That Famous Boat on the Tyne – Gone??? – But Never Forgotten

Those of us who worked on the Tuxedo Royale will never forget the vibrant atmosphere she created, and the absolute pride we all felt  as part of the “crew” of this unique venue.

I first started my Career with European Leisure PLC back 1989 as a glass collector. The venue I worked at was the TUXEDO ROYALE a fantastic roll on – roll off ferry converted into a nightclub. It was owned by European Leisure until 1992, but after many legal wrangling was sold back to the former owners. During the two and a bit years – what a great family atmosphere this unique venue had. The vessel had 7 rooms that catered for the then Newcastle’s & The North East’s more higher end crowd.

My very first task on my starting night was to provide all the chauffeur drivers in the car park with coffee & tea.

The rooms consisted of the main room, ‘Club Europa’ – a mainstream chart room with that incredible and infamous revolving dance floor, the cause of much amusement watching the unsuspecting guests losing their bearings. On this level there were two function rooms; the Admiral & Commodore Suites, which were used most weekends. These rooms were very versatile and used for everything from weddings to fashion shows to corporate meeting & showcases.

The next level up hosted three more rooms. ‘Stowaways’ – a soul and disco room, and ‘Trader Jacks’ the party room, that sold ‘Hot Roast Beef’sandwiches at midnight.

On the other side of the reception area on this level was the Italian/Al a carte, which attracted many celebs in its time; Kevin Costner, Brian Adams, Take That, a range of Soap Celebs (not paid PA’s) and Sportsmen & women. And of course Gazza!

The next level housed the Sunset Bar. A nice chilled and professional cocktail bar, with no pints allowed! This room was led by the 2 musicians ‘2 in a Bag’, who played live jazz and easy listening music. This room was also access the deck that went around the whole ship, the ‘sights’ of Tyneside could be seen at any time. (Sights – mainly frolicking in all the nooks and crannies). Later we developed the next level into a BBQ and open air bar for summer and was opened by Viv Richards.

For such a big venue the team of 45+ were a close team and fond memories. We had parties and “get togethers” most weekends and the staff nights every Sunday in the likes of Central Park, part of the old Studio & Ritzy or even the Oxford Ballroom building, TUX 2 and the then then vibrant Bigg Market. Many stories will be in all the teams heads as most  look back with fondness at this amazing place to work.

Deliveries dictated by the tide. Alan painting the boat from Bow to stern & back again. Stock & Kegs falling into the Tyne, Risqué goings on in the Bridge & old cabins and depths of the boat, the odd suicide into the car park, The constant 5 degree list, the 18 fire engines that had to come to the venue each time the alarm went off – all just a few great memories of the venue.

The Boat, had a poor end, becoming an eyesore and ‘rustbucket’ on the Tyne. It moved to Middlesborugh, traded for a bit and then ,well – just left for thieves  to steal whatever is sale-able, consequently the boat is now a mess. Luckily there is one chap prepared to take the vessel and repair it and even make it seaworthy again. Good Luck with that.

Now there were two boats on the Tyne in the later 90’s The Princess took the spot the Royale throughout the earlier years – and then the Princess again.

Many debates about which was best, I only know my great time I had from 89 to 92 on that famous boat on the Tyne –

Gone??? –  But Never Forgotten

Watch out for some stories coming soon.



Image of Tuxedo Royale from gazettelive.co.uk – where there are lots more “Tuxedo” images.

Durham Ox at Sixhills – we loved that place.

What about the Durham Ox at Sixhills?

Not a sniff of a mention on this site. Well let me tell you – you can stick your Ritzys, and Pink Coconuts and Paradises up your jumper.

We loved that place. The best music, lovely people, it just made us want to come back for more.

Leicester clubs scared us half to death with all their rough bouncers and stories about who protected which clubs. You wouldn`t catch us there, but we did laugh when the manager at The Pink Coconut Derby hired two thugs from Leicester to sort out the lunatic Derby County supporters. Eeeh!

Heard a story about a Leicester bouncer who had been hired to kidnap someone. He needed a rope to tie them up, had left it in the car so asked them to wait. Yeah!

They scooted off. He scooted to jail.

Back to our nights out-

When we talked to other customers at the Durham Ox they came from Northampton, Lincoln, Sheffield and other far flung places. So it wasn`t just us smiling and giving it some on the dance floor. The place was busy with people who`d traveled a long way for their night out.

Oh! Sorry Travellers at Griffydam.

Loved you too.


Note from Locarno Boy

The Durham Ox continues to present amazing Six Hills Singles Discos – new members are always welcome, so we have added the following links –

E: sixhills-singles@hotmail.co.uk
W: www.sixhillssingles.co.uk

No one ever cared more about his nightclub than Mike Knight at Nottingham Palais/Ritzy

No ever cared more about his nightclub than Mike Knight at Nottingham Ritzy.

Mike had nurtured and cared for the club for decades, initially as part of Mecca as the Palais and Ritzy, and finally under the stewardship of Luminar Leisure.

He also settled himself into local history as being one of the permanent personalities in the Nottingham entertainment world, and a capable pair of hands as far as safety, profits and reliability were concerned. In addition he has watched hundreds of thousands of dancers relaxing and enjoying the entertainment presented from his stage and DJ consuls.

We also hear that he was something of a dab hand on the old DJ decks himself.

Some days he could be a bit grumpy – especially with those he saw as being a threat to his business – and especially when the Black Orchid opened and he had to go into battle to keep his share of customers. But everyone respected him; and that remains.

What the Palais and Ritzy had in common was a genuine warmth of welcome for its eclectic mix of customers of all ages. Alongside music policies that suited everyone, which made the customers always come back for more. The Palais was the Palais, Ritzy was Ritzy. That was the order of things. They were always going to be there. And so was Mike…….But

When Jumpin Jacks came to Nottingham, everything changed.

Jumpin Jacks was a live entertainment led show bar, set on a rustic American Gold rush theme. Bar staff presented dance routines on stage, and much of the entertainment was provided by an up beat pianist.

“Just the thing for Ritzy customers”, suggested the Luminar old guard, “Ritzy can play more dance music – be more up to date.”

Consequently the Ritzy attendance dropped. On occasions it was possible to find six people dancing on the floor with a far away look on their faces, to beats and rhythms that were unfamiliar to the loyal customers who remained.

Clearly this was the end of Ritzy – and the overture to Oceana.

Mike resigned and now runs a successful training company, and is chairman of the Nottingham Pubwatch.

He also epitomises the spirit of the industry.

Mike Knight – Survivor!

The man who really cares.


Image from www.dreamtargets.com

Gatecrasher Nottingham – Destination Venue And Spectacular Building

Gatecrasher Nottingham is one of the key clubs on the UK dance scene. A destination venue and set in a spectacular building; the former Elite cinema in Parliament Street.

I was involved with the original licensing of the club, which at the time was part of the Big Beat group – operated by Ron McCulloch. The venue was to be called “Media”, but it was certainly not welcomed into the Nottingham with open arms.

George Akin had sent David Elphick up to Glasgow to visit Big Beat`s “The Tunnel” venue, where he had found a very lax approach towards certain illegal substances, and the authorities were most vociferousness in their quest to find anything that could prevent or delay the opening of the Media.

Mike Knight, the manager of Ritzy, gave evidence to the effect that there was insufficient business in the city, but was soon unpstaged by an article from one of the trade magazines – stating the phenomenal attendance levels of his own business. He muttered something about Oxo being advertised on buses, then rested his case. The star of the show has to be David Elphick, who produced damning evidence for the objectors, then was eventually appointed General Manager of Media.

During a break in the hearing Mike announced that the building would make excellent tea rooms.

So back to Saturday night. Clearly George Akin was not adversely affected by the opening of Media, or its transfer over to the Gatecrasher stable. His Rescue Rooms and Rock City are very busy and well managed premises. No loss there  then.

There was a well controlled and smartly dressed queue of people waited to enter Gatecrasher, with Operations Director Adrian Swain overseeing the “meeting and greeting”. Everywhere was clean, tidy and well managed, with an exciting  atmosphere in main room. Everyone was having a great time, this was their destination venue and they were enjoying it to the full.

But there was something niggling me. Clearly many of the original feature in the building are listed, which seemed to get in the way of what the building really needed. Was the layout compromised by the past?

Something just didn`t quite click.

It was as though the spectacular building was somehow getting in the way of a really super atmosphere – especially in the main room, where you effectively look from the rear of the former cinema balcony, to where the DJ area now replaces the screen.

But what should have been the most amazing sight-line was cut in half by what I assume to be additions to the two smaller rooms spreading out from underneath the balcony. Consequently the main room had a large dead area in the centre, but with an absolutely amazing show just that little bit too far away, and as result the former balcony area watched the atmosphere – but was not really part of it.

In some ways it was like watching a fabulous film of a Gatecrasher night.

That said – the Gatecrasher experience is a key element of the Nottingham night life. It is professional and customer friendly. Congratulations to Adrian and his team.

Smiled as I thought about Mike and his tea rooms as I left the building –

He would have needed a hell of a lot of cups and saucers!


Image from Wikipidia

Luminar, Oceana Nottingham and a manager determined to succeed.

It is always good to meet up with Pete Tormey, manager of Oceana Nottingham.

I first met him at Luminar`s Liquid and Envy complex at Rotherham, where his infectious style and enthusiasm transformed the business.

And he now faces the exciting challenges of Nottingham; where up to 30.000 people are said to participate in the evening and late night economy. As result, seemingly endless promotion teams in logo-ed outfits, try to persuade people to visit their particular club, with endless offers of free drinks and admission to a club that will surprise and delight!

Oceana, in line with most of the old regime of Luminar clubs seemed to be in need of a two way recovery. First from the policy of laptop/manual management, whereby the policy for every eventuality was set by head office – usually by those who maybe understood management theory, but had absolutely no idea of how to seek out effective nightclub management.

The Second recovery needs to be  from the damage done to some of the businesses as result of this policy – including the assumption that a nightclub was like a shop. Everything bought centrally, with a retail  manager to oversee the whole thing.

Recovery from this sounds like a tall order, but the enthusiasm and professionalism of Pete – and Paul Oloo at Lincoln – is testimony to the faith of Peter Marks and Joe Heeman from the new executive team – who now allow the managers the flexibility and freedom to retain more of the ownership and decision making for their businesses.

Pete has created an excellent atmosphere at Oceana, not only via his entertainment team, but also amongst his management and staff. He is now ready to seek out original promotions and events so as to capture the imagination of the public, local press and television.

In summary he is ready to take the positive Oceana message out into Nottingham.

Over the years hundreds of thousands of people have enjoyed Pete`s club, be it in the name of The Palais and Ritzy or as the current Oceana. Many of these perhaps under the idyllic male  illusion that there were three women to every man in Nottingham.

I don`t know about that, but the city seemed to abound with extremely tall girls in very short skirts, leaving the shorter guys thinking they were in paradise! Although I am told that the whole image collapses when the towering high heals are discarded, and the image is somewhat shattered, as much shorter girls walk barefoot for buses and taxis home.

What wonderful hunting ground for a nightclub seeking to capture customers!

Luminar, Oceana Nottingham and a manager determined to succeed.

Go for it Pete!


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