Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Memories - help!

In days gone by Darwen had a phenomenal amount of entertainment venues, from dance halls - both afternoon and evenings , to umpteen cinemas, clubs and posh tea shops, were dotted around.

The craze to learn new dances, from The Black Bottom to The Quick Step, should jolt many happy memories.  For instance, the ICI club in Bridge Street had two separate floors for dancing, open during the day as well as evening.  Although small, there was a strict code of conduct enforced by the MC everywhere.  The 'ladies excuse me'  where young ladies who had set their eyes on a handsome young man would be given the chance to make the first approach - do you remember?

 Darwen baths where the 'large plunge' would give way to a dance floor headed by a fabulous group of musicians who entertained with  'big band' sound.  The Quick Step then progressed to The Jitterbug!   At the same time the now-demolished Coop in School Street - again boasting two ballrooms - competed with the Baths and then there was the ballroom situated over the old Woolworths me out now, what was it called?

As if this wasn't enough, Darreners could choose to dance the night away at the ballroom above The Weavers Institute and I'm sure some of our senior citizens could add many more to the list mentioned.

If dancing didn't attract, then  a variety of cinemas beckoned.  From The Ritz where, from time to time, the resident cat would brush against your legs!  The Palladium (where The Bridgewater is now).  A demolished cinema was situated near Belgrave began with an 'O' what was it called?   The Savoy, at the Blackburn end of our town and again, I'm sure there were many me out here!  Do you remember Saturday afternoon for the children?  The fabulous on-going (and exciting) thrillers, from  Flash Gordon to cowboys and indians, which always ended on a knife-edge and aggravatingly announced 'coming up next week'.   The foot stamping when the film many memories.

Hungry dancers and cinema-goers often frequented Peacocks Pasties (just by Lidl,  where a row of cottages lined the main road years ago).  Civilized lines of folk (sometimes)  would form at all hours of the day and night.  Then there were the delicate tea shops - from the Coop where black-and-white uniformed waitresses would deliver mouth-watering cakes on three-tier stands to The Criterion - now where was that again?  There was also one across from the once-stolen Boer War lion...and I can't remember it for the life of me - but you will!

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Can't  let Christmas go by without mentioning the longed-for appearance of Father Christmas at The Co-op.  He was so busy, especially as he had to visit the working men's clubs where special Children's Christmas party throughout December were organized and woe betide any member who forgot to send their little ones to see him!

All kinds of entertainment was also on hand in every corner of  our town....again, there must be many memories of these out there.  True it was that, half way through a ballad, the club steward would often interrupt the singer and announce 'Pies 'ave cum!'.   And who remembers the Cranberry?   Frankie Vaughan, Shirley Bassey....yes we had it all.

Weren't they lucky all those years ago?  Let's hope there's going to be lots more entertainment to look forward to.  The ever-popular Bridgewater has already proved that if there's good nights to be had, then Darreners are up for it!  The soon-to-be opened Wetherspoons will shortly be showing a healthy profit.  Club owners eager for a return on their investment take note!

Let's hope this jogs your memories....come on you lot and  tell the youngsters what happened on those Saturday dance nights and the back rows of all those cinemas before they're lost in time....(on second thoughts, better be careful with your reminiscences!)..............Merry Christmas to you all!