Joyce’s Column, dodgems and dodgy dates!


There has not been much publicity about the Park Avenue Open Day this year, and people were wondering if it was going ahead, well I can inform you that it is and it is all systems go as usual.  The date of The Open Day is 13th June –  a week later than usual – due to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations. Please make a diary note of the Open Day, this is an event not to be missed, and it is even an event that the weather (if it rains) doesn’t dampen people’s spirits.  Mind you over the years they have pretty lucky weather wise, and I think I can count on one hand the bad weather days we have had for The Open Day.  

Whittaker Brothers Amusement Machines who are in my locality have sent me some old photos of their dodgem cars with some famous people riding in them. Prince Charles in 1960 enjoying the ride following the Christmas Circus at Olympia, London, these dodgems were operated by Botton Bros.

Violet Carson aka Ena Sharples and Margot Bryant aka Minnie Caldwell in 1970 at Belle Vue Amusement Park, Manchester they were at the time celebrating 10 years of Coronation Street.  I hope they managed to keep their hats on!! If you look behind these two ladies there are two other stars from Coronation Street in another dodgem car, I think one is Peter Adamson aka Len Fairclough and the other is Julie Goodyear aka Bet Lynch, do you agree with me or do you think they could be other members of the Coronation Street cast?

My favourite though is of two little boys (no not Rolf Harris’s 2 Little Boys) who have both become well known in our industry and it is John (on the left) and Paul Whittaker around 1953 in one of the first Whittaker’s dodgem cars. I’ll bet you two boys were only too pleased to try out new rides and could hardly wait for them to be built, and I’ll bet you always had plenty of friends that were willing to try them out with you too.

I recently attended the funeral of the late James Godden, despite the fact that this was a sad affair, it was nice to see the turnout there must have been at least 500 people at the funeral all there to remember him, this shows what a well known and respected person he was. The mourners came from all walks of life to pay homage to this larger than life character, and Jim (as he preferred to be known) will be sadly missed, as not only did he do so much for the amusement industry, he did a great deal for the county of Kent itself, and it was a sad day that we all had to bid a fond farewell to ‘Mr Kent’ himself. The local newspaper ‘The Herald’ paid him a wonderful tribute they devoted 8 pages of editorial about Jim, not very often a newspaper devotes so much editorial to one person, but they obviously thought he deserved it.  Jim may have physically left us, but his spirit lives on and he will be a fond memory in many hearts for time immemorial, especially those of his dear wife Rochelle and his sons James, Jeremy and Jordan.

In other news, Money Controls’ Roger Hindle who is local Councillor for one of the Oldham Borough wards has been successful in another venture that he has taken on, that is the role of Publicity Officer and Vice-Chairman of a community group called CHARISMA which stands for The Campaign for Heritage and Recreation in the Sholver and Moorside Area (both areas in Oldham), and this group have many events planned over the forthcoming year.  These include a scarecrow festival, May Day event, East Oldham St George’s Day and Diamond Jubilee events in April and June and an annual Christmas lantern parade are to name but a few. Roger must be a really busy man to be working, acting as a councillor and his involvement with CHARISMA it appears to me that he is a man that certainly fills his life.

When you read this column I will be getting prepared to go of jet setting again, and in three days time I will be flying off to Aruba, which I am really looking forward to and have never been to before, done many places in the Caribbean but not Aruba. Mind you I hope this trip will not be a troublesome as my trip to Malta was, but even if it is at least the troubles will be in hot sunshine!!

I received a call the other night from Harry Levy’s Mick Kennedy and surprise, surprise Mick was in a church in Aberdeen, but this was no ordinary church it was a  catholic church that had been converted into a bar, nightclub and casino, and Mick had gone in there for meal, he reckons it’s the best place in Aberdeen to get a great meal and a glass of wine or two at a reasonable price. According to Mick they have even kept the stained glass windows from when it was a church and it adds ambience to the place.  Mind you I when he said he was in a catholic church I had visions of Mick in the confession box doing his confessing, but then again he was only in Aberdeen overnight not all week!!

Apart from the church Mick I hope your leg is ok now, Mick injured his leg in Ireland after drawing the raffle for me, he somehow or other managed to get the injury when we was getting down from standing on the table which he always does for the raffle so people can see and hear him, and he missed his footing and caught his leg on the side of another table.  Apparently he had a sore leg the following day of the show and it was also very bruised, but being the trouper he is it didn’t stop his selling machines, mind you nothing could stop our Mick doing that.

I recently went into my local branch of Santander and the assistant was looking at me and asked me if I had a few moments to spare as she felt they needed to update my details, I agreed to this and duly went off into one of the offices.  Another assistant appeared and checked my name and then said she felt they had definitely got my date of birth wrong, and when she told me what they had for it I nearly collapsed on the spot, they had my correct birthday but the date of my birth as 1901!!  The assistant apologised about this and said they had got mixed up when things had got transferred from one branch to another, you’re not kidding they got things mixed up.  I know I am no spring chicken but I’m certainly not 111 years of age and I do hope I don’t look it either, no comments please!!

Staying with Santander (makes me wonder if the money is in good hands) they had Eleanor Eldridge’s (the widow of the late Hal Eldridge) on their records as being 97 and again she is nowhere near that and she made sure they put their records straight too.

Mind you if Eleanor was 97 and she lived another 3 years she would be getting a telegram from the Queen and I would have received mine 11 years ago, and if I were 111 years of age this would make me possibly one of the oldest people alive.

Would be better if they inflated your savings instead of your age, I don’t suppose we would want them to put their records straight if you had £20,000 in an account and they had it as £200,000, but of course this doesn’t happen, shame!



Comments (4)

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Hi Joyce,
It is always sad to see anyone from our industry pass away, but Jimmy Goddern ?. I must have read a different local Folkstone paper to the one you did, I have never ever seen such horrible comments from the locals as I read in his local Folkstone newspaper immediately after his passing..

Also you say the local council paid him a tribute. Did you know that he had a running battle with that very same council for years, many of the local people, and don’t ask me read the local papers, said he destroyed a lot of the tourist area of the Kent coast. If you saw 500 people at his funeral, I am sure most of them just went there to make sure he was dead or perhaps rented for the day, did you see his son there, I don’t think so.

Are you sure you were not at the wrong funeral, and that you were at the funeral of a truly loved human character, that of Jimmy Jones who in contrast to Jimmy Godden got some remarkable quotes of sadness from the local people in his area.

It was like a devil had died at one end of the country and a Saint had died at the other end of the Country.

Sorry but I can only say it as I see it.

On a lighter note it was nice to see Prince Charles in one of Botton Brothers Dodgem cars at Battersea Park, during one of the many charitable events that they did when they were alive. Also the two very young Whittaker boys enjoying themselves, they have also been a credit to our industry.

Enjoy Aruba.

Freddy Bailey

Freddy Bailey
25/04/2012, 22:35

Freddy sorry you feel this way about the late James Godden, you obviously have your reasons of which I don’t wish to know, he always treated me with respect so I can only speak as I find.
The son’s did go to the funeral.
Whether you be a saint or a sinner you must always remember the following;
There is good in the worst of us
There is bad in the best of us
and on a final note
Let him that is without sin cast the first stone!!

Joyce Todd
27/04/2012, 08:18

I vertually never knew the man, but when it comes to reporting anything in any industry, it should be an honest observation based on the facts, as you know I am from a fairground background, and for more that 100 years we have communicated by what we call jungle telegraph, and there are many traveling showmen who have settled on the Kent coast.

Apart from that, surely the local papers would not print sentiments from their readers that had no truth in them, did you read them, because I was asked to send any information to coin-opcummunity that I had on this man, prior to any obituary being published, and on doing my research, I not only spoke to several of our trade people and also reseached my extensive industry files as well as looking at the several comments in this man’s community, there was not one good word from either the people I spoke to or the comments that I read.,

I only responded to your colunm because I felt you had not researched or indeed knew the man well enough to write a glowing article like you did, why did you not cover the passing of Jimmy Jones, who like I said in my response to your article, and according to the comments from the local people in their respective communities, plus I knew the man personally for many years, he was a true gentleman and a credit to our industry. It was like a devil had died at one end of the country (Folkstone) and a saint (That being Jimmy Jones) had died at the other end of the country, both from our industry.

So to say I had my reasons to comment about Jimmy Godden the way I did, that was not so. I have never done any business with the man in question in my life. I just reported the facts as I researched them.

Freddy Bailey

Freddy Bailey
29/04/2012, 16:49

Freddy I felt I gave an honest observation on the facts of the man I knew and had spent time with, as I stated before he always treated me with respect a quality hard to find these days.

As for me not writing about the late Jimmy Jones who unfortunately I knew only by name, it would have been unprofessional of me to write about him as it would only have been hearsay from other people I could have written, and not from personal knowledge. You obviously knew Jimmy Jones and wrote a nice article on him, from your personal knowledge to which I salute you.

On a final note Freddy I would like to thank you for reading and taking an interest in my column.

Joyce Todd
15/05/2012, 08:33

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