Part Thirty-Six

I shall never forget the evening of February 6th, 1958. I was at work in the Shell Centre in London when the news came through that the plane carrying the Manchester United football team had crashed on a snow-covered runway at Munich Airport in Germany. The team was returning from playing a cup tie match in Belgrade which at that time was in Yugoslavia. After refueling at Munich, the plane bound for Britain crashed on takeoff Seven of the young ‘Busby Babes’ (named after their manager Matt Busby) were killed. Another one, Duncan Edwards, was so badly injured that he died 15 days later. Matt Busby was also badly injured and spent a long time in a Munich Hospital as did the wonderful player Bobby Charlton, one of the best ever players England ever produced.
 Despite this tragedy, the Manchester United club, under deputy manager Jimmy Murphy, was able to blend together a team good enough to reach the F.A. Cup Final four months later in May 1958.  The emotion felt by everyone as the team walked out that day at Wembley Stadium to face their opponents Bolton Wanders was heart rendering. Unfortunately, there was not to be a storybook ending as Bolton beat them comfortably by two goals to nil.
 A completely different event, and also a happier one, happened in the same year when the government announced that because Mayfair was deemed to be the most affluent area in the country that would be the first area to have parking meters installed.  

 Other new events which happened in 1958 included the opening of Britain’s first planetarium in London on March 21. Another first for the country was the opening, by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, who was driven along a four-mile stretch of our first motorway, the 8 mile Preston bypass in Lancashire.  Further history occurred in the April when an Act was passed allowing women to sit in the House of Lords. Another big event made its introduction to the country when The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was formed and we witnessed its strength of feeling when over 3,000 protesters marched to the Nuclear Establishment at Aldermaston in Berkshire. This was the first of many similar marches which involved the police fighting to control disparate crowds of protesters, many of them women, venting their feelings...

Talking of unrest there were terrible race riots in the Notting Hill area of London in September of 1958... On a brighter note, British Overseas Airways (BOAC) launched the first transatlantic jet service. Millions throughout the country watched the first televised State Opening of Parliament. Her Majesty the Queen made history when she dialed the first trunk call on the new Do-it-yourself telephone system. The call was from Bristol to Edinburgh. After a brief talk with the city’s Lord Provost, she then threw a switch which linked 18,000 Bristol subscribers to the new service.  

 Back to the world of sport in 1958 showed that the Grand National was won by a horse called ‘Mr. What’ and the Derby by ‘Hard Ridden’ On the cricket front Surrey won the Championship for a record seven successive seasons. Britain’s Mike Hawthorn became the first Briton to be crowned Motor Racing Champion of the World. Unfortunately, his glory was short lived for sadly he was to die in a road accident on the A3 road near Guilford in Surrey a few months later. Still, on the fast cars scene, the British Motor Corporation unveiled the Austin Healey Sprite car for the first time.  Away from land speed, Donald Campbell achieved a new water speed record of 248.62 mpg.  Over at SW19 (Wimbledon) Australian Ashley Cooper beat his compatriot Neale Fraser 3-6 6-3 6-4 13-11 to win the Men’s Tennis Championship whilst American Althea Gibson beat our own British girl from Torquay, Angela Mortimer 8-6 6-2 to take the ladies title.
 Meanwhile, up at Royal Lytham St. Anne’s Aussie star, Peter Thomson won the Open golf tournament for the fourth time. It is interesting to note that the second/third and fourth players behind Thomson were all from the U.K., namely Dave Thomas (Wales), Christy O’Connor Senior (Northern Ireland) and Eric Brown from Scotland.
  In the entertainment world, Hollywood bestowed three Oscars on the wonderful David Lean film ‘The Bridge over the River Kwai’ Another equally successful film was ‘My Fair Lady’ a musical starring Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn which was based on a story by George Bernard Shaw called ‘Pygmalion’.  

The Royal Variety Show had a plethora of stars such as Julie Andrews, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway, Norman Wisdom, Harry Secombe, Bruce Forsyth, Tony Hancock, Roy Castle, Max Bygraves, The Beverley Sisters, Frankie Vaughan, Harry Worth, Hattie Jacques, David Nixon and American singers Pat Boone and Eartha Kitt.

--End of Part Thirty-Six -- 

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