DURING the Easter Holiday period in 1969, 32 boys and eight members of the staff of Lurgan Boys’ County Secondary School spent nine days in London.
The party stayed in a hotel situated in the Earls Court area and wasted no time in “seeing the sights” of the metropolis.
In fact to reach their HQ they travelled on the Victoria Underground line, which had been opened by the Queen a month previous.
The first day began with a visit to Trafalgar Square, Whitehall, Downing Street and the gates of Buckingham Palace.
Attendance at a recording of the Basil Brush Show in the BBC’s Golder’s Green Theatre proved to be an entertaining and informative feature of the day’s activities.
Although a crowd of almost 300 children were waiting for the doors to open, the visitors from Lurgan were ushered to the front row seats so they could enjoy the show uninterupted.
It turned out also that the audience in the front rows were televised, so on their first day in London the school was “screened” all over the British Isles.
The next day’s itinerary included a stroll through Hyde Park and a trip down the Thames to Greenwich by luxury cruiser.
The captain of the vessel gave an interesting commentary on stories and legends with which the river has been associated.
Many famous characters were associated in one or more ways with the Thames, the smugglers and the highwaymen, most notable of whom was Dick Turpin.
London Bridge at the time of the trip had been bought by Arizona State and was being removed at the time of the trip.
They passed the Tower of London and Traitors’ Gate, which could only be seen from the river, and went under Tower Bridge, finally disembarking at Greenwich.
Here the party saw the Cutty Sark and Gypsy Moth IV, a frail looking craft which Sir Francis Chichester used on his lone voyage around the world.
Some of the more energetic members of the party walked to Greenwich Park, which is another Royal Park of about 200 acres, and there they saw the observatory.
Saturday morning was spent shopping amidst the thronging crowds in the large Oxford Street stores.
In the afternoon the party divided into two groups, the football fans who saw Chelsea play Burnley at Stamford Bridge, and rowing enthusiasts who went to Hammersmith to watch the Boat Race.
In the evening the entire group went to Wimbledon to see stock car racing.
Visits were also made to Battersea Park, Regent’s Park and the Tower of London as well as a conducted tour of the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.
The last day was spent at the museums of South Kensington.