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Mecca Dance Halls and Managers from Summer 1961

We thought you would like to see a list of the Mecca Dance Halls and Managers from Summer 1961.

Clearly there are many town and cities not mentioned – such as Bristol, Birmingham, Glasgow, and many many others, but perhaps there is a clue in the number of planned openings highlighted in the list below.

Basildon Locarno – Town Centre – Manager     M Green

Belfast Plaza – Chichester Street – Manager    D R Clark  – Phone Belfast 25294

Blackburn Locarno – St Peter Street – Manager B Gee – Phone Blakewater 85538

Bolton Palais – Bridge Street – Manager W. McLeish – Phone Bolton 1451

Bradford Locarno – Manningham Lane – Manager Alan Boyce     (Opening 9th September 1961)

Burnley Locarno  – Manchester Road – Manager  C Isherwood   (Formerly the Mechanic`s Institute)

Bury   Prince`s Ballroom – Bolton Street – Manager L Byron – Phone Bury 1705

Coventry Locarno – Smithford Way – Manager R Bloxham – Phone Coventry 24570

Derby Locarno – Babington Lane – Manager A Ferris – Phone Derby 41441

Edinburgh Palais – Fountainbridge – Manager G Knowles – Phone Fountainbridge 7427

Hull Locarno – Ferensway – Manager J Munro       ( Opening 16th September 1961)

Ilford Palais – High Road – Manager B Foster – Phone Ilford 3128

Leeds Locarno – County Arcade – Manager J Savile – Phone Leeds 31046/7

Leicester Palais – Humberstone Gate – Manager G Pickavant – Phone 69967

Liverpool Grafton Rooms – West Derby Road – Manager T Reid – Phone Anfield 3928

London Lyceum – Wellington Street, The Strand – Manager D Preedy – Phone Temple Bar 3715

London Carlton Rooms – 140 Maida Vale, W 9 – Manager J H Richardson – Phone Maida Vale 5289

London Empire Rooms – Tottenham Court Road – Manager C Self – Phone Euston 4173

Manchester Plaza – Oxford Road – Manager P Wild – Phone Central 7441

Newcastle upon Tyne  The Mayfair – (Planned for opening during October 1961)

Norwich  Sampson and Hercules Ballroom – Tombland – Manager R V Shackell – Phone Norwich 21541

Norwich Norwood Rooms – Aylsham Road – Manager G Barbour – Phone Norwich 46751

Nottingham Sherwood Rooms – Greyfriar Gate – Manager N F Kemp – Phone Nottingham 50555

Nottingham Locarno – St Anns Well Road – Manager G Lloyd – Phone Nottingham 44354

Rochdale Carlton – Great George Street –  – Manager E Mills – Phone Rochdale 3347

Sale Locarno – Washway Road – Manager J Goodings – Phone Sale 1508

Sale Embassy Rooms – Washway Road – Manager H Burnett – Phone Sale 7522

Sheffield Locarno – London Road – Manager M S Proctor – Phone Sheffield 22586

Stevenage Locarno – Manager B A Elmer-Smith   (Opening September/October 1961)

Wakefield Locarno – Southgate – Manager R Keith – Phone Wakefield 6515/6

Little did I realise how the Mecca Ltd legacy of the of the past still meant so much today.

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

 

 

 

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