Bridlington Folk Club History
In compiling "The Stories from 1963 to 2012" I am indebted to many people for trawling their memories and providing me with answers to questions they thought they had long since forgotten! I’m sure I have taxed many peoples' memories by persuading them to think about incidents, dates, who they remember from the early days, who was on the committee - the what, when, where, who and how of the folk club!. To all those people I am very grateful.
In particular I would like to say thank you to Patricia Maillard and her brother Derek Ryan who were the founding members back in the early 1960s. Whilst it has not, as yet, been possible to find the exact date for the first meeting it has been narrowed down to either 1962 or 1963.
Although the Club has not been operating continuously since 1962, it has been meeting every fortnight from 1995, and is now over 50 years old and in 2013 the Club celebrated this anniversary.
On an unknown date early in the 1970s the Club re-opened at The Penthouse Two under the Winter Gardens (Penthouse One being in Scarborough.) The smell of stale beer and sticky carpets is well-remembered! The Club was run as a commercial venture by the owner Mr Adams on a Thursday evening, and was opened so that he could keep his bar staff employed. For a while Ian O’Conner was not only the doorman but also the compere.
On an unknown date in the early 1970s the Club moved back to The Queens Hotel, the landlord at the time being Roy Whiting. The Club started in one of the downstairs rooms, but soon moved into the upstairs room. For about a year or two the Club was run by Phil and Jill Jay on a Tuesday evening, and the regular compere was Richard Harrop.
Stuart Davidson, a long standing member of Bridlington Folk Club, and composer of "The Gansey Girl" (2016) - photo from the archives.
Towards the end of 1994 Trish Tate and Ralph Tomlins got together and set about reforming the Club, and on Tuesday 30 January 1995 a new committee was formed with Ralph as Chair and Trish as Organiser. The first meeting of the modern Club was held in The Tillie Morrison Bar at the Spa Royal Hall on Monday 6 February 1995, subscriptions were set at 50p per meeting, Dave Kay had the privilege of singing the first song which was "The River", and the Club has met continuously since that date. The Tillie Morrison bar is no longer in existence due to the Spa being given a complete revamp between 2006 and when it re-opened in May 2008.
In March 1995 the then shy Edwina Hayes was persuaded to attend the Club, this was principally by Ralph Tomlins, and indeed Ralph was known to have tuned her guitar for her on occasions. Edwina has now gone on to much bigger and better things in the folk music world.
The Club met at the Tillie Morison Bar for a few months until the summer of 1995 when it was decided that, because they met in the public bar and it was getting too busy with holiday makers, they needed to move to where they could have a room of their own.
The Club moved back to where it had been on previous occasions, and had become its spiritual home, the upstairs back room of The Queens Hotel, and they met every other Tuesday. The room was just what was needed, the size was right, and they had it to themselves, and had a good landlord, the only drawbacks were that they had to pay each meeting for room hire, and the fact that the room wasn’t actually very clean. Trish Tate and Jacqui Bartram often came to the meeting early to clean the tables and ash trays. (This was in the days when smoking was allowed in public places.)
On the 8 August 1995 Dave Richardson and Jane Baker attended for the first time. Their first song, "Streets of London", was sung on 2 January 1996. Many years later both members would become regular committee members.
On the 17 October 1995 a committee met and ran from 8pm to 9pm. This was to form the "new" Club and they voted to accept the cash that had been left from the "demise" of the old Club, and so started life with £119.84 in the bank. Chairman was Ralph Tomlins, secretary was Eddiee (Ed) Bartram. Treasurer was Jacqui Bartram, and publicity was Steve and Shirley Higton. The reason the "new" club was started was due to falling numbers, and so it was re-launched, so to speak.
An "Ordinary Meeting" was held on the 14 November 1995 and Dave Boothroyde was added to the committee as vice chairman. This meeting ran from 11.10pm to 11.35pm. They must have been keen in those days!
Over a period of time the "Bridlington Folk Club Band" was formed with Ralph Tomlins on vocals and guitar, Trish Tate as the principal vocalist, John Cooke on vocals, guitar, banjo and whistle, Martin Rich on vocals and guitar, and Ruth Rich on vocals, violin, flute and other instruments. One person who started coming to the Club around this time was Eric Lount (Deceased). He had a knack of being able to stand at the front of the room, say nothing and still be able to make every one laugh. Eric would become the Club’s comedy poet.
From 30 April to 3 September 1996 the Club met weekly to try to encourage some of the holiday makers to join in, unfortunately its success was less than expected. The Club tried again the following year from 29 April to 5 August, again without success. The Club has only ever met fortnightly since then.
On the 28 May 1996 Shirley Higton recorded two cassettes to raise money for the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust that was being promoted by the Free Press. In June 1996 Jacqui Bartram organised an evening at Gransmoor Lodge to raise money for the Arthritis and Rheumatism charity.
From the 8th to the 14th July 1996 Shirley Higton organised a "Folk Week" which was held in the Orangery at Sewerby Hall. Mainly Club members performed to the public and the money raised went to the Free Press Anthony Nolan appeal. 13th December 1996 saw the Club organising a ceilidh for themselves. This is thought to have been at the Catholic hall.
On the 29 April 1997 Denis Wilcockson took over as Chair from Ralph Tomlins, and together with Ed & Jacqui Bartram and Trish Tate formed the new committee. One of the stalwarts of the Club around this time, although never on the committee, was George Sheldon (Deceased), and he often sang "The Spinning Wheel". Other regulars from these days were Dave (surname unknown) and Arthur Marsden.
Whilst at The Queens Hotel, one of the regulars decided to try to open the window, and unfortunately managed to break it in the process. A while later, for some unknown reason he went on to take the gas fire to bits (he wasn’t a plumber), after that he was known to some as ‘the gas man’. A few of the Club members, Trish Tate, Ralph Tomlins, John Cooke and Martin & Ruth Rich, and possibly some others, went busking on High Street in the old town, during the Old Town Festival one year and, much to the amazement of Ralph, raised the princely sum of £8.96 for Club funds.
On the 26 July 1997 Jacqui Bartram organised another fundraising evening at Gransmoor Lodge, this time for the Diabetic Association.
One evening a chap called Andy Howarth arrived at the Club with his group "The Sawmill Sidewinders". They were the support for the guest Jim Eldon. While Andy played his tea chest complete with a broom handle secured in one corner with a string to the opposite corner, one of his mates, who had obviously had too much to drink, insisted on wandering round the room playing his triangle as and when he felt necessary, which wasn’t necessarily in time with the music; that was one of the best evenings that can be remembered!
On Tuesday 30 September 1997 the Club had to move to The Ridings (Latterly known as the Station Inn and now the Funny Onion), because the room at the Queens Hotel was being changed into bedrooms. Thus the Club lost its spiritual home forever. The room at The Ridings was an ‘L’ shaped room and consequently if you were at one end you couldn’t see the people at the other end! The first meeting at the Ridings was a guest night with Early Doors, and the landlady at the time was Shirley McHale.
On the 20 January 1998 subscriptions were raised from 50p to £1 for the singer and musician evenings, this was because the committee asked the landlady start to provide sandwiches for the half time break. The Club has provided sandwiches for the break ever since that date, and the subscriptions continue to be £1 per meeting to this day, with other prices for guest nights. (Change to price in 2017.)
There was one evening that for some unknown reason the landlady didn’t provide any sandwiches, however, she was kind enough to go across the road to Jack's fish and chip shop and buy chips for everybody. Unfortunately she bought far too many and one Club member ended up having to secrete what was left out of the pub.
One evening in April 1998 saw another fundraising evening at Gransmoor Lodge, this time for the BBC’s Children in Need appeal.
On the 5 May 1998 (and in May 1999) the Club participated in the Bridlington Arts Festival. This was just a case of adding our Club’s name to the festival publicity. These meetings were ‘extras’ to the regular meetings, but even so did not bring in any more people.
On Tuesday 12 May 1998 Keith Godfrey took over as Chair and became the regular compere until his retirement from the committee on 22 May 2007. The other committee members were Sue Swan as secretary, Jane Baker as vice chair and Dave Richardson as treasurer. From this time the Club adopted an unwritten rule: ‘No amplification other than a keyboard, and this continues to the present time.
Under Keith’s leadership the Club settled into a routine of having six or seven guests a year; all the other meetings being Singers & Musicians nights. This arrangement continues to today and seems to work well. Keith also introduced "The 5 minute AGM". AGMs up to that point had been rather protracted affairs, and this didn’t suit Keith. We were there, "To enjoy the music, not talk", he said, and so all subsequent AGM’s have been kept short and sharp, and most people say long may this arrangement continue.
Unfortunately over a period of time the conditions of the meeting room at the Ridings were causing problems for the Club, these were things such as the central heating being on full blast during the middle of summer, and all the chairs having been removed to leave only stools. Another problem was the ever reducing number of working light bulbs, as one blew it was not replaced. The consequence was that one of the Club members regularly took out the working bulbs that were at the far end of the room and moved them to where they were needed.
Around 2000 the Club was asked by the Lions Club to provide entertainment at some of their Winter Social Club meetings. Their meetings were aimed mainly at the elderly of the town and usually held at the Catholic Hall, but on a number of occasions at Christ Church. Several Club members helped out on what were very enjoyable evenings. Some entertainment still continues to be provided for these evenings, but not as a Club activity.
On 30 January 2001 Hilary Spencer and George Norris were due to visit, however, shortly before they set off, George ended up with his kitchen on fire. Fortunately Hilary was more than capable of entertaining the Club on her own.
Dave Richardson and Jane Baker, who now play as part of T#ree's Company, with George Ansell, our MC.