Top Picture: Sir Adrian Boult
Web Page 988
Second Picture: The Savoy Dance Hall
Entertainment in Portsmouth in the 1950’s
The other day I was researching the music and entertainment scene in Portsmouth and I soon discovered that the City was alive with stars and entertainers throughout the year. The one thing that I did not expect to see was a mention of Court Lane School.
In the entertainment listings, to my amazement, I read that on March 19th 1956 Sir Adrian Boult conducted the choir of 150 at Court Lane Modern School in rehearsal for a national Festival of School Music. Now this is something that I had never heard of so I set off in search of the truth. My first and only port of call was to June Blitz as she was the only teacher I know that was working in the school at the time and whose contact address I had. She most certainly did remember the occasion and she thought the reason that such a prominent and well respected conductor should grace the school was because he was a friend of the Head Master Wally Dunstan, (she thinks that he also knew Sir John Barbiroli). I did not start at the school until September 1957 but I thought news of the great mans visit to the school would have still been buzzing around.
Famous conductors apart let’s look at the line ups at some of the live entertainment venues in 1956.
The Savoy Ballroom hosted many bands and was most certainly the hottest venue in town for Dance Bands, so it is best to list them month by month.
January: Johnny Dankworth and his Orchestra , Sid Phillips and his Band
February: Ted Heath and his Music, Lou Preager and his Orchestra, Ronnie Scott and his Newly Augmented Orchestra
March Eric Winstone and his Full Broadcasting Band, Stan Kenton and his Orchestra play two sit down concerts. 16th Ray Ellington and his Quartet Tubby Hayes and his Orchestra
April 20th Ken Mackintosh and his Radio Band, Eric Winstone and his Orchestra
May Johnny Dankworth and his Orchestra, Alex Welsh and his Dixielanders, Mick Mulligan and his Magnolia Jazz Band with George Melly,
June 1st Ted Heath and his Music, Ken Mackintosh and his Orchestra, Freddy Randall and his Orchestra
July 20th Tubby Hayes and his Orchestra, Ted Heath and his Music admission 5/-d.
August Johnny Dankworth and his Orchestra
September Johnny Dankworth and his Orchestra
October 5th Ray Ellington and his Quartet, featuring Marion Ryan, Ted Heath and his Music
November 9th Joe Loss and his Orchestra, Ray Ellington and his Quartet featuring Marion Ryan
December 14th Ted Heath and his Music, Ken Mackintosh and his Orchestra
At the Theatre Royal the customers could see Jon Pertwee and the Kentones appear in January and Monswer Eddie Gray and Arthur English appeared in February. In March Ronnie Hilton and May Anne Shelton, The Five Skyliners and Arthur Worsley appeared. In June Elsie and Doris Waters starred with Peter Cavanagh and Saveen with Daisy May and in the following month they could see David Nixon plus Reg Varney and they were both back for a second week later that month. In September Fred Emney and Betty Driver appeared and at the end of the month the ‘Cheeky Chappie’ himself Max Miller graced the stage whilst the end of the season in October saw a week with Vic Oliver.
South Parade Pier had a variety of acts: In March Victor Silvester and his Ballroom Orchestra play on South Parade Pier Victor senior was in hospital so his son Victor junior conducted the orchestra. In May Danny Kaye made an appearance and in June Cyril Fletcher appears for two weeks followed by Eric Delany and his Band Show, the Tommy Trinder and in July Jack Parnell and his Orchestra
The Kings Theatre was a little more high brow with Rawicz and Landauer in March, Fenella Fielding in April and the Sadlers Wells perform a variety of ballets in June. Come August George Formby stared in 'Too young to marry' and this was followed by The Ballet Rambert and Cardew (the Cad) Robinson in October.
Just a look at a couple of other events both in October, this time in unusual venues.
October 16th saw Wilfred Pickles bring 'Have a go' to the Trafalgar Club in Edinburgh Road and it's broadcast on the BBC Light programme.
And how they managed this I really do not know for on October 25th Frankie Vaughn appeared for a Youth Club dance arranged by Hillside and Goodwyns clubs.
Stay in touch,
The photo called Court Lane Children, I do remember many of them because I also went to Court Lane. In fact Ian Sellars lived almost opposite me in Lonsdale Avenue, very near the school. But to my surprise there's also Susan Jones in the photo. Well, what can I say the truth I suppose, is always the best. For a long time at Junior School she had a spell on me, it was of course only puppy love but I still even up to today wonder what happened to her. She used to live in a road which was on the route to the back of the Odeon cinema car park. This route we took on our way to the Saturday Morning Pictures. Wow, how that picture of her and some of the others has bought a flood of memories back to me. So much so that I had to write and tell you.
On our visit to Portsmouth last May I was surprised that Drayton had changed very little and a few shops from our day still remained. The Co-op of course and a Fish & Chippy still there where Fishy Francis was and of course no milk machine outside. Across the road was still a Womens hairdresser's. Yes, the old New Inn was under refurbishment, I think it's going to be a restaurant?
And back on the Co-op side the Opticians, with the name of Malcolm Smith, remember me asking you later if anyone knew if this was indeed the Malcolm Smith of Manor Court and in my class?
Of course no Nappers the hardware shop, Lights and my favourite shop R.A. Fraser's where I spent some of my early wages on records. In fact just dug out one of my Pink Floyd albums to check the shop name from the sticker, yep I still have this and a few others. I believe you worked there around this time, so you might have sold it to me!
Further afield, as we were staying in a B&B on Portsdown Hill road I got the urge to look at Dead Man's wood, a favourite haunt of ours as kids. As you know it's in the middle of a golf course now, but that didn't deter me. Inside the wood it is a lot more open now with all the shrubbery I remember now cleared and two war memorial stones are still there!
And lastly we managed to find time between various meet ups with old pals for a trip to Hayling and the Kench, where my Father had a houseboat back in the late 50s, that is gone now but still a half dozen remain. And of course we had a great big meal in the Ferry Boat Inn (recommended) after, that Inn has certainly grown since our days!
Thanks so much for the Staff list. What a diverse lot they were............as indeed were their teaching methods!. No uniform box ticking for them. You learned as much from their personalities as from their subjects. They were clearly in charge of their own teaching, and it made them individualists. I 'm sure we had more variety in those far off days than many do today.
There were some unforgettable staff at Manor Court at that time. Bert Ray, with his suppressed humour ....."I'll take umbrage on you boy".David Gee's gentle wisdom. Norman Folland's patience....by God he needed it! Mick Jones's extrovert enthusiasm. Ray Dopson who never talked down to us. John Stevens who liberated the most feeble voices and gave me a lifelong love of music. There were many more of course. When you are young you take it all for granted. It is only later that you realize how much some of these folk enriched our lives. And there was always Miss Burden, our resident Pre Raphaelite beauty...... It was'nt all good...........careers advice!!!.... But, like you Peter, I still own a coffee table and teapot stand, so we could have done furniture making....,rather badly!!
News and Views:
It's been reported that "Monkess Business: The Musical" will open in Manchester, next March. Manchester is, of course, the birthplace of Monkee Davy Jones. The story line is described by producers as a "madcap Austin Powers-style plot."
On this day 12th December 1960-1965.
12/10/1960the number one single was Tell Laura I Love Her - Ricky Valance. The top rated TV show was Bootsie & Snudge (Granada) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68.
12/10/1961the number one single was Michael - The Highwaymen and the number one album was The Shadows - Shadows. The top rated TV show was Sunday Night at the London Palladium (ATV) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations.
A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
12/10/1962the number one single was Telstar - The Tornadoes and the number one album was Best of Ball Barber & Bilk. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
12/10/1963the number one single was Do You Love Me? - Brian Poole & the Tremoloes and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
12/10/1964the number one single was Oh Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison and the number one album was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
12/10/1965the number one single was Tears - Ken Dodd and the number one album was Help - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.