Frances &

Alan Watling remembers 'The Samson' and his Uncle Geoffrey

Alan Watling, Geoffrey’s nephew, has fond recollections of the Samson & Hercules: ‘The ballroom was very much part of my upbringing, in fact as a lad I used to earn my pocket money working there. My earliest memories of the Samson date back to 1953, when I was just 11. I’d help out on Saturday mornings, clearing up after the big dinner dances. The dances were grand occasions, the sort of event that we just don’t have today. Another job I was often given at short notice was blowing up balloons by the gross (144). The most I did with my brothers was nine gross in a single day. During the summer holidays we branched out. Then we used to repair the chairs, which was quite a job, and also we cleaned the walls with sugar soap. They were pretty brown – the effect of cigarette smoke.

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Geoffrey WAtling with Count Basie
Geoffrey Watling with Count Basie, 1964