Friday, 26 December 2014

2014 Reading Part 7 - The Final!

Yes, another eight books have gone through the careful scrutiny and inwardly digestive process and just in time to make it to the end of the year. Well to be honest, the book I'm reading now may well turn its final page before the year's end, but I'll carry it over to 2015 if that's ok with you. And whether or not...

I finished the last time with Britt Ekland's autobiography and I followed it with this biography (of sorts) of shopping magnate Harry Selfridge. I say "of sorts" because the book pretty much allows those promotional claims of Selfridge whether true or not, so words like "first", "only" etc. must be taken with a pinch of salt. The cover features actor Jeremy Piven from the TV series and it almost comes as a surprise when the various characters from the shop floor fail to make an appearance in the book. Interesting and enlightening, especially if you follow up reading it with a bit of research to see which bits are accurate.

Having read and loved all the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling, I did wonder whether she could follow them up, moving out of the wizarding world. But this book is a cracker of a read. Right from the start which is dramatic and sets the scene for what follows, this is a really good exploration of various mentalities and a jolt to the sensibilities of those who have managed to keep poverty and the underworld of drug addicts and suppliers at bay. If this had been a concert I would have stood up applauding at the end, Miss Rowling. Bravo.

Our friend Matthew Bartholmew, the physician and fellow of Michaelhouse College at Cambridge this time has to deal with fisticuffs and worse between the different monastic orders at the university. With even his friend and Senior Proctor, Brother Michael coming under suspicion of murder, he must tread warily to solve this one! I always start one of these novels by Susanna Gregory with a sigh of relaxation, knowing I am in for a good time!

Ah yes...! The famous five have all been ill all over Christmas - they might clean it up later, but having been ill it's only natural that their parents kick them all out of the house to go on holiday (sorry, convalescence!) in the snow-covered hills of Wales all on their own. "Come with you?" cries Julian's dad, "Get lost - your Mum and I want to have some grown-up fun with the couple next door!"

A locked and scary quasi haunted mansion, a massive farmer with a foghorn voice, a kidnapping, almost a matricide and the illicit mining of radioactive metals - pah! All in a day's work for the Famous Five! Dick! How childish can you ge... hang on... that's George's handwriting...!

There isn't a new Bill Bryson book so I went for one of his editing efforts, a collection of short articles about English icons by well known people (and a handful I'd never heard of...) The icons vary from post boxes to oak trees to salt marshes to birdsong to King Alfred's burnt cakes. Some good stuff, some not-as-good-stuff!

The History Press are the publishers of my own book, Blackpool Then and Now, and I came across Paul Feeney via his book A 1950s Childhood, which has already featured in an earlier article on this blog. This time he takes us through the 1960s with an easy to read bunch of facts, reminders and lists of stuff we could see, experience, listen to, watch, and do to get us in trouble with adults... Oh yes... and the punishments they were liable to mete out... Well worth a read!

I know this isn't exactly a new book, but although I've read the Wilt books, I'd never read this one. It lifts the lid on the antics of Porterhouse - a (fictional this time) college of Cambridge University. The management and tutors have a long tradition of ignoring more academic pursuits for the delights of a lavishly laden table at the college dining hall, financed by the subtle selection of rich, but not very academically-minded students. Attendance at university costs, especially if the degree one must have is not necessarily earned... With a new Master bent on changing things drastically, things take a farcical turn as the tutors and staff strive for their traditions and a besotted student finds the attentions of his domestic help a little explosive...

The final book for this time takes Philippa Gregory's series about the Wars of the Roses and their aftermath into a new generation as Elizabeth, daughter of King Edward IV, is wed to the victor of Bosworth, King Henry VII, first of the Tudors. A brilliant series this, I've enjoyed every one of the books and they have taught me a lot about a period of history that turns out to be one of the more dramatic of this nation. Whilst not based on absolute known fact, this long tale throughout the books is a very likely possibility woven around gaps in the documented past but without denying that documented past. Particularly clever is the curse, uttered in the first book, that by the time of this book (the fifth in the series) looks like coming true and affecting one of the two people who set it. And for those that know their history, you can work out if it did come true or not... Brilliant books.

I very rarely buy magazines these days, but I bought this on a whim, having in the past on this blog and elsewhere scribbled enough of my own contribution to nostalgia.

For this though, my only excuse is that we were staying overnight somewhere and it was the best of what the shop had to offer. Bits are quite hilarious though - how to make a story out of nothing. Someone leaving the table to talk on a phone in a restaurant becomes a meal turned nasty... But hey, other diners saw her looking bored with the conversation beforehand... It could be true!

Meanwhile over Christmas I chopped into my finger with a knife whilst cutting a melon. A doctor (who doesn't know me and hasn't treated me) confirmed that septicaemia often starts with such an injury and can lead to gangrene and even death...

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

90th Birthday Party

Last Saturday we played for one of our own. Miss Jeannie's mum, Joan, was 90 years old and we gathered family and friends together at our favourite Blackpool venue, Coast Riders under the care and catering of our good friends Pete and Janet.

There was a fabulous buffet laid on and I have to mention the Southport bikers' club members who turned up with a huge bouquet of flowers for Joan. She didn't seem to want to take up the offer of a ride on the back of a motorbike, but I'd swear it was declined with a twinkle in her eye...!

Here's the birthday girl with Peter and Miss Jeannie, her son and daughter on the two sides and Elaine, her son-in-law's sister and Miss Franny adding their congratulations.

We tried out a couple of the new songs, knowing we were amongst friends, but "Happy Together", "Keep On Running" and "I Like It" sounded so right that I'm sure audiences in 2015 will get a chance to hear them!

And just in case you think that at the grand age of ninety the birthday girl would stay off the dance floor - think again!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Andre Rieu Concert, December 2014

On Saturday we drove over to Leeds as we were booked (since last February!) to see Andre Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra perform at the Leeds Arena.

I was wondering who would be performing as soloist this year - Carla Maffioletti had left to work in opera. I was hoping, but no, Carmen Monarcha was sadly absent.

The Platin Tenors, Gary, Bela and Thomas were there though - unthinkable not to have them really!

Before the show started we saw a rather familiar face in a red dress take her place in the audience and sure enough the dramatic music of Espana Cani signals the arrival of a pantomime bull which subsequently chases her out of the arena! There's a fabulous postscript to this bit of comedy that I have never seen featured in Andre's videos. I shan't give the game away but it was very very funny!

With neither Carla nor Carmen on the bill, one of the soloist parts was filled by Anna Reker, usually to be found in the small line of the choir at the rear of the stage. Anna, originally from Ukraine, was joined on stage by the Trio St Petersburg and sang a rousing version of the Russian folk song that we are more familiar with in this country as Mary Hopkin's Those Were The Days. This had everyone singing or at least "La-laa-ing" to and she received a huge round of applause for it. The Trio St Petersburg were back a little later with their breakneck speed playing of Zorba The Greek.

Familiar again from some of the videos we've seen, the Berlin Comedian Harmonists came on. This close harmony group have some fabulous voices and I like the touches of humour again and the rollicking final song with the ladies of the choir miming the rowing of boats at the rear!

Mirusia Louwerse was the most familiar of the female soloists and got a great reception from the audience.

Laura Engel, the Dutch-Chilean soprano, made up the third of the female soloists for the concert. She gave us a good performance of Besame Mucho early on in the evening.

We found ourselves sitting under the snow machine. So by the time the Christmas tunes had finished playing we were covered in the stuff! Everybody around us seemed to be throwing handfuls over each other, so we joined in! It doesn't half stick to you... Even having done our best before coats went on at the end, we got back to our hotel room after the show and soon the floor looked a mess! We tidied up as best we could... A brilliant night, I'll be waiting for next year's tickets to go on sale!

Saturday, 29 November 2014

The Perks Family Photo Tin 2

As I trawl through the photos from an old toffee tin belonging to Fran's side of the family, I wonder how many mysteries will I leave behind for my descendants to ponder over in years to come. I can't count on this blog still existing, a century after I'm gone. I'm not sure if anything stored electronically will still be retrievable by then. If you were to go back to 1914 and ask someone then how best to store something safe for 100 years, they would say "Put it in an old toffee tin..." and would probably add, "...and bury it in the back garden!"

One thing has become clear - there's a lot more photos than I thought there would be! Let's have a look at a few. This time most of them will be folks I don't know - family, friends, colleagues or acquaintances?

To start with, there's this. Not a single female other than babies. Plenty of cloth caps in evidence. Some fine moustaches too! This is a mixture of men though. Although the three piece suit is not necessarily a pointer to prosperity - because most men had one for best, what the men wear under all that worsted cloth seems to say this is a gathering of different classes. From the bare-headed gent in the centre with the winged collar and narrow tie to the chap seated to the left of him who wears a closed-necked dark shirt, clogs and a heavy-duty jacket with large buttons.

At the back centre two chaps look like office workers, with lighter suits and ties. They are the only two bare-headed apart from the gent we've already mentioned at the front. Elsewhere we can see neckerchiefs and cravats and a muffler or scarf on the right. A couple of watch chains are in evidence and a briar pipe on the right contrasts with a white clay pipe on the left. A society or works do? The photo is likely to have been taken in Rochdale.

We met the two lads at the back in the last article I think. Frank on the left, the cheeky chap and his brother, the rather more reserved Bob Perks, Fran's Dad, on the right. Two younger siblings (I think!) have joined the family.

It would just kill the atmosphere of some of the photos to clean them up too much! Frank again - a bit younger than in the previous photo. I bet the photographer despaired over the facial expression, but someone loved this photo enough to have it hand-coloured.

Rochdale mill girls at a guess. There's a look of the Brophy side of the family in the girl on the right, it might even be Ellen Brophy, but I'm saying that without even knowing if she ever was a mill girl. If anyone recognises family or friends, please get in touch to advise of names/places/dates etc.

We originally thought this might be Peggy's mother, but her sister said it was another sister and great archivist that I am I can't remember the name she said... This was presented in a frame with metal sides and an oval cut-out, but I've scanned the entire photograph here, uncovering the Rochdale photographic studio name and given it quite a bit of cleaning up. Cleaning some of these photos is almost impossible unless I spend hours and hours on each. Any photo printed on lustre or silk photographic paper shows up either a pattern (silk) or lots of light dots from the raised stipple of lustre paper.

And here's Fran's mum, Peggy herself, seated in the centre of this group who we presume are colleagues. Peggy spent some time as a mill girl, but then ended up (as did Bob and Fran until we got married) working in a leatherworks on Queensway in Rochdale.

Final one for this time shows two children who are total strangers. I don't have any clue who they are. The chap at the back looks slightly familiar though and quite seasonal I suppose. The little lad is hoping for a Hornby train set, but the little girl is just hoping to get away as soon as possible!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Perks Family Photo Tin

I've spent a few hours recently going through an old toffee tin of photos from Fran's side of the family. I suspect a lot of families will have something similar. Maybe an old album, maybe a box, maybe a biscuit tin... It contains photos going back to at least the 1930s and possibly 1920s. Some of the people shown are totally unknown and with next to no chance of finding out who they are unless someone reading this recognises a great aunt or whatever. Some we do know. The main characters binding them all together are this couple...

This is Robert Walton Perks, who we shall call "Bob" from now on. In this late 1930s photo, taken by a Walkie-Snaps operator in Blackpool, he strolls along the Promenade in front of the Central pier with the old 1930s lifeboat house behind him and his sweetheart, possibly by then his wife, Margaret (Peggy) Birch. This is Fran's mum and dad.

Some of the photos - as will be the case with many such collections, thrown together loosely in a tin or box - are in a bit of a state. Many are torn, scratched, dirty. Some are fading to white. A few were not properly fixed during the processing and are fading to black! I'm not expert at this, but I've managed to repair some of the damage to bring back some of the lost detail.

We're not really sure who this lady is. We think it's 1930s. She bears a bit of a resemblance to Ellen Brophy, Fran's Great-Aunt. If it is her, she was instrumental in bringing the young Peggy up as a child.

Here's a family photo, taken after a wedding, judging by the button-holes worn by many in the photo. Perhaps the bride and groom are the couple in the centre of the photo, Clifford Barker and his wife Edith in the cloche hat. Ellen, Edith's sister, is standing next to her in the photo and I wonder whether the little girl, right at the front, is a young Peggy.

In the 1970s I used to collect football coupons, calling in every week to Ellen's house who always asked me in and made a fuss of me if it was raining. At Christmas a glass of sherry would be pressed into my hand (in several houses actually - I was in danger of being over the limit even if I only took a quick sip to be polite!) Sometimes a young girl, my future wife would sit ignoring me on the sofa...

By the time I became more well known to the family Clifford and Edith were in their 70s. He was the elder statesman of the family and was always asked to give a little speech at any occasion, no matter what it was. He would always rise to the occasion, after a modest attempt to decline, saying to me, "I don't know why they always ask me..." Then he would say something flattering and appropriate to the person or couple of the moment and raise a toast to their health, prosperity (or memory...) A lovely gentleman.

By the time Peggy was old enough to work it was only natural that, as a Rochdale girl, she would go to work in a mill. Even I can remember all the mills in Rochdale. My Nana, who had worked as a mill girl used to astound me as a child by sitting with me on the upstairs of a bus, having a conversation with someone at a bus stop, simply by mouthing and lip-reading. Mills were such noisy places that you couldn't hope to hear anyone speak inside one.

Bob, seen here standing shyly next to his brother Frank, hailed from the Wolverhampton area. Born in 1918, in the closing year of the First World War, his background, I am led to believe, was a bit more basic. There's a marked difference in the photos that we think of as Bob's family, than those of Peggy's. Famously (at any rate in the memories of Fran and her brother, also named Bob) he once refused to open the door of his Rochdale home to some of his family who had come all the way from Wolverhampton to see him.

This photo could in all honesty be of Rochdale folk, but we think it is of some of Bob's family. These are what you would call good, honest, heart-of-the-land folk. They've known rough times and have come through them. And though they may well have told Granny to stay in the house out of sight, that's not going to stop her peeking through the curtains and grinning at the camera!

What a shame none of these photos has either a date or a name scribbled on the back... Many of the photos are tiny. Passport-sized dog-eared prints. They don't stand too much enlargement even if they are in focus to begin with!

This is a young Bob standing with ... well, it could be and probably is, his mother and grandmother, but we don't know.

This is quite a poignant photograph from the collection. Bob joined the Leicestershire Regiment of the Army on his 19th birthday in May 1937. His Service Certificate, which we still have, shows that he was stationed in his home country until 14 September 1938. He spent eight months in Palestine then was transferred to India in May 1939 where he spent the first and second year of World War II. On 12 February 1941 he was moved to Malaya, arriving there the following day. One year and two days later, he was captured by the Japanese.

Bob (next to the end on the right, front row) spent three years, 239 days as a Prisoner of War of the Japanese. He spent some of that time in forced labour on the infamous Burma Railway. Whilst not actually working on the bridge over the River Kwai, he did work with gangs cutting some of the clearings. Bob would never speak about his experiences. Just once was he to say privately to me how awful was the treatment given to the native slave workers. Given little food, they had to shin on ropes down cliff faces, plant explosives and climb back up before the charge went off. Many did not have the strength to climb back up and either fell off, or were blown up by the explosion.

Whatever else Bob saw or endured went to the grave with him. Peggy would tease him into his seventies, saying, "Oh, Bob won't talk about the war, will you Bob? What did the Japs do to you?"

"Nowt!" would come a grunt. And I couldn't help but think, "Nowt that you would want to remember..." Bob was liberated on 11 October 1945, was brought home to England the following day and was discharged from the Army in Shrewsbury in May 1946. His testimonial reads: "This man is cheerful willing worker. Honest and sober. Displays intelligence when interested in a job. For more than 3 years was a P.O.W. in Japanese hands."

We'll meet Bob and Peggy again.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Charity Acknowledgement

Received today is a poster from the British Heart Foundation confirming our raising funds of £710 at the gig at Blackpool venue, Coast Riders Diner on 18 October this year.

I expect we will be arranging another charity event for next year - watch the dates feature on the band's page.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Memorabilia Show November 2014

We had a run out today down to Birmingham to meet up with some friends we've come to know over the years. The Memorabilia Show is run twice a year at Birmingham NEC and also has a slot in London. This year it was teamed with a Comic Con - one of those conventions where a sizeable proportion of the visitors dress in costume. There were super heroes, manga characters, Jedi knights, Tuscan raiders, Jawas and a couple of Princess Leias from Star Wars, a few Jokers, a lot of Harlequins (some quite sexy, some quite gross) and a plethora of Poison Ivys from Batman and er... a couple of Lego men...

There were also lots of Gothic horror characters from the likes of Twilight, Hunger Games and so on. Apart from all the weaponry, there were acres of flesh on display, much of it concentrated on just a minority of people... eeeew! Costumes ranged from slinky, to really authentic looking to... yes, well, there was at least one made of painted corrugated cardboard.

It made for a much more geeky Memorabilia than when it was teamed with a sports theme, but we were there to meet some friends we've made over the years, most of whom were first met at such shows.

Caroline Munro (Career highlights [will follow this approach for all artists below]: The Spy Who Loved Me, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Journey To The Centre of The Earth, Dracula AD72 etc) has been a friend since 1997. We first met at a quite early Memorabilia show, when she was sitting with that other lovely star of the big screen, Ingrid Pitt. I remember her days as a model who appeared regularly in Amateur Photographer and Practical Photography in the late 1960s. Then she won a ten year contract starring in adverts for Lambs Navy Rum.

She was the female lead in Golden Voyage of Sinbad and became the only actress contracted to Hammer Films, appearing in Dracula AD72, I Don't Want To Be Born (aka The Monster) and Captain Kronos, Vampire Killer. She memorably eclipsed Barbara Bach, the female lead in the James Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me, playing Naomi, the beautiful assistant to the villain Stromberg. She is memorably killed when pursuing Bond and Russian Agent Amasova when her helicopter is blown up by a missile fired from their submerged car-submarine. Her wink at Bond as she flies past him is always included in the top Bond film sexy moments.

We've had the pleasure of showing Caroline some of the better places to eat in Blackpool and whenever I'm in London we try to meet up for a drink and a natter. A nicer person you just couldn't hope to meet.

Martine Beswick (From Russia With Love, Thunderball, Dr Jeckyll and Sister Hyde, One Million Years BC, A Bullet For The General, Slave Girls, etc) I met Martine through Caroline and spent a couple of hours one afternoon acting as her minder at a signing. She was one of the fighting gypsy girls in From Russia With Love and met a sticky end as Bond's colleague Paula Caplan in Thunderball. She was the brunette counterpart and main rival to Raquel Welch's blonde in One Million Years BC and was the female Hyde to Ralph Bates' Dr Jeckyll in Hammer's Dr Jeckyll and Sister Hyde. Few men would disagree that her dance in the Hammer film Slave Girls (aka Prehistoric Women) is something every man should see before he dies...

Carole Ashby (Chariots of Fire, Octopussy, 'Allo 'Allo, Bergerac, Minder, Dr Quinn Medicine Woman etc.) Carole is probably best remembered as Louise of the Communist Resistance in TV's 'Allo 'Allo. She was one of Octopussy's gang of female circus gymnasts. A real character is Carole - she once had me sitting on her knee for some photos with Helene Hunt, one of her colleagues from Octopussy - how could I refuse...? The first time I met her, a sound technician was feeding a mini-microphone up her shirt and out of her neckline. A tough job, but someone has to do it... She's a delight to talk to.

Shane Rimmer (This could take all day even sticking to the highlights: Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Joe 90, The Saint, UFO, Rollerball, Space 1999, Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope, The People That Time Forgot, The Spy Who Loved Me, Superman, Hanover Street, Secret Army, Superman II, Ghandi, Superman III, Lace, Out of Africa, Whoops Apocalypse, Coronation Street, Lipstick On Your Collar, Batman Begins, etc etc etc...) A modest Canadian with the oh so recogniseable voice - yes! Scott Tracy from Thunderbirds!!! He has an amazing list of 154 credits on the Internet Movie Database going right back to 1957 (remember Hawkeye and the Last of The Mohicans? I didn't mention at least three other James Bond films and he was in just about every TV series in the 1960s including Danger Man, Dr Who, Orlando, The Saint, The Persuaders, The Protectors, Quiller, Hadleigh... - the man is a legend!

He was in The Spy Who Loved Me with Caroline so I got to know him as he was often sat next to her and we'd chat when she got busy with other fans. He was telling me he has even found time to write a book, a thriller called Long Shot. You can buy it as an Kindle book at Amazon.

Now, this lady I hadn't met before. Margaret Nolan aka model Vicki Kennedy is probably best known for playing the masseuse, Dink, in the early stages of Goldfinger. She too has a list of credits as long as your arm, including A Hard Day's Night, Crossroads, Carry On Cowboy, The Great St Trinian's Train Robbery, Witchfinder General, Nearest and Dearest, Carry On Henry, Carry On At Your Convenience, The Persuaders, Steptoe and Son, Carry On Matron, Budgie, Carry On Girls, Carry On Dick etc. Very friendly and the beauty of that 1960s glamour girl is still there shining out!

Fenella Fielding (Carry On Regardless, Doctor In Love, Doctor In Distress, The Avengers (TV), Doctor In Clover, Carry On Screaming, Drop Dead Darling, The Prisoner, Lock Up Your Daughters etc.) The legendary vamp who played up her man-eating image in a couple of Morecambe and Wise TV shows, Fenella Fielding is the only person featured here that I didn't meet through the Memorabilia shows. I first met her at one of Ingrid Pitt's birthday parties-cum-fan club dinners when, to the envy of all other men in the room, I found myself sitting next to her for the night. There was a very glamorous blonde sitting opposite me too - either Ingrid was looking after me or she was trying her best to get Miss Franny sore at me... Anyway I spent the evening acting what I like to call "charming and witty" and what others like to call "like a prat"... I've met Fenella a couple of times since and she always remembers me - hopefully for all the right reasons! Sorry for the awkward pose, there wasn't a gap in the tables at this point and I wouldn't expect a lady to climb over...

Wow... Wish I could write this sort of article every day lol!

Friday, 21 November 2014

1977 Blackpool Photo Album 7 - The Pleasure Beach

We've done it. We've reached the end of our series from the recently unearthed photo album of Blackpool. The photographs were all taken in 1977 and I hope you've enjoyed looking through them with me. Today we'll be taking a stroll through Blackpool's Pleasure Beach. In contrast with the earlier articles in this series, most of the photos this time have already been seen either on this blog or elsewhere in the past. The consolation is that they all show either rides no longer with us, or ones that were under construction in 1977, so there is something in every photo that you can't see today.

The Monorail is only very recently decommissioned as a ride. But never-the-less, it has gone, never to trundle slowly round the concrete pillars holding up the track. Pictured is the futuristic enclosed train that everyone hoped for. Unfortunately the door seals were so good that after a mere five minutes regardless of whether snow was falling, you were sweltering in the heat from exhaled breath and neighbours' body heat! The springs on the doors were really strong too, so holding a door open with your foot to get some much needed fresh air was an exhausting business!

Just in front of the monorail train and on the other side of the track we see the backs of giant animal figures which overlook a row of children's trampolines. Behind them we can just see the black square hole of a bridge over the Pleasure Beach Express. Two of the Pleasure Beach "woodies" roller coasters can be seen in the background. On the left a curve of the Grand National and to the right, the riser of the Roller Coaster.

We've seen the tall thin column of the Space Tower a couple of times already in this series, but here is the gondola that spun round and rose in a spiral up the tower. It remained in Blackpool until 1993 when it had to come down to make way for the Big One, roller coaster. It was moved to Morecambe's Frontierland and renamed the Polo Tower, being repainted in appropriate colours. It has the distinction of being the last bit of Frontierland standing.

In the same area were these rockets. This was an old ride - I have a photo of me and my brother on it that was taken around 1964. Each rocket had a lever control that raised or lowered the rocket as they went round. Riding high was a more comfortable ride as the angle you sat at was either leaning inwards at the top, in which case gravity counteracted the centrifugal force, or leaning outwards at the bottom which added the gravity force to the centrifugal force and your left shoulder took a bit of punishment against the side of the cockpit!

The Log Flume was an immensely popular ride in its time. It was built over the old boating lake in front of the Big Dipper. There were two long downward ramps during the ride which resulted in the fibreglass log carriage splashing down into the chute that carried the water along with the result that riders stood a good chance of coming off the ride considerably soaked. On the lake itself the motor boats had been replaced by the rafts of the Tom Sawyer Ride. This was a slow ride along a series of scenes that would have been better screened off, with just a few tableaux of mannequins and animals that you might see on the Mississippi. I could say it was a bit like the Mississippi stern wheeler ride at Disneyland - but only if you believe that Mr Jinks and Pixie and Dixie were as good as Tom and Jerry...

In 1977 the Pleasure Beach were making a big thing out of their new ride, currently being constructed on the southern half of the park. This was called the Steeplechase and had three parallel tracks running round a twisting layout with occasional rises to go over the "jumps". A horse-glider that reminded onlookers of the Derby Racer roundabout is displayed whilst work is ongoing so that visitors could imagine what it would be like to ride. On the left is the station of the ride being built.

The Virginia Reel was another superb ride that many people thought of as their favourite. It dated from 1922 and in 1977 would have just five more years to stand. Riders sat around the inside of a tub which revolved whilst clattering around a sloping track that zig-zagged back on itself like a piece of corrugated cardboard seen end-on. A great ride for courting couples - as I recall...

Well there you go... We've been through the pages of this photo album in seven instalments. When I picked out this photo album I had a few to choose from. It wasn't even the only one from 1977. It wasn't even the only one with a photo of the Steeplechase under construction... So this series may have come to an end, but there will be another. Not straight away, perhaps, but then... I don't want to get boring, do I?

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