Last year I was fortunate enough to have an article printed in the Bucket and Spades recalling my life during the war as an evacuee. On reflection I realised that there has not been any reference to growing up as a teenager in post war Weston.
It was a world without all the electronic gadgets and TV that are taken for granted these days.
At the age of fifteen I parted company with the Grammar School. It was purely for economic reasons. I was growing at a rapid rate and frequently needed a variety of new clothes, such as sports clothes and ordinary day clothes. My step parents found it very difficult to find the money required to clothe both me and my sister.
I found employment at Henlys at Oldmixon in the stores as an Office Boy. The pay was £1.8 shillings per week. One pound went for my keep and I had 8 shillings (40p) for pocket money. I eventually found other employment that paid more.
When I left school I also ceased to be a Boy Scout but I joined the Sea Cadets. The Unit was commanded by Sid Merrick. Some boys found ingenious ways of earning pocket money. They stripped an old pram and went outside the railway station and carried luggage of arriving holiday makers to their B/B, usually on Friday evening or Saturday morning. I've no idea what they charged.
It was about this time I was introduced to Old Tyme dancing by my Sister-in-Law. I was in effect her escort. I enjoyed dancing and learnt quickly. I found it quite easy to get partners. In time I progressed to Ballroom dancing. I joined classes run by Pat and Trevor Schofield in the ballroom behind the Grand Atlantic Hotel. This was a good development in my early teens. I renewed friendships with both boys and girls who had gone to the same school as myself. Some of these friendships lasted for many years.
Now that I was quite good at Ballroom dancing (I got Bronze and Silver Medals) it was time to move on, I started to go to the Winter Gardens on a Wednesday evening. This was run by a middle aged lady who played records. Dancing started at six thirty until nine. It was very popular amongst the locals and the R.A.F apprentices. It would be true to say that the apprentices were not very popular amongst the local youths. Bad behaviour was not tolerated. Doug Ashman the Manager (who always wore Dinner Jacket) was firm but fair.
Roller Skating on the Prom started at the end of September. The council allowed roller skating starting at the Pool going as far as the Uphill end. When the season began there would be in excess of a hundred skaters. The numbers would get smaller as the weather got colder. The biggest problem the Prom surface, it wore out the wheels very quickly. It was very difficult to find replacements.
Although we met as a group, the friendships developed, there was no question of forming gangs. In fact I cannot recall any teenage gangs in Weston. Drink was not a problem, we could not afford it and we were too young to use the Pubs. Drugs were unknown to us and were never a problem.
The main meeting piece was Fellas Milk Bar. (I never heard it referred to as Jimmies). It was incredible how long a cup of coffee would last. It was sixpence (2.5p) a cup. We would sit there as long as we could without buying another cup. The staff were very tolerant of us, after all in the winter we were the only customers on occasion. Much of our time in the summer evenings was three or four of us just walking on the prom as far as Fortes for a coffee. We also usually did the same walk on Sunday afternoons.
Dancing became a very important part of growing up. I started going to Saturday night dances at the Winter Gardens. The resident band for the first season was Harry Gold and his Pieces of Eight. This led to me and some of my friends having a life long interest in jazz. They also played at the Rozel Bandstand on Thursday evening.
One of the most popular events was having a top band on the last Saturday of the month. Amongst the most popular were Ted Heath, Geraldo and Jack Parnell.
Most evenings in the winter the town centre went quiet round 9.30 pm. The last bus went at 10.00 pm and it was a long walk home. As we reached the age of 18, National Service was now on the agenda. In a short time 5 of us had gone our separate ways. Needless to say, things changed whilst we were away and so did I and my friends.
The Regent Cinema Weston-Super-Mare in the late 1940's (Opened as "The Picture House" in 1913 with seating for 1088 people Designed by W.H. Watkins of Bristol and similar in design to his Knowle Picture House in Bristol) In 1930 it was taken over by Gaumont and renamed "Regent" and in 1954 it was renamed again as "Gaumont" and closed in 1973 to become a Bingo Hall. It was demolished in 1985