The two-seater car track
For me, the most obvious attraction on the pier was on the right, just after having passed through the paybooth. This was the near oval shaped track on which petrol driven, two-seater cars were driven round and round. I liked to stand and watch these for ages. Many years passed before I was able to afford to drive one of them. I believe, also, that there was a minimum age and height restriction on drivers? I felt that the best view of this track was from the pavement outside the pier. Perhaps this was to attract more paying visitors in.
Penny in the slot machines
Once through the paybooth, the only walkway, which was on the left hand side of this track, sloped downwards. Where the walkway levelled out, probably at the far end of the car track there was an amusement machine hall with its entrance on the right hand side. Here there was a wide range of ‘old’ penny in the slot machines. I think this hall must have been mostly underneath the car track as I vaguely remember the rumble from the ceiling as the cars were driven round above.
A special treat
Very close to this amusements hall entrance, also on the right hand side of the walkway, was a Walls ice cream stand. A special treat was to have a block of ice cream from there and to eat it straight from its wrapping paper or like a sandwich with a wafer biscuit on the top and underneath the block. When I eat Walls ice cream, even today, I can still recall the distinctive taste of those blocks – or is my memory playing tricks?
Which memories – which pier?
During those years I went on both the Palace and West piers many times. So now, I can’t be absolutely certain which of my other ‘pier’ memories apply to which pier. Did the makers of the film “Oh What a Lovely War” use the West Pier for quite a lot of its scenes?