The Night Graham Peel waited and waited and waited for Margaret Thatcher at the Blackpool Locarno

The late great Graham Peel left us a wealth of stories here at Locarno Boy, and on the day of Margaret Thatcher`s funeral it seems fitting to tell the following story – which we have titled –

The night Graham Peel waited and waited and waited for Margaret Thatcher at the Blackpool Locarno.

Graham was one of the most successful and nomadic nightclub managers in the industry. Working in almost every town and city in the country, he dealt with issues ranging from the Krays holding court at Tottenham Royal as they collected their protection money from “clients” – attempting to run Liverpool Tiffany`s in the face of fanatical union pressure because he had sacked someone for stealing – and meeting and greeting Prince Charles and Lady Diana at Hammersmith Palais.

On this occasion he had been sent to manage Blackpool Locarno.

On arrival he introduced himself to the staff and read the private function sheets, one of which referred to a Conservative Party event, so in his inimitable and stoic style he rang the local party office about “a Conservative Party Dance”.

At this point he was subjected to the blistering response of ” A Conservative Party Dance……..THE Conservative Party Dance”.

And from thereon things moved apace. The building underwent a transformation as it was cleaned, polished, painted and adorned with spectacular displays of plants courtesy of the Blackpool Corporation Parks Department.

On the night, with everyone standing in their allocated positions, the Locarno waited in anticipation. The dance floor shimmered under the reflection of the cleanest effect lighting in any of the Locarnos.

The was band primed and ready to ensure that Mrs Thatcher`s favourite tune would greet her the instant she arrived.

Graham stood to attention at the front door, and eventually the phone call came to say that she had left her hotel.

It was as though the building itself gasped in anticipation as the band glided seamlessly into “Hello Dolly”.

But by the end of “Hello Dolly” there was no Mrs Thatcher. So the band played it again, while Graham hopped from foot to foot. Anxious faces peered along the road……. as the band played on and on.

Suddenly the entourage appeared, Mrs Thatcher and Denis were greeted and ushered into the building to the fourth or fifth rendition of “Hello Dolly” at which point everyone began to relax.

Specialist police officers had been brought over from Northern Ireland to assist with the security for the event, a number of which were on duty in and around the Locarno as result of activities by the IRA in other parts of the country.

However this caused something of a difficulty for the then Home Secretary William Whitelaw.

Whilst attending to the needs of nature he was spooked by a number of dinner suited Irish speaking males, which made him somehow lose concentration.

All of which resulted in his exit from the Stag Room with somewhat damp shoes.

Other than the Home Secretary`s damp shoes the night was a great success, and we are indebted to Graham for relating the story.

I wonder if those who had the pleasure of working with him have any doubts as to where he will be tonight!

Hl will be standing at the Pearly Gates with his band playing……

“Hello Dolly”

Ready to say “My name`s Graham. Do you remember that night at Blackpool Locarno?”


John Ellis – I Worked as Joint Assistant Manager at the Ritz Between 1969 – 1973 ish.

Hello, Just found your site, what a great idea.

I worked as joint assistant manager at the Ritz between 1969 – 1973 ish. When I first started the manager was a guy called Alan Coulson and the catering manager was Judith Gee (Fantastic at her job but hard work) and the second time the manager was Brian Thompson, who I think came from Nottingham previously. The catering manager was Tony Fitton. I came originally from Blackpool Locarno, where I was a trainee manager under Bill Hunt we were great mates and I am so sorry to read he has passed on. The manager at the time cica. 1969 was an Irishman called Morgan Hosey.

My other places within Mecca were Manger at the Nocturne club under Bolton Palais and Samantha’s club above the Plaza in Stockport.

I recognise other names on this page: Bernard from the Ritz, what a great guy he was one of the few people I have met that could stack 36 gallon kegs on his own. Bernard would eat 2 meat and potato pies coverd in brown sauce between a full loaf for his lunch. Martin Baird mentioned Pete  Devereux, I used to rent his house off him in Ashton on Mersey in Sale. Anyone know what happened to him? Loads of stuff to share at a later date. This has brought back some great memories. Cheers

Wow…… This was a night to remember

Wow…… This was a night to remember. Was it only three years ago? Now I know what the Hacienda was about. Perfect. Fannnnntastic.

Sorry guys – I’d never heard of Peter Hook,  Graeme Park or Mike Pickering. Now I can’t forget their magic. Not forgotten you Bez. Everyone knows you.

The Syndicate is jawdropping. Like a big tardis to partyland. The only party I wanted as right there in that arena.

Everyone was suited and booted. Everyone pointed a mobile phone at the DJ box. And everyone cheered and danced and smiled. Yep – and I was there with the rest of `em.

Peter Hook set us off with The Clash and London Calling and then built up into Bez mode. Bez`s music was brilliant, and his message simple “fuck the police – fuck the police…..” – but that was exactly what the crowd wanted. They loved him – and still the atmosphere built.

When Mike and Graeme did their gigs the whole room went crazy.

Truly truly truly a night to remember.

Now they`ve closed The Syndicate – so we definitely need that tardis to get us back to Planet Hacienda.

Anyone got a number for that Doctor?


Funny Girls Blackpool – the ultimate feelgood factor – WOW

Funny Girls Blackpool – the ultimate feelgood factor – WOW and Double WOW – not just a show or a night out – more of a heartwarming feelgood experience.

And we defy anyone to go to Funny Girls and not come out smiling.

The show starts when you first see the building. All shining and Las Vagas lights. A huge stage set just waiting to welcome you into the show.

As we approached the reception desk we were met by a very smart and friendly member of the security team. “Sorry,” he exclaimed,  full of empathy. “The box office is now closed. The show is almost over.”

We explained that we hadn`t realised the show started so early, and moved to walk away.

“You must stay,” he smiled. “You must see the finale. Come on – let me take you in – you`ll really enjoy this.”

Hey – we felt important, and couldn`t get the grins off our faces as we entered the shiniest, cleanest building imaginable.

What a welcome!

The room was full, as were the raised areas facing the huge curtained stage area, in front of which was a long and very busy bar. To the left of the stage a spectacular  DJ kept the atmosphere lively and high. Long legged waitresses entertained as they took drinks orders. All legs, frills, flounces and giant hairdos.

We had joined a huge fun filled party that was only going to get better and better.

The finale was amazing. The long bar in front of the stage suddenly seemed to become part of the stage, and the show was absolutely stunning;  equal to anything we had seen in the West End. No wonder it has been praised by Joan Collins, Elle magazine and others. It really must be experienced to be believed

When the show was over, and as we left building, we were sought out by the member of the security team who had taken us into Funny Girls.

“Everything Ok?” he asked in a friendly tone.  “Did you enjoy the finale?”

Our enthusiastic response made him smile.

“Good,” he replied. “Now make sure you come in time for the whole show next time – and don`t forget to tell all your friends.”

So here goes………….


Note. The actors, dancers, and directors of the Funny Girl shows come from Las Vegas, the West End, and other key entertainment venues . To find out more about Funny Girls we have added the following link –


Image from Funny Girls Facebook



Charlene – and the night we opened the Pink Coconut Derby

Sometimes you just happen to be there in the right place at the right time.

The opening of the Pink Coconut Derby was one such event where everything fell into place.

The design of the main room was exceptional, the music scene was vibrant, with ample scope for two rooms of different but complimenting music. The most beautiful girls worked on the bar wearing pastel coloured body stockings. Millionaires praised me on the way the company had invested a small amount of money to maximum effect.

And the atmosphere was electric –  it was a joy to  be part of it.

Suddenly a member of staff called me to reception. There was someone to see me.

As soon as I arrived a lady began to sing.

A crowd gathered – surely she was going to strip at any moment.

But no, she sang, and sang and sang……….

Under the assumption that she was going to sing until closing time the crowd gradually dispersed, as did my smile. When was this going to end?

When she did eventually stop singing my applause was more from relief than enthusiasm.

Then that she gave me an invoice.

She was an “Opera-gram, and had been sent by Bill Gilligan, the manager of Peppermint Place Blackburn.

Some weeks later Bill announced that he was coming to Derby to visit the Pink Coconut.

On the night of that visit I bought him a drink and stood at the bar chatting with him, when a lady came up to me and reminded me that I had promised an interview with her for a bar job. I apologised and told her that I first needed to visit the reception area.

I  bought her a drink and introduced her to Bill.

They were talking and smiling amicably as I walked away. Then I turned and asked her if she would like me to take her coat, to which she agreed. And Bill`s face was a picture.

All she was wearing underneath the coat was a smile – and high healed shoes.

I took the coat and walked away. Then found a point from which to watch them, and gloat over Bill`s discomfort, but there was none it. They were chatting and laughing as though nothing out of the ordinary was happening. Then Bill walked off towards the dance floor, only to return with someone with a camera who took a photo of the smiling couple.

Afterwards I asked him why the photograph.

“My wife will never believe me when I tell her about tonight,” he replied, “but now I have the evidence.”

Good old Bill; but I was a while before I took up his offer of a night out at Peppermint Place Blackburn. Although he did get his revenge some years later when he set me up with a seven foot transvestite at The Palace Blackpool – but that`s another story.

Though I never forgot Charlene – and the night we opened the Pink Coconut Derby.


Image from   Jamie

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