A break in the 1960's for Keith and Wally

Keith Button

Two young apprentices at the AEC Commercial Vehicles Plant in Southall working in the same department found that they were in the same cycling club i.e. the Middlesex Road Club.  Back in 1957 we cycled every where, to and from work, in the evenings, and at the weekends with the club which amounted to approx. 140 miles per week, so on this holiday we decided to take a break from cycling and go down to the Beaulieu jazz festival.

As we didn't have any money we made the decision to completely rough it for the whole fortnight by hitching down there, bunking in the festival and spending the rest of the week and a half sleeping on the beach in Bournemouth.  The main strategy for survival was to buy a hip flask and fill it with scotch, although at this point I must state that there is no truth that I am on the committee to organise next years Tour de France.

On the day before the festival we managed to thumb lifts from a car and lorry to Beaulieu and then met up with some friends who fortunately had some space in their tents in a wood near the festival.  The next day we sussed out the ways we could get in - several of our friends reckoned they would swim the lake in their underpants, putting their clothes in a plastic bag.  However in the evenings the water did not seem so inviting so we decided to skirt around the vast estate and find a way in through a fence, which we did.

The evening went well with plenty of good jazz, so good in fact that we decided to climb some scaffolding at the side of the stage to get a better view.  It was at this point that other fans also climbed the scaffolding at the back of the stage which unfortunately also had the added weight of some fair ground wooden horses attached to it.  The next thing we knew was the whole structure collapsed causing people on the high section to fall back, hurting themselves.  Fortunately for us the front part we were on stayed up.

This caused the festival to be delayed while ambulances arrived to take the casualties to hospital.  After a short time an announcement was made from the bandstand that if the remainder of people on the scaffolding did not climb down the festival would be cancelled.  We therefore decided to climb down and the music resumed following which we had a great time until it was time to find our friends tent in the woods for a good nights or should I say days sleep until the next evening.

The next day we collected our belongings together and headed for Bournemouth by hitching a lift in a car.

On arrival we made our way down to the front where we found a sea front shelter to sleep in.  We spent several days there making friends with the locals but then the weather started to deteriorate and feeling sorry for us the locals informed us about a old large abandoned house not far away which we went to investigate.

The grounds where huge and very overgrown, and we went in a back door that was open and made our way up to the loft via a ladder where we were told there was a room to stay in.  On entering this room we got a weird feeling that all was not right and found the walls where draped in purple sheets and there was an altar at the far end with various jugs and bowls on it and on the wall an upside down cross was fixed.  Then we realised that this room must have been used for some sort of black magic cult.  However as we had no where else to go we spent the next two nights here (you notice I didn't mention sleep as we didn't get much of that in the eerie loft space.)

On the third day we decided that we had had enough of Bournemouth and as the weather had not improved made our way home by hitching more lifts.

Imagine our surprise on returning home to find our photos on a large middle page spread of the Daily Mirror with statements like 'Riots and Destruction at Beaulieu'.  My parents were not pleased and we could not live it down at work for weeks.