The following is from the programme for the club's twenty-fifth birthday:
Northwich Folk Club was
in March 1977 when Jeanie Hammersleigh, then an officer for DAN
of the Arts in Northwich), brought together some local performers
Iain Bowley and Tony Howard) at the White Lion in Witton Street.
After a run of successful nights that spring, a group of people
Sandy Boyle) formed a committee which has seen the club run
for twenty-five years. There have been many changes, but Sandy
husband Sean), Iain and Tony are still connected with the club.
The club ran at the White Lion for about seven years or so, during which time the one and only Northwich Folk Festival took place in 1983. Starting with a kitty of fourpence, the club has, through a mixture of guests and singers' nights, gained a reputation and a financial stability that is the envy of many other clubs. After a short spell at the Coachman's Inn in Hartford, the club moved to its present location in the Harlequin Theatre where folk music lovers still meet on Fridays throughout the year. The club is still run by a committee whose members take turns to host evenings at the club.
Over the years, many notable names on the circuit have performed at the club, including Martin Carthy, Ewan McColl, Dick Gaughan and Andy Irvine. Many less well known names have also proved to be excellent entertainment, and in between guests, the talent in the club ranks has had its own chance to shine. Many a talented musician or singer has risen from the audience, some of whom have gone on to professional or semi-professional status. Regulars are from time to time invited to do a "super-spot", a chance to improve their skill by doing more than the usual one or two songs. There are some fine voices and talented players with guitar, fiddle, bazouki, flute, squeeze box and bodhran (amongst others). There was even a highland piper amongst the regulars once.
Anything from traditional to contemporary, blues and beyond can be heard in the club, with local artists mixing with guests from as far afield as Hungary and the U.S.A.. The club has also arranged ceilidhs and boat trips, and is always open to new ideas. After twenty-five successful years, the club is still looking forward.
So what can you remember of 1977, the year when
all started ?
As Northwich Folk Club sprang into life, a number of very famous entertainers went the other way (so to speak). Bing Crosby, Marc Bolan, Charlie Chaplin, Maria Callas and, of course, Elvis Presley all died this year. (If anyone says "Who?", they ought to be ashamed of themselves.)
It was also the year of the Queen's Silver Jubilee (did you have a street party ?) when Virginia Wade won Wimbledon. Other sporting names of the year were Bjorn Borg who also won Wimbledon, Red Rum who won his third Grand National, Manchester United won the FA Cup and Liverpool won the League and European Cup double.
We had the Lib-Lab pact which kept Jim Callaghan at Number Ten for another two years while Jimmy Carter was President over in the U.S. where the space shuttle took its maiden flight. Meanwhile millions flocked to see Star Wars at the cinema. Punk was the "new music" but top of the charts on NFC's first night was Leo Sayer's "When I Need You". Now, dig out some old photos - what were you wearing ? Embarrassing, eh ?!!!
Iain Bowley reliably informs me that the first night was kicked off by Rob Ollerton doing "Misty Moisty Morning". Iain made his own contribution, a version of James Taylor's "Fire And Rain".
We decided to make a tape of the best of Northwich Folk Club's regulars. So a general invite was issued to one and all to go round to Iain's and record something. When this was all done, we added up what we'd got and recalculated. What we ended up with was:
Northwich Folk Club's Millennium Tape -
a double cassette of 3 hours of songs and tunes by the club's regulars
Part two - another tape and another 90 minutes' worth of songs and tunes
A CD of the best of (not that we like to judge...)
All now SOLD OUT! 20% of the proceeds were donated to St Luke's Hospice, Winsford.