A film show of interviews with former workers at the Minimodels’ factory in New Lane, Havant and Fulflood Road, Leigh Park where the scale racing game Scalextric was made, was seen by a full audience at the Spring Arts and Heritage Centre, Havant, last Saturday.
Among the guests was Diane Francis, the widow of the inventor of Scalextric, Fred Francis.
All the former workers who were interviewed for the film were given a 70-page booklet Minimodels Memories 1954-1970. It is available from the Spring at £5. The CD of the half-hour film show can also be purchased for the same price.
The book contains many anecdotes from former employees plus photographs.
It also includes the social side of the factory which held a Miss Minimodels competition every year. The winner went forward to a grand final in London.
One woman tells of the health and safety aspect of the paint shop. All they were given was a face mask, no protective clothing and a pint of milk to ease the breathing in of the lead paint!
The iconic racing game was more than a toy, of course. The sets were bought for the boys of the house with dad in mind. Many clubs were set up not only in the Havant area but across the country.
Later on, Fred sold out to to three Lines brothers, hence Tri-ang and the business took off all over the world.
Sadly, in 1970 the Minimodels factory closed making more than 1,000 employees redundant and having a big impact on the local employment scene.
Much more is told in the book about this fantastic must-have toy of the 1960s which is still in production.
• Bus lanes are part and parcel of Portsmouth these days, but they have not, of course, always been part of the highway.
In June 1971 the city council decided to build bus lanes to help reduce delay to services.
It was an accepted fact that local public transport was necessary for the efficient transport of commuters into the city to relieve growing road congestion and parking problems (nothing changes it seems). It was emphasised that the bus service was steadily getting worse.
The first bus-only lanes were introduced in London Road south of Portsbridge, and another one on the north side of Lake Road at its junction with Fratton Road.
Since then of course many bus lanes have been added to the system trying to help keep buses on schedule.
• In the late 1960s Portsmouth was still suffering from a housing shortage which had been a cause of contention since the end of the war.
The Housing Act of 1969 enabled the city council to declare parts of the city General Improvement Areas (GIAs).
By July 1973 three GIAs had been declared at Stamshaw and one at King Street, Southsea.
In all, a total of nearly 11,000 houses were proposed to be built all over the city.
The programme was to start in 1974 with the first 900 houses built and end in 1979 with the final 200 constructions.
The final proposed total was 10,960 houses.
• Do you remember the time when the sovereign used to arrive in Portsmouth on the royal train?
All the stations, bridges and level crossings along the route were manned by police officers, and spectators lined the track to catch a view of the passing train.
Our present Queen was last brought to the city, believe it or not, on a service train!
She had to sit among the public in a train stopping at several stations en route.
Admittedly, she travelled first class and was accompanied by security staff, but are our railways so bankrupt and out of touch that they could not have laid on a special train to run non-stop a few minutes ahead of that service train?