Joyce: September Column


Royton-based Crane Payment Innovation recently presented a cheque to the British Red Cross for £4000 to assist the victims for the Manchester Arena bomb attack, the donation came from their parent company based in Philadelphia, USA and is from the Crane Foundation.  The donation will be used towards the We Love Manchester emergency fund.

One of the reasons for the donation of this cheque was that the daughter and granddaughter of Lesley Fletcher Gilmore; customer services manager at the company had a lucky escape at the Ariana Grand concert at the Manchester Arena, they had just left the building minutes before the bomb attack took place, and thank goodness they did.

The BACTA Bikers have been collecting monies in the UK for pledges made for the charity Rays of Sunshine, and they kicked off in Newark at Blueprint and Reflex Gaming, who made the Super Heroes very welcome, and as you can see from the photos they donned their appropriate costumes to carry out the collections.

Their support from Wales has been phenomenal so much so that a group of 9 Super Heroes have a 2 day trip planned to collect the pledges promised from Wales. Just remember there will be no hiding place from the Super Heroes  it will be ‘Your money or your life.’ It really is excellent of these bikers to give up their time for not just the collection but for the journey they undertake to raise these monies, and when you consider it is all done at their own expense, well these bikers truly are Super Heroes.

Congratulations to Gauselman who recently celebrated their 60th birthday in Germany and I understand that these ran over a few days, Gauselman are such a professional company with a great reputation that obviously their celebrations matched up to their professionalism and their celebrations will obviously be talked about for a long time to come, even maybe up to their 70th birthday.

I recently read in one of the daily newspaper a piece on Alexandra Palace, North London stating that they now had 30 plus Go Ape courses at the venue which keep kids occupied on obstacle courses, ropewalks, stepping plates, nets and zipwires etc and when I read it was at Alexandra Palace (Ally Pally) it brought back memories of my early days of the January London Amusement Exhibitions we used to hold there, but before I go into them, I will give you a bit of history of Alexandra Palace.

It was designed and opened in 1873 and rebuilt in 1875 following a destructive fire and it was originally designed to serve as a public centre of recreation, education and entertainment centre for the people of North London as the people of South London had Crystal Palace. Besides the huge building itself there was also plenty of parkland within the grounds so people could go and sit up at Ally Pally and have fine views over London.

The Great Hall and West Hall are today used for exhibitions, music concerts and conferences operated by the trading arm of the charitable trust that owns the building and the parkland on behalf of the public and the Palm Court houses a pub and an ice rink.

I remember my first exhibition many years ago at Ally Pally  (not going to tell you how many) when I was with World’s Fair/CoinSlot and I remember sitting in the taxi from Wood Green tube station and driving up this somewhat daunting steep hill to the exhibition entrance, and I can still feel the cold of the building it was just freezing.  The first thing that struck me after the cold was when I went into the exhibition hall was the large stage and the company that were exhibiting were Ruffler and Deith and this was the first time that I had been at an exhibition were they used models from an agency to man their stand, and they were all attractive models one in particular was a young lady named Della Finch.

I was in awe of the whole exhibition it so big in comparison to the one that I had attended in Blackpool my very first industry exhibition, and the stands had a total different layout than Blackpool and had had a lot more money spent on them too, then again this was London.  At first I was on the desk taking subscriptions etc to World’s Fair/CoinSlot, but they soon decided that they could find me a better job and they put me in charge of the bar in the hospitality room, which was great apart from the fact that when I needed to wash used glasses I used to have to wash them in a bucket with hot water got from the toilets, mind you the late John Rogers who was on sales used to oblige me with this and he was my water carrier.

The late Mary Openshaw who was the overseas correspondent used to bring overseas visitors in for a drink and if she liked them she would say to me ‘A good drink for this person’ and if she wasn’t too keen on them it was just ‘A drink please Joyce’ so I had to listen because if I got it mixed up you had the wrath of Mary on your back, and no way did you want this. Mary would also have a drink with these guests when she brought them and on a daily basis she would bring over a dozen different guests in and she would have her Smirnoff Blue on the rocks with them, and it really used to puzzle me as to how she could manage to partake of all this alcohol and still be sober, but she did, what a woman she was.

I remember this small man keep coming into the hospitality room and getting a drink quite often just a soft drink and he used to want to chat to me, and obviously I wasn’t au fait with people then as I am now, and this man turned out to be the late Jim Crompton, who I found out many years later when he told me that he didn’t really want the drink he just used to come in to see me!

The catering facilities left a great deal to be desired at Ally Pally, you had the Palm Court to go for food and 9 times out of 10 all they had on offer on hot food was hot dogs (mind you at times not much better these days at some of the exhibitions) and this was quite often served in a bread roll that was stale and the coffee or teas was only just lukewarm, and you really did need to get something hot as you had to go outside the main exhibition hall and outside the building itself to get to the Palm Court, and in January the weather was rarely kind to us, so you would be freezing by the time you got to the Palm Court and vice versa when you came back into the exhibition hall.

I remember one show in particular, and after the show had ended –  the hierarchy would be going to the BACTA Ball whilst the minions (of which I was one) had to clear the hospitality room and then go home, and this particular year it had snowed heavy and taxi’s were not coming up to Ally Pally from Wood Green so we had to walk down this daunting  hill, and my suitcase was as always bursting at the seams (no wheels on them either) so it had to be carried and guess what? Whilst walking down this hill it burst open and  my clothes were scattered along the path and with the wind some of them blew into the parkland, so it was quite a sight myself and the late John Coates, the late Gerry Wise and a couple of the correspondents rushing around to get my clothes, some of them actually got left in the parkland, no way could they be retrieved!

Eventually we got to the bottom of the hill and to the tube station and it was mayhem, just so many people about and the tubes when you could get one were absolutely chocca as it was by this time the rush hour, and it took about an hour and a half to get to Euston, and I always remember Gerry Wise saying, “And to think we run a travel service!” which World’s Fair did in those days.

All in all though they were happy days and great fun in their way and the shows lasted for a further few years at Ally Pally them we moved to Olympia which was much easier to get to, now they were good days. The picture above of yours truly was taken at Ally Pally, no comments on the hair please!! The other photo below from when I appeared to move up the ladder and this was taken at the BACTA Ball at Grosvenor House Hotel, I am with Albert Coleman and the then World’s Fair’s Chairman Mark Whatmore and his wife Joan.

Talking about Ally Pally and memories, I thought it might be an idea to remember some of the familiar faces who were around the industry about 25 years ago. Some of course are no longer with us and some have moved on to other careers. It would be great to hear news on any of the people below

Photo 1 – David Brown, Sales Director of Associated Leisure, Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire

Photo 2 – Des Colman, General Manager of Philip Shefras Spares, London

Photo 3 – Brian Herrick, Managing Director of Leisuredata Ltd, Bridgwater, Somerset

Photo 4 – Ron Ranson, Director of Rancom Agencies, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

Photo 5 – Ian Rock, Director of European Leisure Plc, London

Photo 6 – Reymond H Saftt, Managing Director of TUNING Electronic GmbH, Hamburg, Germany

Photo 7 – Alan D Stone Vice President of Nintendo of America Inc, Washington, USA

Photo 8 – Arthur Thomas, Managing Director of A,E.T. Games, Cardiff, South Wales

Photo 9 – Keith Wagstaff Group Managing Director of Music Hire Group. Leeds, West Yorkshire

(Keith was also Chairman of Bell Fruit Services, Nottingham)

Photo 10 – David Wilcox, Chief Executive of Solney Automatic Services, Burton on Trent, Staffordshire

Now if you enjoy looking at these faces and they jog your memories of yesteryear there are plenty more where these came from, and if you would like to see more just let me know!





Comments (3)

Add Your Comment

Joyce, I am devastated, you left me out. I had one of the biggest stands, and remember ty interviewing me

michael green
28/09/2017, 07:22

Michael you were already so famous in those days as you still are today, and you didn’t need any publicity or models, as we elder statesmen of the industry all remember the good old Alca days and what a terrific business you had. I of course do remember the large Alca stand but as I said the first stand I saw in the hall was the Ruffler and Deith one.

Joyce Todd
--Select title--
28/09/2017, 08:38

No. 1 on your list!

David Brown
13/10/2017, 10:48

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