Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Do you remember- February 1964?

 An event of major significance dominated the local newspapers in late February 1964. Two Leek mills were damaged by fire. The Clemensha Mill in New Street went up in flames followed 5 days later by Compton Mill owned by Job White and Co. Over 500 jobs were affected and much upheaval followed. The damage done amounted to £450,000. As both mills were close to houses several hundred residents and patients from the Cottage Hospital had to be evacuated in what was a major Civil defence exercise. Rooms at community centres at St Mary’s RC Church and All Saints were made available  to  the evacuees . The redoubtable ladies from the WVS swung into action with their tea urns at the ready. A report likened the fiery scene to that of Ancient Pompeii with burning ash, paper and fabric raining down resembling a volcanic eruption. Two people, one a fireman were hurt.

 Bagnall Parish Council was the stage for heated debate and accusations of unconcern at a series of meetings held to protest at the routing of high tension electricity pylons through the area. The dispute had been going on for some time and in 1962 the Parish Council had made a formal protest to the Central Electricity Generating Board against the proposed path. The Council’s case against the pylons uncannily resembles the arguments put against wind turbines some half a century later. They included visual impact, conflict with habitat, threat to domestic/wildlife and possible health implications. Villagers felt that the pylons should go through Stoke. A local Councillor William Hancock stormed out of a meeting because protestors believed that he was not doing enough to fight the plan. Councillor Hancock vociferously denied this was the case. In the end Bagnall’s complaints forced the authorities to change their plans and the pylons went through the Abbey Hulton Council estate where in fact I was living in 1968. Early victims of the pylons were racing pigeons that belonged to a friend who collided with cable.

 The world of work was very different in 1964 and equal opportunity legislation lay a decade on. Brough, Hall and Nicholson were looking for an energetic young man to work in the Production Control department. At WH White young girls willing to learn were required. AJ Worthington wanted a Graff knitter and there were a range of posts needed to be filled at Wardles such as fillers and warpers.  In fact the job sections were full of vacancies and nationally by 1967 we reached a situation where they were more vacancies than there were people on the unemployment register.

 On 21st February 1964 the Rolling Stones appeared at the Gaumont Hanley only 3 months since they appeared in Leek Town Hall on Christmas Eve. They were second on the bill to All Star’s 1964.The following day “ The Marauders” played at Leek Town Hall. A Birmingham band they were on Decca label and for part of this period has Jimmy Page later of Led Zeppelin as a session musician. 

 Cars for sale in the early spring of 1964 included at Don Ratcliffe’s of Biddulph a new Austin Countryman cost £616 whilst a A40 was £598. In the same town at George Rhodes  an MGB Olde English was £834 whilst a Riley Yukon could set you back £571.

 Mr Robert Plant of Westwood Hall Farm was one of four people in the country who attempted and failed to tell the difference between farm fresh eggs and Egg marketing board “ Lion” eggs in an experiment conducted by the BBC Radio Programme “ Today”. The Egg Marketing Board “ hatched” the slogan “ Go to work on an egg” and used  Tony Hancock to advertise the healthy qualities of the product