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Heartshome

Wonderful Grottos

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Do you remember the Wonderful Grottos the shops used to build ? My memories are late 1950s into the late 1960s. Who ever built them, 'really' made the effort to create a Wonderland for children. You usually started off by going through a Metallic Shred Curtain, walking down a corridor with coloured lights on the ceiling, reflecting off walls covered in Crinkled Foil, must have taken ages, lord knows how many rolls they used. If it was a Grotto with a ride, it could be either a Carriage with White Horses pulling it, a Sleigh with Reindeer pulling it, Carriages of a Train pulled by a Steam Engine, or a huge White Swan Boat. Obviously the mechanics of the rides would give the feeling of travelling, the clever bit was, you were only rocking and going up and down, with a synchronised screen either side that moved as you set off, but the visual experience to us little ones was amazing. The other Grottos were walk through settings, with mechanical Puppets and moving water, usually, a Snow Scene with Dressed Animals, Elves in Santas workshop, or most memorable for me, The Enchanted Forest with Woodland Animals and a Waterfall. It was 1969 and my first chistmas working at Atkinson's, I was put on the entrance, I loved it. I'm sure many shops had them, but I only knew of Atkinson's, B&C Castle House, Redgates and S&E Arcade. Thinking back to what they were like, it wasn't just the quality of care taken to produce them, the gifts from Father Christmas were decent to. I remember somewhere in town having a Santa's Forest, possibly the Peace Gardens. ( now Millennium Gardens )  

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1 hour ago, Heartshome said:

I remember somewhere in town having a Santa's Forest, possibly the Peace Gardens.

There used to be a patch of land on the left of the Moor going down where there was at (at least) one time a Santa's Forest. I think this site was used for travelling exhibitions and the like. I remember the Army had a stint here once.

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