In a previous post I recalled my memories of going every week to the Saturday morning pictures at the Granada Cinema in North Street in Rugby, the town where I lived, and as I thought more about the location of this once important part of the town I began to remember other buildings and places all around it in this part of the town and what they meant to me.
At the front of the cinema there was a road junction and following the road to the left it became Evreux Way which since 3rd May 1959 has been Rugby’s twin town in France. From 1975 to 1980 I worked at Rugby Borough Council and there was a strong Town Twinning Association with a regular group of Council bigwigs rotating biannually between visiting the twin town in Normandy and then entertaining French visitors the following year and being a sociable sort of chap with an interest in overseas travel I happily signed up and joined in.
Town Twinning became a big thing after the Second World War as people sought to repair shattered relationships with their neighbours and I have often wondered what the process was for getting a twin town. Perhaps it was like the draw for the third round of the FA cup when all the names go into a hat to be drawn out with each other, or perhaps it was like the UCAS University clearing house system where towns made their preferred selections and waited for performance results to see if they were successful; or perhaps it was a sort of international dating service and introductory agency. Anyway, I never found the answer to that question but I did enjoy a couple of visits to France.
Rugby Town Hall was opposite the old Granada Cinema and was built some time during the early 1960s and had a rather functional Easter European construction of brick and concrete with a soaring arch entrance. In 1975 I started work at Rugby Borough Council and my boss, the Borough Treasurer, John Lord, was the captain of the office cricket team so amongst my other duties he gave me the job of team secretary and it was my job to arrange the fixtures, book the pitches, look after the kit and make sure we had a full squad every week.
I seem to remember that during the summer I didn’t do a great deal else and I neglected my studies to become an accountant, failed my exams and told him one day that I didn’t really want to be an accountant anyway so he punished me by transferring me from an office on the front of the building where you could watch the girls go by to a job in internal audit which was in a portacabin at the back with a view of the print room.
With little interest in work after this I used to get through the morning session and then at lunch time go to the pub with my pals. This was the ‘Saracen’s Head’ and was directly opposite the old Granada Cinema and here we would have our lunch and a couple of beers. In my final job at South Holland District Council in in Spalding in Lincolnshire a nasty little member of staff called Sarah Naylor wrote a staff behaviour policy which forbade staff from drinking at lunch time or even making friends with people at work but in the 1970s this was still quite acceptable. Sarah didn’t have any friends and she doesn’t work there anymore.
My favourite memory of lunchtimes at the ‘Saracen’s Head’ was a colleague who worked in the Technical Services Department called Merv who was guaranteed to be there every day. As a drinker Merv would have challenged Oliver Reed and he would regularly drink six (yes, six) pints of beer in his lunch hour! He was a big Rugby Union fan and followed the Rugby Lions and I asked him once how much he would drink on a match day. He told me that if they lost the match then he would only have about twenty pints but if they won then it would be at least twenty-four. I seem to remember that Merv died quite soon after this conversation.
Also at the bottom of North Street and directly behind the cinema was Crown House, the head office of Rugby Portland Cement and at ten stories high seemed almost to be a New York skyscraper. We used to play a team from Crown House in the Rugby Advertiser twenty over cricket league and if I remember correctly they always used to beat us. Actually, I think every one used to beat us so this doesn’t take too much remembering. Just like the Granada Cinema there is no Rugby Portland Cement anymore and it is now owned and operated by Cemex of Mexico.
In the middle of all of these buildings and wedged in between the Council Offices and the ‘Saracen’s Head’ was and is Caldecott Park which outlives everything around it with lawns, gardens, tennis courts, a bowling green and a Victorian bandstand and when on the very infrequent occasions that I didn’t spend lunch times in the pub then I used to take a stroll through the paths that looped around this fine old park but I never really appreciated it as much as I might now if I still lived and worked there.