My favourite New Year’s Eve picture – from an old scrapbook, the Cadillacs welcome the 1960s – and no-one knew what was in store!
NEW YEARS EVE
Selections from post-war New Year’s Eve celebrations around the city (with thanks to Mick Cooper)
1945 – the first NYE after the war and Jack Leon and his Famous Radio Dance Band entertained at South Parade Pier. At St Faith’s Hall Havant there was music from Madame Courtney’s Band (from Hayling Island – and I’m pretty sure part of the Courtney & Walker family). At Hart Plain School, Cowplain there was a dance with music from Frank Stocker’s Band.
Fast forward ten years to 1955, the last NYE before the rock & roll/skiffle boom and the Jimmy James Band played at Wallisdean School dance, Fareham. At Kimbells, Roy Richards and his Mayfair Orchestra were joined by The Lani Kris Hawaiian Quartet who also nipped over to the Savoy to appear with Benny Freedman and his Orchestra.
1959 The dawn of the ‘swinging sixties’: Hillside Youth Club featured rock & roll with regular residents the Tony Porter Group plus the Cadillacs for 3/-. Ricky’s too offered a “Rock & Roll Carnival” (6/-) and there were other more mainstream “carnival nights” at the Oddfellows Hall with the De Reste Orchestra, at All Saints Hall and at the Savoy. The Africano Club in Fratton Road offered free entry before 10 pm, but the Tropicana Coffee Club in Castle Road Southsea was charging 2/6d for its party. The city’s main event run by the Junior Chamber of Commerce was a Ball at the Guildhall with ballroom dancing, cabaret and a buffet for 30/- (£1.50).
In the last week of 1962, the Rivals and the Talismen played at the Oddfellows Hall and Tommy Bruce & the Tomcats appeared at the Savoy. New Year’s Eve offered a Guildhall Party and two dance orchestras at South Parade Pier.
New Year’s Eve 1963 seemed pretty quiet around Pompey but on New Year’s Day 1964, the Beatles’ single, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was the first number one to feature on BBC’s brand new “Top of the Pops”. Jimmy Saville introduced the show and Dusty Springfield was the first performer.
On NYE 1965 The Action led the Birdcage New Year’s Eve celebrations. As the year drew to a close there was lots of action on the local group scene. The Classics returned from Sweden only to split up with their rhythm section joining Simon Dupree & the Big Sound and Ian Duck going to the Soul Agents. Graham Hunt left the St Louis Checks to form the Academy with Marc Tuddenham, Graham Barnes and Rod Watts. Ernie Sears opened Zack’s Shack on New Year’s Day at the Boar’s Head, Boarhunt, with the Soul Agents. The venue also promised country & western, which would feature regularly there for years under the name Ponderosa.
In 1966 at the Birdcage, the In Crowd featuring Keith “Teenage Opera” West, Graham Bond and locals the Wrong Direction brought the year to a close. Jon Isherwood returned to Pompey for a reunion concert at Oddfellows and announced he was leaving Libya and architecture for showbiz. In his absence, the Folkhouse Club had closed but he reopened it in the New Year.
In 1967 the Bryan Hug Group had a song on the soundtrack of Up the Junction. They re-named themselves Cherry Smash and released “Songs of Love” on 29 December. The Birdcage had become the Brave New World and ended the year with the Nice and on New Year’s Eve, the Vagabonds. Elsewhere on NYE you could catch the Jack Hawkins’ Big Band at the Locarno with the Mel Douglas Four and Anne Shelton and the Mike Negal Trio at the Pack. The newly-opened Tricorn had cabaret with Dickie Valentine, while Fred & Winnie Noakes were still offering Old Time Dancing.
In 1968 the Jug of Punch folk club in Havant ended with west country folk-blues player Mike Cooper, while Gold Dust and Chalk Farm were at the Grove Club, Paulsgrove.
On 31 December 1969 the amazing decade concluded with Rosemary and other local rock bands downstairs at Kimbells while upstairs the dancing was just as it might have been ten years before and it was much the same at Dorothy Whitbread’s Dancing School in the city centre. The Oasis offered a quartet and insisted “collar and tie essential”. Lace appeared at the Tricorn Club, Sinah Warren offered a Ball and Buffet while Ron Bennett, his band and Bill Cole were playing the dinner dances at the Queen’s Hotel. The Broadsiders sang in the 1970s at the Jug of Punch, and original British guitarist Bert Weedon starred in Aladdin at the King’s Theatre.