Belbroughton Village Fete, 1963

This article originally appeared in Belbroughton Parish Magazine in March 2013.

Fifty years ago, on 9 August 1963, a report in the Bromsgrove Messenger told of a splendid fete in Belbroughton at which a grand total of £460 was raised.  Will it stop raining in time for us to enjoy this summer’s outdoor activities?

If anyone in Belbroughton had not decided in advance how to spend the Bank Holiday afternoon*, a large canvas banner in the middle of the village offered the answer to their problem.  It announced in the boldest letters that the church fete was being held “in the large field behind the rectory, in Mr Twigg’s garden itself, and also the church hall.”  So many people followed the course to these parts indicted by a host of smaller signs that the funds of Holy Trinity shot up in the day by £460.

The fete was opened by a surprise guest of honour, Mrs George Fardon of Broom Hill.  Introduced by the Rector, the Rev J Vernon Twigg, she warmly commended the cause and was thanked by churchwarden and near neighbour George Simms.  The “youngest” member of the congregation, Sarah Fox, of Bell Heath, presented Mrs Fardon with a bouquet, and the surprise guest received another plaudit later on for winning the cake competition.

THEY HAD TO HURRY  The potential customer, however, had to be quick to inspect commended cakes as the entire stall, run by Mrs Stewart, had the “sold out” sign up in record time.  Another attempt to “clean out” was conducted at the coconut shy, held by Mr Wickstead.  Fifteen-years old Bernard Matthew of Clent, had won no less than seven nuts within the first hour!

Queues formed, too, outside the tombola tent where Mr and Mrs Mayhew, Mr and Mrs Holyhead and Mr G Scott attempted to deal with the flow of ticket buyers and prizes dwindled rapidly.

Many children found their day was made by the show put on by members of the Paramount School of Dancing, Birmingham.  They were even more delighted by the appearance of a magician, John Buckley.

A gap in the hedge lured the visitor on to the rectory lawn.  Here a treasure hunt, conducted by Messrs Darby and Eades, vied for patronage with bowling for bottled prizes.  Port and sherry were offered for the highest scores by a man and woman.  Ensuring fair play were Mr Ian and Mr Clewer.  Some astonishing techniques were worked out in various attempts to knock over the frustratingly-erect targets as the top score crept higher.

A short stroll away at the church hall, Mrs Dorman and helpers supplied teas and refreshments.  There were several attractions just for the children.  Mrs Helen Wilcock, of Belbroughton, provided the mount and supervised pony riding.  There was plenty of juvenile custom, too, for the slides and swings.

Other helpers were: Music amplifier, James Bird; grand draw (26 prizes including tea set, whisky, gin, sherry, garden chair and glassware), Mr and Mrs G Fardon; sweets and ice cream, Mrs Grainger, Mrs Poole and Mrs Cope; working party linen stall, Mrs A Summers and Mrs Allen; flowers, fruit and produce, Mr W H Price and family; lucky peg board, Commdr and Mrs Gurney (prizes ranged from sherry to goldfish); barbeque, Mr Bob Mason, Mrs Porter, David Pugh and Sue Parry; hoopla, Mrs Whatmore, Mrs Green and Mrs Hunt; skittles, Mr Simpson; and ball in the bucket, Mr Barber.

* Those whose memories don’t go back that far might like to know that, until 1964, the August Bank Holiday was held on the first Monday of the month, not the last.