Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Working in Loughborough

[An image showing Working in Loughborough]I spent some time in the mid 1970s working in the Leicestershire market town of Loughborough.

As a Blue Badge Guide based in Leicester, I spend a lot of my time now in Loughborough, but until 1975 I didn't know the East Midlands at all. I had never been to Leicester, or Nottingham, or Derby, or the triangle enclosed by these cities.

While managing the Odeon Cinema at Cosham, near Portsmouth, I applied for a position with Charnwood Borough Council as Manager of the Town Hall at Loughborough.

I attended an interview, thought Loughborough was a pretty nice place, was offered the job, and accepted it.

So in the middle of a heatwave in the Summer of 1975, I arrived in Loughborough. The Town Hall was approaching readiness, being refurbished after a disastrous fire some years earlier. So it wasn't actually open.

This was most unusual for me. Yes, there were lots of things I had to organise, involving staffing, supplies etc, in order to be ready for the opening, but I was essentially working a Monday to Friday 9 to 5 week. I had not experienced that for more than a decade.

Basically, I didn't know what to do with myself. Remember, I was in a strange town and the only people I knew were those with whom I had come into contact through work. I explored the area a bit at weekends, particularly the three cities of Leicester, Nottingham and Derby, and went back to see my family in the Southend area a couple of times.

We had a Grand Opening in September, and then my life changed enormously again. I didn't have a day off for weeks, and when I did manage a morning off I spent it at the launderette. Not only was I working most days from around 10am until midnight or later, I was also involved to a lesser extent with the new Leisure Centre, which opened the same weekend, and which needed some management input.

Things calmed down after a few weks, but it was always hard work and long hours, not always appreciated or understood by the council's hierarchy.

We had concerts, panto, religious and political meetings, dances, dinner dances, jumble sales etc etc. In addition, I was responsible for the Council Chamber and Mayor's Parlour, which were also situated within the building.

People who performed at the Town Hall during my time included Alan Blaikley; Tommy Bruce; Jess Conrad; Stephane Grappelli; Chip Hawkes; Max Jaffa; Jerry Jerome; Kenny; Dennis Lotis; Ray McVay; Marian Montgomery; Ken Platt; Central Band of the R.A.F.; Band of the Royal Marines; Sooty and Sweep; Victor Sylvester Junior; and even Margaret Thatcher.

My office overlooked the Market Place. I'm sorry to say that this was an afterthought. It had not occurred to anybody until I had been engaged that the Manager might need an office of his own, so it was stuck in a corner of the building which was otherwise used as a cloakroom. Today, the space is taken up by a self service cafeteria.

While I was there, I raised some money for the local John Storer House by having my hair cut for charity. The "Loughborough Echo" carried a photo of the Mayor grinning with a pair of scissors in his hand, waiting to divest me of my shoulder length hair. In fact, he was saying "Right, Colin, I've been wanting to do this all the time I've known you".

After a couple of years, having had what might be termed an interesting experience working for a local authority, I rejoined Classic Cinemas to manage the Classic at Ramsgate in Kent, and moved there with my wife Anne, whom I had met and married in Loughborough.

If anybody reading this has any connections with Loughborough (Born? Lived? Worked? Ancestors? Relatives?), I would be very pleased to hear from them.