|The Rushden Echo, 30th March 1962, transcribed by Jim Hollis
No, Not ‘One Horse’
Rushden teenagers, who told us last week exactly what they thought of the town, came in for some sharp criticism from older residents during the week. “Of course there is plenty for them to do. Why can’t they make their own entertainment? Life is what you make it.” These were some of the comments from people who entirely disagreed with the younger generation’s views on Rushden as a “one-horse town.”
Some adults, however, agreed that at night Rushden was a “city of the dead,” as one youth put it. Almost everyone who called at the “Echo’s” High Street offices having read the story, headed “The One Horse Town That’s Rushden,” had something to say about the views expressed by a cross-section of the town’s young people.
Generally the verdict was divided, but one point did emerge from the controversy; to a certain extent it was up to the teenagers to provide their own entertainment, rather than wait until someone else took the lead.
The question of just how adequate the town’s facilities are for young people was considered topical and important enough to take pride of place at an “Any Questions” session at the BWTA hall on Monday night.
The four panellists were unanimous: Rushden, they said, was definitely not a one-horse town although a community centre and indoor swimming pool would make a valuable addition to its amenities.
Off Their Chest
The Rev. Lewis Misselbrook, minister of Park Road Baptist Church, asked: “Why don’t these people start their own entertainment? There is nothing to stop them. They like to have a good grouse if they are fed up with life, fed up with themselves, a good grouse gets it off their chest and they feel better afterwards.”
There is plenty to do in Rushden, he added although when he first came to the town last year he was amazed to find no passenger trains, no proper hospital and no grammar school nearer than Wellingborough.
Mr. R. R. Lawrence, headmaster of Alfred Street Junior School, was equally dubious about anyone who said Rushden was dead, every church had a youth club; there were uniformed and political organisations, he pointed out.
Mrs. Gladys Marriott, urban councillor, said: “I feel very sorry for the young people interviewed who said they had nothing to do. Surely they can make their own entertainment and amusements?”
Mr. W. Brown, who is on the Rushden Co-operative Society’s board of management, argued that young people had the right to be rebels. “They should not accept everything put before them,” he declared.
The town had lost some of its entertainments two cinemas and a billiard hall but he was certain there was plenty to do.
Last week Mrs. E. Young, vice-chairman of Rushden Youth Committee, said the main problem was getting older people to take an active interest in organising some form of social life for teenagers. This week her appeal has been answered by a correspondent who has volunteered to become a helper or youth organiser at a Rushden club.
Mr. E. J. Roberts, of 9 Grangeway, writes: “I would like to become associated with a youth club, as a helper or even an organiser, if possible.”
He regretted to say that the present-day teenager was absolutely right, Rushden was indeed a dead town. “Poor old Rushden, in fact, is just as dead now as it was in my own teenage days of the thirties,” said Mr. Roberts.
About the existing youth clubs he asks: “What age groups are allowed to use these clubs? What facilities are provided? How many youngsters know of the existence of these clubs? Do they advertise their functions to attract these youngsters? I have never seen any bills advertising anything.”
Another move has been made to liven things up for teenagers; a new series of dances at the Town Band Club, run by Top Twenty Promotions, has started.
Rocky Rivers, one of the organisers, told the “Echo”: A wide variety of recording stars will appear at the club we’re bringing this entertainment in to make sure Rushden isn’t a one-horse town much longer.”
Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers both have been on BBC’s “Saturday Club” got the club off to a swinging start. The original group, Mike Berry and the Outlaws, had been booked to appear at a charity concert attended by Princess Margaret Mr. Rivers explained.
But the town’s younger generation still does not seem satisfied, said jazz trumpeter Bill Dickens: “The older people should have a broader outlook we can’t do anything if our hands are tied.” His main complaint: Lack of co-operation, especially in helping to start a Jazz Club.
The teenagers who don’t belong to clubs are adamant: Rushden is a one-horse town. The older generation is equally sure: it is not.