THE Mayor of Reading Alexandra Sturrock challenged the youth of the town to raise £4,500 to build a convalescence block at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in 1964.

“Operation Playroom”, started with a new youth group being formed called the Reading Youth Campaign and the Mayor announced that she was confident the youngsters would not let her down.

Although no material incentive (code for no prizes) was on offer it was hoped that launching an appeal just before Christmas would help swell the coffers of the campaign very quickly.

The 28th annual Reading Band Festival had 56 entries, 56 years ago, with so many huge bands taking part that the town had to open its doors in three separate venues.

Tadley Silver Band came first in its section and this was due in part to local band teacher and conductor, Jack Clark, who scored a double success with the Cholsey Silver Band.

Throughout the day the competition for the five sections (championship, military, second, third and fourth sections) took place in the Town Hall, Olympia Ballroom and Rainbow Hall.

The Chronicle was given an ‘access all areas’ pass to get behind the scenes in Reading’s state-of-the-art Post Office telephone exchange, which had recently opened in the Basingstoke Road.

Pride of place in the tour of the facility was chance to see a robot called “GRACE” (Group Routing and Charging Equipment), a new type of computer which could sort out which way calls will go and how much they cost.

The teams of operators would (unfortunately for them) be replaced by direct-dialling STD codes by 1970, despite the 100 per cent increase in telephones in service.

A first-aid team from the A.W.R.E. Aldermaston had won first place in the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s national competition in 1964, but they also celebrated coming third in the St. John Ambulance Brigade’s annual trophy.

Competing at the Porchester Halls in London, the winning women’s team were presented with the Grand Prior trophy by the Duchess of Gloucester.

Despite stiff competition from over 450 other entrants, Jenner Dancing Academy of Reading won three cups at the London Stage Dancing finals held at the Conway Hall in London.

A trio consisting of Gillian Cole, Kim Buckler and Elaine Ellis won their class, with ‘Junior Duets’ Stephen Lofthouse and Trudy Huddy tying for first place in their section.

An old baking recipe was revived in 1964, in the shape of an Apricot Upside-Down Pudding, with folded in chopped marshmallows.

The mouth-watering ingredients included nearly 1 pound of apricots and 10 marshmallows all mixed into a sponge mixture, then baked until the outside was nice and crispy.

After baking and removing from the tin, it was to be served with either cream or custard and would feed 5 to 6 people.