Working at the ice rink, 1960s
I started working at the ice rink in 1959/60, sweeping the ice between skating sessions! I progressed onto holding the ice ‘plough’, which was hurtled around the rink by Guy Preston driving a beat-up Land Rover. Oh what fun, and highly dangerous – especially when you’re only 14 years old!
I then got the job of announcing the ice dance sessions, and playing the various bits of music for the dancers. My special memory was shouting over the microphone for the public skaters to “Clear the ice for Dancing!” What power!
Getting ready for the wrestling
When the wrestling came round on Saturday nights, Johnny Micklam and myself used to get the wooden boards out from under the ice, and help Guy Preston to lay them all over the ice surface and then place all the chairs out for the wrestling fans. When the show finished at around 10.30pm, we then had to lift all the boards up again and lower them through a hatch to be stored back underneath the ice – all for a £1!
I progressed onto the best job of all when I was 15 years old, by operating the old magnesium spotlights to ‘pick out’ the wrestlers as they entered the arena, whilst simultaneously playing the fanfare music on a wobbly record deck.
Lighting the ice shows
When I heard about the ice shows coming, I immediately volunteered. I was assistant to the main lighting man who was located on the ‘bridge’ where the ice hockey scoreboard etc. was positioned. Fortunately for me and the show, I learned how to do the whole of the show’s lighting. ‘Snowy White’ (the regular lighting guy who was a caretaker at my school) was taken ill after just three days, and I was the only person who knew how to operate the lighting board! Even more power for me at only 15 years old….
Guy Preston also bullied me into ploughing the ice with him between the shows’ matinee and evening performances.
The Wizard of Oz was hugely successful, and by the time it finished, I knew every word…
What great days! A wonderful introduction into the work environment for a young lad……..and memories of a time never to be repeated.