Nottingham was one of the in-places: a must to visit. There were allegedly two girls to every boy. People came from afar to sample the nightlife and entertainment, to dance in the clubs. Of course this was all after they had finished shopping in the multitude of trendy shops.
These are some comments received from people who visited the Dungeon Club back in the 60s and wish to share some of their memories. These are the Peterborough Mods.
I was pointed in the direction of the Dungeon Mods site by a friend who is on the Northern Soul scene.
Got to say what a memory jerker!
Well done to all of those who put in the work. Must have been a Labour of love!
Many of the Dungeon regulars will I hope recall the Peterborough Mods making the journey to Nott’s on a regular basis.
I did 3 or 4 initial trips on my Vespa Sportique – got to say it was a long journey home – particularly the time it rained all the way!
Thankfully a car replaced the scoot in 66 which helped with the travel. We also went to the Boat Clubs, Britannia etc and The Beachcomber as well as Leicester’s Burlesque and Nite Owl plus of course Sheffield Mojo.
When you live in what was then a pretty quiet City you had to ‘Get Around’.
In September 66 I got into running Clubs and DJ-ing myself somewhat curtailing my visits, and business then subsequently kind of took over.
The Dungeon stays in my memory as the best club of the day. Cellars always have the perfect atmosphere; but the real essence of The Dungeon is that it was the Ace MOD venue.
To me it was an inspiration for the discotheques and clubs I that I subsequently ran, and my lifelong love of the music we heard there and the other scenes of that very special era. (Love the playlist on the site BTW perfectly captures the soundtrack).
Over the years Nottingham has always been a destination – getting the gear from Birdcage, Paul Smith etc, and when there always I think back to my early teen explorations.
Can I say Hi to all the FACES – please do remember The Peterborough Mods when you have your next hook up!
Anyone know of ‘Ginger’??
Wow Steve what a find and the memories came flooding back of all of those artists we saw back then and I’ve only just started looking at your post.
In 1964 /65 I worked in Essex during the week and came back to Peterborough on the Friday afternoon usually then to go to Stamford in the evening. On Saturday we caught the train to Nottingham Victoria via Grantham and first stop on arrival was Woolworth’s Cafe to get something to eat and drink. It was then on to The Trip to Jerusalem for a beer or two and finally to The Dungeon Club.
Later on I bought a Lambretta and drove to Nottingham and subsequently either borrowed Dad’s car to go in and then many old motors after that.
Nottingham always had the reputation of having 6 girls to every boy as you know so it was always a popular destination for us Peterborough lads and over the years I met many but not all from Nottingham. Some from Leicester, Melton Mowbray and Grantham who all flocked to The Dungeon back then. I dated one young lady whose Dad was the Station Master at Trent Station.
We also got very friendly with the guys from Nottingham and one guy in particular by the name of John Smith who was known as “Ginger”. His Mum owned a B & B and we stayed there and watched the first half of the World Cup Final in ’66 on a black and white pay TV that only took 6d’s. We then had to depart for the Mojo in Sheffield and listened to the rest of the match on the car radio going up the M1.
In the upstairs room at the Dungeon there was large cast-iron radiator that has an air bleed valve that when opened spurted out water. When we all stood around in the room, if anybody got too near the radiator, Graham Raywood opened the valve and water spurted all down your trousers without you knowing it. I recall that one night Roger Froude (RIP) got caught out and didn’t realise until he was up dancing and when the strobe light came on it looked as if he had wet himself much to the amusement of everybody around him including the girls from Melton who we were dancing with.
Great times and a few cold nights on Nottingham Station when we missed the last train.
Replying to Mick Bull
Thanks Mick remember it well and married the girl from Melton who went with me to many all-nighters eg Mojo, Twisted Wheel, Clouds, Blue Grotto and many more.
Replying to Mick Bull
Great memories Mick Bull. I did a few trips on my Vespa but gave up after a home journey when it rained cats and dogs all the way back to Peterborough. Thankfully I got a Car soon after so travel was resumed! I will pass on your memories. Be interesting if Ginger is known to the Notts gang.
Where did you go in Peterborough? Were there similar clubs?
Clubs in Peterborough in the early to mid-60’s were in short supply – that’s why traditionally the Peterborough in crowd were great travellers to find the action!
(Nothing changes – just dropped off my step daughter at the station to catch a train to Nottingham to go clubbing with friends!)
Back then it wasn’t just Nottingham but as I mentioned before of course also London for the Marquee, La Discotheque, The Flamingo etc, Leicester Burlesque and The Nite Owl, and Sheffield’s Mojo, and even The Wheel, in Manchester for the really hardy.
We had the Corn Exchange which staged the usual early 60’s pop acts – Four Pennies, Gene Vincent, Hollies, Eden Kane, Marty Wilde etc etc, but then circa 1964 The Palais was opened and we had a regular supply of great names – Kinks, The Who, Nashville Teens, The Zombies, Small Faces, Yardbirds etc, but mixed with pop of The Applejacks, The Honeycombs and other dross. Nothing like a club atmo though.
Our affection for The Gliderdrome in Boston was well established and along with Grantham Drill Hall, that was a regular Saturday trip – joining the mods (and other less committed teens) from a number of towns and villages in the area.
In circa mid 65 a little top room disco opened at the Crown Pub which was the start of the soul scene in The Boro, and then in Sept 66 I got into promoting and launched The Souldiscotek above The Falcon Pub. Tracks played at both venues replicating the stuff you are showing as The Dungeon playlist – Harlem Shuffle, Cool Jerk, Midnight Hour, Open The Door to Your Heart, Billy’s Bag, Sock it to em JB Working in a Coal Mine, etc etc, plus of course the Motown favourites – Going to a Go Go, Needle in a Haystack, Four Tops, Isley Brothers, Supremes – you know the rest!
I am short of photos personally but will ask the question from the Facebook group and get back to you.
Used by permission of the Peterborough Mods – Steve Allen, Mick Bull, Hadrian Woollard.
The Dungeon Club was raided by the police during an all-nighter on Sunday March 12th 1967 at 1.45 a.m. The club had been losing some of its clientele prior to this and so was redecorated and relaunched as ‘The New Dungeon’. Big Opening Night on the previous Friday was claimed to be ‘full of surprises’ and the all-night session, featuring the Original Drifters, attracted people from all around. The police reckoned there were 710 in there, so it would have been very packed and very friendly. It was certainly ‘full of surprises’.
The events of the night and views of some of the people who attended are covered elsewhere. The next all-nighter was held at the club three weeks later on Saturday April 1st and this was advertised as the ‘end of an era’ and ‘the last of our all-nighters’ – it featured Ben E. King and the Senate.
The court case from the raid occurred five months later on Wednesday August 9, 1967. This concerned the use of the club. Although there had been drugs everywhere in the club – the floor was covered with discarded pills – I am not aware if many (or indeed any) people were arrested or charged with possession.
Here are two press cuttings about the case – I have tried to keep them as they appeared in the papers, including the mistakes made.
Evening Post & News, Nottingham, Wednesday, August 9, 1967
Teenagers Fainted in Club ‘Jam’
The dance visited by a double-decker bus load of police officers at Nottingham’s New Dungeon Club was more like a cup-tie, said Mr W.D. Ritchie, prosecuting, at Nottingham Guildhall today.
Teenagers fainted because of “deplorable ventilation,” it was said, and police found there were 710 young people there when they visited the club in the early hours of Sunday, March 12. The club is licensed for 400 added Me Ritchie.
Michael William Parker (28) of Radford-road Nottingham, denied keeping the New Dungeon Club, Stanford-street, open for such purpose other than on the days and between the hours stated in the licence – namely 1.45 a.m. on Sunday March 12.
He also denied using the premises for public music – a breach of the licence – and allowing more than 400 persons in the premises.
He was fined a total of £40 and ordered to pay £10 towards the cost of the prosecution.
The police had gone with a warrant to search for dangerous drugs, and out of 39 people interviewed 12 were not members, said Mr Ritchie.
He went on: “There was certainly no room to dance, and police had difficulty in getting into the hall.
“The 114 police officers set up a mobile police station outside and used a double decker bus.”
He added: “Some of the youngsters appeared to be overcome by the lack of fresh air. The youngsters were listening to music being relayed from loudspeakers.”
Chief Inspector John Meldrum told the court that ventilation there was “deplorable” and a number of the youngsters fainted and had to be taken outside. There were 1,300 to 350 on the ground floor.
Music, relayed over amplifiers, sounded as if it were coming from downstairs in the basement. Youngsters were dancing and standing about. “It was terribly congested and difficult to get through.
“The basement room was worse than the ground floor, with 400 to 450 there, and there was hardly room for the youngsters to dance,” said the chief inspector.
He added that police interviewed 710 people, of whom 79 were under 17.
Defending, Mr Michael Pearse said that Mr Parker had not got a licence. The prosecution had not proved that beyond reasonable doubt, and his client was entitled to the benefit of that doubt.
Mr Pearce said that a witness from the magistrates’ clerks office had said in evidence that there could be a slip-up in the procedure as to renewal. “Mr Parker remembers distinctly that he did not renew it. There could have been a slip-up in the procedure,” he contended.
Court chairman Mr Eric Gower told Mr Parker: “We are deeply concerned at the completely irresponsible fashion in which these premises appear to have been used. There was a complete disregard for the safety and welfare of the young people who were resorting to your premises.
“It is sheer good luck that you are not charged with very much more serious offences which could easily have arisen as a result of fire and panic, to which young people readily respond.”
Thursday August 10, 1967
710 People in a Two-Room Jam Session
The music was pretty hot at the all-night beat club. And so was the atmosphere. For 710 youngsters were packed into two rooms.
“It was more like a cup-tie than a dance,” a court was told yesterday.
The name of the club: The New Dungeon.
Chief Inspector John Meldrum told the court, at Nottingham, that 114 policemen and policewomen raided the club at 1.45 on a Sunday morning, with a warrant to search for drugs.
He added that about 300 to 350 of the youngsters were in a ground-floor room measuring 65ft. by 30ft. The others were in the basement.
“The ventilation was deplorable and a few of the children were fainting,” said the inspector.
The police used a double-decker bus and cars to get them to the club in Stamford-street in Nottingham. “It was like a military operation,” said Mr David Ritchie, prosecuting.
The club owner, 28-year-old Michael Parker, of Radford-road, Nottingham was fined £20 for allowing in more that the permitted number of 400, and another £20 for opening the club out of permitted hours.
He was ordered to pay £10 costs.
The chairman of the magistrates, Mr Earnest Gower, told him: “You have shown a complete disregard for the safety and welfare of these young people.”
Mr Gower calculated that the youngsters at the club had only 2½ft. square each to move in.
Printed with permission from the Nottingham Evening Post and News.
Thanks to Eddy Barry and Lynn Allen for finding the articles.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Scooter Boys arrive
Andy Stevenson & Simon Wainwright park up
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.
Jenny Wilson & Christine Tarr
Steve Leadbeater, Peter Wilson, Craig Strong, Jan & Sue Kononowicz, Jill Hillier
Colin Messom, Jo & Trevor Messom, Linda & Mick Hatcher
Victor & Susan Cassar, Peter-John Kenney & wife
Sandra Ward & Joy Evans
Wendy Watkinson & Dave Callard
Sandra Ward, Joy Evans, & David Wilcox
Geoff Rumas, Susan & Philip Jones, Ray Keetley
John & Joy Greenshields, Steve Spence, Dot & Derrick Porter
Amy Spence & Dot Porter
Des Miley & Paul Thorpe
Andy Stevenson, Yasmin Worthington, Simon Wainwright
Kath Shaw, Rob Paterson, Caryle
Neil & Ros Guthrie
Alan Jukes, Susan Jones, John Hunt, Barbara Horton
Mai Garton, Alan Askey, Faye Quiqley
Steve & Amy Spence, Dot & Derrick Porter
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 Parker about to unveil the plaque, closely watched by Alan Askey
Applause after the event
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 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.