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Topic Originator: Mike Laughton
Post Date July 29, 2018 @ 6:31 AM

Mike Laughton
July 29, 2018 @ 6:31 AM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

One of the most popular town centre meeting places for teenagers in Stamford during the late 1950s and early 60s was the coffee bar at the entrance to the Olde Barn passage. (The premises are now occupied by the Orchid Thai Restaurant).
I believe the coffee bar's proper name was in fact The Olde Barn Coffee House but we used the call it the "BONGO" after the film Expresso Bongo starring Cliff Richard and Laurence Harvey which was set in a London coffee bar.
Espresso coffee and Coca Cola were the biggest sellers and we used to make a "coke" last a couple of hours. Coca cola came in just the one size bottle in those days and cost about a shilling (5p) in old money.
The "BONGO" was owned by local businessman Reid McKechnie who was also involved with Patch's buses. (Reid was married to one of Mr Patch's identical twin daughters).
Reid also owned the Willow Café and Restaurant and the Olde Barn Restaurant. Each venue had a different identity.
The Olde Barn was an upmarket restaurant while the Willow Café Restaurant (about 30 yards away in St Mary's Street) was more of a tradition old fashioned English tea rooms that served meals throughout the day. Upstairs was the café which specialise in tea and coffee and cokes and burgers.
I always thought it just a little incongruous that café customers had to walk hallway through a nice, slightly upmarket, tea-room to reach the staircase that took them to the café on the fist floor.
Reid McKechnie's brother James was a well-known actor who had appeared in a few films but was best known for playing The Flying Doctor on radio.