I began working at the Hull Locarno during the last months of its era. It was tired. Something of an anachronism. Bailey`s cabaret club had opened. Presenting ballroom dancing with live bands was becoming less viable, and the Locarno was going to close.
Of course the building was to remain; this time fitted out as Tiffany`s. Still offering a limited amount of ballroom dancing, as well as cabaret, but with the addition of Annabella`s discotheque. Formerly the Locarno balcony area.
But before all this I would sit for hours on that balcony with the manager, Brian Train, listening to his stories of Glasgow, Belfast, Miss World Competitions, Portsmouth, The Lyceum, and an eclectic mix directors, managers, band leaders, etc . Some tales to make you cringe. Many to which not to be repeated!
It was during one of those conversations that Brian gave me a booklet entitled “Mecca Ltd Party Catering”. I thanked him and kept it safe.
Little did I realise how the Mecca Ltd legacy of the past would mean so much today.
The imagery on the outer pages below may be dated, but the end result was tens of thousands of people each week enjoying a special occasion at their local dancehall
76 Southwark Street London S.E.1 was one of the best known addresses of its day. Managers dreaded being invited there, while every customer had access to it and to Managing Director Eric Morley.
Interesting to note that the opening of the Hull Locarno allowed its future customers time to recover financially from the annual “wakes weeks”.
Listed below are the Mecca dance halls of the early 60s, where you will see that the Leeds Locarno had Jimmy Saville as its manager – I wonder if we will ever know what really happened there!
It is my understanding that at least 11 of the 30 venues/locations are still trading as nightclubs. Many of the managers became the industry legends of the time. Music changed; fashion, technology and customer aspiration moved on, but the heart of the industry remained constant.
Brian would have been just as successful as a manager today, as he had been in the past, for which there is indisputable proof –
But that`s a story for another day