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Queens Hotel picture brought back memories

PUBLISHED: 20:41 20 February 2014 | UPDATED: 20:41 20 February 2014

Queens Hotel 1952

Queens Hotel 1952

Archant

Your recent picture of the old Queens Hotel brought back a few memories of the time I spent there in the summer of 1952, not, I might add as a guest, but as a member of staff..

On leaving school in that year I had been granted an apprenticeship at Crabtrees Marine Engineers on Southtown Road but could not begin my apprenticeship until I reached the age of 16 the following year. So rather than spend another year in school, I went to the employment exchange to find a job and was sent to the hotel where I was employed as a hall porter on the princely sum of £2 per week plus tips, which during the summer months an race days doubled my weekly income.

The “Queens” in those days was one of the premier hotels in the town and many of the stars of the summer shows stayed there, one of whom I remember well, was Winifred Atwell, the famous piano player, also comedian Arthur English, and many more that I have long forgotten.

My first job at the hotel in the morning was to change into my white “monkey” jacket and black trousers and call at reception to pick up the neatly folded daily newspaper, place it on a silver tray and deliver it to Mrs Vaughan in her apartments; she was the then owner of the hotel.

I would then change and put on my green baize apron and proceed to vacuum clean the reception area, polish all the brass work change back into my jacket and await at reception for instructions to collect the baggage of any of the guests leaving that morning.

I well remember on one occasion going to bring down the lift from the top floor before starting my cleaning duties only to find when it arrived it was full of chamber pots, put there during the night by some exuberant partying guests.

On some days I had to do an evening shift until about 9.30pm. I lived on South Beach Parade and would cycle back home along the seafront. On this particular night as I came out of the garage at the back of the hotel and onto the seafront I could not believe my eyes as a mountain of water was gushing down through the gap between what is now Joyland’and the Anchor Gardens.

I hastily mounted my bike and, by the time I got as far as the Empire Cinema the water was so deep I had to turn down to the back streets and onto Nelson Road in order to get home which thankfully remained untouched. That was the beginning of the 1953 floods. I I enjoyed my time at the Queens, it taught me a lot about people, but although offered a job there my future was to be an engineer.

In my picture, I am the lad in the front row on the right, manager Mr Hirrons is behind me.

DEREK THOMPSON

Westerley Way, Caister-on-Sea

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