Around 100 people attended the party as Melvyn’s family, particularly his granddad Bert Course, was popular in the town.
“He was one of the top growers in the area” says Melvyn. “He knew many people and so did I.”
Melvyn lived with his grandparents Bert and Beat and mother Joan who was separated from his father Ron Bryant.
At the time, Melvyn attended Rushmoor School in Bedford where he had been since the age of nine and can be seen wearing his school uniform. He recalls that the party was on a school day so he rushed home for the start at around 5pm. It went on until around 10pm and many of his Bedford school friends were there.
As well as an impressive two-tier cake, the party had an MC - Cecil Lee.
The Market Square Cafe was run by Mrs Joy Hilton who was also landlady of The Swan Hotel that once stood opposite the Chronicle offices and Melvyn recalls as “the most impressive coaching inn in Biggleswade”.
In the first photograph, Melvyn can be seen sitting at the front next to his birthday cake. Just behind him to the right is Jennifer Wilkinson whose father was a jeweller and clock maker in the town. She had an older sister named Bunty and a younger, Valerie. Mrs Hilda Ball is on the far right.
On the far left are Mrs A Soar, Mrs Wren, and Melvyn’s grandmother Mrs Beatrice ‘Beat’ Course. The lady sitting in front of the three is Tom Course’s wife Brenda.
In the middle of the photo are Sheila Woodhouse and her sister Joyce, wearing a striped dress. And the three standing at the back on the far right are L to R, Roma Bonfield who married Ron Foster, Joan Bryant and MC Cecil Lee. In front of them, the two seated ladies are Gwen Course (who was married to Arthur and are the parents of little Jane Course in the front row of the children’s line up), and Mrs Saunders in glasses.
In the second photo Cecil Lee is standing with his back to the open fireplace next to Melvyn’s dad Ron - the smaller man in glasses. Seated at the table with their backs to the camera from left are Mrs A Soar, Mrs Brenda Course, Mrs Gwen Course, Roma Bonfield, Mrs Saunders, Mrs Hilda Ball and Mrs Joan Bryant (just hidden behind Mrs Saunders).
In the children’s line up, Melvyn can remember all the names except one – the little girl who is fourth from right in the front row. Can readers help?
The other children are: - back row, L to R: Alan Smith, Colin Bonfield, Tony Allen, John Course, Graham Ashwell, Sally Cole, Valerie Course, Jill Cole, Valerie Wilkinson and Jennifer Wilkinson; third row, L to R: David Cooper, Tyrone Bryant, Alan Hart, - Taylor, Ian Marshall, Charlie Pink, Colin Warner, Keith Stocker, Brian Smith and Derek Wade; second row: Moira Bonfield, Barbara Burls, Jennifer Green, Melvyn Bryant, Richard Lowings, Richard Albone, Brian Halton and – Giller; and front row: Arthur Cullingworth, Peter Smith, Michael Day, Ian Cooper, Jane Course, Hadyn Wilkinson, ?, Janice Marshall, Nadine Pressland and June Bryant.
Says Melvyn: “Nadine was Joe Pressland’s daughter who was steward at the Conservative Club for 25 years and a class act. He had loads of respect and was in St Andrew’s Church Choir for 30 years. The Cooper boys were cousins. Their fathers were Sid and Jack Cooper of Cooper Transport. And the father of the Cole girls was Alf Cole who owned Eagle Farm. They were wealthy at the time with a grand piano in the front room.”
Although sadly many in the photos are now dead, Melvyn adds that Alan Hart still does market gardening in Willington and Alan Smith is a bellringer at St Andrew’s Church, just as his father was before him.
Thanks go to Melvyn for bringing in these photos which should hopefully jog lots of memories.