/11d. Cow & Gate was looking after our food needs and Fremlins Brewery provided the ale along with Watneys and Friary Meux. Just to put things into perspective it was announced that shorthand typists and clerks in the Civil Service were now working a five day week.

My we certainly knew how to live in the late 1950's.

There is so much more on these pages that I think I will have to settle down with a cup of tea, or glass of Guinness and see what else I can find to wake up those little grey cells.

Now that picture:-

A postcard of the Havant Road taken about the time l left school. Have you noticed Lights Ironmongers, Slapes fish shop, Wynne the toy and bicycle shop, Medlam the estate agent, Joly & Bradburn the photographers, Maison Drayton and the Post Office.  If you are very sharp eyed you will note that on the right hand side is the boundary wall and pavement flower beds of Herbert's Nursery, it is amazing how many people do not remember this place.

 

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