The redevelopment of the Mill Street area presented the Florrie with the possibility of a permanent reduction in members; densely packed houses were replaced with open spaces and the population overall declined. ‘It is quite possible, for instance, that this area may well have more youth clubs than are really required, whilst there are already new estates on the city boundaries to which many of our friends and former members have gone that are bereft of even the minimum facilities for young people.’ A fall in numbers and the expense of maintaining the building of such as size meant the cost per boy had inevitably risen. The club was investigating proposals with regard to how best to manage this new, yet familiar challenge.
September 1963 saw Senior swimmers enter the Mazzini Steward Shield at Garston Baths and beat their old rivals the Police Cadets, whilst October hosted football teams from Belfast and Glasgow.
January saw a ‘shattering blow to the Go-Kart Section. Whilst we were racing at Birmingham one weekend, some ‘pirate’ go-karters used our private track at the Naval Air Station at Burscough and, having fallen foul of the local farmers who had to bring the Police in to have them move, finished off the day by actually hitting a police inspector’s car whilst he was trying to round them up. The accident didn’t help the go-kart involved, nor the police car and the fact was reported to the appropriate authorities, the air strip was closed down. Despite appeals, we were unable to get the ban lifted and the boys were now faced with a 100 mile round trip to Whitchurch, which was the next ‘open’ airfield.’ This didn’t last long however, as a Noise Abatement Order closed down the track, and so the would-be go-karters now had a 170 mile round trip to Derbyshire to the nearest track. This was very expensive, and so the go-karting section was suspended.
June saw the club entertain ‘a large party of Boy Soldiers from the Kinmel Park Camp, Rhyl, to an evening of sports, fishing with supper, and a thoroughly good evening was held by all concerned.’ Whilst July brought the Adventure Club’s annual excursion to Scotland., organised completely by two voluntary staff, Mr Wall and Mr Humphreys. ‘It was indeed most unfortunate that Mike Humphreys was taken very ill the night before the trip departed and was unable to travel with them and indeed, great credit to him that on having the doctor’s release in one hand and a rucksack in the other, he rode, hitched and walked nearly 300 miles to join the party for the last four days. Indeed, a gesture much appreciated by the boys, but one that was quickly overshadowed within twelve hours, when he had his wallet and £8 stolen in Edinburgh’ The most memorable aspect of the trip was the ‘Scottish expedition kit’ the lads had secretly arranged for the trip: bowler hats and walking sticks were donned and used throughout the trip , ‘once the Staff had recovered from the shock or indeed, during the first 24 hours when we stopped en route ‘pretended that we weren’t with them’, one got used to the incredulous glances and sometimes ‘remarks’ from onlookers.’ One of the lads’ went even further, obtaining a top hat for the trip ‘How does one describe the scene when they boarded the Inter Island Ferry at Ardrossan as the lads, led by the top-hatted one, climbed the gang plank and each in turn, gravely doffed their bowlers to the thunderstruck officer at the head of the rail… Or in Glasgow, when all the lads’ clothes were soaked through after three continuous days’ rain and they were kitted out in odd items whilst they were waiting for their own to dry, and strolling quite unconcernedly down the main shopping centre, a top-hatted figure in red boxing shorts and boots, discussing the merits of shop window layout before a silent, dumbstruck crowd.’
‘We have a wonderful motto at the ‘Florrie’: NO PAINS-NO GAINS. What a summary of the way to live in four short words. ‘
Other factions of The Florrie experienced a change in fortunes, however. The Fiesta Club was suspended; the opening of a professional dance hall and competition from nearby Youth Clubs gradually decreased the Club’s numbers and it started making a loss. However the Police closed down the professional dance , which had gained a bad reputation for fighting, and numbers began to drift back to the Fiesta Club. This brought an ‘undesirable element’ however, and on three occasions the Police had to break up fights outside, and younger members stayed away from the Club for fear of a bad atmosphere, created by non-members outside. It was decided that the club should be suspended until things have simmered down.
Meanwhile, the Florence Oxton Men’s Club grew in strength, especially with the younger members aged around 20, due to formation of a new House Committee and an excellent spirit amongst the members. The Florence Oxton Basketball Team was reformed, and the Albion ran three football teams.
THE FLORENCE INSTITUTE
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Registered Office: The Florence Institute Trust Ltd, 377 Mill Street, Liverpool L8 4RF. Charity Registration No: 1109301. Company Registration No: 05330850 (registered in England and Wales).