Mock Blue Plaque

Call for Recognition

The Dungeon Club in Nottingham was open in the 1960s, a place to showcase the emerging soul, Motown, jazz and r&b music and the many bands and artists playing in the country as well as those visiting from the States. It also provided a home for the Mods and their fashions springing up in Nottingham.

The Twisted Wheel in Manchester and The Golden Torch in Stoke-on-Trent were both recognised as having a large impact on Britain’s youth through the music and social life and as such have been celebrated with plaques hung on the walls of their homes. The Dungeon is considered just as important by its regular clientele but has not been acknowledged in the same way.

Can this be put right?

As one Dungeonite put it: “The Twisted Wheel was never as lively as the clubs in Nottingham, we went there (the Wheel) all the time, it was good but listening to conversations nowadays it was The  place to be, (we know different). Had loads of mates in Manchester used to come to Nottingham and loved it.”

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Suggestion

In January this year, 2017, Alan Askey suggested the idea of a Blue Plaque being mounted on the wall of the solicitor’s building on Stanford Street to honour the presence of the Dungeon Club back in the 1960s.

Suggestions were made that maybe it was the responsibility of the Council or that approval was required by the Council, however both of these were considered not true as such a sign would not protrude from the building. There was even a suggestion that the solicitors who owned the building from a conversation in the past were happy to participate.

“It’s the 50th anniversary of that infamous raid by the police on the club this year, maybe we should all meet there?”

“Yeh! We could tip the old bill there’s an odd going-on with lots of people gathered outside a building on Stanford Street and get them to do a raid! Just like re-enacting the night! … This is a joke by the way!”

“Brilliant, don’t forget to tip off the press as well.”

“Should have a street party, plaque unveiling and book a band!”

“Can we get the Temps’… pleeeease …”

“Whatever band is booked I’d bet that a bus with police on it will get there first!“

“Who cares ! Block Stanford Street for the day. Do it on a Sunday.”

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British Plaque Trust

It was noticed in February that the BBC was running a nationwide campaign through their local radio stations to celebrate a local music venue, influential singer or producer.

For BBC Music Day on Friday 9th June, 2017, all 40 BBC Local Radio stations in England would be teaming up with the British Plaque Trust to unveil 40 historic Blue Plaques celebrating iconic musicians and venues. Suggestions would be accepted from the general public via Twitter or Email.

Mike Read, Trustee of the British Plaque Trust explains “We’re looking at nominations for people, who have contributed significantly to our musical heritage. We can also include iconic places of musical importance or where something significant has happened musically.

“Suggestions can be across the musical genres – classical, pop, folk, blues, jazz, musical theatre or music hall.

“Blue Plaques are footprints of our history, commemorating those who excelled in their particular field.”

A committee in each BBC Local Radio area would discuss the suggestions and create a shortlist of the most deserving, which would then be passed to the national committee to make the final decision.

It was felt that this was a good opportunity to get a plaque for the Dungeon, so several members sent in nominations. Then it was a case of sitting back and waiting till June when the decision was to be announced.

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Awarded?

The day came … and the Dungeon was not selected. The local Nottingham Blue Plaque was awarded to an opera singer from Bulwell.

The members were disappointed but not downhearted – ‘maybe lucky next year’ or ‘maybe we could look into doing it ourselves’ were the cries.

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Mock Blue Plaque?

Then Ann Barry, the Facebook Group administrator came up with a suggestion. Let’s mount a Mock Blue Plaque.

“If you can be in Nottingham…SAVE THE DATE!

The Afternoon of Sunday September 10th.

M.O.D.S reunite. Outside The Dungeon Club, Stanford Street, Nottingham.

Plans so far … press coverage, mock plaque, scoots, local hostelry afterwards. More details to follow.”

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Deanna Fahy & Simon Wainwright

Later , “UPDATE…..I’m looking at a 12 noon meet on Stanford Street, but we could make it later if that’s better for people. What are we actually going to DO? Unveil our mock plaque, take some pics, look fabulous. Anything else? After a bit the landlady of The Royal Children will be happy to welcome us. After all, that is where most people including the bands ended up. Thoughts, comments …?

Other ideas/offers welcome.”

A buzz swept round the group.

Linda Hatcher announced “Mock plaque work in progress as we speak, Ann.”

“Sounds a wonderful idea, perhaps after we can go to the Bell and listen to jazz. With the old people!”

“No, you have to go to the ‘funnies’ on Sunday afternoon to sleep after the all nighters.” *

“Yes we will be there, Ann, I can see the headlines now, 300 senior citizens arrested for ‘Dancing in the Street’.!!!!”

“Boys to wear mohair suits and girls to wear mini skirts?”

“I wish I had kept mine (mohair suit), but think 36″ chest and 30″ waist might be a bit tight now.”

Note: * – the Scala Cinema on Market Street in Nottingham was purchased by Classic Cinemas in April 1964 and until 1972, when it was converted to a 3-screen cinema, it operated as a news and cartoon cinema, showing classics such as ‘Tom and Jerry’, ‘Roadrunner’ and the like. This place was known as the ‘funnies’ and was a regular haunt for Dungeon-goers on a Sunday afternoon between club sessions.

 

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Sandra Ward  & David Wilcox

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The Unveiling

The big day arrived. People started to arrive for 12:00. Peter Wilson brought his ghetto blaster and the music of those halcyon days blasted out – Otis Redding, the Four Tops, Wilson Pickett, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Sam & Dave and much more.

Alan Jukes, Simon Wainwright and Andy Stevenson arrived on their scooters. There were men in suits, ladies in mini-skirts, everyone talking, laughing and full of eager anticipation.

The Mock Blue Plaque had been drawn by the resident artist, Mick Hatcher, mounted on cardboard and fixed to one of the columns outside the entrance to the Club back in the 60s. It was covered with a ‘veil’ which was to be pulled off at the appointed hour by the ex-owner of the Dungeon, Mick Parker.

Soon, there were 60 to 80 people. Mick was due to unveil the plaque at 12:30 and a few minutes before, he came walking down the road. Ann gave a few words of introduction: “… we’re here to unveil our mock plaque. I don’t think he’s going to say a few words unless we can coerce him, so can we all welcome the person, the reason we’re all here and all had such a wonderful time in this club in the 60s, Mr Mick Parker.”

Mick then stepped up and tore (carefully) the veil from the plaque. The crowd cheered and applauded, cameras whirred and clicked everywhere and the deed was done.

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The music restarted and all that was left was for everyone to be photographed in front of the Blue Plaque. It was not exactly orderly, there was not a queue, but it went off without incident.

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Refreshments

After the photographs, people one by one started that walk up the hill, as they had done perhaps 50+ years ago, not to the graveyard, but to the Royal Children next door. The drinking started, the conversation and merriment continued, memories were stirred. Murph, the DJ, was set up to play more of the soul music, so the dancing just carried on.

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Media Coverage

The event was covered by the Nottingham Post as follows.

Mods install blue plaque ‘in protest’ outside legendary Dungeon Club

The club played host to huge names in years gone by

A group of mods have placed their own blue plaque on the site of the former Dungeon Club, after an attempt to get official recognition failed.

The famous club, which was on Stanford Street, was only open for four years, but saw huge names pass through its doors.

The likes of The Who, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Stevie Wonder and Van Morrison all played at the small, unlicensed venue between 1964 and 1968.

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The Blue Plaque created by Mick Hatcher

So earlier this year, Ann Barry tried have a blue plaque placed on the outside of what is now a solicitors’ office, where the club used to be.

The group applied for a blue plaque as part of National Music Day run by the BBC, which teamed up with the British Plaque Trust to unveil 40 historic blue plaques celebrating iconic musicians and venues earlier this year.

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Dungeon Club members gather outside their former nightclub

Ann said: “We think it deserves recognition.”

But after their bid was unsuccessful, they came up with a “tongue in cheek” protest which saw Ann orchestrate their own blue plaque ceremony.

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The excited audience

They invited down Mick Parker, who used to own the club, plus an artist – one of the members of the group – who created the plaque.

They unveiled it on Sunday (September 11), stuck temporarily to the wall with sticky material, and in Ann’s own words, “had a bit of a dance and played some music to celebrate.”

There are still monthly reunions of the group, which usually meet at the Royal Children Pub. The club itself did not have an alcohol licence, so if people wanted a drink they had to go to the nearby pub.

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Sue & Paul Young

Ann said: “The Who actually came in here once. They were playing a gig that night and they just said where can we get a drink around here, so someone took them here.

“Bands like that, they weren’t big names then like they are now. I actually saw the Who about three years ago in Sheffield, and Pete Townshend said that he remembered Nottingham being a mod stronghold back in the 60s and he asked if any of us were in that night and of course we were.”

The club went on to be many other venues before it became offices, including Eight Till Late, Whispers and Venus.

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Unveiling the plaque is former Dungeon owner Mick Parker, Alan Askey – founder of the Dungeon Club Society and Ann Barry – founder of the Facebook group.

 

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Here is a link to the Nottingham Post article:

http://www.nottinghampost.com/news/local-news/mods-install-blue-plaque-in-454243

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Alan strips off for action? Is Paul in trouble?

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A further article was published in the Nottingham Post on Wednesday September 13th 2017:

 

Dungeon Club plaque was one-day hit

A group of Mods who put up a temporary plaque outside the old Dungeon Club has said they would love to get something more permanent up in the future.

The group put up the temporary plaque on Sunday recognising the venue, but took it with them at the end of the day.

Ann Barry, who organises the reunion Facebook group said: “It was just something fun for us to do and get together. It was nice to have a photo outside the venue with the plaque. It would be nice to have an official one there.”

The Dungeon Club was open from 1964-68 and big stars played there, including the Who, Elton John and Van Morrison.

It was said to be the home of the Mods in Nottingham.

Ann now organises monthly reunion at the Royal Children Pub of those who attended the club in the 60s. She added: “It is a listed building, but if there was an opportunity to get a plaque, then we would. I am very busy, but one of our members might take it as a project and get one officially, which would be great.”

 

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Here is the link:

http://www.nottinghampost.com/news/history/mod-group-would-love-see-464022

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With thanks to:

  • Ann Barry and Alan Askey for all the organisation
  • Mick Parker for opening the Club and being present to unveil the plaque
  • Mick Hatcher for artwork (the Plaque)
  • Maurice Moore for photographs
  • Peter Wilson and Murph for providing the music
  • BBC for detail and quotes relating to the British Plaque Trust
  • Nottingham Post for the published articles
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Mini Boys

Amongst the people who visited the Dungeon were a bunch of lads who formed a strong and lasting friendship and during the sixties appeared to do everything together. They seemed to be slightly older than many of the other visitors to the Club and gained much respect.

Several of the group drove scooters, but one had something a little different – one of the defining symbols of the ‘Swinging Sixties’ – a mini-van. Because of this, they came to be known as the ‘Mini Boys’.

 

The Mini Van
The Mini Van

The mini-van in question was a green one owned by Graham Whalley. Apart from being the focus point of the group, it provided transport for other friends and acted as a hotel when the boys travelled around the country.

The following were members of this unique group:

  • Graham Whalley or ‘Gra’,
  • Eddy Barry or ‘Big Eddy’,
  • Sam Salter,
  • Ray Hopkinson or ‘Little Ray’,
  • Ray Tassi,
  • Bob Clifford,
  • Dave Small,
  • Rog Adams or ‘Sailor’,
  • Little Jacko,
  • Randy Reid,
  • Pete Welik,
  • Roger Flowers or ‘Dodge’.

 

 

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Membership

The Dungeon was a club for young people to meet and mix with other young people while enjoying the music being played live or on record. It was an early form of the later discotheques. The Club had no bar selling alcohol, the bar only sold coffee and soft drinks such as coke.

It was primarily aimed at teenagers, having an official minimum age limit of 16, although many lied about their date of birth to gain admission.

There was a membership scheme: a form had to be filled in containing name, address, date of birth, signatures of two members who acted as a proposer and seconder. This was submitted, accompanied by two photographs of the applicant taken in one of those photo booths (there was apparently one present in the club) and a deposit of 1/- (5p in new money) to cover a year’s membership.

Membership application - Craig Strong-001

Once approved the applicant would receive a membership card containing a photograph on one side. Early copies of the card had the address printed wrongly as Stamford Street rather than Stanford Street.

The entrance fee for the club was different for members and guests. Occasionally the first so many (maybe 100 or 200) were free, at other times it was ‘only a bob’ (1/- or 5 new pence) and upwards depending on whether it was a ‘disco’ session or a live band.

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For opening night in July, 1968, the cost was 5/- (25p) and for this the audience was entertained by two bands – the Dennisons from Liverpool and Big Ugly Dane and the Diamonds.

Admission prices varied dependent on the act appearing, the highest I have noticed being advertised is 10/- (50p) on two occasions: one for an all-nighter featuring the Orlons and Bobby Hebb and the other an all-day marathon on a Sunday (2.00 pm till 11.00 pm) featuring the Original Drifters, Garnett Mimms and the Senate.

Pass Outs
Early Pass Outs

When visiting the club, people wanted to be able to get a pass-out to visit a local pub for an alcoholic drink, such as the Royal Children or the Sawyers Arms or to visit the local cemetery for a kiss and a cuddle. During the first year open, pass-outs in card format were used but people used to pass these to friends to use for free admittance, so fluorescent stamps started to be used – the back of the hand was stamped which could be seen under a fluorescent light in the foyer. The following day there was a black mark on everyone’s hand.

Most clubs around at the time had some kind of membership scheme: here are a few other examples of cards.

 

Pictures used courtesy of various members of the Dungeon Club.