I was the Property Maintenance Officer with Truro City Council from 1966 to 1974. My responsibilities were the maintenance and improvements of fourteen hundred Local Authority Houses and Public Buildings. My office was situated on the first floor which is now the Assemble Room at Hall for Cornwall; this also housed the City Architects and Building Control Officer. City Hall was a building of two parts; the front section overlooking Boscawen street consisted of the Town Clerk, Committee Room, Council Chamber and Magistrates Court. The rear of the building overlooked the Car Park, which is now the Piazza and this housed the Surveyor, treasurer and Public Health Departments – the two were connected by a long corridor. Situated in the City Hall was the Regent Cinema, but this subsequently closed, and the Hall was then used for concerts and dances etc. Adjoining the hall was an annex separated by a sliding screen and this was used for many functions including private parties, trade shows, fur and feather, harvest festivals also Fat Stock shows, the latter sometimes causing the maintenance section considerable repair work. The annex floor was originally groove and tongued one and a quarter inch boarding, but over many years of heavy use, had worn considerably thinner. It was not uncommon to be informed that a heavy bullock had broken through the floor! Eventually, after the floor was re-laid, the FatStock show moved to another location. By its nature and age, the City Hall was in constant need of major repair work, but the necessary money was not always forthcoming and with Local Government Reorganisation drawing ever closer and the future uncertain, only essential works were undertaken. In 1974 Carrick District Council became responsible for the City Hall until it became Hall for Cornwall.
Ice was brought from Newlyn Fish Market and formed into an ice rink on stage with a lip to stop skaters flying off the edge. A 24 hour generator was needed to stop ice melting (which would happen at the rear of the rink) which the police weren’t happy about – the generator van was enormous and stood outside making a noise 24 hours a day. After the week had ended, the ice would be broken up, pushed into a wheelbarrow and then wheeled off to a carpark behind Staples and left to melt away!
We had a skiffle group… The Six Squares. I made a tea chest with a broom handle and a piece of string, and I painted 6 squares on the side, red and black squares, and there was 6 squares and we said, we’re all pretty square, and there were 6 of us, so we called ourselves the 6 Squares. We started off in a pub called the Hope Inn at the bottom of Mitchell Hill. We used to practice in the back room. Just outside this room was a bus stop and when we were in there playing they used to come in and listen. After a couple of weeks the landlord said, “Look don’t practice in the back room, come into the pub itself…And course it used to draw the people in. Word got around that this group was playing this skiffle, and we got these invites to go to different pubs and hotels, and it got more and more. The night that I was due to go into the Army, our skiffle band were playing in a talent competition out at the Perranporth Memorial Hall. We actually won it so we had to go on again to do an encore and I was looking at the watch and thinking, “I’ve got to catch the ten past 10 Cornish Riviera.” I’d already said to my parents, “take my suitcase up to the station, I’ll come back straight from the do and go from there.” Twenty past 9 we were still on the stage playing. I thought, “this is getting a bit tight, we’re at Perranporth, 9 miles away.” Derek Hall used to have a butchers shop in Truro, he had a van which he used to take us around in, so we finished, hurriedly packed the stuff into his van, hammered back to Truro and got onto the station about 5 minutes before the train was due in. And what the chaps did, they brought the gear into the station, set it up and started playing to give me a send off, just as the train was pulling in. This is in the days of the steam trains. And who should be driving the train, but one of our friends. Cause he stopped and got out and held the train up for quarter of an hour while they had a sing song. And that’s the last time I saw my guitar. When I came out the Army, no one knew what happened to it!
The Fur and Feather, that was one of the shows they used to have in City Hall. It was rabbits and pigeons and different sort of birds. My father and my brother were both keen Fur and Feather enthusiasts, and they used to participate, especially father, he won numerous cups and prizes. We lived in St.Clements Terrace and he had a pigeon loft and hutches in the garden where he used to keep and feed his rabbits and pigeons. He had the British gold shield for his Dutch black and white rabbit.
There were 3 cinemas in Truro when I was a youngster, the Plaza, the Regent, which was in the City Hall, and the Palace. I grew up on St.Clements Terrace, and there would be 4 or 5 of us around the same age who would congregate, deciding which one to go to, depending what was showing. I can remember going into the Regent Cinema, on a Saturday morning, the matinees and seeing the usual films and having an ice cream. In those days it used to be two films, the one they showed first was the B film and then you had an interval with the adverts, and then the main film would be the second one. And the old Pearl and Dean adverts. Then we’d usually all come back and play football in the afternoon. That was I suppose just before the end of the war and just after the war.
One of the highlights of the year was the New Years Eve dance at City Hall, when you had a nice orchestra and loads of people. We wore whatever was the fashion of the day I suppose… drainpipes and long jackets.