Now and Then Magazine

An Independant regional magazine that is circulated into 78,000 selected homes

Latest Edition: August 2018

Included in this magazine...

- The end of an era

- What a raquet

- Jean’s Biafran story

- Publish and be damned

- Academia

- Digest

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Peter Cook

the editor

THE closure of the Marton Hotel and Country Club will have been received with certain sadness by many thousands of people on Teesside who will have many happy memories of this somewhat anachronistic establishment. It was built on the site once occupied by the Sparks (Bakery) family house in the 1950s and later by Alf Finlay (bookmaker) and, if truth be known, it never left that era.
It was the brainchild of entrepreneur Charles Amer who, in recognising there were few faclities in the area for accommodating large functions, set about doing just that. His timing proved inspirational. The Marton Country Club quickly became the number one choice for all manner of black tie events held in its massive ballroom. One of these was the annual Press Ball that Malcolm Race recalls later.
The dance bands featured at these occasions included Charles Amer’s own musicians and another favourite was Alan Waller’s Band.
But fashions change, and companies who do not respond to such changes suddenly find themselves fighting a losing battle with newcomers coming into the industry. Despite the success of TV’s Strictly Come Dancing, organized dances are fast becoming a thing of the past; in fact how many young people these days could take the floor to dance a waltz or tango?
The official statement issued by the Directors of the Country Club says it all. They just couldn’t compete with the new kids on the block like the Premier Inns and Travel Lodges.
By sheer coincidence I, and a number of journalists, held our annual lunch at the Country Club only two days before the closure announcement. We chose the venue because of the quality of the food and the fantastic loyal staff who serve us. Yes, it was like stepping back in time. The dining room has hardly changed over the past decades, and we shared the ghosts of Middlesbrough Football Club Directors lunching in the far corner, which they did when the late Charles Amer was chairman of the Football Club. How many deals were hatched over that table?
As ever our meal was quite excellent and remarkably inexpensive at £10-a-head.
As we said our goodbyes and went through the door into the car park, little did we know it would be for the last time, and effectively we had been present at a wake. How Sad.

The Press Ball was the hottest ticket in town
THE events held at the Country Club over the years were many and varied including boxing bouts, exhibitions, weddings, and every manner of company dinner.
But, undoubtedly, one of the most impressive of the balls held there was The Press Ball, writes Malcolm Race. Tickets for this event were quickly snapped up. The ball was more than just a dance, rather more a cabaret evening featuring acts like The Freelanders, and Mark Darrell and the Boys from T’Country. There were Go-Go girls, limbo dancers, even fire-eaters. On one occasion, In addition to the featured dance band, a Caribbean Steel Band took to the floor. I was there on the night President Kennedy was assassinated. Harry Evans, the then Editor of The Northern Echo, heard the news on his car radio on his way to the Country Club and immediately performed a U-turn and returned to the office to produce a special edition. He would miss out on winning one of the dozens of prizes, including holidays abroad that the organisers always collected for this event.

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Peter Cook – Editor-in-Chief