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Top skaters reunited by website

PUBLISHED: 13:07 22 July 2009 | UPDATED: 14:28 03 July 2010

PICTURE the scene: a youthful Marie Townley takes to the roller-skating rink in front of a packed audience and suddenly finds the skimpy bra top of her Hawaiian outfit slipping.

PICTURE the scene: a youthful Marie Townley takes to the roller-skating rink in front of a packed audience and suddenly finds the skimpy bra top of her Hawaiian outfit slipping.

Fifty-five years on from that summer show outside Yarmouth's Wellington Pier, the circumstances surrounding the incident, which still makes her blush, remain hotly disputed.

Marie, who soon after emigrated to the US and married a military policeman, is convinced that it was fellow skater Colin Browne who pulled the strings of her top as she passed by on to the rink.

But the retired packaging firm designer, still with a youthful sparkle in his eye at the age of 73, pleads his innocence and guards a gentlemanly silence on the matter.

The former skate partners were brought into contact again through the Our Great Yarmouth website - www.ourgreatyarmouth.org.uk - run by the resort's Time and Tide museum.

And over a cup of tea at the museum's Silver Darlings café, Colin was finally reunited with Marie, who has come back to Norfolk on holiday to rediscover her family and friends.

Colin, on only his third visit back to Yarmouth since he left to join the airforce, said: “Back in the 1950s, roller-skating was a big thing. There were two rinks, the outdoor one and an indoor one in the Winter Gardens, and you could not move on them. The Wellington Pier was a real magnet for this town.”

The father of two and grandfather of five, now living in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, with his wife Sylvia, recalled the annual summer shows organised by Great Yarmouth Rollerskating Club with the help of two resident professional skaters - in that fateful show of 1954 in which he took part with Marie, the professionals were Howard Hargreaves and Sheila Wilkinson.

Marie, whose married name is Scott, remembers growing up in Caister before moving next to the former Anna Sewell House restaurant in Church Plain, Yarmouth, where her mother ran a B&B.

She said: “I grew up to become the lead of the chorus in the roller-skating shows and I also used to do competitions.

“I remember Colin as a little devil who was the life and fun of all our events.”

Marie, who emigrated in 1958, settling in San Antonio, Texas, still cherishes her roller-skates as a link to “wonderful childhood memories”.

It was her daughter Arlene, a teacher, who tracked down Colin through the Our Great Yarmouth website, which encourages people to share memories of old photographs, in this case of roller-skating.

Time and Tide spokesman Colin Stott said: “I am delighted we have been able to reunite Colin and Marie after so long and am really pleased that the Our Great Yarmouth website is able to link up people from Yarmouth who are now living all over the world.”

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