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50 Years Before the 50th Issue


Fifty years: doesn’t seem so long does it? Can so much have changed in Dartmouth in just five decades? 1962 was both very different to today but also bears some uncanny resemblances too…


ooking at the stories which made the headlines you can see straight away what a different place the world was: the Cuban Missile crisis took place, Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, and four lads from Liverpool released a song called Love Me Do. In Dartmouth, the Queen and Prince Philip visited, creating a big stir in the town (as they always have done) but also a bit of an ar- gument. The Royal couple’s itinerary only allowed 30 minutes to meet local dignitaries and the Borough Council were NOT bestpleased. Complaints flowed from the councillors: Alderman William Row, for example, said: “It seems a very empty affair and hardly worthwhile putting on your best clothes for.” These complaints were ignored: in fact the Royal couple’s time in the town was then cut to twenty minutes.


L Whatever the problems, when


Her Majesty and Prince Philip ar- rived they were enthusiastically wel- comed by the massive crowds who braved horrible, wet and windy conditions to see them. Prince Philip was on fine form; he met the borough councillors – who included a schoolmaster, a cobbler, builder, butcher, jeweller, estate agent, lec- turer, ladies outfitter, and a gas fitter – and asked drily, “Haven’t you got a candlestick maker?” Both Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were very attentive on a tour of the Britannia Royal Naval Col- lege’s training facilities – and many in the town hoped it was due to


The trio had been united in their horror at the uncontrolled development of Dartmouth


their plans to send the-then 14-year- old Prince Charles on the Officer Cadet training course, which he duly did nine years later. The country was facing eco- nomic woes in 1962, much as we are today. Inflation was over 4per cent for most of the year and the economy only grew 1.1 per cent. But Dartmouth again managed to buck the trend and very much live up to Harold Macmillan’s assertion that Britain had ‘never had it so good’. The Easter trade in the town was off the map as far as visitors goes: the Lower, Higher and passenger ferries all reported record numbers travelling and hotels, bars and restaurants all made a killing, making the most of the good weather. In 1959 the Dartmouth & Kingswear Society had been formed by Lt Col Richard Webb, Christopher Milne (the inspiration behind Winnie the Pooh’s owner, but who hated to be called Chris- topher Robin) and John Smith. The trio had been united in their horror at the uncontrolled development of Dartmouth and had formed the society to ‘protect it’ from insensi- tive and ill-conceived changes.


In 1962 they held a


public forum to discuss the develop- ment of Dartmouth for the good of all.


It was a very interesting meeting that caused headlines after it was


50 Years Before the 50th Issue


suggested Lake Street be demol- ished to make way for a car park. But away from the controversy the society came up with some interesting suggestions - banning traffic from Duke and Foss Street, building a new connecting road from Ferndale off Victoria Road to Swannaton Road and a link road


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