Batley Variety Club

It was a phenomenon of the 1960’s, the “Theatre Club”, a step up from the Working Mens Clubs that the populace fraternised of a weekend, Wakefield had one, but the most famous was the Batley Variety Club.

Your average Working Mens Club of that era would attract a regular crowd from its local streets, mainly of men, in fact through the weekday nights it would be only populated by men and usually only the bar would be open – the “bar” being reserved exclusively for men whilst the “lounge” would be for those unfortunate men who had been coerced into bringing their wives out with them, and even under these circumstances it would only be a matter of a few minutes before the menfolk sneaked off out of the lounge for the comfort of the men-only bar.

“Turns” on a weekend evening were the big attraction and Saturday night involved households in the locality being a hive of women activity as beehive hairdo’s were lacquered up or perms poked and prodded into shape until finally with their husbands standing at the back door tapping their watches and declaring that all the seats would have gone by now, the women of the town would emerge onto the streets and clik-clak their way through the cobbled lanes to “the Club” for a night of “getting kay-li’ed” and listening to a “Turn” who would only sound good after several Cherry-B’s or Babychams.

Batley Variety Club was a step up from this normality, for Batley Variety Club was a Theatre Club, a place where you only went for a treat, it had carpet on the floor for starters a thing unheard of in many Working Mens Clubs, carpet on the floor and instead of perching on hard vinyl covered stools around a small circular table all night long, at the Variety Club you sat in your own little “pod” on plush velvet benches, five couples to a circular “pod” with an open end facing the stage, hundreds of these “pods” arranged in tiered rows from the huge stage right to the back of the room – a wonder to behold.

But two remarkable things distinguished the Variety Club from the run-of-the-mill Working Mens Club, they fed you during the night, and they attracted the worlds top performing acts.

When I say they fed you, they fed you with a dish that had been specially invented for the clubland audience – the ubiquitous chicken-in-a-basket, several small pieces of fried chicken and a pile of chips inside a raffia basket that was declared by all and sundry to be the height of sophistication and the highlight of the evening, people would not eat at all for 24 hours before visiting Batley Variety Club just so that they would enjoy their chicken-in-a-basket all the more.

And when I say they attracted the worlds top performing acts I mean the worlds top performing acts that were going through a bit of a drought year and looking to make a quick couple of grand in cash for a one night gig, enough to keep their house in Buckinghamshire going for a few more months before the creditors found them – and now after having said that I daren’t name any of those acts for fear of “the sue”, so I shall start a new paragraph to distance the acts from this outrageous comment.

Acts like Dusty Springfield, The Bee Gees, Roy Orbison and Tom Jones were commonplace at Batley, following the chicken-in-a-basket and taking to the stage to the smell of cooking oil and the sound of smacking lips to entertain the masses of coal miners and mill workers and then get off stage and into the taxi before the fight started.

I travelled to Batley Variety Club on at least three occasions of my memory, to see Guys and Dolls, The Brotherhood of Man, and The Grumbleweeds – what did I say about the worlds top performing acts ?

Guys and Dolls, a six piece vocal group who had as their selling point one of Bruce Forsyths daughters in their midst and a record in the hit parade “Theres a whole lot of lovin”, complete shite they were and I only mention them here to impress those folks who watch the likes of “I’m a celebrity get me out of here” for of course Guys and Dolls were the first incarnation of the poisoned dwarf  David Van Day and the wicked witch of the west of a girlfriend of his Theresa whats-her-face – I can idly boast that I saw DvD “in his prime” for what it is worth.

The Brotherhood of Man were appearing on the back of their Eurovision Song Contest win when I paid with my own money to join a bus trip to Batley to see them one saturday night, the most memorable event of the evening being the dash to the bus park afterwards to avoid the fight which was of a classic wild west stylee that night.

And then The Grumbleweeds. No-one not from The North will ever have heard of The Grumbleweeds, so famous were they when again I paid with my own money to join a bus trip to Batley, but at least they were funny, they weren’t very funny, just funny, their mix of comedy and song and extracting the urine from other of the worlds top performing acts hurriedly brought to a close at around midnight when someone looked at someone else’s wife for a nanosecond too long and the fight started.

Batley Variety Club, chicken-in-a-basket, a worlds top performing act and a fight, all for a fiver…

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123 thoughts on “Batley Variety Club

  1. Hi

    I’m making a programme about Hollywood actress Jayne Mansfield for BBC Radio 4. I’m concentrating on her tour of northern clubs in 1967, including Batley Variety Club. I’m really keen to speak to people who remember seeing her perform, shared the bill with her, worked there and remember meeting her or historians who can tell me of the club’s history. I would appreciate it if you could help put me in touch with people who remember her. Thanks so much.

    Paula McGinley

  2. I don’t know the guy but John Pennington of Bradford (search for Penningtons nightclub, Bradford) has decades of experience in the northern clubs and has hundreds of stories to tell whenever he’s interviewed on local radio, he may have known Jimmy Corrigan (Batley Variety) and will certainly have stories of him – John Pennington is well known to BBC Radio Leeds if you can’t find his contact details.

  3. Was a regular at Batley Variety Club in 60’s & early 70’s saw most of the big names & the average ones too. Did see Jayne Mansfield but to be honest dont remember much aboiut her. Had great nights there & dont remember any real trouble – Best I saw there were The Move – just amazing. Being a regular I went even when ‘old timers’ were on and the biggest surprize was Josef Locke – my mother had said “you wont like him he’s from the past” well he was GREAT.
    Also good was Martin StJames – a Hypnotist – but I may be biased, he hypnotised a girl to go and kiss the best looking lad in the place when a particular piece of music was played & yes I was that lad (my pal claimed I tripped her up when she was trying to reach him)
    Great Nights.
    Corrigan had got the idea from night clubs like the Kon-Tiki in Wakefield and just expanded on the whole idea.
    He planned to build it in Dewsbury but was refused planning there – made Batley world famous.

  4. I also recall that Batley Working Mens Club had a good reputation too, trying to compete on a much smaller scale they had the concert room carpeted (steps back in amazement) and carpeted the walls too – my dad actually drove all the way there just to look at their carpeted walls.

    I saw Tony Capstick there when he had just had his “Capstick Comes Home” in the record charts, a very funny man.

    My dad specialised in picking out the comedians that were doing the clubs in the ’70s and we followed his recommendations all over West Yorkshire.

  5. When I left England in 1950, the Batley Variety Club was a Roller Skating Rink, and prior to that was a Wool Warehouse, Hence the floor was of tallow wood, no splinters in this wood to “snag” the wool,which was also enriched with the lanolin from the wool making it so very smooth.

  6. The biggest problem with the old disused mills in Bradford now is that it only takes one tramp to light a fire to keep warm and once the floorboards catch light they can’t be extinguished for days !

  7. It was a great place in its time. I heard that the stars demands for high fees contributed to its end. I saw the hollies, Niel Sedaka, Charlie Williams and lots more. But could not afford it when the likes of Shirley Basey were on. But wonderfull times.

  8. Got a few things here,went to school with john pennington,he can be contacted by calling richard “tricky” ingham ,who owns caddyshack bar elland w.yorks or email me in one week i have his number at home,My families building company built Batley variety club about 1968 Peter Ellis & Sons of Batley Carr,they also Built wakefield Theater club shortly after and went broke in the process,Remember all the stars and battles and diced carrots in the car park afterwards,continuing on to the Batley “Pent”agon into the early hours,Frank sinatra was rumoured once to be going there but never quite stumbled that far in his career,quite a place in its day,remember the roller skating rink also,seem to recall that perhaps that burned down as well but memories a bit vague,Jayne Mansfield was probably the most unlikely and least talented person to ever appear there

  9. Wow those are great memories Steve and as I say to a lot of people, you should write some of them down, one at a time – other people are interested you know !

    John Pennington keeps popping up on Radio Leeds, does he still have his club in Bradford ?

    I’m sure I went to Wakefield Theatre Club once but for the life of me can’t remember why or who for – but I do remember a trip out one night to Batley Working Mens Club to see Tony Capstick, my dad was a big CIU member and would go anywhere to see a top comedian, as long as I drove him and brought him back.

  10. Not quite right – Amusment arcades were owned by the family, from memory an uncle of Jimmy Corrigan but I cant remember his name..

  11. Jerry–I’m writing a book which has a chapter with an entertainer performing at clubs in Liverpool, and Manchester and the Batley. Can you please give me a much more detailed description of what the inside of the Batley looked like. What kind of tables, how rowdy was the crowd. What kids of things would they say if they had too much to drink or didn’t like the performer. Thanks so much.–Rich

  12. As a regular during virtally the whole of the club’s existance I would be happy to give any information about the club – there has been mention of trouble & bad behaviour – I can honestly say i nevver saw any such thing (did see lots at other clubs in the area though)

  13. Rich,

    From memory (and it was a long time ago) Batley Variety Club was the pinnacle of Working Mens Clubs in the North of England, if you were going to Batley it was for many a treat and so the whole audience would be dressed for a “smart night out”, that isn’t to say that it was Royal Ascot but ALL of the men would be wearing suits shirts and ties, and the women would have made an effort with a best frock and a new hairdo.

    My lasting impression of Batley is that you sat in what I can only describe as “pods”, if you watch Goodfellas and the famous Joe Pesci swearing scene then you’ll get the sort of idea and I don’t think that its a coincidence that the owners tried to copy a glamourous American theatre bar rather than stick to the working mens club format.

    Living at the other side of Leeds we’d go to Batley for birthday celebrations and we’d have to book a table (or “pod”) and you’d pay to get in which also made it a cut above the working mens clubs where there would be a riot if you had to pay to watch a “turn”, on the other hand the “turns” were the next tier above the WMC’s, you rarely had an unknown act on a Saturday and usually it was an act that had had chart success, a lot is made of the big names that played there but on any saturday you’d see an act that you’d heard of or had seen on TV.

    As for rowdy, it was loud when there was no act on stage, I don’t know how many it held but it was the biggest club that I have been in so that many people all talking at the same time are going to make a lot of noise, it was hectis too, the bar was always packed (a queueing system in place if I recall) and they had lots of waiters to serve your table, because it was a club it was licensed to stay open much later than pubs and WMC’s and so the drinking continued after the main act had been on, they’d clear away some of the small tables at the front and there would be a “disco”, and if there was going to be any trouble then thats where it would start – with coachloads of people from all over west yorkshire you are always going to get drunks who object to being jostled on the dance floor or someone looking at their wife – I never saw trouble inside the club but the car/coach park could be a whole new level of entertainment some nights.

    As for not liking the performer, you have to remember that for most Batley Variety was not there “local” but a special night out, the acts would be well advertised and you wouldn’t go unless you liked them so its difficult to say ont hat score, probably this post might give you an idea of what an ordinary club crowd were like when they didn’t like a “turn” https://jerrychicken.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/the-one-about-the-simply-appalling-comedian/

  14. Thanks for the descriptions, Jerry. This entertainer I’m writing about did say that the Batley was a step up from the others. But he did say at some of the WMC’s he had a rough time of it. If some lads came in in a foul mood after they lost a match and drank too much, what are some things they might yell besides “You’re rubbish” or “bugger off?” Thanks again.

  15. Rich,

    I was once in a club in Newcastle where, after a comedian was boo’ed and heckled through his act, the audience started to throw pennies on stage to “pay him off”, when the first one was thrown he got really annoyed but then suddenly hundreds started raining down on him and he ran off stage & was never seen again.

    Don’t forget also that a lot of club turns were supposed to pick up their fee AFTER their performance from the club secretary and that their agent would be paid out of that payment, so a bad act who didn’t get paid also had to explain to his agent why he didn’t have any money for him.

    As for what they might shout, it depends how coarse you want your book to be and also what sort of club it was and what sort of area it was in, an audience certainly wouldn’t hold back if they weren’t being entertained but generally in the WMC’s there was a discipline in the concert room that the “turn” would be given a chance to prove themselves, the audience weren’t there to belittle or punish a turn, they were there to be entertained and have a good time and generally a turn would be given at least two spots on stage during a night so they could perhaps get away with a poor first spot as long as they turned it on for the second one – generally by that time if it was a music act all the audience wanted to do was dance so a medley of disco songs could save a performers neck every time in a second spot.

    Ultimately the person who controlled the crowd and also the acts was your concert secretary and generally they were strong figures in the community, I didn’t go into a club without it being clear who the concert secretary was, in many clubs they even wore “committee” badges so that there was no doubt !

  16. Thanks Jerry. This entertainer was referring to some clubs where –even though he was well known–they threw lit cigarettes and beer his way. As far as what they might shout–I’m just trying to nail down the language and the accent to be accurate and put the reader in the entertainer’s shoes. Some English slang, perhaps, “rubbish” or bugger off. If there’s something else in that category I’d like to know. Much thanks.

  17. I was employed at the variety club circa 1977/78. I operated a spot light as well as stage lights and stage management duties during that time. I was around 19 or maybe 20 years old when I started there. Would be happy to help with advice about those days, memory permitting.

  18. Sure, Mark…I’d appreciate any color you can give me on what the Batley Club looked like, felt like, etc. in those days. Who attended, what did drinks cost, you know ..Thanks

  19. I guess the best way to do this Rich is to walk through what I can remember seeing hearing and smelling when entering the club.
    Reception area – This area was much the same as any other club. There was a counter with ticket sales immediately in front as entering the front door. Two entrances to the club at either side of the sales counter each manned by door staff checking tickets. There was a door to the right leading upstairs to a small office area at the rear, a lounge area frequented by the Corrigan family and guests across, and to the right, access to the sound and lighting control room. The Corrigan guest lounge opened onto a balcony with full view of the club. The control room has a glass panel between it and the rest of the club and out front through a small hatch was a balcony area with 2 follow spots sat on the right and left corners. This balcony area ran parallel with the Corrigan lounge and dominated the middle of the rear of the club.
    As entering through the right hand door from the reception lobby into the club, to the left there was ladder access to the balcony where the spot lights were. To the right was a small shop/kiosk selling merchandise. I have no recollection of the content of this shop other than it being colorful, perhaps soft toys or memorabilia? Maybe programs or booklets? Also tobacco products and such. This shop was run mostly by the daughter in law of James and Betty Corrigan i.e. wife of son Jamie. Cant remember her name right now.
    Entering the club presented two bar areas. One to either side wall toward the rear. They sold Websters penine bitter and bottles of Holsten pils larger.
    There were two rear lounge areas at the back of the club to either side of the spotlight balcony area. Cheap seats. The seating to the front of the club was teared downwards. The rear seat areas front of club were rectangular bench style with similar shaped tables but toward the stage area the seating and tables were more of a modular design although I rarely went down there so cant be sure of the exact arrangement?
    The walls were a dark color. I dont think black. I remember them as more like navy although this was only apparent when the bright white retractable working lights were dropped from the roof and lit. The roof also has fans of the propeller style spaced at various intervals. Many comedians playing the club would make jokes about helicopters coming through the roof. There was also a dominant mirror ball located at the centre of the club roof. This would rotate so we could train our spotlights on its surface and give the lighting effect of a roundabout of light spinning within the room. Facing the stage, the kitchen was located to the left of it, through swinging doors. The food generally consisted of chicken in a basket, chips and a meat type gravy with a similar taste to the stuff you can buy these days with Bisto on the pack. Perhaps school dinner style gravy conjures up its flavor best.
    To the right of the stage was a small door where access was gained to the back stage area and dressing rooms. This door opened to an array of light dimmer racks to the left, i.e, rheostats dissipating electricity as heat during the stage lights use. There were stairs up to some sparse dressing rooms and what we called the band room. The resident band and the acts would drink there pre and post show.
    The star dressing room was ground floor just to the rear of the stage again to the right. It was slightly larger than the other dressing rooms with the stereo typical lights surrounding the mirror where the main act would prepare. I have a recollection of meeting a couple of infamous characters in there all be it at different times. Yes, I chatted with both Bernard Manning and Gary Glitter there. What an admission!
    A few steps away was the stage. This had a front section that could be lowered as a dance floor with motors during the interval and when raised allowed the acts to be surrounded on three sides by audience. The stage floor was made out of a dark shiny flooring.
    The club was filled with piped music pre show. This was generally instrumental but with beat and harmony singing. I worked at the club just prior to the Saturday night fever era and the incidental music was a mix between film sound track and the sort of thing heard at mecca night clubs.
    During the show, the room was filled with cigarette smoke. Plumes of smoke cloud lifting through the stage lights. Our eyes would stream with discomfort as we worked the lights on the balcony.
    The show format was generally the same. The Compare was a comedian and their role was to warm up the audience, introduce the acts and fill between the performers. There would be three acts during the first half of the show. Singer/band, specialist act like juggler or magician and then another singer or band to counter balance the opening act.
    The interval would allow a break followed by the Compare making birthday presentations with bottles of bubbly. A trolly would be wheeled on in front of the stage curtain by the stage manager/stagehand. Our fifteen minutes of fame as support staff.
    After this the bars were locked down and the main act of the night was introduced. Sometimes, if they were good, the bar would stay shut for most of the show although I got he impression this rarely happened.

    Not sure if this is any good for you Rich? I have much more and could focus on many parts of the club in depth.

    Although I missed the heady days of Bassy and Armstrong, I worked the night the club closed. I interacted with the Corrigens often although made more contact with Betty than James. I also have an audio tape on cassette of about an hours worth of Johnny Nash live taken from a direct feed off the sound mixing desk.

    Let me know if you need more or particular focus. Will be happy to help.

    Mark

    ps sorry about the spelling. never been a strong point.

  20. That’s great color Mark. Now tell me about the customers. How did they dress? Was it ever rowdy? What did it cost to get in.? For someone like Neil Sedaka in 1971 was there a mix of teens and couples in their 20s and 30s? Whatever you can remember would be great. Thanks again.

  21. Rich

    The fixtures and fittings are easy. They wont have changed much during the time the club was opened and I am fairly confident the picture I paint would have been the same since the sixties opening night.

    The clientele seem a bit more difficult to pin down though. Please bear in mind I worked for around 2 years at the end of the clubs life so they had changed marketing strategy to suite the acts they could afford by the time I started. Sadly likes of Sedaka and 71 remain as just a memory of bill boards that dominate the roof outside and chasing red neons across the front porch, as seen by a school boy sat on a number 4 bus.

    It seems to me that the collective social attitude ever changes and am sure the customer of the sixties had a different perspective of the night out offered than that experienced by my generation. Although the migration would have been gradual, a snap shot from 67 to 77 would probably reveal a hugh alteration in the clubs customers, not only in expectation for the show content offered but in more tangible assets like disposable income and fashion.

    I do feel more qualified to talk about the mid seventies customer however i suspect that because I worked as part of the show, strangely, I didn’t interact that much.

    Because I was in my early twenties, my main objectives at the time were meeting girls and having fun and, in this case, having the bonus of getting paid for doing this.

    The late seventies show was dominated by the best of the northern club act scene so the star turn dictated the customer type in what I would expect to have been a more polarized demographic than the customer mix of the sixties.

    The Drifters would bring younger female audiences, hen parties and such whereas Bernard Manning would bring in the race crowd. Now if you want to know about a rowdy bunch, a day at Wetherby races followed by a night at Batley with a few drinks in between to fill the gap defines the expression rowdy. Imagine the collective attitude amongst this crowd type and especially when Manning’s humor was considered as its ideal match for entertainment. I would give Bernard two accolades though. Resilience and Honesty, however painful it was to stomach, giving him power to be the absolute master in controlling a two thousand strong drunken hoard. Hecklers would try to bring him down and fail. There was only ever one winner. Move from your seat at your peril.

    I get the impression the customer of the seventies were more relaxed about their dress code compared to that of the sixties. I seem to remember velvet jackets and high waste pants by the time I was there. You would need to find someone from the sixties to advise of the dress style of that decade I’m afraid.

    Prices elude me as well. I seem to think it was around 25 to 30p a pint by then but cant be sure? We would get drinks bought by the acts as a sort of thank you for the show. I remember distinctly Gene Pitney sending up a crate of Pils for the lads. The odd act would turn up with something stronger or slightly dodgy although I never partook.

    I have a recollection of a cyril and ken newton who were the nucleus of the show-band that provided musical support to most acts. They would be good to track down if you want someone with early day memories although I cant be sure even they were there from the start. Finding someone with good early memory of the club will be tough. I guess most will be in their eighties by now or very close to.

    If it’s not too intrusive to ask, who is it that you are writing about? I may have a memory to share? Many acts would return year after year. I think the agent was called claud or similar. Not sure if that was his real name though? It seemed to me that once an act was on his books, it was a ticket for at least a one week gig per year for life. But who’s life?

  22. Hello Rich, Customers at Batley were usually well behaved, just out for a special one off good night. But there were other clubs similar style to Batley (not WMCs) on a smaller scale at the time, most notable the Lyceum in Bradford later called ‘The talk of Yorkshire’’ where violence and fighting occurred every weekend. And the violence was not the odd drunk football fan, more like the Kray Twins vs. the Richardson’s. This was a dangerous place to go at times. However there were no knives and things like today, it was bear knuckle fighting. Mike Tyson type.

  23. Mark–In answer to your question, I’m writing about Neil Sedaka, who appered there just before he staged his big comeback.

  24. Remember the Neil Sedaka visit, his ‘Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen’ was a big hit at the time when I was just getting interested in girls – I remember it brought back memories when he sang it. Dont remember when he was there but 69/70 maybe.
    I do still have my membership cards from 1968 through 1971 (one with JC’s sig on back for ‘free entry’

  25. Rich – the email address you gave bounced – I assume it should be gmail and not ggmail. Please confirm then I will resend

  26. I was a traffic controller with Wallace Arnold in 1973 and did some out of office hours coaching for extra cash. Took a party from Leeds to see Ken Dodd at the Batley Variety Club. Drivers always got a free meal and could watch the show from the back. Have to say, although not really my cup of tea, Dodd was a master. Held the audience in his hand for hours. First class night out – and I got paid!!

    Duncan Stewart

  27. I worked on several Ken Dodd shows in the seventies although 73 was a bit before my time there. My main recollection of his act, as it was then, is that after an hour he would leave the stage only to return seconds later banging a big bass drum. In the unlikely even that anyone had gone to sleep due to excess alcohol consumption or whatever, this action regained everyones attention immediately. From a stage lights perspective (where I worked) his act was quite static. We could point a couple of follow spots at him and apart from the drum bit, he didn’t venture far. Time for a couple of pints whilst he was on. Agree with Duncan’s comments on the style of comedy. Not really my choice either but as stated, he was a master technician when it came to his power of command over the audience.

  28. hi my name is annette burnley my husbands name was jimmy burnley personal friend of jimmy corrigan, sammy king, tommy mitchell (bouncer extrodaner) jimmy corrigan actually talked to my husband about running the food section of the club which my husband declined as we all thought he was a bit mad he was always coming up with mad ideas yes remember jayne mansfield coming the clua to open it (a big movie star at the time ) and i remember the boys giving him a serve because he hired a two door rolls royce to take her throuth the streets the best act i saw there was eartha kit bar none yes there were fights all the time as you say in the good yorkshire tradition a few pints and bit of a feed and a good biff and smack was the tradition any way i digress we ended up running the taxis from the club bringing and taking the artists from lodgings in healy lane and des o’connor we will not talk about and all the little secrets long gone into history well i have had my little journey into history so will now i will saygood night

    cheers

  29. Hi Annette. At the risk of turning Gary’s site into a family reunion, thought i best say hello. Hope all is well down in Oz.

    Maybe you could expound on what Sammy King and the big O had in common. Its a story my dad told me. Never had confirmation but you would know if true? Penny arcade?

  30. Annette – thank you so much for those memories, this is what the blogging world is all about as most “ordinary” people have a story, or hundreds of stories to tell and they are a hell of a lot more interesting than the rubbish that ends up edited into biographies, if you haven’t considered it before it would be real fun to see you writing your memories.

    Mark – I’m sure it was Sammy King who was once on the hour long “One on One” Radio Leeds program with Liz Green, they have an archive on the BBC web site – might be worth a search ?

  31. Thanks Gary. Never thought to google Sammy K. There’s a lot more info there than I expected, no disrespect intended to SK. I understand that Jimmy Burnley (cousin Jim to me) played in the same band as Sammy in the sixties. Sadly he passed several years ago. Annette may still have some tales to tell though?

  32. Just to let you know that Betty Corrigan is still alive and kicking and sadly in a home with no visitors. How the mighty have fallen, bless her x

  33. I cannot give out personal details of Bettys whereabouts, I have to respect her privacy at this point, I will make enquiries on whether she wants to receive visitors. She is in her seventys now but is still beautiful. She lost her youngest son years ago and sadly has never recovered from her loss.

  34. I too saw many of the ‘famous faces’ at Batley in the late 60s early 70s including Tony Christie, who didn’t use a mike, Roy Orbison many times, Frank Ifield, Morcambe and Wise, Alvin Stardust, Tiny Tim , Eartha Kitt, Scott Walker, Englebert Humperdink, Des O’ Connor, The Hollies, The Tremaloes and Paul Daniels when he was the support act. Many more which I can’t just bring to mind. All backed by Jerry Brooke the compere and Cool Breeze (who had another name before that which I can’t think of) the resident group. Stuart Atkins led the orchestra— and yes we had Chicken in a Basket !

  35. Hi. My name is Lindy Armstead and my mum Josie Cockayne (nee Sanders) knew James Corrigan when he was young before he married Betty. They were good friends and he used to stay in our home town when the fair wintered here. My mum and dad visited James and Betty quite often in the 1960s and they were made so welcome. They told me all about meeting Lulu, Frankie Vaughn and mum’s personal favourite Danny LaRue. My dad passed away recently, and Mum is in a nursing home and because she is now living in the past a lot, she talks about James and her old friends all the time, so I am trying to find items on the internet about James to show her.

  36. I was employed at the KonTiki Club in Wakefield in the late 60’s and enjoyed meeting many of the Stars when they had performed at the Batley Variety Club. Many stars used to dine with us to relax, and many of them used to take to the stage after their meal and entertain our members. At the time I was employed at the KonTiki, Jerry Brook and Martin Dale were also compares until they moved on to the Wakefield Theatre Club. Len Fenning was the first manager at the KonTiki followed by Derek Lacy. I knew James Corrigan very well, and on my nights off used to visit Batley Variety Club and also make notes for James Towler who wrote a column in The Stage newspaper called Yorkshire Relish. What wonderful days those were!!
    One day I really should sit down and write about those years. Sadly due to the demise of the owner, the Kon Tiki closed on New Years Eve 43 years ago…..Anne Anderson.

  37. I’d encourage everyone to sit down and write their memories of these times down, we will not see the likes of it again and the generation that follows us will largely be ignorant of how things were – keep your writing private if you wish, keep it for your children or grandchildren to read at some point in future – or start a free WordPress blog and jot things down in there, it doesn’t have to be public but if it is your fantastic memories will be shared with a community who really do want to read them.

    Can you imagine if the likes of Jimmy Corrigan had kept a blog right through the 60’s, wouldn’t you just love to read it 🙂

  38. I was a member at the Kon-Tiki in the late 60’s & had some great nights there. Remember Jerry Brook who then compared at Batley Variety Club & remember his anouncment when he let there saying he was going to be compare at Caesars Palace …………..Luton. I gather Jimmy Corrigan got the idea for the Batley Club from the Kon-Tiki. Saw some great acts – Happy days indeed.

  39. Wow, it’s amazing what people remember, and how wrong they can be about certain things. I laid the foundation stone in December 1966 with my brother Dec, and opened the club sixteen weeks later! (I still have the tool I used) I re-designed the stage area and the No. 1 dressing room, as the original room on the plans was merely 6 foot by 6 foot. As The Bachelors, and at the height of our world wide fame, we opened the club and did the first weeks cabaret there.(I still have the key I was presented with) Check it out on our website at http://www.thebachelors.co.uk/1967.htm
    We appeared there many times over the years and last appeared there in 2007 at the 40th anniversary show with amongst others The Grumbleweeds who are funny. Check out the photos on http://www.thebachelors.co.uk/2007.htm.
    You are right about ken and Cyril, and Stuart Atkins who all left Batley and worked for us for many years. Stuart wrote a book about his experiences for which I wrote the foreword.
    I could write a book about my experiences with The Corrigans and the continuing saga of The Batley Variety Club, but a lot of these are private.
    Con Cluskey,
    Con & Dec The Bachelors

  40. I worked at the Variety club for several years as a spot light operator, I saw and shone my spotlight on all of them, such happy and funny memories. Also had a short spell working back stage but preferred the spotlights, if you want to know anymore email me and I’ll be happy to share.

  41. Cool breeze were called The Deb Set if my memory serves me correct, I also served part of my apprenticeship rewiring the club as my dads company “GH Clegg & sons electrical” rewired the club, it makes me laugh when Batley gets mention and people say ” Oh yes I knew Jimmy Corrigan” any one who really knew him knows he was called James and never Jimmy, but he certainly put Batley on the map. Does anyone know were young Jamie is today, I lost contact years ago when he and Janet moved to Wales.

  42. As always John I’d strongly recommend that you write your memories down in a free blog even just for your own enjoyment (you don’t have to make it public), but if you do make it public let us have a link !

    Apart from actually enjoying the process of writing small posts about individual events – do it that way, don’t start off by thinking its your life story or the next War and Peace – you are genuinely contributing to social history, whether any of us like it or not the 1960s are fifty years behind us now and there are TWO generations since who haven’t a clue about what you are speaking of.

    And of course Con Cluskey – you have to start writing !

    If anyone needs any help getting started with a blog or how to start jotting your memories down then just ask here.

  43. Mr Jerrychicken, I find you very patronizing to say the least and know I aren’t on my own in that. The Batley Variety club was a lot more than a step up from the working mens club that you talk about. In its hey day it could and did compete with any other of its ilk anywhere, and people came from all over to see the top turns, I went to the Variety Club a lot at the time and can honestly say I never witnessed a fight so they were a rarity not the norm, same with the language,in the 70s it wasn’t used that often in mixed company.It seems to me all you want is to portray everyone in Batley as fighting, swearing yobs and I will finish as I started by saying I found you very patronizing and its not often I put comments but was so riled I felt I had to.

  44. Used to go Batley Variety Club at least twice a week every week. Surprised nobody’s mentioned the pens that the none seated customers were herded into, you were crammed in that tight it was quite easy to get to know the girl that you were squashed nose to nose with…
    Only remember once when the audience gave one of the turns a rough time and that was P. J. Proby who decided for some reason to tell the audience to f**k off, big mistake. Last I heard of him he was labouring on a building site in Huddersfield.
    My late father, Douglas Sayers was The Concert Secretary at Hanging Heaton W.M.C. for many years and nicknamed Val Parnell by people who knew him.He booked many a good turn before they became famous including Bernie Clifton, the late great Marti Caine, The Grumbleweeds and Charlie Williams who performed under the name Mel Williams in those days, he always came back to our house for a beer and sandwicI’mh after his nights work, think he must have wrote his supper into his contract.

  45. You are right Pamela, I too was a regular from the opening through it heyday and as I have mentioned here before never saw any trouble to speak of. I suspect Jerry is a little younger and and was maybe more aware of the club in it’s declining time, by which time I had stopped going.

  46. Betty and James son ( James) lives in Pocklington North Yorkshire. Jamie died years ago in Scarborough in Bettys house. Bettys in a home now. Shes still beautiful.

  47. Oh dear Pamela !
    This is here to amuse and entertain and if it moves you to anger and you absolutely have to comment then thats all well and good too.

  48. I used to live quite near to the club in Upper Mount Street when I was married in 1967. I was a postman in those days and used to walk to work in Batley, passing the Variety Club on my way to work. I remember one morning around 05:00 (we used to start at 05:30) walking passed the club and there was a queue from the front of the club right around the side, it was people queuing to buy tickets to see Shirley Bassey. She must have been one of the biggest crowd pullers at the club and I remember that she used to insist that the bars had to close whilst she was on stage. I don’t remember any other artist demanding that. I can still see them in my mind’s eye, there must have been a few hundred people queuing.

    Even though going to the club when it opened was more a ‘treat’ so we didn’t go that much, I was never aware of any real violence. People in those days were far better dressed then people are today, men would wear suits and ladies would take great care with how they would look for the evening out. I also remember that Martin St. James never seemed to be away from the club, he must have played there on more dates than any other visiting artist. I also used to go for a drink in the Knottingley Wells which was a pub across the road from the club. I got to know the musician Red Price in there. Red was a top-class saxophonist who had played on the “Hoots Mon” record with a band called Lord Rockingham’s XI which got to no 1 in the charts in 1958. Red liked a drink and was always interesting to chat with. He used to nip across the road during the interval at the club. I also got to know pianist Tony Cervi who played in the band.

    I also remember at the club in the last years of its life when the big stars had gone and it was reduced to decent WMC acts. As a postal worker we used to get loads of tickets which we used to circulate. I think at that time they were just wanted people to come and drink and buy food. I doubt that in the last year or so very few people would have actually paid to go in although I cannot be certain of this – but I do remember lots of tickets being freely passed around. I also remember James Corrigan riding around Batley in his Rolls Royce – and at times I would post letters at his lovely house in Oaks Road, Soothill, Batley.

    Somebody has posted on youtube, a very interesting film about Batley shot in 1968 and this features a nice section on the club, probably the best footage I have seen.

    Sammy King (Alan Tuig – spelling might not be correct) lived at the bottom of Mount Street with his parents in those days, they had a shop and I remember Alan (Sammy) serving me. He also worked a lot with the late Bill Clarke who was a very good friend on mine and who was a brilliant musician.
    Happy days!

  49. Hi again.– Ah yes–The Deb Set– Thanks for that. Never saw any violence there in our day and we went nearly every week. Jerry knew us by name, got me Roy Orbison’s ( much treasured ) autograph and took us to meet Tiny Tim !!! An experience in itself !
    If you’re out there Jerry– I still have that autograph– and yours !

  50. i went to the batley variety club twice all the way from birmingham,,i thought it was superb..tony christie,,lennie bennett they were both on the second time i went. there was a great atmosphere the monute you walked in the door john griffin .

  51. Had a reply via email from a Steve Harrison who is now located in Vietnam at https://www.facebook.com/SleepyGeckoChilloutBar but who was employed at Batley Variety Club in the 1960s and 70s, with his permission I reproduce his story here …
    ———————————————————————–

    So for the record I worked at Batley Variety Club from late 1968 (I had lied about my age to get the job) until about 1973, when the club was in it’s heyday. I worked mainly as a barman on the long bar on the left as well as doing various stints with the spotlights. Because of my long experience at the club I was always the one who took drinks and opened the bottles of champagne for the stars back stage, so I did get to meet: Shirley Bassey, The Bee Gees, Lulu, Martin St James, The Grumbleweeds, Ertha Kitt and many many others.

    What I found interesting was I never ever saw a fight in the club (even though others on your blog say fights happened frequently). I worked there mostly every night of the week and do not recall any bad behaviour of any kind.

    People who came to the club, dressed up to dance, drink and impress and the Club was certainly for us the height of sophistication. Plush carpets, dark velvet walls, comfy seating booths, absolute luxury.

    Below is a small note (that I wrote years ago) to myself about my experience working there.

    Batley Variety Club – The Spotlight And Fame

    My sister Elisabeth had a job at Batley Variety Club, a barmaid and sometimes waitress. It was the biggest club in the north of England. All the famous stars played there. Here is a list of some of them, not bragging because I met them all, its just that people laugh when the thought of a club for famous stars is mention in – whose ever heard of Batley, anyway?: Cilla Black, Cliff Richards, Donavon, Shirley Bassie, The Bee Gee’s, Liberace, Johnny Mathis, The Mersey Beats, pop groups, magicians and mind readers all performed there – there was even talk that Elvis would turn up someday soon, he’s probably still on his way there.

    Elisabeth got me a job with her, even though I was under age. I had learned to drink, had quite a taste for alcohol and although I was under 17 I signed up to work in the bar most nights of the week – I loved it.

    I’d always leave the Ad agency in Bradford later than everyone else. I’d dash to get the bus to home, swallow down mums dinner, never chew it, just swallow it whole, like inhale it, whilst I changed into a white shirt and black bow tie. Then without breathing or catching breath would be out the door on the next bus to Batley. I was the master of quick change artistry – hello mum, thanks mum, see you later mum.

    My life was always in a hurry, I was always rushing between places, grabbing food on the run, stopping for only a couple of minutes to wash and change clothing. I was skinny as a whippet and stretched tighter than an elastic band.

    After a couple of months working at the Ad Agency and most nights at the club I was able to go out and buy a second hand Lambretta motor scooter. Life became a lot easier no more hanging about waiting for buses. But I was still rushing about like a chicken with it’s head cut off.

    Batley had two enormous long bars, one on the left, one on the right. A friend of mine worked on the opposite bar to me. I would almost fill a couple of glasses with white Bacardi rum and leave them standing by the coca-cola machine. When my friend came over he would ask for a coke. I’d take the glass that was almost full of Bacardi and top it up with coke. That way I could legitimately charge him the staff price for only a coke – about 10 pence. He would do the same for me in return. The result of this nice little arrangement was that both of us were pissed as newts by the time the club closed.

    Many a night I drove my motor scooter home seeing double, two roads, choose one, two sets on oncoming traffic head lights. On several occasions I was chased by the police in cars, thankfully I knew every single back road and unlit alley so I was always able to escape. Getting back home after the club became a bit like running the gauntlet.

    On many nights of the week the staff from club would go after work to the Pentagon night club – we closed about 12.30am and this particular club used to stay open till at least 2.30am. My drinking got heavier and heavier but somehow I always managed to get up bright and early for the Ad Agency the next day. I had the stamina of a bull on heat. My testosterone was bouncing out of every pore.

  52. I’d also like to add a footnote to my original post as its taken on a life of its own and is now linked to from several different reference points and gets several hundred hits every week !.

    If you’ve read the rest of my blog you’ll know that its simply tales from my life and this post was only meant to be one of those tales, a brief tongue-in-cheek story of the few times that I went to Batley Variety Club in the late1970s, it was never meant to be a definitive article on the club and while I’m flattered that other sites have linked to this page and at least one other blog has copied and pasted the text directly (I don’t mind, really), please don’t read my account as anything but two or three personal experiences, there are many comments here from people who are much more knowledgeable of the club and thats why I’ve added Steves account too, if this site is going to be linked to from reference sites like Wikipedia then we may as well have some true accounts deposited here.

    Many thanks for all your replies.

  53. Must agree sbout fighting. Used to go two or three times a week and only ever saw one fight and I knew the non head involved who thought he was King Kong in beer, apart from that the atmosphere was very relaxed and friendly.

  54. Went to Ken Newtons funeral on Friday. You are all so knowledgeable you will know he was the drummer at Batley!! His twin Cyril, who was the bass player, was there, as was Stuart Atkins and many of the original band. It was an amazingly good service enjoyed by a standing room only crowd of Kens friends and relatives.
    We all went back to ‘The Spinning Wheel Club’ where Ken’s wife Pam had laid on a a great spread and everybody sat and reminisced about Ken and the good old days of Batley variety Club. It’s a pity you weren’t there to swell the the mourners!!!!

  55. Just stumbled across yor blog whilst googling for info about the Kon-tiki club. My dad was the compere at Batley – Jerry Brooke. He also worked at the Ace club as well as the Kon-tiki. Jimmy Corrigan approached him one night and told him he was going to open this new sort of club and that it would be massive. He took my dad in his roller to view the site and said it’s gonna be here . My dad thought he was nuts but he signed up as compere, they were on a tight deadline to get the club finished for opening apparently the paint was still wet on the opening night, I must have been about 3 or 4 years old then. My dad’s still alive but rather unwell unfortunately. I have many memories of Batley and being took backstage to meet the celebs. He escorted Jayne Mansfield around a bit too while she was in Yorkshire. If I can help with any info I will !

  56. Your dad was a great compare Jill – only vague memories of him at Kon Tiki but we were very dissapointed when he left Batley V.

  57. Will do Con, thank you. I was at the Batley VC Anniversary show in which you performed. Dad loved to be back and it was a great night.

  58. Hi Jill, I’ve been researching the period and BVC and was hpoing to contact your dad. Sorry to hear he’s not well. I’d heard he lived in Wakefield but only had the phone book to go on, drawing a blank there. i read at the start of the year he was writing his memoirs and wonder if he got anywhere with it?

  59. Hi just noticed this my dad played at batley can’t remember when, Alan sands I’ve still got the batley key ring and little booklet

  60. Reblogged this on More Aah than F*** and commented:
    Last night I was trying to remember who I had seen at Batley Variety Club. This is the list I can remember;
    Cliff Richard, The Drifters, The Everley Brothers, The Four Tops, Roy Orbison, Billy Fury. I think The Temptations – memory as foggy as those drives back into Leeds at two in the morning,
    The best act I ever saw was Lovelace Watkins. Never heard of him? I am going to write about him in my next post.

  61. hi”my dad worked at batley variety club in the sixties,he was a doorman his name was peter bould,and he was good friends with james and betty,he drove shirley basseyaround in jimmys rolls royce,then he started doing taxis there with his good friend and bettys brother barry wimpenny.my father passed away last month and i scattered a few of his ashes outside the doors at batley variety club,he told me some good stories of when he was there,like he and barry would take the rolls up to james and bettys house with 50 grand in the boot,istill have some pictures with my dad and the stars in the original batley variety club sleeves,r.i.p dad……

  62. There is talk of demolition of the building – a campain has been started by former PR at the club Maureen Prest to have it listed by English heritage. Hopefully that will happen. Sign the petition here if you want it saved http://www.savebatleyvarietyclub.co.uk
    Would be a very sad day if it is not saved.

  63. My father is Jerry Brooke the compere at Batley and yes unfortunately he is extremely unwell and it looks very doubtful he will write his memoirs. My mum worked at Batley too and they have thousands of photos and stories from those days.

  64. My wife and myself, then known as Linda Russell and Bruce worked as residents at Batley for ninety + weeks, working alongside the other residents, Jerry Brooks and The Deb set.

  65. I’ve scanned some fantastic photos from Bruce and Linda Russell so far. Does anyone else have any? I won’t ask to borrow them as I know that’s how they go missing, but would love the opportunity to come and scan them. There’s a good chance of an exhibition once I have enough material.

  66. Message for Anne Mclaren Hobbs (and anyone else who may have knowledge of the Kon-Tiki club). My late mum also worked there, she would tell me stories of her times working there. She also had a cousin (?) who was a promoter at the Batley Variety Club, and she would work there sometimes too.
    I’m trying to find anyone who worked there around that time circa 67/70, who may have known her and/or her friends. Would appreciate any contact for leads etc. I have some photographs of mum’s and I’d like to put names to the faces (I’ve forgotten) and perhaps know a little about them and their stories.

    Many thanks

    Amanda

  67. Hi Amanda … my name is Bruce Russell and I played at the Kon Tiki with my wife a couple of time. We were an act … a singing and guitar duo called ‘Linda Russell and Bruce’. We were appearing at the Kon Tiki when James and Betty Corrigan saw us, and they booked us as residents at Batley Variety Club …. we were there for approx 2 years. Hope you get some more response to your question … best wishes Bruce Russell.

  68. Cant swear to the carpet on the wall but Carlinghow WMC was located just off Bradford Road on Ings Road. Also I think its long gone and houses are located on the site. They had a good reputation for the quality of their turns but sadly i never went in.

  69. I would like to inform you all that my father Jerry Brooke passed away in the early hours of 20th November 2014. He passed peacefully in a Nursing Home and had battled cancer for 6 years .

  70. My father passed away at 4.50 on Thursday morning, myself, my mother Val and my partner Pearl were there and his other sons Rik and Jason came to say their goodbyes and also his daughter Karen and her husband Sammy whom my father classed as his son were there also. He said his goodbyes to all his loving family who came to visit him in his final days. I would like to pay tribute to Manorcroft for the wonderful care he received.

  71. Dear Jill, We were so sad to hear of your Dad’s passing. Jerry was such a dear friend in the Batley days. He looked after us and made sure everything was right before we went on stage. I shall always remember his smile,,and that shall never die in my memory. Please give our condolences to all the family.
    Con Cluskey
    Con & Dec The Bachelors

  72. Hi Jill … so sorry to hear of your loss. Jerry was a great compere and lovely man. I worked at Batley with my wife, as ‘Linda Russell and Bruce’, and during the nearly two years we were gigging there Jerry became a friend. We have very fond memories of him from that time … best wishes Bruce and Linda Russell.

  73. So sorry to hear of your sad loss. Jerry was a good friend to us when we visited Batley. I still have his picture, along with Roy Orbison’s autograph, which he obtained for me, in my autograph book.

  74. Hi, does anyone know of the location of the luxury home ‘white’ mansion james & betty lived, It must have been local to the club because a lot of the stars stayed there with the family.

  75. I first visited Batley Variety Club in 1968 as tour manager with Long John Baldry. The stage manager at the time was (I think) Bill, who had been a Moss Empires stage manager, he was totally professional, competent and charming. I next visited Batley with Gene Pitney, who I had talked into considering playing the ‘northern cabaret venues). On arrival for our sound check we were amused to see Gene’s name billed as ‘JEAN PITNEY’. During that first week at Batley we stayed at Cesars Hotel in Wakefield. I would often (usually) nip into the Ace Club or Kon-Tiki, I had know Ace Club owner Jack fisher since 1962 and he always welcomed me with handshake and ‘Come and have a drink with your Uncle Jack’. I remember Martin Dale very well, a very nice chap for whom i had (and still have) the greatest respect. And I’m certainly not forgetting the extremely talented Jerry Brooke who I had many laughs with during his Batley days, then later when he was resident compere at Cesars Luton for George Savva.
    Following Gene’s first week at Batley, which incidentally was a sell-out, James and Betty invited us to stay at their house where we were given use of the west wing, including kitchen and indoor pool. James also suggested that rather than hiring a car from Hertz, he would give me the use of his Park Ward, midnight blue, two door Rolls. We were also given the run of the kitchen, hence I was able to prepare Gene’s favourite minute steak and fries…..nothing too complicated you understand although roly poly pudding was rarely if ever on the menu. Both James and Betty were generous to an extreme, they even stocked up the fridge with steaks and minced fillet steak for burgers, another of Gene’s fancies.
    During the many times I played Batley over the years, Keith was in charge of stage lighting and sound. During Gene’s performances I was always in the box with Keith as I cue’s all Gene’s lighting, which wasn’t over complicated as I only used two follows spots each loaded with six colour gels. The stage lighting at Batley was magnificent, at least equal to any theatre in the country and far better than the vast majority of other clubs of the same ilk.
    I can only recall very generous audiences at Batley, in fact Gene suggested a young female vocalist I was representing would be ideal on his bill. Her name was Tammy St John and she was rather special having won a number of ‘club awards’ as well as winning the Ostende Son Festival two years running, she was also invited as support act for The Beach Boys. During her act at Batley she received a tumultuous reception at which Gene, in his dressing-room, asked me ‘What is she doing out there, giving money away?’.
    Someone made a comment about Lovelace Watkins. I was invited to a Lovelace Watkins show at the Talk of the Town in London…..he was a sensational entertainer!
    Whilst spending two weeks at Batley with Gene, I met a young lady who became one of the great loves of my life. Her name was Joy Bakewell and she was a can-can dancer with Marie de Vere’s Ballet Mommartre.
    You can read more about my exploits with artists ranging from Kris Kristofferson to The Supremes, The Harlem Globetrotters, Tammy Wynette and Glen Campbell in my book Cook’s Tours which is available via Amazon UK.

  76. Love to hear from people who saw P.J. Proby at Batley.He was a fantastic singer but so controversial. I heard he was booked for one week but sometimes never turned up! Is this true?

  77. Malcolm Cook..please tell us about your P.J.Proby experiences! By the way these days he never drinks at all & his voice is brilliant, as are his looks! 76 & still going strong!

  78. I was a support act to P.J. Proby the first time he came to Batley Variety Club. My wife and I were known as Linda Russell and Bruce in those days. PJ … or as he liked to be called, ‘Jim’, turned up for all of his performances, but he got into trouble by telling the audience that they could have their money back, if they had not liked his performance. He was trying to get away from his rock and roll image to become a cabaret singer in the style of the likes of Tony Bennett, and he even went on stage with a song book with the words to his songs. The audience were not impressed, and heckled him asking for him to sing his hit records. That’s when he told them they could have their money back which caused quite a stir, since James Corrigan had no intention of reimbursing anyone – I think that a very few, insistent customers did get their money back. Proby was an enigma, in that when he sang his hits he could ‘wow’ and audience with his great voice, but then he would insult them by saying those songs were crap !! I later met Proby when he was living in a small cottage at Haworth. Linda and myself used to play the White Lion pub in Haworth on a Sunday Country night, and he would be in the audience. One evening he called me to the bar, bought me a drink, and said,” … great act, your wife sings like Connie Francis, and you play the sh#t out of that guitar”. A little while later one Christmas early eighties we were support to The Bachelors, on a short club land tour, and the band playing with the Bachelors told us that they had just finished a tour backing Proby. They told us that at that time they had to pick him up early afternoon in order to be sure he was sober enough to play the evening gig – otherwise he would turn up drunk, and no-one got payed. I loved his voice, and for me he was a flawed genius. He once told me in the White Lion that, “this is my downfall” – and he pointed to the bourbon in his hand. Glad he is still around – we are of a similar age – I am 76 this June …. I am still gigging.

  79. A friend of mine went to see PJ Proby as part of the 60s Gold tour which seems to play at Blackpool most years (Oct/Nov time), they said that he still sounds as good as ever as were all of the acts including Spencer Davis who I’m sure they picked out as a fantastic guitar player, maybe I’ve got that wrong but I’m sure thats what they said !

  80. Proby packed up boozing about 23 years ago. His voice became once more perfect! He still looks magnificent also. He does get work but he could do with a lot more. Van Morrison has him as one of his special guests at The Royal Albert Hall on the 25th March. It’s a big charity gig. P.J. is also a guest on V.M’s new CD called “Duets”. I saw P.J. on the latest “60’s Gold” tour & he was the star of the show. He’s always been controversial & I suppose this is what some people are not keen on but for me that’s part of his unique character. P.J. himself still records & makes CD’s & also the occasional, fantastic dvd of one of his performances. One due out in 2015 is the show he did last year in Nottingham….2 hours 10 minutes onstage giving us 31 wonderful songs. I was there & I’ve never, ever seen anyone give a better performance.

  81. just like to say i went to see the greatest live rock n roll band at batley out of this world, sadly we lost the great buddy gask in 2011 and no one could live with him and the duke for dancing and bopping. RIP BUDDY GASK MISSYOU LOTS.XXXXX

  82. just like to say i went to see the greatest live rock n roll band at batley showwaddywaddy out of this world, sadly we lost the great buddy gask in 2011 and no one could live with him and the duke for dancing and bopping. RIP BUDDY GASK MISSYOU LOTS.XXXXX sorry bout that forgot to the bands name.

  83. Hello Amanda….I must have known your late Mum, as I went to work as a receptionist just after the club Kon Tiki opened, and was there as receptionist to assistant manageress to Derek Lacey till the club closed. I will try and find memorabilia from those years as I kept the monthly programmes and news letters. The first manager of the club was Len Fenning, and if I remember rightly the Club was part of the Lucky Seven Bingo Group. The resident band was lead by Terry Heap……withJohn Hamilton on Bass and Phil on drums with Johnnie at piano.
    Many of the stars appearing at Batley Variety Club used to dine with us following their performances at Batley. I have many memories of those years as I also used to be assistant to James Towler who used to write a couple of columns for the Stage newspaper reviewing various acts in the various clubs around. I would love to know your late mother’s name….I am bound to have known her.

  84. Reading these comments took me back. What a great club it was years ago. I was the pianist /music director of The Drifters in the 70’s and couldn’t wait [on tour] to play both Batley & Wakefield!

  85. Jerry Brooke was a nice bloke, knew him from the YPO. Some of his jokes were a bit crap though 🙂

  86. Saw Tommy Cooper there, so near on the left side of the stage ( looking from the entrance). He was sweating profusely, must have been stressful for him.
    The man with the leaf blower in the current Amazon Prime TV ad, looks like a comedian who occasionally compered at Batley, in the 70’s?
    We wait for the new venue at Hick Lane bottom?

  87. Just seen a very interesting post on Facebook….an old poster for Batley on the Ken Dodd page. It cost £1.50 to see him, yet only £1.00 for Roy Orbison or The Everley Bros. Think this was early 70s. Amazing, when you see how much it costs to go anywhere these days !

  88. I’ve heard that in September 1971 when P.J. did a week at Batley one of his lady backing singers was from the USA. Gloria (Gaynor) was her name, 4 years before she became a huge solo star. I’m not sure if this is a true fact. Some folk say it is,others say she was so busy at that time on the east coast of the USA in different groups that she could never have come over to the UK. But P.J.’s other lady backing singer says it was Gloria. And then some other lady told the P.J. fan club that years after Gloria was a big star over in America she asked her if she had ever backed P.J.Proby & Gloria said “yes”.
    Anyone know the facts please?

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