Thursday, 27 March 2008

1980s St Luke's Area Fun

Exploring the long undisturbed boxes and suitcases in my attic recently, I found some copies of Neighbourhood News - which was the newsletter of St Luke's area, Arbury Ward, back in the mid-1980s. The newsletter's circulation area included Garden Walk, Bateson Road, Stretten Avenue, Akeman Street and Darwin Drive.The newsletter was produced by the City Council's Community House at 92, Stretten Avenue, with council employees working alongside interested local people on each edition. As an interested local, I was quite heavily involved in the newsletter's production and it seems bizarre now to look back at those days, around twenty years ago, when Prit Sticks and Letraset lettering were still essential equipment for newsletter production.

The Spring Fair of 1985 - the new City Council Community House was the force behind this and many other initiatives in the neighbourhood.

The House was enthusiastically greeted by most local residents, a splendid facility for an area which was thought by some to have been rather neglected by the Council in earlier decades. A popular component of the Spring Fair of 1985 was a parade - the "Procession of the Universe".

From the Neighbourhood News, May, 1985...

Approximately a hundred people took part in Procession of the Universe, which featured a giant moon, sun and universe, with dozens of attendant comets and stars. It was very colourful and attractive, and drew a good audience on the route.

Heavy rain forced the fair to move indoors to St Luke’s school. Nevertheless, there was an estimated attendance of three to four hundred during the afternoon. Afternoon teas were on offer, and about a dozen different stalls and competitions. Entertainment was provided by members of the Savoy Jazz Band, and later in the afternoon by a steel band, Steel Connections. A children’s theatre performance was given by Satellites Theatre Company. An-almost-under-water tug o’ war took place despite the rain, and an Easter bonnet competition.

Although the 1985 parade was marred by rain, the elements did even worse in 1986 - sending a freezing snow storm! I was acting as a steward for that year's parade, themed "Fantasy On Wheels" (that's me on the right, in the fetching snorkel parka), and wrote in my diary:

Faces painted, costumes on, decorated trollies, bikes, go-karts, etc., well to the fore, the Fantasy on Wheels Procession set off along Bateson Road, flutes tooting, tambourines clashing...

It began to snow. Huge, freezing cold flakes from a lead-grey sky. Everybody tried to stay jolly. A few were quite manic. I huddled in my parka and rather neglected my stewardly duties in favour of keeping warm...

The Procession was cut short, missing Darwin Drive and Akeman Street, but as the May 1986 edition of Neighbourhood News tells us, the day held other opportunities for enjoyment...

April the 5th was the day local children were rewarded for many hours of hard work spent on the workshop, under the watchful eyes of Jerry, Sue, Neil and Jackie. Much praise must also go to countless others whose much appreciated help was undoubtedly also rewarded at the end of the day.
The workshops were both pleasant and friendly and nothing could fault Ms. Mourarity in her ability to keep children and adults alike occupied and in good humour, which we regretfully needed in the sudden downpour of snow, but this did not deter anyone from having a good time and later going on to the fete held in the United Reform church hall, where the very versatile Neil and Sue entertained the children with a Punch and Judy show. 

While music was played on stage we enjoyed the stalls and the lovely spread of tea and sandwiches. It was finished off with prizes being given for the best dressed bikes and trollies.

The day itself was rounded off with an evening’s entertainment at Chesterton School, music being supplied by the Paragon Quadrille Ceilidh Band. The evening started with two clowns, who kept the children amused, and many adults, while others chose the opportunity to use the bar supplied by the Portland Arms. 

Lively dancing was only interrupted by Jerry and Helen’s singing, and Jerry again with Jackie, doing a double act as a ventriloquist and her dummy.
The evening was nicely finished off with supper followed by a sing-a-long and one last dance…

 Who cares about the weather? 1980s fun in the St Luke's area...-

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