IT is one of the long-gone attractions that Bournemouth people miss the most.

The Westover Ice Rink was a favourite destination in the town for 60 years.

Entertainer Anita Harris learned to skate there, as did future Miss World Ann Sidney. So did a future star of the sport, Robin Cousins, while visiting on holiday from Bristol.

But the rink also put on spectacular professional shows, from the Ice Follies that were an annual fixture to performances by John Curry and Torvill and Dean.

The rink was built in 1930, above the showroom of Westover Motors. The owner of that business, Major Sharp, wanted his son and daughter to learn to skate.

Those who did not care to skate could still enjoy the Ice Follies shows that became an annual attraction.

The first gala nights took place in the summer of 1930. The following year, there was an Arabian Nights production, and in 1933 a full-scale ice show, Gypsy Dream. The 1934 show, Gay Vienna, was bigger still.

The outbreak of war put paid to the fun, closing the 1939 ice show early as the whole rink closed down. But the follies were back in 1947 and continued without missing a year until 1980.

An Echo review of Ice Follies ’66 noted that the rink’s managing director, John Neal, had “pushed aside any thought of economy in the show”, opting for an extravagant production with six scene changes.

“Into a scene – the best of the evening – the Bournemouth You Remember, rolls an early century tram in front of a scenic background of Bournemouth Pier as it used to be,” the review said.

“Mr Neal bought the main chassis of the tram for £10 in its original form as a milk float. It was stripped down and a tram carriage erected on it.”

In October 1972, an extra fortnight was extended to that year’s Ice Follies production, making it the longest-running ice show in the country.

For the follies show of 1973, a vintage Austin took to the rink. But it was not the only car to take to the ice – a 1924 Bullnose Morris which had not been on a road since 1930 was still used regularly to clean the rink.

Olympic gold medallist John Curry made his professional debut at the rink 1976 and , while Robin Cousins and Torvill and Dean performed later.

Summer was not quite the same for many visitors to Bournemouth after the demise of the Ice Follies following the 1980 show. John Neal, who had joined the staff in 1931 and went on to manage the rink, finally retired in October 1982, at the age of 73.

The future of the rink itself was in doubt more than once. In 1983, Chipperfields signed a deal to convert the rink into a big top for a 10-week circus show. General manager John Harris said the £250,000 production would secure the future of the venue.

But times and leisure habits were changing, and by 1991, the rink’s owners said it had become unviable. Despite petitions, protests and a deputation to Bournemouth council, it closed.

The premises lay empty for 25 years before being turned into a gym. But, as several reunion events have shown, the heyday of the Westover rink is still fondly remembered.