Our Century

Willenhall bans Teds

Rock 'n' roll was here to stay except in Willenhall where the reaction to the musical frenzy sweeping the nation was to ban what it called its "weekly teddy boy hops" at the town's Civic Restaurant.

The ban was imposed at a private meeting of the town's urban district council - in stark contrast to the very public scenes that erupted at cinemas in neighbouring Wolverhampton where the Bill Haley film "Rock Around The Clock" was being shown in the early days of September.

The Gaumont Cinema was the scene of some of the worst violence to accompany the film as it made it way around Britain leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

Mayor tosses pancakeQuite why a balding musician soon to reach the age of 40 inspired such frenzy has never been explained.

But at the Gaumont on the night of September 2 rock 'n' roll - coyly described as the latest rhythmic jazz craze - caused a riot.

Cinema seats were ripped out, there was fighting in the aisles and fire extinguishers were let off.

"They were just crazed by the beat of the music," said the cinema's chief of staff George Hancox. "This film ought to be banned. It drives them mad."

In Walsall staff at the Gaumont Cinema hit on a novel solution to the problem of potential trouble when the film was shown there the following night.

At the first sign of over-enthusiasm by gaudily-dressed members of the audience staff simply turned down the soundtrack.

"The showing was quiet and orderly as a sedate tea party," reported our man on the spot who also reviewed the film.

Clearly disappointed, he wrote: "The dancing scenes are in fairly good taste and not nearly so suggestive as frequent Hollywood musical extravagances.

"For a square who does not "dig" rock 'n' roll the repetitive riffed lyrics and monotonous violent beat become boring well before the end."

Russian visitors in from the cold: In the year of the Hungarian uprising against Russian domination and at the height of the Cold War, Wolverhampton did its bit to ease Anglo-Soviet relations by hosting a delegation from Moscow.

Four surprised visitors got their first sight of British housing conditions - and expressed amazement that a four-bedroom council house at 194 Renton Road had been built for the use of just one family.

The delegation had earlier been the victims of one of those unexplained delays which charcterised dealings between the two countries in the 1950s.

Its leader Mr D N Smirnov had wired ahead to the mayor of Wolverhampton Alderman George Rastall to warn him of the delay and beginning the telegram "Dear Sir Mayor..."

Bus Crash

12 escape injury in bus crash: A dozen people, including five young children and a babe in arms, were hurt when a double decker bus toppled on to its side after crashing into a wall at Marriot Road, Netherton, Dudley. There were no serious injuries and after treatment at hospital all 12 were allowed home. Amazingly not a single piece of glass on the number D9 from Cradley Heath to Dudley was cracked let alone broken.

Axe falls on Midlands cycle factories: More than 1,250 workers lost their jobs at four cycle factories in the Tube Investments empire. The axe fell at Hercules Cycles and J A Phillips in Birmingham and at Walton and Brown in Smethwick and Armstrong Cycles, Oldbury.

Deadlock with the unions over the reorganisation of working practises were blamed for the redundancies.

Workers with between 10 and 15 years service would receive 1 for each completed year of service , those with between 15 and 20 years one guinea and those with more than 25 years 2 for each year.

Film 'should be banned'


My mind registered disgust after reading the report of a near riot at a local cinema.

Surely this rock 'n' roll film should be banned from British cinemas before more vandalism occurs.

Church workers and other responsible people must be appalled at this outrage and such a violation of the sabbath must inevitably leave a blemish on the town.

However, I must speak up for in defence of the decent-living youngsters for fear that they too will be drawn under the headings of "teddy boy" or "teddy girl" .

As for the music, I suppose the only solution is to let it die a natural death which is always the fate of these lower forms of orchestration.

Michael J White, Aged 21, Church Road, Penn Fields, Wolverhampton.

Will Hadley
Wembley's bowl seemed very small but was vibrant with atmosphere.