The Pre-History 1968-76
Although the club has had an unbroken run from 1979 to the present, there had been a folk club in Spalding before this, run for most of the time by Colin Whyles, who has kindly contributed his recollections and some original photos and artwork.
Colin ran the club from 1969 until some time in the mid 70’s, 1976 at the latest, although he was in touch with John and Penny Sykes when they started up again in 1979. Colin had taken over from a previous organiser who had run things for about a year already, so 1968 is the best estimate of the start date. For most of the time the club was held at the Mailcart on Pinchbeck Rd, although it may have moved briefly to the White Hart in the Market Place.
I can remember some of the artists we had:
and many others.
Sluicebridge, of course, was Bill Whaley, Dave Fletcher, Phil Bevins and myself (Colin). I think there is even a picture of us at the club somewhere.
There was an amazing, quite mad chap I collected from London called Jack something. He had an enormous range from high to low, several octaves. When I was driving him out of London he suddenly shouted "Stop!". I stopped, he ran over to an off-license and came back with a bottle of whisky, which he downed before we reached Spalding. When we were well away from London he kept muttering that it was unnatural for everything to be green and not concrete. And he read the name 'Cow-bit' with great relish until I corrected him!
He was a great entertainer, and I wish I could remember his name.
Pleasure Machine was another band I was in with Pete & Sue Castle. The name was not my idea, and I hated it! We wrote all our own songs. Pete wrote really clever, interesting songs. He eventually stopped writing and turned to trad folk, which he still does.
Most artists came several times over the years, but not the madman! We had some singers' nights, but they were never well subscribed.
We also held a disastrous festival in August 1972. It was intended to be in aid of the Spastics Society. We were largely persuaded to run the festival by Colin Ward and perhaps also George Slinger, who were kicking off their Live Promotions careers.
It was held along Cradge Bank. The festival area was screened off by container lorries. We had some great artists all booked through an agent in Leicester: Sean Cannon, Diz Disley, Johnny Silvo, Dave & Toni Arthur, probably Derek Brimstone, and many others.
Diz Disley and Johnny Silvo arrived together in a Rolls Royce. Diz immediately realised we hadn't got the crowds and called the artists together because he was worried he wouldn't get paid. After all, he had a Rolls Royce to pay for.
There was no danger of him not being paid because the Spastics Society had underwritten it, but it was a nasty experience.
The problem was that we had started too late and had missed getting publicity into the universities before they broke up for summer.
We then ran many discos to reimburse the Spastics Society. For a long time afterwards though I got telegrams from Dave & Toni Arthur demanding their fee. I think they probably spent it on telegrams.
Harry Harriss got in touch with us to say he remembers going to the festival and has even kept this advert which appeared in Sounds newspaper. Harry says: I clearly remember Johnny Silvo and Derek Brimstone - other than that Saffron lingers longest in the memory, but then she was better looking than them and I was just 15.