Folding Back the Years. An exhibition of photographs by Brian Bignell.
Well I suppose this is it. It is the summer of 1960 and everything’s just
great what with Jerry Keller’s hit (Here Comes Summer) being played
on the radio, things couldn’t look better. I had struggled through the
secondary school education system from ‘D’ to ‘A’ grades over four
years and was now wondering what wondrous events laid ahead of
me, prepared for the future and armed with those career leaflets
from school I visited the Youth Employment Offices in Park Road
Chelmsford, to be asked, “what do you want to do with your life?”, and being told that
Hoffmans or Marconi's would be the best place to work. Well, December that year saw
me leaving my cocooned existence.

NO more six-week summer holidays, having to work for a living! NO more hanging
around with your mates spending time at those wonderful institutions like Arthur’s
amusement arcade in Moulsham Street where you could play the pin ball machines
and fire live .22 rounds in the shooting range. Saunter out of there to the Long Bar
in Baddow Road, or the café in Central Park (NO ring road then, funnily enough I have
noticed that the Park Gates have also disappeared from the end of Park Road which
was the grand opening to the park, but that's progress!). From here you could even
venture up to the Greasy Spoon or Pav Café to give it its correct name, that's if
you were brave enough. On hot lazy days you would find all your mates either down
at Waterloo Baths outside swimming pool, (I call it Waterloo Baths because that is
where my brother Mick and I were packed off to as kids, with our towels and a bar of
Lifebuoy Soap for a bath on a Friday night as we didn't have a bath at home only a
gas copper and tin bath that hung in the coal house) If we couldn't be found in
these wonderful bastions of further education listening to the Juke box, we would
spend time at the Barnes Mead Café at Sandford Mill.

For pocket money we collected waste paper from shops in the centre of town or
returned empty Tizer and Corona bottles to the local sweet shops for the deposit. This
was a very lucrative little earner as we nicked the bottles in the first place from the
Britvic Factory in Victoria Road where they stacked the returned crates up against the
outside wall, we just helped ourselves, this was a never-ending circle of revenue.
(You could say we did our bit for recycling). The wastepaper we collected from shops
like Hassler and Hance in Tindal Street in a hand barrow made by my dad, then we
sold our efforts to the Chelmsford Waste Paper Company in New London Road a few
doors down from Dace’s record shop, where on a Saturday you would find most of us
listening to the latest hits in small cubicles upstairs at the back of the shop, or over
at the Co-op doing the same. For a real treat you ended up at that famous Chelmsford
institution Wainwrights for a ‘Frothy Milky Coffee’, these days were never going to end.

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