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.

Comments about this page

  • Thanks for the memories Bill. I was reminiscing with my husband about wrestling in the ‘old days’, we both watched in on ITV when we were young and I remember going to an event at the Ice rink, which featured Kendo Nagasaki and others. I think the wrestler Nagasaki was fighting got quite badly injured. I cannot remember the other wrestler’s name but he was a handsome wrestler who wore a leopard skin when entering the ring, not very pc and I wouldn’t like it now but I much less aware in those days and this would have been around 1960 – ’62ish, I think, I was very young at the time. I also remember the ice shows, which were usually pantomimes. I didn’t see the Wizard of Oz there but I think I may have seen Peter Pan and possibly Cinderella, but I’m really straining my memory now!

    By Helen Shipley (09/02/2013)
  • Hi I came here as my 9 year old was skating today. Josie Cordrey was my Auntie and appeared in many ice shows through the era. I used to visit the rink regularly in the 60s when Josie was helping to run the cafe. Great memories

    By David Chessell (31/08/2013)
  • Many happy hour spent on the ice in the early 50s, speed skating sessions etc, knew Snowy, how time flies.

    By Terry Mills (31/03/2014)
  • Many of my friends and I skated there from about 1957 until 65. We also supported the Tigers on Sunday nights, and went to many music shows, great times.  It was a shame it see it demolished and replaced by the Top Rank - the ice rink there was a joke, it was impossible to run shows or ice hockey and so we lost the Tigers, and as an added insult the ice was usually so wet it was a nightmare. Sad loss. 

    By Rodger Olive (03/04/2014)
  • My dad
    Pat Barry managed the bars at the ice rink, I think there were 4 was outside on west street and 3 inside, the Long bar was very popular it had a stage and many celebrities entertained there.
    I remember Snowy too.
    I spent many happy days skating and going to the ice hockey on Sundays.

    By Christine Barry (01/02/2024)

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