How Morecambe celebrated festive season years ago

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With Christmas just days away, local historian Keith Johnson looks back at how Morecambe celebrated the festive season 30 years ago.

By the mid-1980s the festival of Christmas had changed in many respects, although Morecambe still embraced many of the old traditions.

The days before Christmas had a dull and dreary look about them and a wet Christmas was forthcoming rather than a white one.

Nonetheless, Christmas spirit was high and the traders of the resort were happy to report brisk business.

Inevitably, Christmas Eve the final day of shopping led to a frenzy of festive trading with barely a parking place to be had.


The Cabbage Patch Dolls

The Cabbage Patch Dolls

The likes of Woolworth’s, Marks and Spencer and the Arndale Centre’s traders and all enjoying the jingling of the cash tills.

With many a store offering frozen food, there was no shortage of plump turkeys on offer – 57p a pound was the going rate at the supermarket.

The best selling toys for girls were My Little Pony, Barbie, Sindy and the Cabbage Patch dolls, with girl-inspired action figures such as Golden Girl and She-Ra also popular.

For boys it was the era of Masters of the Universe, Star Wars, Transformers and Robo Machines.

Beginning to make an impact too was the board game Trivial Pursuits a puzzle for mum and dad.

By 1985 the age of the computer was in full flow and what seemed like sophisticated equipment was in the electronic retail stores.

Sinclair, Acorn, Atari, Amstrad, Apple, Tandy and Commodore amongst those offering computer packages for less than £200 – often half the price of a year earlier.

The mobile phone had not yet made an impact but Norweb were leading the way with electronic gadgetry – with a BT Slim Tel Touch Phone for £29.95p, a Toshiba Music Centre for £104.95p, a Sentra Stereo Record Player for £49.95p and a Ferguson Cassette Recorder for £24.95p.

The most sought-after festive favourite record was Shakin Stevens singing ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ destined to be Top Of The Pops at Christmas 1985 – and popular ever since.

The traditional Christmas mail had reached record proportions by the time the postmen had emptied their sacks.

The main festive film in 1985 was Santa Claus The Movie while and Back To The Future was packing crowds in.

Television was by this time was the main source of family Christmas entertainment with four channels to choose from there was a relative Christmas feast. On Christmas Eve ‘Jim’ll Fix it for Christmas’ got the evening going on BBC1 and Val Doonican had his Christmas Party later on, Call My Bluff was on BBC2, on ITV another helping of Carry On Laughing hit the screen and on Channel 4 the animated delight The Snowman was shown.

The blockbusters on Christmas Day were Only Fools and Horses and The Two Ronnies (BBC1) with Minder On The Orient Express and Des O’Connor Tonight (ITV) staging a ratings war.

From Boxing Day the January Sales were in full swing with bargains galore promised which lead to another rush of shoppers and a chance to treat yourself to the gift that Santa did not bring after all, or return that unwanted present.