Here are the entries about Memories of an Outstanding Event
This challenge is now Closed. Thanks to all those who wrote for us to enjoy.
Numbers B01 and B06 received one vote each.
The next Writing Challenge is to write about your Favourite Home, preferably in Leamington, by 17th May.
B01. ALAN JONES. ROLLING STONES at HYDE PARK 1969
It was probably a Friday or Saturday evening, in June 1969, when the die was cast. A group of close friends were enjoying a pint or two, in The Joiners Arms, Leamington, when someone, I can’t remember who, stated that the Rolling Stones were putting on a free concert at Hyde Park. They suggested that we should attend the gig. The rest of us thought it was a great idea and plans were drawn up. All was going swimmingly until two days before the concert, when the news broke that Brian Jones, ex-guitarist and founder of the Stones, had been found dead in his swimming pool. He had been replaced by Mick Taylor but Brian Jones was still very popular amongst Stones fans. Would the concert still be on? We had been thinking of very little else for weeks. Luckily the organisers announced it would still take place but would also act as a tribute to their ex-member.
Move forward two days, July 5th. My good self, my future wife Jan and five friends were waiting on the platform of Leamington Railway Station, excited at the prospect of the day ahead up the smoke.
We arrived very early and made our way to Hyde Park. It was already busy with hippies, rockers and many other youngsters, some in psychedelic clothing, winding their way to the stage. The atmosphere was electric and everyone was buzzing with anticipation.
The music started, I can’t remember the first act, but I remember Alexis Korner, King Crimson and Family, who I really liked. I also remember The Third Ear Band who were not my cup of tea.
When the Stones took the stage the atmosphere had built up to fever pitch, it was surreal.
Mick Jagger was wearing, what appeared to be a white dress. He recited a eulogy by Shelley. When that finished they released 3,000 cabbage white butterflies. The sky was full of them.
The Stones than played a set/play list of fourteen songs. Can’t remember what they played but they finished with Sympathy for the Devil. Time seemed to stand still but I think it was the occasion that made it seem that way. Something had happened that you knew you would never forget. Estimates of the size of the crowd were between 250,000 and 500,000. It had been a blast or a happening as the youth culture of the time would have described it.
We had time for a pint before our return to the Royal Spa, but were shocked when we were charged two and six for a pint when we could get it for one and eight in Leamington. Didn’t spoil our day though.
Over fifty years later when people speak of the concert it still evokes memories and I’m proud to say, I was there.
1. The inspiration for me choosing this subject was watching the Stones perform Can’t Always Get What You Want on the One World Together at Home concert on the TV a few days earlier.
B02. ALAN GRIFFIN. A Day to Remember
It is customary for a uniformed representative of each of the UK Fire Brigades to attend the National Service of Remembrance held on Remembrance Sunday each year at the Cenotaph in Whitehall. In 1987 I had completed twenty five years service with the county brigade and with retirement on the horizon, I spoke to my Divisional Officer to say that as my swan-song as it were, I would very much like to represent the brigade at the Cenotaph service and I asked if my name could be put forward. Within a few days he confirmed that I could attend the service in London on November 8th and in early November, I received a return train ticket for Leamington to Paddington station and also confirmation of the reservation of a single room at the County Hotel in Kings Cross for the night preceding the Cenotaph ceremony.
On the morning of November 8th, the Fire Service contingent of some sixty men who were staying at the hotel were mustered early and marched to the Foreign Office building in Whitehall where we were formed up in the impressive quadrangle for an inspection by the then Home Secretary Douglas Hurd who spoke to a number of those wearing Long Service Medals me included. Following the inspection we marched out into Whitehall and formed up alongside the Police contingent and facing the massed bands of the Guards Division.
With members of the Royal Family and the Prime Minister and senior Government Ministers in attendance, it was obvious that security was a major concern. Helicopters clattered overhead and we could see armed Police Officers on top of the buildings facing Whitehall. As we stood in silence at the Cenotaph waiting for Big Ben to strike the hour, across the Irish Sea the Provisional IRA chose that very same moment to explode a bomb at the War Memorial in the town of Eniskillen which we later learned from the BBC news had killed eleven people and injured 64 others who like us had gathered to commemorate those British servicemen and women who had fought and died in war.
B03. DENISE MATTHEWS. MEMORIES ABOUT AN OUTSTANDING EVENT
Whilst the “Lights Of Leamington” were marvellous and brought many visitors to the town, from most of the Midlands and further afield, Friday and Saturday evenings were the best, because of the fireworks and dancing.
My outstanding memory was being able to watch the coronation of Queen Elizabeth the second, due to the availability of television.
There were not many televisions around at the time, my parents had had one installed specifically for the occasion.
This was a cabinet, in which sat the smallest screen possible and it had a magnifying glass over the top to enlarge the picture, not the best of accessories as it distorted the vision if sitting at the wrong angle, but this did not stop the enthusiasm of those watching.
Our living room was full of friends who had come to watch, it was almost like being in the cinema with the rows of chairs set to watch the television.
Cups of tea were provided if wanted.
The commentary by Richard Dimbleby had everybody everyone on the edge of their seats. No one could have done this better. It was talked about for days afterwards.
Who would have thought that the Queen would become the longest ruling monarch in English history, an amazing feat. Not only that but that she would also experience the same trouble and traumas as the rest of us.
Needless to say, the television was not returned, it was decided to keep it in our house this proved to be a very acceptable decision.
B04. MICK JEFFS. A Memorable Day
I remember with fondness and joy the day I attended a performance of “Mama Mia” in London. There were many songs by Benny and Bjorn which we enjoyed and Agnetha is a long-time favourite of mine. ‘My Wife and I’ went to the performance with a couple with whom we had been friends for several years through regular meetings of a voluntary group.
The day had begun well with a perfect rail journey and a slow lunch at the hotel we had booked near Marylebone Station. It was so slow that we had to rush by taxi to our next venue of the day at the end of The Mall – Buckingham Palace. It so happened that we and the other couple had been invited to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party for totally different reasons. I was chosen because I had served for some years on a voluntary consumer body representing customers of water and sewage companies in the Midlands (a thrilling appointment).
We arrived at the Palace just in time and negotiated the crowds, the security and the geography of the estate to the back garden. There was a lot of waiting and lots of smartly-dressed people with very few seats for disabled only. There were many military folk and other uniforms; I felt underdressed without medals – I didn’t even have a Blue Peter badge. A military band was playing in the distance. We queued for refreshments which were tiny morsels of unspecified food which we placed on unusual elongated rectangular dishes. I am sure we queued for seconds and thirds. We explored the gardens quite thoroughly. The programme for the afternoon was not clear but we knew that Her Majesty The Queen would appear at some point.
We eventually realised that Palace staff were selecting people to be presented to Her Majesty; sadly, none of our party caught their eyes. The finale was when the throng was divided and The Queen walked down the avenue which was created and paused to speak to the people who had been chosen. We were in about the tenth row of the crowd and, because the Queen is quite small, we only saw the top of her blue hat bobbing along and again in a very distant view when she was on some steps. The event ended when we all sang the National Anthem as the band played.
We made our way back to the real world and waited patiently opposite the Queen Victoria statue for a taxi to take us to the theatre. Taxis were in heavy demand because there had been a recent attack on the Tube and buses and people preferred to use taxis instead. It seemed that several groups of people shared our overloaded taxi to the theatre. We arrived only just as the overture was playing. We enjoyed the performance very much, although we were somewhat ‘hot and bothered’ on a very unusual day. My friend’s wife did not enjoy the evening because she semi-joked that she did not like being up high in the Gods, she hated loud music and the lighting was too bright. Afterwards we had to direct the taxi driver to the hotel because it had recently been given a new name which he had not heard of – so much for the much-praised ‘The Knowledge’.
Certainly, An Outstanding and Memorable Day.
B05. MARGARET RUSHTON. Memories of an Outstanding Event
Saturday 7th June 2014 was a memorable day for me, and one which I was pleased and proud to attend. This was the British Association for Local History’s Annual History Day the Charity Centre, London NW1, a gathering of its practitioners from all walks of life, from the smallest local history societies to the topmost academics in the field.
It was a busy day, filled with presentations, seminars and displays, and I was there by invitation, to see the BALH Personal Achievement in Local History Award conferred on Leamington History Group’s recently-retired Chairman, Alan Griffin.
As many people are aware, in addition to his long list of publications, Alan has worked tirelessly in local history for most of his adult life, and his support for others in the field, both at home and abroad, was rightly applauded by the hundreds of people present. It was a moving occasion.
B06. PATRICK KINGSTON. ROYAL MEMORIES
The year was 1945, a few weeks after VE DAY, when my parents took me to London for the first time-I was just 7 years of age. I wanted to go to Buckingham Palace. After a picnic lunch Park in St James’s Park we arrived outside the palace, where a large crowd had gathered. A kindly lady told us the Royal Family would soon be leaving on a Victory Drive to somewhere in London. What seemed a long time, probably only 20 minutes, the Palace gates swung open for the Royal car to leave. Seated inside was King George VI, Queen Elizabeth (wearing powder blue) and in front of them Princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret, all waving to the crowd. Within a second or two, it was all over, but I do recall the blueish haze from the car’s exhaust as it sped away. What a memory for a schoolboy’s first visit to London.
On Thursday 5th April 1951, and now 13, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth drove through the centre of Leamington to the railway station in Old Warwick Road. As Easter was early that year, I was still on school holidays, so the day before, with my one penny platform ticket, I watched red white and blue bunting etc being put upon the London bound platform (now No.3) and at the station’s entrance. Unlike today security was less strict and some details of the visit had been released to the public. In those days, Thursday was early closing resulting in large crowds lining the route, via Emscote to Leamington. With my parents in the late afternoon, we stood in Bath Street outside was used to be Maund’s music and toy store, by the corner of Regent Place. Much cheering and flag waving heralded the Royal car’s approach. My lasting memory as it passed was of the King looking drawn and ashen. Immediately afterwards I ran off along High Street, Radford Road, Camberwell Terrace and over the ladder bridge to Eagle Recreation Ground to see the Royal Train leaving Leamington. With just minutes to spare 2 gleaming ex Great Western “Castle” class engines Nos. 5055”Earl of Eldon” and 5044 “Earl of Dunraven”, came into view, pulling a very regal plum coloured train, that I would not see again until Coronation year in 1953. What made it so memorable was the sight of Queen Elizabeth, standing at a saloon window, waving to those watching the train steam past. Sadly, the following year the King died, but the Queen, as Queen Mother did visit Leamington again in 1958 and 1966 and, thankfully, I was there to see her. Again more Royal memories for Leamington.