Archive for the ‘Events and Celebrations’ Category

Rugby’s coming to Bletchley was the line used for the Rugby World Cup matches at Stadium MK but we know it’s been around in this area for much longer.

Bletchley Town Rugby Club was formed in 1947 and by the January of the following year was ready to take to the field or its first competitive match.  The first point scorer was Vince Hankins, who converted a 40 yard penalty goal – no mean feat in the days of heavy, leather rugby balls! (Source:Punting The Pill About, by Colin Spence)

Other local teams in the Milton Keynes area go back even further. Wolverton Rugby club originally formed in the mid 1870s and, after a break covering the period of the two world wars, reformed in 1958. Their name was changed in 1974 to Milton Keynes Rugby Club.

The first recorded game involving Olney Rugby Club took place in 1877 on Cherry Orchard, a meadow on the banks of the River Ouse (now a cemetery).

So while we welcome the international interest, and enjoy the attention (if not the traffic), we must remember that the game has long history in the area, thanks to the enthusiasm of many volunteers and amateur players.

Bletchley Rugby Club celebrate a victory!

Bletchley Rugby Club celebrate a victory!

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Many thanks to all those who attended the Bletchley and Fenny Stratford Town Council’s Midsummer Madness event on Sunday 28 June.

We had a wonderful afternoon sharing photos, memories and information about Bletchley’s past in a very warm marquee.

Viewing the display of old photos

Viewing the display of old photos











And this photo was a particular delight for one young lady who recognised her father as a teenager in the lead at ‘We Are the Champions’ at Leon School in 1975.

We Are The Champions - inter-school competition on television

We Are The Champions – inter-school competition on television

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Costumes matched speeches

Some remarkable speeches were heard on Saturday at the Bletchley Road Methodist Hall on the occassion of the Mock Mayoral Banquet.

No less remarkable was the “get up” of many of the guests of honour who were solemnly announced by Mr P Gladwin (toastmaster, suitably adorned with pieces of toast) and a fanfare on a 6d. bugle blown by Mr. W. R. Skipper.

Many posts in the government were represented, some of whom gave rousing speeches.

The “Chancellor of the Exchequer” stood up and announced his proposals for the coming year. The picture he painted was one of disaster. His plan to increase the funds would mean an all round cut in wages. The Lord Mayor would have to lose his Bentley. The welfare milk would of course have to go up again, and in future the members of  the “Womens Sorrowful Hour” would have to pay 2s. 6d. each time they met!

The “Minister of Education ” in his speech said: “In four years time we hope to improve the schools situation so much that in each class there would be only ten children. In five years time we hope to better that and have two teachers to one child.

The “Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries” in his speech asked all those present to dig in their gardens a pond large enough to hold a good stock of salmon and trout.

Bletchley Road Methodists Church

Bletchley Road Methodist Church

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Following our recent publication of information about The Jollities concert party Margaret Breedon (née Hawes) has kindly provided us with this record of her family’s contribution to entertainment in the district.

Although Sammy was probably the best known entertainer of his family, he is not the only one.

Florence Hawes and friend

Florence Hawes and friend

His son Ken has also made a name for himself locally, as a Conjuror. We have in our archives a picture of these two ladies and the only clue to who they are is in the file name: “Florence Hawes (on the left) and friend dressed for “Hospital Day” – probably the Fancy Dress

Competition.  Florence was Sam’s mother – she died on 1 January 1946 aged 54. The photo was probably taken in the mid 1930s.  Can anybody tell us when and where it was taken, please.

Sam was the third child and eldest son of William George (Dickie) and Florence (nee WOODWARD).  He had two elder sisters, Florence (Florrie), and Nellie  – his younger siblings were Phyllis (Phyl), Frederick George (known as George), Donald (known as Dick), Queen, and Gerald (known as Gerry).  They were all born and raised at 5 Denbigh Road, Bletchley (but in the parish of Simpson).

In 1924 he performed in the school production of the operetta ‘The Raja of Rajput’.  Maybe ‘a seed was sown’ during this production – this could have been where his love of entertaining began.

In 1947, Sam married Elizabeth Catherine (nee HAWKINS) – known as Cassie – at Holyhead, Anglesey, her home town.  They didn’t have a honeymoon.  After their wedding, they travelled back to Bletchley and began married life in two rooms at 8 High Street, Fenny Stratford (next door to Martell’s Coal Merchants).  An old lady named Mrs Chamberlain lived in the other part of the house.

By 1951 they had moved to Oakwood Drive, Bletchley where they raised their family – Margaret, Ken and Jean.

As they didn’t have a television until 1960, winter Sunday evenings were spent playing simple word games.  After the word games it was time to listen to “Sing Something Simple”, so out would come Sam’s mouth organ or melodeon and the whole family would sing all the old songs.  As a special treat the children were allowed to stay up and listen to Radio Luxembourg.

Sometime during 1963, the Youth Club at Queensway Methodist Church gave a concert which Sam attended, as Maggie, Ken and Jean were taking part.  He realised that there was quite a lot of talent in the family, so he proposed that the family should start its own concert party.  From then on until the early 1970s Sam very much enjoyed entertaining others at old peoples’ homes, old peoples’ clubs, women’s institutes etc., alongside his family.  He acted as Master of Ceremonies cracking jokes which he read from scraps of paper!!  He also did a Performing Fleas act where he would pretend to have fleas performing on a high wire.  He would shout “Hally-up” and the ‘imaginary’ flea would do a somersault – right at the end of the act one of the “so called” fleas refused to perform, so he would go out into the audience and say, “Excuse me madam, I must have the wrong flea – can I have mine back please?”  He got away with it every time – nobody got offended!!  He also sang solos and played his saw.  Ken did his magic act and sometimes sang “Hole in the Ground”, or “The Old Sow”.  Maggie sang solos and Jean joined her in singing duets.  At the beginning of the family concert party, Mrs Ivory was the pianist – her husband also helped out with singing solos etc.  Later on, Connie Pether (nee Sylvester), a friend from his previous concert parties, was the pianist and piano accordionist – she also brought along Margaret Baker (piano accordionist) and her two daughters Marilyn and Janet Baker to help out with solo items.  By the late 1960s they were called “The Jollities” (after Sam’s old wartime concert party) and by then Ken Breedon (Maggie’s boyfriend – later husband) had also joined the party as a pianist.

Sam was born with a ‘hole in the heart’ and by the time he was 54 his health started to fail.  In 1968 he had pioneering heart surgery where the aortic valve was replaced with a plastic one – he was also one of the first patients to have a pacemaker fitted.  All this work was carried out by a very dedicated team at the National Heart Hospital in London.  After the operation he had a new lease of life for a while and continued to play his saw as a guest artiste at various local concerts.  Sadly, after five years his health started to deteriorate again and he had to take life at a slower pace.  He died on 25 March 1978 at the age of 65 – almost ten years after his life saving operation.

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This is part of  a serial. To get the full Jollities story please start at Part 1

Programme cover

Programme cover

Programme centre

Programme centre

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In the Gazette…

Some  enthusiastic singing was heard at the Spurgeon Memorial Church on Saturday evening at what was hoped would be the first of a series of annual choral festivals.

There was a choir of about 200 voices drawn from the Free Church choirs of North Bucks, and the festival took the form of three anthems, selected hymns for the choir, and two congregational hymns.

Perhaps the best singing was heard in a new setting of the 23rd Psalm, composed by the festival’s conductor, Mrs. Gertie Bedford, ARCO. The tune was pleasing and the singing dignified and unhurried.

The singing was enjoyed by both the choir themselves, and by an appreciative audience.

Mr Eric Alderman made an efficient organ accompanist, and also played a number of pieces before the start of the service.

Choirs represented were the West End and Wesley Methodists Wolverton, Wolverton Congregational, New Bradwell Baptists, New Bradwell Methodists, Loughton Baptists, Drayton Parslow Baptists and the Bletchley Free Churches.

Spurgeon Baptist Choir

Spurgeon Baptist Choir c1950

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On Saturday 6 September, Bletchley and Fenny Stratford Town Council will be hosting another Love Bletchley Day in Queensway. From 9am to 4pm there will be stalls, craft and food demonstrations, live music and leisure activities – and much more. Why not join in the fun and make a day of it?

And if you want more information about taking part or having a stall, you can contact the council on 01908 649469 or email paul.raine@bfstc.co.uk.

A busy scene in Queensway

A busy scene in Queensway

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