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

The night the Pink Coconut team took over Derby Police Station

The liquor stocks at the Pink Coconut and Slick Chick Derby had not been working out well.

Someone was “at it”.

So a number of out of town managers were brought in to investigate.

They arrived one busy Wednesday evening, accompanied by partners and staff, and began their observations – but little did we know that this would be the night the Pink Coconut team took over Derby Police Station.

Unsuspecting staff gave away drinks, placed money into till drawers without ringing it in, or simply under rang the amount they were charging – which not only left the stock short, but also built up a surplus in the tills, which could be pocketed later.

Of course there were many honest and loyal staff.

But the not so honest ones were gradually identified and handed over to the police.

Something like a security Spring Clean!

Clearly this exercise used up a number of the police officers on duty that night. Statements took time and had to be accurate – so could not be rushed.

When the majority of the erring staff had been interviewed, the supporting statements had to be made, and it was decided that this would take place at the main Police Station in Full Street.

No sooner had the Pink Coconut team arrived when an emergency call came in regarding a possible riot situation in the Normanton district of Derby.

Off raced every available officer – leaving the Pink Coconut team to “keep an eye on things”.

And what could go wrong, they were sensible and responsible licensees?

But it did go wrong.

Especially after one of the managers thought it best to jump over the counter and man the reception desk himself – so as to look the part.

When the phone rang he announced that there was no-one in, then replaced the receiver. When a poor young man came in looking for sanctuary from a violent girlfriend – he was offered a night in the cells for his own safety.

Luckily the fun and games were over when the duty sergeant returned, and removed our man from the reception desk much faster than he went in.

Everyone was reprimanded, statements made and signed, then the whole team returned to The Pink Coconut, although they were told later that no damage had been done, and that time had passed very quickly for a very amused night shift.

Did they sort out the stock shortages?

In a way, but when you have the trilogy of staff, money and alcohol, there will always be irregularities.

No one was arrested. No one was hurt, and everyone was wiser.

But the reception desk at the Police Station never looked the same again.


Image from


More Midlands managers pictures – with a very pleased Tony Gorbert

Have found even more First Leisure Midlands managers pictures – with a very pleased Tony Gorbert on quite a few of them.

Wonder what he knew?

The first picture is of Pat and Johnny West – doesn`t he treat her well – all these nights out!

Very knowing and thoughtful, expressions from Tony on the left, and Dave Keetley on the right.

Wonder if they had been talking to Steve Thomas???

Wendy is keeping husband Cameron Walsh Balshaw under control tonight. Not like the occasion when he took over the front desk at Derby Police Station!

And the time in Hull when he…. no – that`s another story.

We`ve sent Kevin from Seventh Heaven Doncaster with extra wine to try and get more info from Tony – but it just makes him look ultra pleased!

Think we are getting to the truth now – and why shouldn`t he look pleased?


All the pictures we taken on the raised back tier of the Cantonese restaurant in The Black Orchid Nottingham.

Hope you like them.
















Hermans Hermits – “Something tells me Im into something good” – but not at the Blackburn hotels!

When Herman`s Hermits appeared for the week at The Cavendish Blackburn, their 45 minute midnight show was hugely successful, despite audiences usually being “pretty well stewed”. Although Peter Noone admitted in an interview with Brit-mags that he didn`t mind that, as it normally helped the atmosphere. He also admitted that Blackburn “was hardly his favourite town”.

Peter went on to say that they did not do too many tours, and consequently limited their appearances in the Northern Clubs. Although on this occasion, despite only appearing on stage for 45 minutes, they had worked for 41 consecutive nights, including the Bailey clubs at Sheffield, Birmingham, Stockton and Blackburn.

He also acknowledged that “the money” is up North, with some clubs having an audience potential  the same as London, the only difference being that people may have to travel further.

Unfortunately the Blackburn hotel situation had not helped. Peter and his wife Mireille had been unable to sleep due to excessive noise, and had changed hotels twice. Eventually moving nearer to the Manchester area where Peter was born.

He also spoke of the “grim” side of touring – all the packing and travelling – the search for accommodation – and the difficulty of finding a decent place – finding one – then having to move on.

Having been thrown out of accommodation late at night in Blackburn – Locarno Boy can only empathise.

We were staying in the same bed and breakfast as the cabaret. Memories fade, but we think it was with The Fortunes.

All was going well until one of the band produced and opened a can of beer.

“Get out. Get out,” ranted the owner. “Get out. I`m not having this. I`m not having you make a fool of me”.

You can imagine our amazement at watching a genial host turn into a Tasmanian Devil.

That is until we discovered that he had built a tiny licensed bar in the corner of the lounge to help make his business more attractive, only to find that previous guests had also brought in their own beer turning his licensing investment into a loss maker.

Unfortunately our discovering this did not prevent our eviction, and temporary homelessness as we wandered the streets of Blackburn with our belongings, looking for somewhere to stay.

Then one of the band struck up with – “You`ve got your troubles I`ve got mine.”

A world away from luxurious tour buses, managers and minders!


Image from

Background information from

Even more pictures of the Midland`s team – a few interlopers – and a short history of the local club scene.

Sorted a few early day Romeo and Juliets pics – then even more pictures of the Midlands team – and a few interlopers – and a short history of the local club scene.

First off with Dave Morris and Martin Raynor from the Romeos entertainment team – this picture was taken shortly before Dave left to build up the business at Clouds nightclub, which closed very soon afterwards and became The Slick Chick – then Molly Magoos – Brannigans and more. Not bad for a former luxury cinema!

Then one of Martin in very familiar mode!

And Dave Morris could Bee anyone he wanted to Bee – The guy on his left was the one we thought may not be cut out for MI5

Dave and Paul MI5 Walker – not sure what was happening this night???

It`s that man again – Johnny West preparing to cast off his crutches – maybe that fact that he wedged against the makeshift bar had a bearing. To the left of the poster is Pink Coconut lighting technician Lee Poulter.

Fancy catching Lee with a pint!

This chap must have slipped in under cover of the smoke from the bonfire that refused to burn. Mark Shaw, manager of Midsummer Leisure`s Paradise night club. He not only sneaked in – but tried two steal two of our women – Debbie and Helena. The pained expression on his face is probably from squeezing into the Rollerworld Big Boot he occasionally drove around Derby. Clearly the girls impressed him, as he came to work with us just afterwards, managing The Travellers at Griffydam.

Chris Shore was managing Mecca`s Babbington Lane Ritzy nightclub, but he must have been lost in the smoke so no pictures. Chris now manages Stringfellow`s Wardour Street club, with a clientele that includes Lily Allen, Drogba etc.


What better setting for a manager`s meeting than the patio at The Travellers. Ian Bomber Harries organised the cooking, while John Sulley and Tony Walker pretended to be helping. But who is that by the back wall? Could it be the man who had to decide between being a professional goal keeper and a night club executive. We think it`s Tony Gorbert!

Tony was the manager of The Travellers at one time, as were John Bunce, Marie Burton, Mark Ovenden, Mark Shaw and others.

Food cooked the lads relaxed with the Black Orchid Manager Mike Hilkene. What a treat to then discuss facts, figures and budgets in an almost Mediterranean setting!!!

But who have we here – is it Masterman DJ Chris Steadman – seemingly pulling girls two at a time?

Now on to the Pink Coconut Pictures – and first off with Celebrity customer Stan Hall – who may have made a serious error with his chat up patter!!!

A general shot of the stage (sorry about the picture quality – thank goodness for today`s digital cameras)

The next picture is of Dave Howells – and I dare you to call him a chicken!

And Finally we have a picture with Ian Stanley in the orange T shirt, and Raj (I`m not looking at the camera) Sandau on the right – but who are those small guys in the middle???

Good times!





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