In the late 1950’s, television was becoming a standard fixture in most homes with the result that people did not need to go to the theatre to be entertained.
The Empire Theatre closed in 1958 due to lack of business. My Mum was secure in her work at the Embassy Theatre, due to their mix of live shows and movies, but also got herself a job at a local grocery store packing orders for delivery. Dad continued helping out at the Embassy Theatre but had to totally rethink his future.
Within a few months, he was hired as a Scenic Artist by a company that put on seasonal shows in the theatre on the pier at Clacton-On-Sea. They agreed to keep him busy during the off-season months with scenery repairs and any other maintenance work that needed to be done. No doubt his house building project was a key factor in developing his knowledge and expertise in building maintenance. The pay was apparently a little less than he was used to and, as Clacton was a 100 miles (3 hour drive) away, he had to make some living arrangements.
Our caravan was towed down to a site in Clacton and Dad bought himself his first motor vehicle, a 175cc Lambretta scooter, and came home at weekends. This was going to be his life style until the mid 1960’s.
During this time period, I was becoming very interested in ships! Given that we lived about 50 miles from the sea, and considerably further from any large port, I must assume that this was an influence from my Dad. When called up to serve in WWII, he chose the Royal Navy and he often talked about ships in an affectionate manner. We also had a number of books around the house which addressed various nautical topics.
The end result was that I started collecting picture postcards of ships! Word soon got around and when somebody wanted to send Mum and Dad a post card, they would pick one with a ship on it just for me!
This was also the time that I started going to my new school however, starting at King’s School was an experience which actually started before school did!
All Grammar Schools had a uniform and, while I cannot recall any comments about Valerie’s, there were certainly some concerns about mine. The required grey trousers and white shirts could be purchased from just about anywhere, but there was only one store in Peterborough which sold the other items. As the uniform was not an option, they somehow managed the expense and I prepared myself for another new school!
Valerie’s uniform consisted of a white blouse; brown pleated skirt; brown shoes and (apparently really important) brown under wear! There was an incident where a girl was caught wearing black under wear and suspended for a day or two. The local newspapers had fun with that story!
My uniform consisted of a light burgundy blazer with matching cap and tie. The students in the school were allocated to “houses” (a “house” being an administrative division within the school which allowed for inter-house athletic competitions). My house was St. Oswald’s and an appropriate embroidered crest was sewn onto the breast pocket of my blazer.