Barry Band: Some real Easter treats from 50 years ago

Easter Weekend – often remembered on our coast for wind and rain.

Thursday, 18th April 2019, 3:38 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th April 2019, 3:49 pm
Roy Castle and Cilla Black, who were appearing in Holiday Startime at the ABC Theatre, Blackpool, in July 1969, were ready to do their fair share of poster-sticking after receiving their invitations to Press Night With The Stars - the annual charity dance, organised by Blackpool and Fylde journalists - at the Locarno Ballroom, Blackpool.
Roy Castle and Cilla Black, who were appearing in Holiday Startime at the ABC Theatre, Blackpool, in July 1969, were ready to do their fair share of poster-sticking after receiving their invitations to Press Night With The Stars - the annual charity dance, organised by Blackpool and Fylde journalists - at the Locarno Ballroom, Blackpool.

Easter Weekend – often remembered on our coast for wind and rain.Today we’re forgetting the disappointments and imagining one of those Easters when trainloads of trippers stepped out onto the platforms, blinked in the Blackpool sunlight and were greeted by huge posters advertising the summer season shows.Were you, dear reader, among the throng, fresh from 70 minutes of looking at factories and back gardens on the journey from Manchester Victoria and – whoopee – getting the sixpence for being the first kid to spot the Tower across those green fields?We Sandgrown’uns can only imagine the thrill – but it must have been similar to arriving in Palma for the first time and driving through that stately avenue of palm trees.Nothing like that in Blackpool!This, being a Looking Back page, we’re lifting the curtain of time to see who was in the spotlight at Blackpool’s theatres on Easter Sunday and for the summer of 1969.The two top Sunday concerts saw Engelbert Humperdinck topping the bill at the ABC and Max Bygraves headlining at the Opera House.Good Friday trippers and Easter stayers had a chance to book the best seats for their main summer holiday, while theatre owners got their first clue as to whether they had booked a winner.Irish troubadour Val Doonican would be topping the bill at the Opera House with Scottish singer Moira Anderson and comedian Arthur Askey in support.The Winter Gardens Pavilion had booked John Hanson in the old musical The Student Prince.At the ABC Theatre Cilla Black would be inviting visitors to “Step Inside Love” with multi-talented Roy Castle and Blackpool’s ace ventriloquist Arthur Worsley on the bill.The Grand Theatre had the king of Carry On films, Sid James, in a farce called His Favourite Family.The Queen’s Theatre had booked a five-star bill with Blackpool’s tiny comedian Jimmy Clitheroe, Irish singer Josef Locke, the Dallas Boys, Blackpool’s Bobby Bennett and singer Lyn Kennington.Each of the three piers would have summer season shows.Comedian Harry Worth was booked to top at the North Pier, with pianist Mrs Mills and balladeer Robert Earl in support.The new Central Pier theatre had The Andy Stewart Show with comSedian Johnnie Ball being the only English performer on the bill.Freddie and the Dreamers would be at the South Pier with supporting acts Bert Weedon, Ray Fell and Roger Kitter.Together with the Tower Circus and the Pleasure Beach’s Ice Parade, Blackpool had a summer season line-up of 10 big shows.The resort still had eight single-screen cinemas in 1969. For several years, the practice for several cinemas was to have a big ‘roadshow’ film for a long summer season, seven days a week with two screenings each day.In 1969, the Palladium showed the musical Oliver, the Regent had Julie Andrews in Star, the Rendezvous had Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl, and the Tivoli showed The Lion In Winter, with Peter O’Toole and Kathryn Hepburn.That’s Memory Lane!

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Irish crooner Val Doonican wades ashore on Blackpool Beach in 1974 - no doubt back to the comfort of his famous rocking chair.
Val Doonican at the Opera House