DOWN MEMORY LANE The days when the city came together for gala celebration

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Plans to revive Chichester Gala for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year next have brought memories flooding back for former policeman Malcolm Barrett.

Malcolm, author of West Sussex Constabulary: 110 Years Of History, joined the West Sussex Constabulary in Chichester in 1950 and remained with the police – barring a break for national service – until his retirement in 1983.

During those years, he enjoyed at first hand Chichester’s traditional annual gala day.

“It was suggested that Chichester Police Sports and Social Club should enter a float in the Chichester Gala,” recalls Malcolm, who boasts a rich treasury of archive police images.

A small contingent of officers and civilian staff quickly put together a presentation representing law and order.

“Some Royal Military Police personnel were asked to join in the festivities and contributed to the float.

“This was the beginning of our regular participation in the event during the 1970s. Everybody enjoyed the experience and the enthusiasts designed ever more elaborate entries for the festivities which continued on into the evenings at the Police Sports and Society Club, known as The Ranch-house.”

There was a different theme each year, as Malcolm recalls. 1974 was Law and Order; 1975 brought A Tale Of Two Cities; chiming in with the times, 1976 celebrated the American Bicentenary. It was a colourful year in 1977 with The Four Queens Of England, a year which also brought a visit from the band of the Strathclyde Police. In 1978, celebrating the nation’s capital, the theme was simply London.

Malcolm’s book is available from him directly on malmar.barrett@ btinternet.com

* Ronald Wellsted is another with fond memories.

Ronald, of Kirkby Close, Boxgrove, says: “I can certainly remember the good old gala days.

“For many years I was employed by the local builder Percy King, and we all looked forward to building the float in our spare time.

“It was always a big occasion as we used to take a topic of something in the news at the time. It was very competitive in those days between us and the SEB. We won it in 1962 and as you can see from the photos, we really went to town.

“We used to set up in the market before the procession through the spectator-lined streets.”

And William Knott adds: “In the early 1970s, Fishbourne Playing Field Association had great fun in entering the competition. These really are great memories.”