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Changing Times | Town’s papers provide a window on the past

We will one day have the situation where we will no longer be able to view newspapers of the past as more and more information moves online.


So, this week I thought I would take a look at a decade.


At the start of the decade in 1990 I have copies of the Promoter newspaper, which was of a smaller size that the papers today. It was produced in Dorset Road and contained a high number of advertisements for jobs, events and trades around the town.


Job advertisements can be interesting. In November, 1990, we were ‘invited to take a look inside Lec,’ when they had vacancies for ‘Mature Accounts Clerks and Book-keepers’.


No computer experience necessary, just a head for figures. Full-time operators were offered a position for 39 hours per week, with a wage of £139. Also available was 10 hours overtime, giving a wage of £182.


In relation to the salary it was possible to buy 1988 Skoda for £1,650, or a 1975 Mercedes for £1,975. Also ,in 1990, there was a small Bognor Regis Magazine, which had advertisements for The Forsythe Saga in West Street and Bellapais in Little High Street, both long since gone.


Ladies fashions were promoted both at Bobby’s of Bognor and Coplestone House in Sudley Road. Arun Travel were also advertising trips to Dunkirk for the 50th anniversary veterans’ weekend.


Then, for 1991, I have a copy of The Bognor Regis Post – the original Post. There are several pages of television programmes with Saturday night covered by the Bruce Forsyth Generation Game, Challenge Anneka and Birds of a Feather. There are listings for only four channels.


Channel 4 was showing on Saturday evening the omnibus edition of Brookside. Do you remember these programmes?


Looking through the advertisements, we find Sargeant Carpets, Wayne Window and Woods Coaches, who are still with us. No Picturedrome then but it was named Cannon, with two screens, both non-smoking.


The front page headline news was ‘A Vision of the future,’ following a conference in the town to discuss the future. The main result was that there should be more co-operation between organisations and councils.


Also in 1991 I have a copy of the first issue of The Bognor Regis Trader, issued by the Bognor Regis District Chamber of Trade. Here we find a welcome to a new store in the town, that of Littlewoods, which replaced Marks and Spencer. Littlewoods now sadly only service their customers online.


In 1994, there was a quiz in the Observer to see what you could remember from the year and the main event was, of course, on August 13, when the IRA bomb exploded in London Road, which was to be the last IRA bomb on the mainland.


Scores of shop windows were devastated, many were up and running straight after in defiance of the act. Luckily, no one was killed or seriously injured. During this year there were major discussions in the town about Butlin’s wishing to have a funfair on the seafront.


I well remember attending a ratepayers’ meeting to discuss the matter. However, the promised information and detail was not forthcoming from those hosting the meeting. According to the press it was mostly ‘old people’ at the meeting. Enough said.


The Observer newspapers often recalled stories from the past and in a 1998 edition they did just this, when announcing that the paper would from then on be a paid-for paper.


They had some interesting items including memories of the annual Clown Conventions which sadly finished in 1995. (They have appeared a few times since then.)


In its heyday, there were hundreds of clowns coming into the town, not only from Britain but from American and Europe. One year, a French television company arrived and filmed half a dozen of our clowns for an hour-long television programme in France, to show the importance of the event.


During this year, a regeneration group placed sales kiosks in London Road, all selling similar items to the shops they stood in front of to prompt controversy.


There was also a large discussion on the St Michael and All Angels church in West Meads as it was deemed not to be Ecclesiastical enough.


In 1998, storms brought misery to many parts of our town with very high tides, coupled with high winds.


It was thought at that time that the costs would be in the region of £155,000 with damage at both Felpham, Elmer and Pagham because of shingle loss.


It was one of the wettest Decembers that year with rainfall almost 75mm above the annual average.


In 1998, Butlin’s closed for a period to build their new Pavilion, known now as The Skyline, which is now so much part of our landscape, as well as replacing chalets.


Also, in this year, Butlin’s Redcoats were leaving their Ocean Hotel in Brighton for the last time which was eventually to become prestigious accommodation. It was to be many years before a hotel of that name was to open here in Butlins.


Later in the decade, in 1999, it is interesting to read the headline of ‘We can’t cope say residents’.


This was an objection to a proposal for 300 homes around Lincoln Avenue and the Aldwick and Pagham Scout Hut off Sefter Road The reason for the objection was totally the same as any of today’s objections. So not much has changed over time, the objections have remained, with the only increase in the number of houses being built.


Finally, in 1999, there was a new newspaper on the scene – The Reporter. It reported on very local events and activities, and was run in partnership with local businesses during its lifespan of several months.

Posted in Lifestyle.