Memory Lane: A 1960s day out in Beeston

This month we share a Memory Lane story from Michael Jeanes (Civil Engineering 1960) who told us: "I found your magazine feature on a night out in Nottingham and prices of food and drink in various eras, most entertaining. I wonder if you would be interested in printing and maybe reviving a few memories, my day out in Beeston c1960?"

A day out in Beeston

"Alcoholic drink was and presumably still is a student staple. The two local beers Shipstone's and Home Ales were not highly rated although subsequently achieved some recognition in the real ale age. Bass was king and Worthington, available in the Buttery after the opening of the Portland building, was an acceptable second best, both at about 1/- (5p) per pint. My personal choice there was for draught scrumpy cider at 3d (1.25p) per half.

"The nearest student pub to the infamous Beeston Dogs Home, where I was in digs for three years, was The Greyhound in the High Street. This found favour for not selling Shippos or Home but Mitchell and Butlers instead. Their premier bitter Brew XI also about 1/- a pint was OK although my preference was for their bottled Cape Ale at 1s3d (6.25p). The only other pub to get our regular custom was The Rose and Crown on Derby Road, every Tuesday night when they offered free baked potatoes.

"There was only one choice for dining out - Joe's Caff opposite Beeston library. My unchanging choice, every Saturday night was corned beef and chips, slice of bread and butter and a mug of tea for 2/- (10p). Joe's also featured a jukebox. At the birth of rock and roll and in that Teddy Boy era, for weeks, the only record played was Bill Hayley's "Rock around the Clock" with most of the diners jiving in the aisle between tables. Eventually, the patron Joe, wishing to keep our loyal patronage, blocked off an area with two tables reserved for us, where one's chips would not be jived off one's plate.

"As a further treat he obtained the 1957 recording of Louis Armstrong's "Dippermouth Blues" for the box. Trad fans to a man, we hit back by playing it endlessly, at the appropriate moment, joining in the band's exhortation to Louis to "Play dat Thing!", much to the alarm of less sophisticated diners. Another heavily patronised place was the Humber Road chip shop. Chips 3d (1.25p) and sausage in batter 1 and a farthing d (1/2p) were the favourite, the farthing reduction from 1 1/2p ensured their popularity over similar local chippies.

"Entertainment was limited to local cinemas. The high spot came when "Rock around the Clock" was banned by the city authorities following rioting and vandalising of their cinemas. It was decamped to the Lenton Abbey Essoldo on Derby Road, just outside the city boundary. I tried to see it three times in one week but always the musical parts were accompanied by jumping on seats or jiving in the ailses (a la Joe's Caff). The dialogue was inaudible because of the patrons' continuous booing. Cost for this 1/- (5p).

"The jazz club at a pub in Beeston Rylands was always packed. Local trad band Mick Gill's jazzmen were OK, in a very small field of competitors. Their rendering of "The Old Rugged Cross", unique in my experience, and always played at each session, was definitely their best original effort.

"To get to this venue, one had to pass the splendid Victoria Hotel adjacent to the station railway platform. Now and I think then, a free house with a range of many relatively expensive beers 1/6 d (7.5p) per pint. Last but not least Joe Dann bookmaker over Burtons in Beeston Market Square. Illegal to bet if you did not have an account, so all was done on bits of paper with a pseudonym. You were not supposed to hang around to listen to the race commentary but if you did and won your anonymous name would be called to collect your winnings. A marvellous place, where the proprietor would buy ice cream all round if one of his big punters lost a big bet."

Share your Memory Lane story!

Were you a member of a band? Maybe you found love on campus? Whatever your memory, we would love to hear it and maybe it will appear on these pages! Email and put 'Memory Lane' in the subject line.