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Chorley Through the 1950s

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Chorley Through the 1950s

To the generation of today, whose parents and grandparents were themselves young people during the 1950s, stories about what was the norm in those ‘far off days’, can be equated with history lessons. It was so long ago… yet to those of us who lived in Chorley before, during, and after that decade, we can remember the period so well – or can we? Is it perhaps, that we can remember living in Chorley because of events that happened worldwide or nationally, thus recalling what we were doing at the time? Was it because we met our partner at some dance in the town? Or was it because we recall the records and songs that we listened to, or the films we saw? During the 1950s, Chorley had five cinemas, some of them changing their programme midweek, allowing us to see plenty of films, if we had the pocket money. The records we listened to were usually 78rpm and played on ‘wind up’ gramophones during the early part of the decade. On Saturday mornings, there was the Mickey Mouse Club at the Odeon for the younger children, where ‘Flash Gordon’ or ‘Hopalong Cassidy’ serials left us in suspense until the following week. On Sunday evenings, the ‘Big Band Sound’ could be heard at live shows on the stage of the Plaza Cinema, many of the famous dance bands of the time, with their singers coming to entertain there. Dancing was usually at church clubs or the Ambulance Hall, until the ‘Vic’ and the ‘Tudor’, dancehalls opened. Or, there were the excursion trains to Blackpool every Saturday night! There was a roller skating rink off Cunliffe Street, and on Sunday afternoons it was the thing to do, to dress in your best and walk up and down the ‘main drag’ (Market Street), to view the opposite sex! Then finish up in Howarth’s Milk Bar for a hot Vimto or a milk shake. ‘Young people’, (there were no teenagers then) had to be home by 10.30pm and the girls stayed in on Friday nights to ‘wash their hair’. Traffic through the town was heavy, especially at weekends when all the coaches and cars would be en route to Blackpool or the Lake District – there were no motorways then! ‘King Cotton’ still held sway in the employment stakes, together with the R.O.F. and Leyland Motors. And many lads aspired only to join a church club so they could play snooker, then own a cue… with their name on the case! This then was ‘CHORLEY THROUGH THE 1950s.

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