Memory Lane: When boys were boys

Blackpool Boys Club member Martin Hindley featured in a old black and white film now transferred to DVD.
Blackpool Boys Club member Martin Hindley featured in a old black and white film now transferred to DVD.
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BOYS will be boys, but in these days of equality, girls are just as welcome.

Yes, a lot might have changed at what is now Blackpool Boys and Girls Club, yet one thing is constant – the commitment to providing much-needed recreational facilities for Blackpool’s young people.

Formed in 1935, members were honoured with a visit by The Duke of Gloucester when the club affiliated to the National Association of Boys Clubs two years later.

The local charity moved to the current premises in Laycock Gate in 1959, with girls introduced in the 1970s and the organisation, an active member of the Lancashire Association of Clubs for Young People, has now passed its milestone 75th anniversary.

One of the birthday projects involved transferring a grainy but priceless black and white promotional film made in the early 1950s on to DVD, and the newly-digitised entertainment brought loud applause when screened at a celebration dinner.

Spookily, at that same time, one of the film’s young “stars”, Martin Hindley, now in his early 70s, wrote to the club from his home in Australia, recounting how he had featured in the footage. He wondered if anyone remembered it and, if so, if they knew what had happened to the film. Within hours, a copy of the DVD – with a young Martin on the cover alongside other youngsters – was on its way to the other side of the world!

Martin told Memory Lane: “What a wonderful surprise. Watching it was was like time travel and my grandchildren were delighted to see me as a young boy growing up in England.”

Martin attended St John Vianney School and was in the football team. It was his English teacher Mr Wynn, who was also sports master, who encouraged him to join Blackpool Boys Club which at that time was in Fentons Buildings just off Caunce Street.

Martin says: “I lived on St Heliers Road, South Shore, but it was no problem for me getting there as a 13-year-old because I used the tram system.”

Then he was recruited to a starring role in the 20-minute promotional film, designed to increase awareness of what the club could offer.

Martin says: “Mr Wynn and Norm Allen, who were wardens, asked me to pretend to be a street kid looking bored and throwing stones, until I find myself at the door of the Boys Club and go inside.”

He is also seen outdoors doing exercises and inside the club sitting on the parallel bars cheering the boxing, as well as watching a film.

He laughs: “I’m the boy with the tie on!”

Martin says: “I played in one of the two football teams we had at the club. It is 60 years ago as I am now 73 and have lived 40 years near Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. I first played football here for the Italian club, then the Dutch club, then I was player/manager for the suburb where I live, Goodna Football Club. I coached for 10 years, a highlight was coaching with Sir Stanley Matthews here in Brisbane.

Martin admits: “He was my childhood hero. I only lived a few streets away from him in Hemmingway, South Shore. We had a long conversation and he told me his secret way of beating the full-back was to never look down at the ball when he was dribbling, although because of his modesty it took me a while to prise it out of him.”

Martin adds: “I wish the current Boys and Girls Club all the best for the future – it might be needed more these days. In our day it was mostly football and cinema, which was enough to keep us occupied. We also we had respect for our teachers and elders, police and the like. Getting the cane at school was no big deal although it was painful.”

Of the DVD, he says: “Apart from Mr Wynn, who was the best, and Norm Allen, I recognise faces but forget names and I would love to hear from anyone who wishes to write.”

n Old friends can catch up with Martin at 106 Smiths Road, Goodna 4300 QLD, Australia, or by email martinhindley2703@gmail.com