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New Year’s Eve

My favourite New Year’s Eve picture – from an old scrapbook, the Cadillacs welcome the 1960s – and no-one knew what was in store!


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.


A Question

I hope what follows is clear. I am interested in hearing people’s views which you can leave as a comment (which will be public) or by emailing me at the University: dave.allen@port.ac.uk:

I’m doing a focused piece of research about a TV documentary on Portsmouth made in the early 1960s by the director John Boorman.
To help me, I am reading his autobiography “Adventures of a Suburban Boy” (2003). At one point he writes about the 1947 Education Act and the creation of secondary modern schools – although I believe he means 1944 (the Butler Act). Whatever, I am interested in your views on this extract from the book, especially the second sentence where Boorman says:
“The new schools taught music and art and the humanities and the first generation coming out of these schools was now engaging with society. The surge of pop music in the sixties was directly attributable to the teaching of music in secondary modern schools” (page 99)
I don’t necessarily know which kind of school you attended and it doesn’t need to have been a secondary modern but I’d be pleased to hear your views. I would like to be able to quote certain responses although not necessarily by name. I’m happy to share my views with you but would like to hear from you first

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Waving not Drowning

Nice comment from David StJohn (below). I can’t pretend to swimming often from Southsea beach these days but here’s a shot from New Year’s Day in (I think) 1965, down by the snake pit (near Model Village). A bunch of us did this every New Year’s Day for 2/3 years in the 60s and boy was it cold!

I’m the long streak of p*** on the left with my school friends Martin Richman (in front of) Brian Jones and Steve Harley (right). Another regular correspondent David Glass has commented about Steve who favoured the rocker/Teddy Boy look. We hung out together at St Nicholas’s Youth Club and Copnor Billiard hall but for obvious reasons I didn’t take him to the Birdcage.

Brian’s dad Vic Jones was a big jazz fan. He got Billboard and Downbeat from the USA and played us his records (they lived near our school). He also took us to concerts at the Guildhall, most notably Duke Ellington which was just wonderful. Martin (with Geoff Allman) was half of the Light Program who did lightshows all over town, including SP Pier with some big names. He went on to work in lighting professionally (for many years with Chris De Burgh) and now works mainly in light and installations as a professional artist based in London.

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“Cold, bleak, biting weather – foggy withal”

My title is a quotation from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – I wonder whether he ever saw such days in his very early days in Portsmouth? I took this photo at mid-day today on Southsea Common looking across to the tall buildings in Western Parade, walking towards Osborne Road. It occurred to me that since we have readers in various parts of the world it might be of interest. There was certainly more sunshine today in Australia!


Steve Grant

I’ve just received some sad news from Rod Watts (in 1960s with Rivals, Academy, Soul Society and still playing regularly) – here’s Rod:

“Steve Grant, drummer with “Image” passed away at Rowans on Monday, he was 59.
After his “rock n’roll” days, we formed a trio with Frank Kelly, me on organ and bass pedals, Steve Grant on drums of course, Frank on vocals and “personality chat”. Its hard to believe we used to do at least 3 gigs a week and on a good week we earned at least 15 shillings each….wow !
I rang Phil Freeman, sent a note to Frank and left a message on Alan Medland’s answerphone. When I hear of any funeral arrangements, I’ll let you know”

(PLUS) Please see the comment attached to this message from Pete White (now in USA)

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New Year Blues

Welcome back – I hope your Christmas was as you wished it. Many thanks to David St John for his kind message which we’re pleased to return – a very Happy 2011 to you all

Don’t worry about the title, I’m not getting gloomy (unlike the Pompey weather) – that would be difficult given today’s cricket news ….

This is to alert you to Chris F’s New Year’s Blues Show on Angle Radio which demonstrates that the blues can be fun. He’ll finish with a Sam Cooke party song and open with one of my all-time favourite tracks by Papa Lightfoot. In between all kinds of stuff including BB King, Little Walter, Memphis Slim, Wynonie Harris, Jesse Fuller and Bo Diddley – plus an intriguing track entitled “Aunt Dinah’s Quilting Party”.

Incidentally, Little Walter, Jesse Fuller and BB King all played in Pompey while Bo Diddley and Memphis Slim were booked but didn’t show. This was of course many years ago – even longer ago, HMS Warrior (now in Pompey Harbour) was launched 150 years ago today. Happy Birthday!