The ‘Wise Words from Morecambe’ project ran during 2015 and 2016. The project is an oral reminiscence project funded by the Heritage Lottery fund. The aim of the Wise Words project was to explore the social history of Morecambe, with a focus on holidaying and entertainment. This was achieved by engaging local young people and older people within the community so that they can learn from one another and appreciate together the rich history of Morecambe over the last 80 years.
Young people from local schools including Morecambe Community High School, Heysham High School, Ripley St Thomas Academy, and Lancaster University conducted interviews with older members of the community who have a story to tell. The interviews were videoed and the video footage edited into short films. The topics discussed ranges from memories of pop music in the 1960s, including attending gigs, or playing in bands, memories of holidaying, dancing at the various venues, being a beauty queen, and even having a bit part in a film made in Morecambe.
Over the year we have had some fascinating stories, including:
- Mike Dickinson who was a guitarist in the local band “The Doodle Bugs” and while supporting “The Who” was asked with 15 minutes’ notice whether he would stand in for Pete Townshend and play guitar!
- Alvin Atkins who was the band leader on the end of the central pier from 1948 until 1965 and admits to being responsible for more engagements in Morecambe than anyone else!
- Dickie Siddle who’s colourful childhood and teen memories focused on getting in anywhere for free if at all possible, whether it be the cinema, the theatre or the fairground.
- Shelia Modley, an ex “Miss Morecambe”, talked about her life as a model and bathing beauty queen.
- Ken Thompson, who had a bit part in the film ‘The Entertainer’ starring Laurence Olivier and which was mainly filmed in Morecambe.
- And of course, some of the films document the historical links between Bradford and Morecambe featuring many older Bradfordians who have retired to Morecambe.
The films are available on YouTube and on Storyvault for free. Please enjoy watching them, and we encourage you to make a comment using the YouTube comments box.
Local drummer Ken Thompson and friends auditioned and got the part of the rock-n-roll band in the film ‘The Entertainer’.
Sheila Modley describes how following dancing lessons and a determination to make her legs strong, she started entering beauty competitions, modelling and bathing beauty competitions. In 1960 she was described as the most crowned beauty queen in Great Britain, an achievement which took her around the world.
Phil Kitching recalls a nine years olds view of people dancing in the street in nighties and pyjamas, and the RAF setting fire to wooden benches on the prom, then turning a fire engine over, when it attempted to put the fire out.
Phil Kitching, a Bradford boy, describes happy childhood days at Morecambe during the 1940’s, on the beach, on the piers, in the Winter Gardens and at Happy Mount Park. He also recalls the big star comedians of the day, Albert Modley and Frank Randall.