Great Yarmouth in the '50's was the "in place" to be. Situated on the east coast of England it was easily accessed by day-trippers from London the Midlands and a very large catchment area of smaller towns and villages. One very big advantage was the fact that it catered for the family type of tourist and was largely free from the "yobbos" who so often frequent seaside resorts. The large influx of tourists spoke volumes for the efficiency of its Tourist Department.
My first professional job, with what was then termed a "big band", was with Neville Bishop and his Orchestra at the Marina, Great Yarmouth. I could not have picked a more professional orchestra or a better seaside resort.
The orchestra was made up of session musicians from London who were highly skilled and very experienced in all fields from dance bands to symphony orchestras. This was gold dust for a rookie like myself. None of them were loath to share the tricks of the trade, and like every other trade it does not matter how much you study or practice, the proof of the pudding is when you get out in front of a large seated audience.
The orchestra performed three times a day morning melodies including a children's show, afternoon show with a beauty queen contest and the evening show which sometimes included a talent contest,
I once heard an agent tell a musician who had been boasting what he had done and where he had been, he said, "listen son, there's a thousand people in the hall get out there and keep them happy for an hour and you've got the job.
Band members included: Neville Bishop, Bandleader; Brian Clarke and Joy Marlowe, vocals; Sammy Simon, sax/violin; Ralph ?, Sax/violin; 2 Trumpets ?; Ken ?, trombone; Al Scotton, piano, Myself solo accordion; Barry ? rock guitar/vocals; Joe Fenton guitar; Bass ?; Peter Crawford, Drums.
BRITANNIA PIER SHOW
WELLINGTON PIER DANCING
WELLINGTON AQUA SHOW
FLORAL HALL DANCING
The Derek Roy Show, venue not known.
Where are they now? The lady on the right may have been a dancer in the Derek Roy Show.
Just a few of the household names appearing at Gt. Yarmouth:
Pearl Carr & Teddy Johnson
Royal Air Force Association funding raising activities took place and a highly popular item was the Miss Battle of Britain beauty queen competition which always drew very large crowds. The above photograph is, I believe, of the final.
As I now live in what is claimed to be the home of the bikini, it is interesting to compare the swimsuit fashion of the 50's. I shall let you into a secret, my private research showed that the winner was nearly always wearing a white swimsuit.
Another popular event was an evening talent competition. Most competitors sang the current pop songs, played an instrument or told a couple of jokes. However one night a gent came up to the stage dressed in khaki shorts, large army boots with no sox, a battered hat and a backpack. The band guessed he was going to sing something like "Pack up your troubles" or "It's a long way to Tipperary". We were all wrong, he stunned the pianist by telling him he was going to sing something from Pagliacci! However he had no music and Pagliacci is pretty heavy stuff and not for your average tourist who may have had a noggin' or three.
Well, the poor gent got stuck in and I have yet to see an audience crack up like they did that night. He stopped the show, people were literally falling out of their seats laughing, but he reckoned he was serious. Needless to say he was the winner that night.
As some considerable time has passed since I spent that wonderful summer season in Great Yarmouth some of the information may need updating and I would be more than delighted to hear from anyone at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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