By the early fifties Britain was finally recovering from the Second World War, some foods were still on ration – rationing was not abolished until 1954, but in the main life was good for us growing up in Exeter, we had three cinemas and a theatre, we were within easy reach of the seaside and we were not too short of money. We led busy lives, most Monday evenings were spent at the Theatre Royal (Ken Scobie an oId friend from St Sidwells School had an Uncle who owned a shop at Lions Holt used to give us the complementary tickets he received for displaying playbills).
Tuesdays and Thursdays we went to the Mint Youth Club, Wednesdays and Fridays we usually went to the Cinema (admission was 1/3, 1/9, 2/9 and 3/9, depending upon how flush we were). Saturday afternoons we spent walking around the shops and at three o'clock we would meet up with friends for coffee at Marks and Spencers at the top of High Street, they had a nice restaurant there and most Saturdays there would be six or eight of us there, the only one of the gang who was missing was Dave Smith as he had to help out at his father's butchers shop in Newtown. Saturday evenings were originally spent at dancing lessons at Marcina Gibsons Dancing School, this was a waste of money and eventually we spent Saturday Evenings Square Dancing, there was one every week at various venues including The America Hall at Pinhoe and St Matthews Hall Topshamy, sixpence (2½p) on the train.
The Gang and I joined the Mint Methodist Youth Club when we were fourteen and remained members until we were twenty-one. We went every Tuesday and Thursday Evening and were also expected to go to a church service on Sundays, this was no hardship as it was another chance for friends to meet up. After church we would go for a coffee, either at the Casablanca Restaurant on the edge of the old Exe Bridge or else we went to the New Express Coffee Bar in St Sidwells near the Odeon Cinema. Whilst remembering my days at the Mint it was at the church that an embarrassing incident occurred. There were about eight of us sitting in the upstairs back row I had passed a bag of Aniseed Balls along and someone dropped the bag and a load of the hard sweets rolled down the tiers of seats during a quiet part of the service. Every year on Good Friday after the morning service we organised a coach trip to Haytor Rocks on Dartmoor returning home via Dawlish Warren. This shows some members on the outing in 1953 the second was taken on the 1956 outing.
When we reached the age of twenty-one we had to leave the Club. The above show's a group taken on our last outing on Good Friday 30th March 1956. I remember the date well because the following day I met the girl who would eventually become my wife. But that's another chapter in my life.
© 2011 Trevor A Brown
This memory of of being a teenager in postwar Exeter first appeared on the BBC's website, People at War. It is reproduced here with the permission of the author.
The Casa Cafe at 3 Exe Bridge - right side. Photo Dick Passmore.
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