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.

 

In The Club 2 – Downstairs

Here are more of peoples’ somewhat clouded memories of the inside of the Dungeon Club. Downstairs was where the action took place. It was dark, maybe clammy, full of loud music, some from live bands other from records played by the DJ’s. Full of people, no-one standing still, either tapping their feet or body in time or energetically dancing to the music. And most of them tended to show off – look, I’m the best dressed, look, I’m the best dancer!

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Down the Stairs

Stone steps led down to a room with a stone floor.

Downstairs Plan
Downstairs Plan

 

Stuart Morris – “After paying, you could turn right to the cloak room, coffee bar, and booths, or you could walk about 20 yards straight on, turn left then come back on yourself down the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs you would turn left onto the dance floor. Stage on the right with D.J. console on left of stage as you looked at it. On floor in front of console was barrel that Alan Askey danced on. Further on through brick arches more dance floor. Because the walls were painted with gloss paint, they were always dripping wet with condensation. You couldn’t lean on ‘em.”

Craig Strong – “I wonder if there are any photographs of the interior? I don’t remember seeing Alan dancing on a barrel! Excellent!”

Stuart Morris – “You were only a baby then Craig.”

Craig Strong – “True that Stu! 14 to be exact.”

Paul Thorpe – “Bl**dy hell another memory jogged? The barrel, not a clue what purpose it served, other than for Alan Askey to stand on so he could see eye to eye with Stuart Morris? Perhaps.”

Siddo Mel Senior – “I’m sure I can remember the brick alcoves/rooms and floors down stairs but as previously mentioned, a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then.”

Stuart Morris – “It’s no good Mick, we’ll have to get you a floor plan. Can you remember where the toilets were? In case you get caught short next time you’re walking round in your mind’s eye.”

Mick Hatcher – “I remember the toilets Stu, bottom of the stairs along the left hand wall at the end.”

Craig Strong – “I recall the male toilets as being on the adjoining wall, not far from where you site them … either that or as you went through the door it was an immediate right turn into them?

“Actually, now I’m trying to visualise them, I’m thinking you are right, but a definite sharp right turn as you went in.”

Paul Thorpe – “Toilets on the right were the ladies Craig … whoops!!”

Craig Strong – “No I meant just right near to where you put them! But as I said, I believe you are correct about them being where you said.”

Craig Strong – “I’m thinking the DJ box didn’t stick out like that? It was part of the stage at the far left as you looked at it. Correct me if I’m wrong! Might have jutted out a little.”

Downstairs view 1
Downstairs view 1

Mick Hatcher – “Another quick sketch from the bottom of the stairs as I remember it, with the stage, DJ pedestal and the archways to the extra bits of dance floor. Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.”

Linda Thompson – “Think you’ve got it right Mick.”

Mick Hatcher – “Thanks Linda, 50 years on and only seems like yesterday.”

Deanna Fahy – “That’s the only thing about the Dungeon I remember.”

Josephine Pate – “Looks good!”

Underneath the Arches

Jeanette Hutchinson – “We Ilkeston crowd used to gather under the left hand arches opposite stage … This is where Sam was flung against the wall and searched by undercover cop when it was raided … Great plan.”

Sharon Wilson – “Just as I remember it. Didn’t it have big beer barrels where you could stand your drinks inside the arches?”

Mick Hatcher – “Paul Thorpe is always on about the barrel, Sharon, you’d better ask him, I can’t remember it myself.”

Lorna Hickton – “Yes we did have beer barrels to put your drinks on.”

Downstairs dance floor & alcove
Downstairs dance floor & alcove

Stuart Morris – “Don’t remember the arches opposite the D.J. console. Thought that was a plain wall. There was a barrel tucked into the corner in front of and to the right of the console, that’s the one that Alan Askey danced on.”

Linda Thompson – “I remember those arches, Stu, but can’t remember the barrel. Can remember Alan being a good dancer though. You weren’t so bad either!!”

Jeanette Hutchinson – “We used to go in the arches, Stu.”

Paul Thorpe – “Stu, it was a plain wall halfway along (opposite the stage) then there were the arches, shown on the left of the sketch, actually further along that wall, so both you and Mick are correct, those arches were where me Sedge & Gabby ‘practised’ dancing, before going out in the main area with the ‘grown ups’.”

Josephine Pate – “Definitely arches from back wall into alcove. We used to dance back there but mostly in the end alcove.”

Mick Hatcher – “Thank you Josephine.”

Josephine Pate – “The alcove wasn’t in the middle of the wall but more away from the men’s bogs maybe almost opposite the DJ end of stage.”

Ann Barry – “I think there was more floor space through the arches on the back wall than is shown. Enough for several dancers.”

Mick Hatcher – “Couldn’t get it in on my sketch, Ann.”

Kath Allen – “I can remember this one better, me and my ex use to snog on the left side in the archway.”

Mario Joseph – “Not certain but wasn’t there a bar downstairs opposite the stage in an alcove?”

Josephine Pate – “No but they did do that at the Beachcomber.”

Mario Joseph – “Can see it as plain as day, guess I’m losing it.”

Ron Attenborough – “Mario, the bar opposite the stage was opened up when it changed to the Eight till Late.”

Josephine Pate – “I did wonder if it was a later memory, although I remember nothing of the 8 till late except it being the last call on a megga hen night in ’71.”

Mario Joseph – “Thanks for clearing up that one, Ron, thought I was cracking up.”

Wall of Sound

Craig Strong – “Can you remember the speaker array Mick?”

Mick Hatcher – “No Craig that’s one thing I can’t remember mate.”

Craig Strong – “Being a bit of a sound freak I remember them being mounted on what was probably very thick chipboard, and there were 4 X 18″ Goodmans bass units, and 8 X 8″ Goodmans mid-range units, which may have been full range as I don’t remember ever seeing any tweeters. The speaker wall was towards the staircase end of the room, on the same side as the stage.”

Mick Hatcher – “I’ll put them on my next one then Craig but they will not look like you remember them.”

Josephine Pate – “I was back in the club several times with Bob and a few others around 1980 when it was Shades. Changed somewhat but pretty surreal to be in there again!

“’8 till Late’ after Dungeon days? I can remember going in or to be more exact coming out at the end of a hen night would’ve been February ‘71. Please correct me if I’ve got the wrong name linked to it for that period!!”

Maurice Moore – “Josephine, it was briefly The Big Apple in 1968, then the 8 Till Late till sometime in 1971 when it became Marios. Shades was a little later.”

Downstairs view 2
Downstairs view 2

Mick Hatcher – “Standing at the side of DJs pedestal looking towards the bottom of the stairs with the saxophone and music notes painted on the stairs wall. Craig Strong’s speakers on the wall and the gents loo over on right and the back wall arch. Cannot remember whether there were any columns on the dance floor, feel free to put me right.”

Craig Strong – “The speakers were in that general area, but they pointed towards the dance floor, and not at the stage as you portray. I think the wall that they were mounted on was a more gentle angle. This kind of angle.”

Mick Hatcher – “Oh yes l remember now, we are getting there.”

Paul Thorpe – “Mick Hatcher, I’m sure there were pillars at the front of the stage, this is confirmed on photo’s of the various groups & artists mate.”

Mick Hatcher – “Thanks Paul I’m sure I must have walked into them a few times.”

Craig Strong – “Probably so, I think it was just the positioning of the speakers that Mick was concentrating on.”

Maurice Moore – “The photos show one black pillar which I have a vague memory of. It seems to be positioned fairly central – it is to the right hand side of the lead vocalist in each case & generally the lead stands in the middle of the stage. I also think it’s very close to the stage.”

Stephen Jeffery – “There was a stairway up from the stage to Stanford Street. I spoke to Ben E King at the top of it. He was getting some fresh air. Most probably for the bands to take their gear down to the stage. I believe that stairway doubled as a fire exit. The door came out at the side of the right hand pillar. Obviously health and safety was less of an issue then!!”

Craig Strong – “I remember literally bumping into The Action as they were coming up the normal stairs in ‘66!”

Stephen Jeffery – “Underrated band. Saw them one or two times.”

Dave Berry

Dave Berry & the Cruisers playing at the Dungeon
Dave Berry & the Cruisers playing at the Dungeon

Mick Hatcher – “I remember him (Dave Berry) getting drowned just before he went on stage down there one night. Someone had broken a water pipe in the loo and pointed it straight outwards.”

Kath Shaw – “Well I never!! Just do not remember camera’s down there at all.”

Phil Long – “How good is this photograph? I wish there were more!”

Mick Hatcher – “Is that Exit sign the stairway at the left hand side of the stage leading up to the cloakroom?”

Maurice Moore – “Yes Mick.”

Angela Richards – “Exactly Mick. The ones that don’t exist.”

Paul Thorpe – “Spanish wine bottles covered in straw rafia, that’s one I’d forgotten, I guess it’s the camera flash that’s made it appear much lighter in this.”

Mick Hatcher – “I can’t remember the granny brass wall plaques either, Paul.”

Angela Richards – “I had my share and I’m not to blame …”

Kath Shaw – “Are you sure it’s the Dungeon, the far background & the wall plaques are not familiar at all.”

Mick Hatcher – “I agree with you Kath. Also, I can’t see the DJs pedestal at the end of the stage.”

Ann Barry – “It’s taken at the same performance as the photo Gillian Williams posted on here some time ago, she was definite hers was taken in the Dungeon. Even from the same angle. You can see from what Dave is wearing and one or two of the audience.”

Dave Berry & the Cruisers
Dave Berry & the Cruisers

Gillian Williams – “Thanks Ann, it’s been a treasured photo of mine for years, just wish there was more.”

Phil Long – “I’ve spoken to Mick Parker and he says that it’s definitely The Dungeon and that his brother-in-law John Tilson is on stage with Dave Berry.”

Mick Hatcher – “Thanks Phil, I suppose we didn’t take too much notice of our surroundings in those far off days, sorry to Gillian for slightly doubting her pic.”

Paul Thorpe – “Mick, I couldn’t recall the brass plaques either mate, athough I did remember seeing the rafia covered wine bottles, I suppose it was so dark (usually without the camera flashes) that the brass didn’t reflect, they also look to be above the painted walls & line of vision from the lights (what few there were) …”

Iain McKinlay – “Well, looked long and hard and got input from family but convinced it’s me left as you look at the photo, one in second row from the back, looking up with neck visible, black hair (now sadly stolen in the night), appear to have glasses on which I needed then, standing beside my mate Jeff Sly. Certainly remember seeing Dave Berry so probably it is yours truly!! Brilliant photo!!”

Jo Barnes – “I’m sure it is you Iain, John thinks so too!”

Craig Strong – “Worked with Dave once and I was amazed at how long his hands were!”

Paul Thorpe – “Which he’d accentuate by stroking the microphone …”

Lorna Hickton – “Hi to my Dungeon friends it’s definitely the Dungeon and the stairs and exit sign lead up to the cloakroom and the artists dressing room also to the fire door which opened onto Stanford Street. It is John Tilson next to Dave Berry, Mick’s brother-in-law and our special friend. I have treasured this photo for a long time as I loved it when Dave came to the club, also another favourite of mine was Robb Storm.”

Robb Storme & the Whispers
Robb Storme & the Whispers

 

Plans and Ilustrations by Mick Hatcher

It’s A Raid

Background

Mods led a fast lifestyle, often working in the week and packing as much excitement as possible into the 60 hours or so at the weekend: much of that time was spent on their feet dancing, including usually all night on Saturday. To achieve this, some of them resorted to drugs.

The stimulant amphetamine was used medically as a pick-me-up or slimming aid, however it was soon seen as an aid to keeping a person awake and active through those long weekends. The craze for amphetamines started in London around 1960 and had spread around the country by 1963. It prompted many robberies from chemists’ shops and the like to satisfy the growing demand on the black market.

Amphetamine or ‘Speed’, especially the varieties known as Purple Hearts, French Blues and Black Bombers, was the drug of choice and fashion among teenagers and became part of the fast, invigorating lifestyle of the Mods.

Through the Drugs (Prevention of Misuse) Act of 1964, amphetamines were reclassified as harder drugs and this caused the price of purple hearts on the street to go up from 6d to 9d each, but it didn’t make a lot of difference to their supply or demand.

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The ‘New’ Dungeon

Closed for Alteration

The Dungeon was open six days a week – it only closed on Thursdays. However, in March 1967, it closed for an extra three days one week, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; ‘Closed for Alterations’ read the advert.

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Friday March 10th was advertised as the ”Big’ Re-opening Night’ of the ‘New’ Dungeon – ‘now even bigger and better, more dancing room, more of the good things that make the Dungeon ‘The Club’ for dancing people.’ It was also the ‘Midlands ‘NEW’ Leading Scene’ and ‘Full of Surprises’.

Saturday night was an All-Nighter (11.30 pm till 8 am) featuring the Original Drifters. The usual early Saturday evening dancing session was shortened – ‘Owing to the Numerous Phone Calls and Letters from all parts of the country, regarding the Drifters show, Door will now open 11.30’.

After queues to get into the Club, it was soon pretty much packed with a happy, jovial crowd anticipating a night of fun, dance and great music – a night to remember. However, the headlines were correct. It was ‘full of surprises’ and certainly a night to remember – people still talk about it to this day.

An Impression

“At some point during the early hours, I went outside to get a breath of fresh air, to be greeted by the arrival of a double-decker bus and an orderly line of marching policemen arriving at the club. It was a raid!!! They made everyone stay inside the club, with no music and the bright house lights switched on, while they searched every person, then either threw them out onto the streets or, in the case of those who were underage, rang their parents to go down to collect them. I believe the bus was used to search the girls.

“My friend sat on the floor at one stage, only to disturb a jumper under which was hidden a very large pile of pills. We decided to inform the police, who proceeded to search us and throw us out.

“Luckily for us, there was another all-nighter in town that night at the Beachcomber, so we went over there, where Lee Dorsey was performing. Eventually word got back to us that the police had finished and the Dungeon was reopening.

“The place was quite empty by now as most people had gone home, however I seem to remember that the Drifters appeared sometime around 6 or 7 in the morning.

“The next day we were ‘celebrities’ as the raid appeared in the national newspapers, however I doubt it was very successful for the police, as I don’t think many arrests were made.”

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Below, people who were there talk about the night.

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Full of Surprises

“Anyone remember the night it was raided by the drug squad?”

“Yes, I was taken to the police station as I was underage. My parents had to come and collect me. If memory serves the Drifters were on stage that night.”

“I was there, but managed to get out, was only 15, lol x.”

“Is it true that the Original Drifters who were on the night of the ‘raid’ were in fact ‘The Invitations’?”

“Yes, they were. Lots of fake groups around then.”

“Remember ‘The Fabulous Temptations ‘?”

 “The toilets was like a chemist when it was raided.”

“I recall a lot of flushing going on!”

“We were there. I was searched in the police van outside, taken to the station, then home in a police car. As a young girl I worked in a chemist, suffering then with my ‘monthly’. The pharmacist prescribed me with some painkillers in an unmarked bottle (yes you know what’s coming); when I realised it was a raid I panicked, took them out of my bag, my then vanity case, and passed them onto my boyfriend. A crowd of 6 of us had been dancing in a circle as we did then and round went the tablets. Oh no, we had been seen. I admitted to them belonging to me, my boss was informed, away they went to be tested – phew all was well, so was my job.”

“Me and two mates were stood outside having a fag when the police blocked off Stanford Street and we shouted in that it was a raid. We asked a copper if we could go back in to get our coats (we didn’t have a coat) and he told us to f–k off. While we stood outside another mate walked up Stanford Street with coppers rushing passed him and he asked what was happening. We told him it was a raid and he said he had a pocket full of pills in his three-quarter suede coat and we asked him if he had a hole in his pocket and he said he had, so we said pour them out the hole one at a time and we crushed them in the gutter with coppers going passed all the time with no idea what we were doing. Got back in at about 5 o’clock and saw the band.”

“Yes I was there and I have lots of tales.”

“Doubt if you remember any. I think we were, can’t remember going home to Brinsley in Police car. I was possibly locked up.”

“So have I but it would incriminate us. An undercover cop ran over and pinned me to the wall but false name address etc. They were the days.”

“We went down to the Beachcomber to see Lee Dorsey after the ‘raid’, then back to the Dungeon in the small hours. I remember thinking I want my 17/6d worth.”

“17/6!!! I only ever paid 2/6.”

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“That’s what we did as well.”

“So did I – Lee Dorsey at the Beachcomber, then back to the Dungeon to see the ‘Original Drifters’ at about 5:00?”

“Yes I was at the Beachcomber watching Lee Dorsey, an all-nighter I think; we ended up at the bung the night of the raid, parked our Lambrettas on Stamford Street, try doing that today.”

“I was saying the same thing, used to leave my Lambretta all night whilst clubbing. It was always there for going home on, plus you only had to turn fuel on and kick start, never used stealing lock.”

“I was there, got searched in a cop van with a kid from London. They pulled a condom from his pocket and asked him, what’s this for? F–king blowing bubbles mate, was his reply.”

“The police took a load of us to the Guild Hall and there was a typewriter on a desk and one lad started trying to play it like the Small Faces (Plonk Lane I think) and a copper hit him round the head with his truncheon. Happy days.”

“I went home.”

“The Sun referred to us as children … And for ages after we kept singing Stevie Wonder’s ‘A Place in the Sun’! The article said that we were expecting a ‘beat’ group called The Drifters, but instead we got the police!”

“Yes I was there, but had to stay at the headquarters all night for some reason!”

“I remember. It was packed. Should have been a massive night. When the lights went on I remember the noise of all the gear hitting the floor and lads trying to crush into the gents to get rid. Got through the bus I.D. enquiry, fairly quickly, but can’t remember much after that, as my gear kicked about then.”

“I missed the night it was raided: I was saving for a dress from the Birdcage!!”

“Or doing homework.”

“I missed the raid, but that was on Police advice as it was (possibly) me that had told the Police about the things that went on at The Bung, I was a good boy!! … That was a joke by the way; I don’t want anyone chasing me!!”

“I was there , taken away in a police van and searched.”

“I was there , got away though.”

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Keystone Cops

“The police closed the Dungeon down. I escaped the raid.”

“The raid was in March 1967, the Dungeon did not close down until February 1968”

“Oh, thank you for the dates. I did get stopped from going down town for a while. Plus I was courting too.”

“I was there the night of the raid and remember it well.”

“So was I. The Drifters should have been on; it was packed to the rafters. The police looked like the Keystone cops when they came running down the stairs, to my horror one of them was my Mum and Dad’s friend’s son.”

“I remember there were more pills on the floor of the Dungeon than in Boots.”

“I am just wondering if you are the person I went to see the Drifters with when the Dungeon was raided in 1967?”

“I think I am the same one. Did we actually get to see the Drifters?”

“I thought it was you! And no, we didn’t get to see the Drifters.”

“We were all there that night but she was taken away and the Feds phoned her parents to collect her but I went back, nipped to the Beachcomber and then back to the Dungeon.”

“I think we told her parents she was staying at mine because we were 15 at the time, hence us being ‘taken away’!!”

“I went and then for whatever reason myself and my mate decided to get a pass out and then go back later when it was nearer the time the Drifters would do their turn. When we got to the end of Stamford Street, the Police had blocked the end of the road and there was at least two double decker buses parked outside the club. We waited for a bit and then called it a night. Complete washout of an all-nighter. There was an ‘all-dayer’ on the Sunday and it was a bit like a morgue. People were just talking about who Mick Parker had banned because of the drugs. Happy days!”

“Anyone remember if the buses were Lamcote, Camms or Bartons!!!???”

“Thought they were City Transport buses.”

“I can remember the buses but not the company … makes sense it was City Transport, if the raid had been at Beeston Essoldo, then deffo Bartons!!!!!”

“I was thirteen and we young ones went in a police car. Luckily we were about to be searched all over and a police officer came over to us and asked if my mum was called Doris? It was one of my mum’s friends, so she wouldn’t let us be internally searched and took us back home. My mum actually knew I was going and had given me money to go home in a taxi when it finished. Mum wouldn’t let me go there again. And the other two of our group were in trouble with their parents because they’d sneaked out.”

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Anniversary

“The raid was 50 years ago tonight!!!!”

“I remember it like it was yesterday.”

“Remember it well, but can’t remember last week.”

“Think we all have a story from that night!”

“Never did get to see The Drifters!”

“Remember it like it was yesterday, though actual yesterday’s a bit of a blur. Think that night was the last time I went to the Dungeon, went and did a daft thing, got married.”

“I was in Manchester that night or I would certainly have got busted. I never went back. My Dad said either go and live at the Dungeon or here, not both.”

“Remember it well. I was on duty that night, frightened us all when the police came bursting in and then sealed all the exits. We were all searched in units they brought in and parked on Stanford Street.  If my memory serves me right, nothing was found illegally.”

“Remember it well. Will never forget spending a night at the cop shop.”

“We were almost last to be taken out to the bus. Going to the toilet was interesting to say the least. Had to leave the door open with the female cop watching on to make sure nothing extra was getting flushed!”

“I got on the bus to be searched and this voice behind said “what you doing here” or words to that effect; it was my Mum & Dad’s friend’s son, who was on city police. I nearly died.”

“Me and my mate got on the bus and one of the fellas, to be nameless right now, had given my mate his wallet to take care of. Cop lady checked it out and said she had some nice friends after finding his condom! … At least that’s all that was in there!!”

“I had a pair of scissors and a cut throat razor in my bag; my boyfriend was a hair dresser at Stanley Dennis and didn’t leave them in the salon. He’d come straight from work, took some explaining.”

“So when the cops were done with us, we didn’t have a clue where everybody had gone so walked up to the square and found a crowd by the bogs. Probably towards 6 am by then. Somebody said it was over and the Drifters were coming back. Great except it wasn’t ‘our’ Drifters – it was the Original Drifters – all different fellas. They may have been good but not for us we wanted to hear Johnny Moore!!!”

“I remember the raid I was there. They lined us all up outside.”

“They looked like the Keystone cops when they came running down the stairs.”

“Had my first Stag night at the Dungeon, raided for drugs, lined up outside, searched, then wandered off to the Beach, can’t remember who was on though.”

“My stag night, took all the guys from work, a motor sales in Derby. They threatened to kill me on the following Monday morning.”

“Best bit for me, my mam always knew we were going to all-nighters, thumbing lifts to the Mojo etc etc. She cut out all the clips from our newspapers about the raid. Still got them.”

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Raid on …

“I hadn’t been to the Dungeon for a while (started going to the Beachcomber) and a friend wanted to go to see the Drifters … so pleased to have been part of the story that is still talked about 50 years later … think a film should be made – not ‘Raid on Entebbe’ but ‘Raid on Stanford Street’ … I wonder who would play the leading roles !!???????”

“I was there that night working in the cloakroom and my late hubby was on the door; never forget it.”

“Left just before it happened. Phew!”

“I was there … my parents weren’t happy having to collect me from the police station!”

“I was with two friends. Taken home in police car from station.”

“I was there and had to wait at the bottom of Stanford Street near Woolworths until the Police said we could go back and was one of the first in. What a memory will live with me forever …”

“Spent the night in the nick!!!”

“As I mentioned earlier I had a lucky escape that night as I was in Manchester but events caught up with me the following Saturday when I was arrested at a football match in London. Unfortunately I was searched …!”

“I was there with friends wondering why, and I still don’t know why, they raided a first rate club with nothing but young people enjoying music of the times & friends having a GREAT TIME!!!”

“Taken away in the bus!!”

“I remember looking at the floor when the lights came on and seeing all the smarties ha ha!!”

“I was supposed to be there but ended up at a party in Beeston!”

“I was there with mates. Still tell the story to this day. Great times live forever thanks to the Dungeon.”

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Talk of the Town

“I am amazed. At Sebring Florida talking to a fella from Wales and he knows about the raid from BBC World News. Wow.”

“We were quite famous then. The News spread everywhere.”

Mick Parker, Pauline Peck, Dot Porter in the coffee bar
Mick Parker, Pauline Peck, Dot Porter in the coffee bar

By Monday, the night was being reported on television and in the national newspapers. Here is how it was reported in Nottingham’s Guardian Journal on Monday March 13th 1967.

Street barricaded as 600 teenagers are searched

DRUGS SWOOP ON CLUB

100 Police break up city pop session

By a Guardian Journal reporter

Six hundred teenagers were ordered out of an all-night pop group session at a Nottingham club and searched in the early hours of yesterday when 100 police swooped in an anti-drug raid.

The 2 a.m. raid was on the Dungeon Club in Stanford Street, Greyfriar-gate.

It was the first major operation in the City Police programme of stamping out drug peddling in Nottingham.

Vice-squad and CID men closed in on the club as an all-night dance session was in full swing. Both ends of the street were barricaded and 100 police put a cordon round the club.

Mobile offices

Mobile police offices and vans were set up as interrogation centres and the teenagers were shepherded into the street to await questioning and searching.

The police raiding party included 20 police women led by P.w. Insp. Madge Davies.

The raid was led by Supt. William Sanday and Chief Insp. Jack Meldrum who had with them a search warrant issued under the Dangerous Drugs Act.

The teenagers stood under close guard in the street until the inquiries were complete at about 5 a.m.

Police used vans and a bus in addition to the club premises as interviewing centres.

A police spokesman said that tablets and pills found in the club and in the possession of some of the dancers were seized and were submitted for forensic examination to determine if they were illegal drugs.

Treated

More than 60 young people who were under the age of 17 were taken to City Police headquarters as a place of safety until arrangements could be made for them to be seen home.

“Many of them lived outside the city and some came from places as far away as Northampton and London,” said the spokesman.

One 18-year old youth was taken to hospital for treatment after he had admitted having taken a number of ‘French Blues’.

He was not seriously ill and was allowed to leave after treatment.

The police spokesman said that this was a firm attempt by the police to stamp out drug taking in Nottingham.

Some of the tablets collected in the raid may not turn out to be dangerous in themselves but they had been found to be the ‘beginning of the road’ to taking more advanced habit-forming drugs.

The drugs would be analysed at the Forensic Science Laboratory before any summonses were issued.

Parents told

For dancers who had come from distant places, arrangements had been made to notify the police in their own towns, or their parents, to ensure they reached home safely.

A teenage girl who was at the club when it was raided said that it came as a “complete bombshell.”

“Everything was swinging and we were all dancing when suddenly there were police everywhere,” she said.

She added that they were told to go out into the street and had to stand there until their turn came to be interviewed. She said that she was searched thoroughly.

Another girl said that she had, on occasions, seen pills peddled in clubs and coffee houses in the city. She said that they were fairly easily obtainable and sometimes they were “offered to you if you seemed interested.

“You need some kind of pep if you want to stay awake through an all-night session,” she said.

Another teenager who was in the club, dancing at the time, said that the police ushered everyone out into the street.

“I had left my coat behind and wanted to go back for it. But the police insisted that I should be accompanied by a constable,” said the youth.

He added that the girls were segregated from the boys for searching and questioning in the mobile offices.

At a session at the club yesterday afternoon an 18-year-old Bulwell girl, who had been at the club during the raid, said that names, addresses and ages were taken.

“I was searched, some were stripped, but they only looked through my pockets and coat.

“I had got some tablets for hangovers that a friend had given me. Even now I don’t know if they were drugs. They were four pink capsules in a tube which said: ‘One to be taken after a night out.’

“Another girl from Northampton had stomach tablets,” she added.

Well behaved

An 18-year-old Bestwood Park bot said that they had to wait at the barricades while people were interviewed until 5 a.m. Then many of them returned into the club to hear the Original Drifters play.

Mr W.M. Parker, owner of the club, said that the police had commented on the good behaviour of the young people during the whole operation.

The draw of the top-line American group, The Original Drifters, resulted in a large number of teenagers gathering outside the club before the scheduled opening time at 11.30 p.m.

Mr Parker decided that to prevent any complaint about the noise in the street, he would open a little earlier than proposed.

The youngsters poured in from all over the country to see the famous group. Supporting groups had been playing for a time.

Had warrant

It was after 2 a.m. and the atmosphere was building up for the entrance of the stars. Mr Parker made his way to the cloakroom near the door to arrange for the arrival of the group.

Instead, the door opened and plain-clothed CID men and uniformed police officers thrust their way in.

“As soon as I realised who they were I went upstairs and saw Ch. Insp. Meldrum, who explained that he had a warrant to search my premises.

“I told him I’d co-operate in any way, shape or form. But I told him I was very surprised they had a warrant. I had told them at different times before that they had an open invitation to do anything they wished.”

Mr Parker made an announcement to the dancers asking them to remain orderly and they were ushered out into the street and down to one end, which had been barricaded by police vehicles.

The Original Drifters had to wait outside during the raid and their road manager was taken for interviewing.

‘Decent kids’

“There are a lot of decent kids down here,” Mr Parker told a Guardian Journal reporter yesterday.

“At New Year’s Eve, I caught someone trying to sell some tablets. I didn’t know what they were, but I took him straight to the police headquarters.

“I told the fellow I would not tolerate this sort of thing in my club and handed him over to the police. They are now prosecuting this fellow.

“If I find anybody with drugs I hand them over to the police.”

He said that there was always an open invitation to parents of members to inspect the premises by walking round.

“There has been a lot of bad publicity up and down the country about clubs without proper facilities such as adequate toilets, fire escapes and emergency lighting.

Frightened

“There is a Bill going through Parliament at the moment to licence all clubs of this nature eventually. This would be a very good thing.

“It will mean the police will have the right of admission. Where the trouble stems from is that many clubs won’t allow police in because they are frightened and might have something to hide.

“When we have sessions every Friday, Saturday and Sunday I engage a policeman through the local authority more or less to be on hand to keep out people we don’t wish in – non-members.”

He said that he was always prepared to allow police access to any part of the club and from time to time policewomen visit the premises looking for girls missing from home.

Unlicensed

The club, which has been open three years, is unlicensed and caters for teenagers and young people up to about 21 years.

Mr Parker said: “It is not designed for adult attendance. It is designed to attract teenagers in their particular way. The image of the club is slowly changing. The kids are changing and wanting a smarter type of club.”

Last week the club was closed for alterations, costing several hundred pounds.

New ventilation, new seating and lighting have been installed and more alterations are planned.

Guardian Journal, Nottingham, Monday, March 13th, 1967

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Tests

A similar article appeared in the Nottingham Evening Post on the evening of Monday March 13th 1967.

Evening Post - Raid 5

Club raid biggest yet by city police

LAB. TESTS ON TABLETS HAUL

600 teenagers await results …

Scientific tests being carried out today on tablets and pills seized at the Dungeon Club, Nottingham, in yesterday’s raid – the biggest of its kind so far by city police, will decide whether any of the 600 teenagers searched will be prosecuted. “The drugs must be analysed before any summons can be issued,” said a police spokesman.

The results of tests on the tablets and pills were expected to be known by tomorrow or Wednesday, the spokesman said.

Some 600 teenagers were ordered out of the club, in Stanford Street, Greyfriar-gate, when 100 policemen and policewomen swooped at 2 a.m. The teenagers were taken outside and questioned and searched in groups of three in the mobile police office and bus which were waiting outside.

The street was barricaded and a cordon put round the club as the police, led by Supt. William Sanday and Chief Insp. Jack Meldrum, searched for drugs. The two senior officers had with them a search warrant issued under the Dangerous Drugs Act.

Praise

The police spokesman praised the teenagers for their conduct during the raid, saying: “Almost without exception they co-operated very well with the police, and their behaviour was quiet and orderly.

“This was in spite of the fact that many of them must have been very disappointed at having to wait several hours to see the pop group, the Original Drifters.

“We were agreeably surprised at their conduct, and have no complaints to make. The owner of the club also co-operated very well.”

The club is owned by Mr W M Parker.

The raid was the first major operation in the City Police programme of stamping out drug peddling in Nottingham.

Vice squad and CID men closed in on the club as an all-night dance session was in full swing.

The police raiding party included 20 policewomen, led by P.w Insp. Madge Davies.

The teenagers stood under close guard in the street until the inquiries were complete at about 5 a.m.

More than 60 young people who were under the age of 17 were taken to City Police headquarters as a place of safety until arrangements could be made for them to be seen home.

“Many of them lived outside the city and some came from places as far away as Northampton and London,” said the spokesman.

One 18-year-old youth was taken to hospital for treatment after he had admitted having taken a number of ‘French Blues’.

He was not seriously ill and was allowed to leave.

Of the teenagers searched in the raid, police said that nine were from London, 10 from Northampton, three from Lincoln, and others were from Mansfield, Sutton-in-Ashfield, Ilkeston, West Hallam, Ripley and other parts of Derbyshire.

For dancers who had come from distant places, arrangements had been made to notify the police in their own towns, or their parents, to ensure they reached home safely.

A teenage girl who was at the club when it was raided said that it came as a ‘complete bombshell’.

“Everything was swinging and we were all dancing when suddenly there were police everywhere,” she said.

She added that they were told to go out into the street and had to stand there until their turn came to be interviewed. She said that she was searched thoroughly.

Another girl said that she had, on occasions, seen pills peddled in clubs and coffee houses in the city. She said that they were fairly easily obtainable and sometimes they were “offered to you if you seemed interested.

“You need some kind of pep if you want to stay awake through an all-night session,” she said.

At a session in the club yesterday afternoon an 13-year-old Bulwell girl, who had been at the club during the raid, said that names, addresses and ages were taken.

“I was searched, some were stripped, but they only looked through my pockets and coat.

“I had got some tablets for hangovers that a friend had given me. Even now I don’t know if they were drugs. They were four pink capsules in a tube which said: ‘One to be taken after a night out’.”

Mr Parker said there was always an open invitation to parents of members to inspect the premises by walking round.

He said that he was always prepared to allow police access to any part of the club, and from time to time policewomen visit the premises looking for girls missing from home.

The club, which has been open three years, is unlicensed, and caters for teenagers and young people up to about 21 years.

Nottingham Evening Post, Monday March 13th, 1967

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A Place in the Sun

Another article was printed in one of the National newspapers, the cutting exists but there is no mention of the paper. The article was written by Ellis Plaice.

DRUGS: CID HOLD SIXTY CHILDREN

About 600 youths and girls were searched by police in a drug-hunting raid on a beat-music club early yesterday.

Sixty children aged under seventeen were taken away from the club – the New Dungeon in Nottingham.

They spent the rest of the night at Nottingham police headquarters, waiting for their parents to collect them.

Parents as far afield as London, Birmingham and Northampton were woken by the police and asked to fetch their children.

Some older teenagers also went to police headquarters for further questioning.

The New Dungeon Club, with a ground floor and basement in Stanford Street, Nottingham, had opened at the weekend. It was advertised as ‘The Midlands’ New Leading Scene’.

Advertisements also promised that the club would be ‘Full of Surprises’.

The big surprise of Saturday night’s dusk-till-dawn song-and-dance session came at 1.45 a.m.

The teenagers were expecting a beat group called The Drifters. Instead, 100 policemen and policewomen pounced.

The police had warrants under the Dangerous Drugs Act.

Streets around the club were blocked. When the Drifters arrived, they had to wait outside the club.

Hospital

The 600 youths and girls were led three-by-three to a police bus and vans, for searching and questioning.

One 18-year-old boy was taken to hospital suffering from a suspected drug overdose.

A police spokesman said later yesterday: “The club has not been closed. Charges against some youngsters are possible, once we receive laboratory reports.”

Club owner Michael Parker, 28, said last night: “If any parents doubt this is a respectable club for respectable teenagers, they are quite entitled to come and see for themselves.”