Flashback to May 1998: When Bill Clinton and co came to Weston Park

On this day 23 years ago the world's most powerful men were meeting on the Shropshire/Staffordshire border.

Casual attire for "the G Men" at the Weston Park G8 summit. From left: US President Bill Clinton, President of the European Commission Jacques Santer, Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, French President Jacques Chirac, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, host and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien.
Casual attire for "the G Men" at the Weston Park G8 summit. From left: US President Bill Clinton, President of the European Commission Jacques Santer, Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, French President Jacques Chirac, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, host and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

Top ten

May 16, 1998

  1. Aqua - Turn Back Time

  2. All Saints - Under The Bridge

  3. Wyclef Jean - Gone Till November

  4. Cleopatra - Life Ain’t Easy

  5. Tamperer ft Maya - Feel It

  6. Corrs - Dreams

  7. Simply Red - Say You Love Me

  8. Madonna - Ray of Light

  9. Steps - Last Thing On My Mind

  10. Mavericks - Dance The Night Away

On the box

BBC One viewers were watching a new British sitcom starring Caroline Quentin and Amanda Holden

Kiss Me Kate, which ran from 1998 until 2000, followed the everyday life of a counsellor, Kate, played by Men Behaving Badly star Quentin, who must not only manage her clients’ problems, but must also help her neighbours and unsuccessful business partner, Douglas, played by Chris Langham.

Amanda Holden played Mel, the receptionist. Darren Boyd played the sweet, but intellectually challenged, Craig, the travel agent downstairs.It was written by Langham and John Morton.

Cost of living

Back in 1998, homebuyers could expect to pay an average of £64,706 for their property– the equivalent of £102,883 in 2020.

Workers could expect an average salary of £15,825, which is £25,162 in today’s money.

A litre of fuel for your car cost 77p while the average car was £12,750, which is the equivalent of £20,273 now.

The average price of a loaf of bread was 69p, a 1.5kg sack of flour was 61p, a kg bag of sugar was 59p, a 400g block of cheese was £1.94 and pint of milk £1.36.

In the news

Jonathan Creek and Alan Partridge were among the winners at the The 1998 British Academy Television Awards.

The ceremony, held at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London, was broadcast on ITV and hosted by Bob Monkhouse.

It was the first time since 1968 that the Television Awards had been held separately from the British Academy Film Awards, instead of as a joint ceremony.

Among the awards handed out were Best Drama Serial, which went to Jonathan Creek, starring Alan Davies and Best Single Drama, which went to No Child Of Mine.

Simon Russell Beale took home the trophy for Best Actor and Daniela Nardini was named Best Actress.

Steve Coogan won Best Comedy Performance for I’m Alan Partridge and the comedy show also picked up the award for Best Comedy Programme or Series.

Weston Park’s day in world spotlight

Saturday, May 16, 1998 – the day the world’s most powerful men swept into Weston Park on the Shropshire-Staffordshire border to join forces in a fight against international crime.

The world leaders arrived at the historic stately home to thrash out an accord and did not even wait to get inside before getting down to business.

America's President Bill Clinton set the mood by donning a polo shirt, slacks and a blazer for the informal get-together.

The others soon caught the mood, removing their ties — and British Prime Minister Tony Blair his jacket — for their stroll around the gardens, where they caught the attention of some curious ducks.

Other heads of state at the talks were Russian supremo Boris Yeltsin, Canadian PM Jean Chretien, Japanese premier Ryutaro Hashimoto, Italy’s Romano Prodi, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, French President Jacques Chirac, and EU chief Jacques Santer.

The G8 summit leaders then made the most of the glorious weather by sitting down with their officials and interpreters at tables specially laid with microphones outside in the warm sunshine.

Earlier their motorcades swept one by one into the grounds of the stately home after staggered journeys from Birmingham.

Helmut Kohl travelled by bus along with Jacques Chirac.

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, right, and US President Bill Clinton explore the Weston Park grounds

Bill Clinton arrived in a long black limousine with darkened windows. It was followed by 12 security services vehicles and a bus carrying a crack team of paramedics and aides.

Only a handful of people turned out to watch them arrive, but a party of Japanese tourists caught some of the spirit of the occasion by jumping out of their passing bus and taking photos of the main gates of Weston Park before driving off again along the A5.

As the heavily-guarded leaders travelled to Weston Park, West Midlands Police closed off bridges over the M6 and M54.

Each leader was greeted by Lord and Lady Bradford – Weston Park is the ancestral seat of the Bradfords – and they enjoyed a stroll in the Italian garden and Orangery before getting down to business.

The reason Weston Park was chosen for the occasion was that Tony Blair wanted to hold the G8 summit away from the media spotlight.

And for the Weston Park staff, it meant a big tidy up in preparation for the distinguished visitors, which even included picking up sheep's wool from the grass in the grounds.

It was also a busy day for the police, who had over 800 officers outside in a low-key security operation.

The day of the summit also happened to be the day of the FA Cup final and Tony Blair, who represented the Sedgefield constituency in the North East, sent a message of support to his favourite team, Newcastle United.

Bill Clinton marshals some ducks which breached the security cordon

His press secretary, Alastair Campbell, also a keen football fan, had promised to keep the Prime Minister updated with the score but in the event Bill Clinton and Tony Blair were able to watch a few moments of the game in which Newcastle were beaten by Arsenal.

The Weston Park summit was to last nine hours.

High on the agenda was a crime-busting package designed to curb the mounting threat of cross-border criminality. Roy Penrose, director general of the newly-formed National Crime Squad, briefed the G8 leaders on the potential for laundering illegally-acquired funds by the flick of a switch and press of a button.

Away from the serious business, there was the chance for some relaxation. During the leaders' time there they drank Pimms and lemonade on the lawns and dined on a feast prepared by head chef Kevin Drayne.

Only the best would do, and the menu was like something on one of those telly cooking shows. They began with a layered vegetable terrine with basil oil and tomato dressing, fillet of sea bass with pan-fried scallops, and a trio of puddings – a Shropshire strawberry fool, apple crumble, and Earl Grey sorbet.

The talks took place in the hall's Orangery, which had been specially adapted and included soundproof booths for translators.

At the end Clinton and Blair were both interviewed by Sir David Frost.

Afterwards the Russian leader, Boris Yeltsin, took back some special souvenirs from the summit in the form of Teletubbies for his grandchildren.

The official gifts from the British government to the visitors included wine glasses and scarves.

It wasn't the last time Weston Park was the venue for a high profile summit. In July 2001 Tony Blair was there again along with his Irish counterpart Bertie Ahern and representatives of the main political parties in Northern Ireland in talks which focussed on policing and the decommissioning of terrorist weapons.

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