Over the weekend I received an email from Clive Hawes who lives Basingstoke, Hampshire, England after he spotted this photo of his home town of Dunstable, Bedfordshire, in England.
Clive moved to Basingstoke 28 years ago.
According to Clive this is a view of High Street North, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, around 1958. We are looking East towards Queensway, just at the start of redevelopment. The old fire station is just visible together with the tower where they would hang the hoses to drain. The parked cars are alongside the far building stand where a new Co-Op store and other shops were later built.
Here is another view, still showing the hose tower.
A film crew came to Dunstable in 1956 to make a documentary called "The Way Ahead" It featured pupils from Dunstable Grammar School (now Ashton Middle School) taking part in the pilot scheme for a new youth award being set up by the Duke of Endinburgh.
Clive was born in 1942 and his parents had a corner shop at the south end of town. Outside the shop on the wall was a fire call point (Not many folk had phones back then). Periodically, the fire service would roll up in this Leyland engine to test the alarm point. Clive says he remembers his dad (who died in 1946) holding him up so that he could tap the big chrome bell, seen here on the left of the engine.
Clive says if we stand roughly where the first picture shows, we now see this:
The photographer would have been standing to the right of the Union Cinema (now a church, having progressed from a cinema to bingo, then a night club).
Here is the building (The Palace Cinema) where he would have stood on the front steps:
Clive tells an interesting story that back in 1960 he was working in the Engine Development lab at Vauxhall Motors and a pal tried with no success to get him to migrate with him to Australia. Clive's mate did go with his family, and joined the RAAF becoming an instructor.
Meanwhile the British Army were recruiting and an opportunity was there for Clive to Join the REME, reaching Staff Sergeant in 10 months with his engineering qualifications. In the event, Clive stayed at Vauxhall until 1986.
Like many Clive misses his home town of the Dunstable that he knew as a kid, but thinks these days it's really not brilliant, with so many shops closed and the traffic. He thinks Basingstoke (Donut City) is really rather nicer.