Picture Past: December 29, 1967 – Winter Gardens managers defend drinks prices
PUBLISHED: 19:00 05 January 2018
A Christmas shopping season, widespread power cuts, children’s swimming lessons and problems for the RNLI were among the issues making Weston-super-Mare headlines over the festive period five decades ago.
• A record-breaking Christmas shopping season for Weston’s shops was making headlines in the town 50 years ago this week.
The Weston Mercury and Somerset Herald of December 29, 1967, saw traders in the town centre reporting ‘a record spending spree’ by festive shoppers.
One shop manager declared it ‘the best Christmas we have ever had’, while the Mercury said ‘bells tinkled happily for almost every business’.
Spending levels came as something of a surprise, coming despite ‘the freeze and the squeeze’ and set against stern warnings of tougher trading times ahead.
• Many hundreds of homes across the county were left without electricity following a major power cut. Homes in Winscombe and Shipham were among those most badly affected.
• Swimming lessons for schoolchildren were facing uncertainty. Schools were told if they wanted their pupils to continue with the lessons, they would have to fund transport to and from Knightstone baths themselves, as the council’s money ‘had run out’.
• Knightstone Theatre’s pantomime Dick Whittington was earning rave reviews from audiences. The production was heralded as ‘plenty of fun’, with reviewers praising its use of ‘well-known tunes’, as well as highlighting the fast pace and attractive presentation of the show.
• Winter Gardens managers were forced to defend the price of drinks at the venue in the wake of criticism from the public.
A councillor had revealed he received ‘nothing but censure about the prices of liquid refreshment’ at the venue, but its manager insisted there was ‘no other ballroom in this area that sells drinks at a lower price than us’.
• Councillors hit out at proposals to reduce their number.
One insisted that cutting the number of people serving on the authority would mean ‘meetings could last all day’ because there would not be enough to share the work.
• Weston’s reserve lifeboat was put on standby over Christmas, as slipway repairs at the RNLI base on Birnbeck Island kept the main boat out of action. The repairs were necessary because the vessel’s weight made it difficult to launch from the island at low tide.