Among the women who traveled to RAF Alconbury regularly each week, for some time in the early to mid-sixties, was my adopted mother, Sylvie. Seeking some excitement and glamour away from her typical working –class lifestyle, she would often travel with her long-time friend, Josie, who lived close to Sylvie on a large council estate.
During the early 1960’s, The Airman’s Club at RAF Alconbury became known as the ‘Aquarius Club’ , and was said to be one of the best nightclubs in the UK. Every week on Friday and Saturday evenings, two to three coach loads of women, mainly from Huntingdon, but also from the outlying areas, would make the trip to the airbase to socialise with the airmen.
They were able to make this journey for the affordable sum of fifty pence for the round bus trip. Doubtless many had romantic notions of handsome American Air Force men, who would whisk them off their feet, marry them and take them away to the USA.
Some regulars made the trip every weekend, but most weeks would see several new faces appear, enticed by their friends with promises of romance and excitement. This was despite the fact that the ratio of women to men was two to one at weekends. For this reason the club became notorious, as many saw this as a ‘meat market’ with women freely available, and making them ‘easy pickings.’
The Aquarius Club became extremely popular, and every weekend there was standing room only. Most of the people there were in their twenties but there were some groups of slightly older members in their early and mid-thirties.
They went along to enjoy the atmosphere, music and dancing, to indulge in cocktails and pizza, and to play the slot machines. Undoubtedly, the biggest attraction would have been the chance to enjoy the company of the opposite sex.
Many did go on to meet their future spouses and make the move to the USA and some US airmen married and remained in the UK.
For many though, the attraction dwindled over time, and for many there were illicit affairs, on either side, leading frequently to heartache. The result for some women was to be abandoned with an illegitimate child, the father long gone back to the USA , and no chance of tracing him, the repercussions of this extending for generations.