Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Do you remember January 1967?

A report published at the beginning of 1967 sounds oddly familiar to modern ears. Leek was described by a visitor as “ being dead from the neck up”. Architects Shingler Risdon carried out an in-depth assessment of the town with sweeping proposals within its conclusion. The introduction to the report painted a gloomy picture. No major employer had been attracted to Leek since the war. The population had stayed static since the 1930s whilst other Staffordshire towns had grown. The town's young people were leaving as the town provided insufficient opportunities especially for its graduates. There were 26 empty shops in the town centre.

The report proposed a number of bold changes. The bottom end of Derby St near to the monument would be extensively re developed with a new Civic centre, a Magistrate Court, Library and Children's Health Clinic, A 20 mph one way system was devised with a new road connecting Earl Street and Southbank. Derby St would be pedestrianised and a “ new triangular road system around Derby and Hayward Street with the end of the roundabout 44 years before it was achieved.

Leek people looking to book their summer holiday in January 1967 could look at a number of choices to escape to warmer climes. The previous decade saw the start of cheap package holiday to Mediterranean resorts. Typical was a 11 day holiday to the Italian Riviera costing £34 but for the hardy there was a 14 day coach trip to Italy including stops in Brussels, Lake Lucerne, Milan, Florence, Pisa, two days in Rome, Assisi, Rimini, Venice, Innsbruck and Augsburg. The trip included 2,500 miles travel and cost £41. The people of Leek were beginning to follow a national trend as airports such as Luton developed to meeting the need to escape to the sun although Britons were only allowed to take £50 out of the country due to the economic plight of the country.

A footballing legend appeared in Leek in the month before his 52 birthday. Stanley Matthews was the manager of Port Vale and bought a young team to play Leek Town before a large crowd of 1,400. The crowd were entertained in a free scoring game in which the visitors won 6-1 . The home team included the uncompromisingly named Boote and Nutting but they were overwhelmed by the Vale. Stan bossed the game and even at this advanced age his vision and touch had not deserted him.

Young people with increasing disposable income were spending their money on themselves. John English hair stylists of Cheadle telephone number 3367 advertised their new style for 1967 – the Grecian Boy. It was promoted this: “PERFECT layer cutting. To ensure lasting style our new 1967 permanent wave with buoyancy which will give your hair that soft rippling waviness which is so feminine, A hairstyle that will require absolutely No BACKCOMBING a very little lacquer, in fact, just a flick of the brush keeps its shape”.

Amongst the bands that were getting off on the right foot in January 1967 was the Mysteries pictured in the Post and Times who had just been booked by Molloys, a London based agency. One of the members of the band was Iain Sutherland who in the 70s was playing with his brother Gavin in the Sutherland Brothers and later in Quiver. The song “Sailing” was taken up by Rod Stewart and was a number one in the UK charts for 4 weeks in 1975.

The moral turpitude of the nation exercised the mind of the Rev Ken Foster of Rushton who used the Leek Deanery magazine to examine the increased usage of a fashionable word “mini” “ Big Girls are trying to look like little girls, the Commonwealth is becoming mini in company with the motor car and a whole system of mini morals are reducing human society to a state.... surely in 1967 we will have to reverse this process and begin to grow up again before it is too late. We see history and life in great sweeps and apply the fertiliser of common sense to our stunted social economy”