Remember when there were Wombles?

When most people think of 1976 their minds turn to the long hot summer and weeks of wondering if it would ever rain again.

In Crawley, though, the year was about much more than that – it was about Cubs and Brownies, road safety clowns and fundraising. And Wombles. Who could forget the Wombles?



These pictures were taken from the Crawley Observer archive and the Wombles in question were Orinocco and Wellington.

They were guests at a children’s party in the staff canteen at Youngmans Ltd, on Manor Royal, along with Hughie the Merry Mystic, who performed a bucket-load of conjuring tricks.

Presumably, the Wombles stayed behind when the party had finished to tidy up...

Road safety was a big thing in 1976. The Green Cross Code Man was on everyone’s TV warning: “Always remember the Green Cross Code, because I won’t be there when you cross the road.”

He then went on to become Darth Vader in Star Wars, so children would have been forgiven for thinking they were receiving some mixed safety messages!

In Crawley, Smokey the Clown made safety fun for 140 children of staff at MEL Equipment Co Ltd. Smokey took over the safety message from the famous Coco, who died two years earlier.

As far as we know, neither Coco nor Smokey had any leanings towards the Jedi or the Sith.

Away from the Wombles and Star Wars, two teenagers became the first to earn certificates under the Young Leaders Scheme.

Linda Hope and Sally Dalson were both Rangers with the Crawley West Unit.

The scheme was designed for girls between 16 and 18 years who were interested in helping with a Brownie pack and Guide company.

Also celebrating success was Janet Carter, of the 2nd Gossops Green Guide Company, who was presented with the Queen’s Guide badge by Mrs J Clifford.

Over at Three Bridges Community Centre, the 1st Three Bridges Cub Scouts were celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of the Cub Scout movement with games, balloons, a film and a special cake with 60 candles.

Children’s parties in Crawley always seemed to have the most exciting special guests.

More than 160 children whose parents worked for Bowthorpe Hellerman, in Manor Royal, were delighted when Cowboy Bill moseyed out of TV land to join their party. The party was organised by Gretta Bolton, the social club secretary.

Once the Wombles and the never-ending summer were gone, the year ended with two teenagers who recognised Christmas was about giving, not receiving.

Karin Patten, of Lime Close, Langley Green, and her friend Katie Fennessy, of Glynn House, Langley Walk, raised £5 for a pensioner by going door-to-door carol singing.

The 13-year-olds spent three nights singing for the money and said they found people were more generous when they knew the money was going to a good cause.

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