Rock and Roll in the 1960’s – Memories of North Walsham. Guest Writer – Ray Hall
I was born and brought up in the village of Felmingham, one and a half miles from North Walsham. On reaching the grand old age of 15, and in 1957 left North Walsham Modern Secondary school at Easter. I was in full employment a week later in agriculture.
So, North Walsham was to be my ‘playground’, evenings and at the weekends. The big thing that’s happening everywhere was the start of the Rock & Roll era, which some said would only be very short lived. The Rock & Roll started in U.K. around 1955, when musical films from USA were coming over. Bill Haley and the Comets filmed “Rock around the Clock” “Rock, Rock, Rock”, Elvis Presley with “Jailhouse Rock” and “Blue Hawaii”.
In the U.K. Rock & Roll was like an unstoppable epidemic, it was fever pitched. It had to be lived to understand what it was like, description to someone comes only close.
North Walsham Rock and Roll Music Hotspots in 1960’s
So, we had our Picture House, showing all these “Rock” films, and many, may times they were turned into some sort of dance hall!! With every gangway packed with dancers, rocking and jiving down every isle, to the films.
Then our coffee bar sprang up, “Jumbo’s Café” ran by Brian “Jumbo” Cutting, and was up the alley way behind the Crosskeys pub, now QD. It was to us out of this world, full of smoke, Coca cola and Fanta drink, but in the corner was this massive jukebox, which we had never seen before. The sound, was out of this world, all bass and treble.
Then some of us lads decided we would have a go and have a little band of our own, this didn’t really happen, –no instruments – just yet, if only we had the “Music Hut” then, that would have been something. “thought”!! could have turned Robin + Becky’s shop into some sort of Dance floor, —Er, maybe not.
So we had a super idea, hire the Church rooms in Vicarage street, this we did, paid up “5 bob” old money. Took along our Dansette record players and records, which we bought all the latest Rock & Roll ones from Newsons Electrical shop near the Town Clock. So, just a few of us entertained ourselves on Friday or Saturday night, one or two of the boys had girlfriends and that was fine. Then at the age of 17, it dawned on me that there was more to my spare time than music, yes, females.
It wasn’t long before I met this young lady, and plucked up the courage to chat her up a bit, and that turned out to be the first stepping stone on my life’s long journey. Her name was Edna, and I was impaled with charm and sweetness, that she was the girl for me– and we are still here 57 or 58 yrs on, 52 of which we’re married.
North Walsham Musicians in 1960’s
Right, some of the older boys were aleady in possession of guitar and amplifiers. Flash Rudd was one and Tony Webster. His dad had a shoe repair shop on Mundesley Road. Tony was a great guitarist, so much so, he went on to join the Yarmouth based band the Peter Jay and the Jay Walkers and they made several records, some I had and now can’t find.
Another person comes to mind, although a few years older than us was Henry Beauchamp. Us younger lads and girls always looked upon Henry as North Walsham’s Elvis Presley. I knew Henry well, can see him now, tall, slim, very dark handsome fellow, always drove his car up and down Market street, I think it was a Ford Concul or Zodiac convertible, with the top down and his guitar laying on the back seat. My first guitar was a Watkins Rapier 33 and cost £34.00.
So that’s what life was like for us in the late 50’s and 60’s. We had the cinema, all the rock films to see. We had Jumbo’s Café, listening to all the new songs out. We had the Church Rooms, where we danced, formed bands etc. And not forgetting the Oaks. It was a class place, solid Oak floor, and an elaborate entrance, complete with doorman in the form of Mr Mick Wilkinson. With it’s resident band, big band sound of Mr Dennis Payne. Dennis played Saxopone. The Oaks was where now stands Lidls.
Well, I think we can safely say that we were blessed with a fair supply of musicians in the town whether they are professional, ameteur or whatever. It’s wonderful to be a part of.
We didn’t have to travel very far to be really entertained. Cromer Links was a lovely place and another venue was West Runton Pavillion.
Both thes places have seen some real action, here are just a sample of bands that have graced the venues
1964 The Outcasts, the Ivy League, Alan Price Set (1965), The Who, Long John Baldry, Jeff Beck Group, Love Affair, The Tremeloes, Marmalade, The Move, Raymond Froggatt (1969). Slade, Manfred Man, Status Quo, Thin Lizzie, Screaming Lord Such, Gary Glitter, Judas Priest, Mungo Jerry, Sex Pistols, Rubettes, Swingin Blue Jeans, Nashville Teens, Duane Eddy, Smokey, Brother’s Lee from Aylsham, Jimmy James & the Vagabonds, The Drifters, Mud, Roy Wood & Wizard, Elvis Costello, Cilla Black…The list goes on and on.
The ABC, The Aquarium, The Wellington Pier and Britannia, The Windmill(my fav), had top class bands all summer. Tommy Steel, Marty Wilde, The Shadows, The Tornados, Peter Jay and the Jaywalkers, Cilla Black, Dallas Boys, Mersey Beats, and many more well known names. Really spoilt for choice, nightly and two shows on Sunday!!
That’s what we did, pure magic.
Ray and Edna