"Mr Smiths was split into 2 parts. It later became a Hippy Club on a Sunday night.
Samuel Ogden Street
See also Drokiweeny
As you entered you had a room with a stage, saw Curved Air & Atomic Rooster there. Then you went through a small tunnel into a room with a podium in the middle where they used to have a DJ."
I was surprised to see little about Mr Smiths club, another great place, cabaret room, disco room and a quite place for a drink they called the Bus Bar. The resident band were called The Ken Roy Sound, run by Ken and his brother Ronnie. We had some great times there after the club had closed at 2am, the owner used to crack open the champagne with the artist that had been on at the time. I would be sipping bubbly with the likes of Dick Emery and millionaires. Heady days, I was earning just £15 a week then! I remember once Selwyn Demmy sending me a brandy over. It seems unreal as I look back, it could never happen these days. Bring back the clubs I say.
"In the very early sixties, most of the groups went to Mr Smiths for a drink, after they had finished their gigs and got back to town. You were always sure of bumping into some one you knew. Most of us got free membership, I don't know if it was because we were musicians or we just spent a lot of money there.
They nearly always had top line acts on, among others I remember seeing Johnnie Ray with the Derek Hilton Trio, they did a private show after the club closed, Johnnie was asking those who had stayed what was their favourite song, then he would sing it, he knew the words to every thing, I will never forget that night, what an entertainer.
Lonnie Donegan also did a week ( about 1963/4). I had a front table booked for the week, I think everybody I ever knew, turned up for a seat, even Diana Dors one night, I can't remember who she was with.
What a night club. "
This place holds very bitter memories for me. We heard that Denny Laine and his Electric String Band were appearing here and could hardly contain ourselves as we had just bought 'Say you don't mind' and loved it to bits.
I rolled up on the night with my best pal and fellow band member, Rod Gerrard, only to be informed that you had to be a member for 48 hours before being allowed in. We argued and begged but the management wouldn't relent, even though we played there on occasions.
Within months, Denny split the band and the chance of ever seing them live again dissappeared.
In the late sixties early seventies you could see the likes of Georgie Best and Mike Summerbee propping up the bar, ususally on a Saturday night after the match. We used to have a right good time with them. Boy did they think they were the bees knees, but they always insisted on paying for our drinks, and were really nice to us.
I worked at Mr Smiths in 1970 when a was a student. The mix of people was amazing. Whatever happened to the old crowd?
I only have hazy memories of the club but I do remember a trio performing there whose drummer was called Garry Leeds. Garry who?
Well, he was the drummer with the Walker Brothers who had quite a huge following, mainly female and had charted on more than one occasion. This was not too long after the Walkers split and I'd guess about 1968/69. It could easily have been The Gary Leeds Trio but I just can't remember. (Was it Gary Walker's Rain?)
I was the entertainments manager at Smiths in the early '60s and remember well such acts as Dusty Springfield, Tommy Cooper and other top acts at that time.
Smiths also had a large casino and the General Manager was Bill McGleish, the owner was Paddy Mckiernan and the London Director was well known organist Alan Haven.
I had previously worked for the company at the Star Ballroom in Maidstone and the Witch Doctor at Hastings which had such groups as the Animals, Nashville Teens and a great favorite little Stevie Marriott with his band Steve Marriott's Moments.
I was the General Manager in the mid sixties and introduced the gaming and the bus bar. As an entertainments promoter I did one of the best promotions ever - Miss Smith Mini-bikini beauty comp which was good for the era as the mini skirt and car were the rage.
It was a sell out, and the top prize was 10 pounds.
I worked with Brian Poole, ex Tremeloes as lead guitarist in his backing band, the Ovation.
We did Mr. Smiths a number of times in 1970. The resident band were Howard Morgan and the Saphire Wheel, I think!
It's along time ago. Anyone remember?
Does anyone remember a lady called "Pat" who worked at Mr Smiths in the early 60s? I believe she was a sandwich girl? She would have been in her early 20s, with blonde hair.
I remember coming out of the disco part there one night and on our way out up on the little stage was Dick Emery doing his stage act. He had an audience of chicken in the basket people ! The record 'SIMON SAYS' was out at the time.
Funny coming across this site because I went to Mr Smiths in Catford must have been late 1960. I cannot remember exact dates but we also traveled up from London to Mr Smiths in Manchester.
I will always remember it because I saw the Bonzo Doo-dah Band - anyone else see them there?
Does anyone here know where the bands would have played in relation to the building as it is now? Be interesting to know. I think, by looking at the photo, that the building that was 'Mister Smiths' is still there now and is a Japanese Restaurant, next to Bannatynes gym?
My late mother (Barbara) worked as a Croupier at Mr Smith's in the late '60s. I was about 10 at the time so never visited but loved to hear the stories of all the stars that visited, especially the Man Utd footballers and Coronation Street cast. I had a green autograph book which my mother took to work and it was filled with many autographs from celebrities of the day.
Unfortunately, a regular visitor to the casino table my mother worked on (I can't remember who but I think it was one of the Coronation Street Cast) offered to take the book away to get more autographs for me and managed to lose the book!
My dad, Bill McLeish, was the manager of Mr Smiths in Manchester in 1965 before we moved to London where he opened and managed Mr Smiths in Catford until 1967.
I can tell you Catford Smiths was a roller-coaster ride for dad and the family due to the unwanted attention the club received from competing London gangsters - the Haywards and the Richardsons along with their "enforcer" Mad Frankie Fraser. Basically both gangs wanted to "protect" the club and it all ended up in a wild west style shoot-out in March 1966 which sent one of the gangsters straight to hell and several others to Lewisham General Hospital with gunshot and various other nasty wounds.
Two good things came out of it - The Richardsons all got nabbed and my dad and the family went back to Smiths in Manchester - a much friendlier place let me tell you!
Had the pleasure of being a colleague of your Dad's he had some wonderful stories. A genuine Scots guy you could ever meet
I remember The Sunday night sessions at Mr Smith's titled 'Electric Circus' (circa 1969-1970) part of the proceeds went to support the undergound magazine 'Grass Eye' and was part promoted by the brother of a girl friend. The premier band who played on a number of ocassions were Van Der Graaf, also Greasy Bear and Nazareth were also around.
These dates are from the Manchester Evening News:
- Denny Laine's Electric String Band - 17 September 1967
- The Move - 15 October 1967
I think the building has been knocked down. The white building in the picture is the Union (now the New Union) on Canal St. I think the building used to be on the junction of Brazil Street and Samuel Ogden Street by the side of the canal next to what is now Eden.
I worked for Paddy McKiernan between 1964 and 1968 first at the 'Witchdoctor in Hastings and then Mr Smith's in Manchester and Catford in London as Manager and assistant manager to John Warner and Bill Mcleish.
Great times at Mr Smith's, wonderful acts and wonderful staff and punters. Smith's on a Sunday night was the place to be and we were able to put some of the top act in the country. Cabaret at midnight during the week again was the place to be and be seen with many weeks sold out.
I started in 1972 as a glass collector and became a semi-resident DJ there for a few years. They were honestly the best years! A prominent person was the head bouncer, who also worked as a wrestler, but I can't remember his name (perhaps Brian?).
I worked in the main bar, mid week it operated as a strip club with I think about 8 strippers on a Wednesday night, and just two on Fridays?
I have spent many hours researching this club because I would just love to see some inside photos, and yesterday I finally went back to Manchester all the way from Brighton after 30+ years to investigate.
I spent hours in the library, there were no photos there other than the one shown above. I found Brazil Street, now very shortened due to a massive redevelopment, and then found Samuel Ogdens Street, which again is interrupted by the new development.
I'm afraid that I had to conclude that the whole building and that part of the streets has been demolished by the new development.
When the club became the 'new Mr. Smiths Club' with new management I was quickly laid off, I still carry resentment after 30+ years! (Not really ;> )
My sister Janet Partington also worked behind the bar there. We had fantastic times.
Incidentally, all of the staff became quite immune to the strippers, (well you would after a while!) But there was ONE, who had a snake. When she did her spot, all of the staff used to stop working to watch her. It wasn't about sex; she was just very professional and compelling.
Regarding the music, it was mostly pop in the main room (Mr. Magic Man, Wilson Pickett ... Feel the need in me, Detroit Emeralds), while in the Drokiweeny it was more Soulish, perhaps Northern Soul mostly.
There was also a third room for chilling out in, and the rooms were linked by bright ultra violet corridors with pop art 60's walls.
With my visit to Manchester yesterday I am sad that the place no longer exists, I always had a dream of going inside it once more. If anyone has any internal pictures I would love to see them.
I frequented Mr Smiths off and on from 1968 to 1972. I saw some great bands - all of which I have forgotten, but what I have not forgotten is the lunchtime my workmates and I were detained by the police during a raid.
At that time the club had lunchtime strippers and to get by the licensing laws and archaic membership rules you had to have a meal (an economy sausage and half a dozen chips if you were lucky).
We used to go once a week as it was handy from our tax office in Portland Street. One day there was a commotion and all lights came on and about 10 coppers appeared, announcing that all doors were closed and that we were detained for questioning. It took about 2 hours for all us punters to be interviewed (basically confirming whether we had been served food before visiting bar).
We got back to work very late and had to explain our absence to much merriment from male colleagues and distain from the female ones.
Can anyone remember my dad Dennis (Danny) Jones? I think he was trying to get roulette wheels into the club......... Krays link I think!!
I started as a DJ at The Jungfrau in Cathedral Street. Then I worked as a DJ in the Droki in the mid '60's.
My then best pal Joe Makin (Jumpin Joe) shared the nights with me and my then girlfriend Gussie was a Go-Go dancer along with her pal Chrissie (now Mrs Frank Stapleton).
For a while Paddy Mckeirnan the owner had me drive the cabaret act from the main room down to the sister club in Hanley for the early show then back to Manchester for the late cabaret. I drove P J Proby, Dick Emery, Max Wall, Tommy Trinder (who I remained friendly with until his death), and many others.
I later worked a few Sunday nights at Blinkers for Selwyn Demmy, and was a regular punter at Time and Place. I've just found this site so I will dig deep and see if I can find any pics from that time.
Went to Mr Smiths early 70,s I remember the topless barmaids,then going through a tunnel into a room where the DJ Was in the middle on a small stage which used to spin slowly, ultra violet lights and some fantastic soul and ska. Brings back some good memories.
Mr Smiths was a great club in the late 70's and had a bit of class,was a step up pregression from the teenie bopper clubs like Takis,Top of the Town, Rowntrees,etc.Remember the bouncer on the door big Brian,no nonsense bloke.Friday night was a quid to get in which was nearly double the other clubs,but for that you got to rub shoulders with celebs and soccer players who impressed us all they were on 120 quid a week those days.
As youngsters starting off we hadn't a lot of spare cash,but spent it wisely on the drink,and always had enough for fish and chips on the way home and and the bus fare back to Chorlton cim Hardy which was double fare after mid night.
Always remember two great girls working as barmaids who were leaving to emigrate to Australia and for their last two or three weeks they were pretty generous with the drinks for us young working class lads. As there was six of us in the round I would order siz pints and six rum and blacks and I would hand over a fiver and get four qid change, so you can imagine the great time we had those few weeks. Never did meet them again. I believe they went to Sydney and I ended up in Brisbane.
Fond memories from the club with a bit of class.
I was reluctant to write this in case my memory was wrong about there being strippers at Mr Smiths but it has been confirmed that there was.
I did a few gigs there on strip nights and at the time it was managed by a wrestler by the name of Lord Bertie Topham whoses girlfriend or wife was head stripper.
I remember arriving at the club and this Lord Snooty said "Right al get compering introduce the girls." I said"No way I am here to play guitar and sing."
He said "Do you want paying? Of course - well get compering then".
I knocked on the dressing room door and no one answered because nobody ever knocked for strippers. I managed to get through the gig and introduced the only girl who used two garden sheds for a bra - Big Juilie - who had become quite a celebrity at the time.
Incidently I had to almost fight to get paid as Lord Snooty and his girl was passing me from one to the other.
I worked in Mr Smiths in Manchester in the sixties. Bill Macleish was the general manager and I was the entertainment manager/compere. We had all the top acts there including Dusty Springfield, Tommy Cooper as well as all of the top groups.
I first worked for Paddy McKiernan as the assistant manager and later manager of the Star Ballroom in Maidstone, a huge venue catering for over 2000 people.
I later became assistant manager to Johnny Downes at the Witch Doctor club in Hastings.
When John went back to Manchester I became manager. My local director was the well known organist Alan Haven.
I worked as a dental nurse in North Manchester in the late 1960's and one of our patient's - Joe Makin was a DJ at Mr Smith's. He always smelt fantastic of Brut aftershave and we all had a crush on him! One year he gave us complimentary tickets for New Years Eve to see Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters- what an amazing night!
I can still remember it - we must have been relatively abstemious in those days or perhaps just badly payed!!
My friend( and fellow dental nurse) Sue and I met two boys- Clive Walker and Andrew Fowler from Cheshire who we dated for a short time but inevitably lost touch with! Oh happy days.
Tricia Bidder nee Dixon
I knew Paddy McKiernan in the 1970's when he opened a club, "Cadwalader Jones", in Pwllheli (North Wales). I am intrigued to know if Paddy was the owner or co-owner of "Mr Smiths" in Manchester and Catford. It is well over 30 years since I last saw him.
I recall when I was solo I got a call from an agent offering a gig at a Mr Smiths in Hanley rather in or near Stoke. I was told it was a late spot but en route I got completely lost and thought I had blew it as I arrived about eleven thinking I was far too late but it seemed I was early as the last spot must have been about midnight.
The backing was at least six musicians two of which were saxaphone players they asked me for my dots (sheet music). No self respecting rock n roller ever had such things I explained that they would have to busk or I would perform without backing they reluctantly decided to back me.
As I took to the stage there was an embarrasing moment when I put my amp on the stage and stepped on to a lower stage which I would describe as a jetty as I started my act I didn;t realise that this lower stage was moving forward electronically and my guitar lead the spiral type was begining to become almost straight I had to stop singing and run to the upper stage and bring my amp down.
Funny after but not at the time! Incidently I finished the spot with Bony Maronie and the two sax players swayed left and right while playing the riffs and totally enjoyed themselves, a memorable night.
Paddy McKiernan also had a club called the Strand Theatre Club which had different acts each night, including all in wrestling.
The funniest night was the weekly stag night with strippers and blue comedians. The phone never stopped ringing asking for mr so and so. We always replied that there was nobody of that name signed in. About 50% of the punters crept out through the back doors.
Oh happy days.
It must have been at the end of its life as club, I think - I remember seeing The Wild Angels here. Hardly anyone there.
To my complete surprise they followed a couple of strippers. I didn't know where to look (first!).
I worked at Mr Smiths as a barman in the summer of '72. It was a strip club, with about five strippers doing their thing on rotation with other clubs. There was a dj in between and a disco next door. The owner would come in at about 2am to get the takings, or what was left after all the staff had taken their cut. On Sunday night there was a progressive (ie indie/alternate) music night. People like Roger Eagle were involved and I recall a guy selling International Times! I left there when abused by a gang of beered up Glasweigans down for a testimonial between United and Celtic, maybe for Sir Bobby, or Paddy Crerand! A great experience for a lad of 19!
Used to go to Rowntrees Spring Gardens then on to Mr Smiths as it had a late licence. Used to frequent the disco (Drokiweeny room I think it was called) fabulous nights out during the late 1960's saw many great artists in those days.
Paddy Mckiernan was my uncle and sadly passed away some years ago.
My Dad Ron Simpson managed Mr. Smiths for a short time for Paddy, I was very young but found the building fascinating when I did visit (during closing hours of course).
Mixed feelings really as running a club takes a lot of work and long hours it kind of took my Dad away from me. But love to hear that people have fond memories!
My mate Simon Bates was DJ at mr smith I was particulary 'honored' to work the spotlight, when the main guy did not turn up, for the lunchtime 'show'! Can't remember her name, Con??? or something like that! Lovely girl died early!
Would love to get in touch with Simon again, went to see him in Phwelli nearly got my head kicked in by jealous welsh girls!!!
My first encounter with Mr Smiths was at the end of 1966 where I was introduced to the late Alan Demmy and his crowd. As I attempted to dance with a girl on the round dance floor I was suddenly hearded to one side and pulled of the dance floor. I was told "no one dances on the floor when Alan is dancing".
Through this assosiation I eventualy became the youngest menber of Alan's group which included Dave Lee Travis, Jimmy Saville, Tony the Prince and others from the pirate radio Caroline.
One night one of the boys was gambling on the roulette table. As he sneezed and went to pull out his hankerchief from the top pocket of his jacket out came a dozen condon packets which spread them selves across the chips.
Alan crowd always made Mr Smiths their second home until he was killed in a boat accident in Wales.
Went every week,as my boyfriend was cocktail barman there for a couple of years.
Long John Baldry was playing there for a week, he took a fancy to my boyfriend only time he wanted me to go every night! Rod Stewart and Elton John were in his group, the Hoochie Couchie men. John invited my boyfriend and some other staff to see him play at the Fiesta Club in Stockton on Tees. We crashed the car coming home luck nobody was hurt...Good times then...
Just spotted Penny Laines comments, I remember blond Pat I used to spend hours talking to her when she served drinks at the small bar near to the tunnel that went through to the casino.
At about 11.00 or 12.00pm she used to disapear to put eye drops in to stop her eyes watering due to the heavy cigarette smoke, she told me she was thinking of emigrating to Australia, don't know if she went!
The last time I saw her was when a a bloke I was talking to started fighting with a couple of drunks who were being abusive, every one got thrown out, including me.
The second date with my late wife was at Mr Smiths to see Los Zafiros just after easter 1965. Glad my heyday was the 60's.The Manchester club scene was fantastic in those days....!
Hi Paul, I played Mr Smiths on organ, after Ken Roy left, for about 8 months.16 strippers per night on Wednesday, 8 girls twice.Topless bar service was 4 lads - no T shirts!
I remember Simon Bates in the Droky. I`m sure he used to wear long boots, a cape, and a big floppy hat. First fully revolving stage in the world apparently.
We used to get in town early, and go in the Empire Grill on Princess St next to the town Hall.Gary from the Walkers worked with us at the Bier Keller on Picadilly a few nights and we did a full day showcase for acts at a working mens in Burnley - we got offered a job, the acts were dire.
The doormen were
Legendary in Manchester - Crazy Horse, beacause of his supposed
ability with an axe, Cardiff Pete (coloured lad from Tiger Bay), a massive upside down triangle of a man - a fearsome man who looked after me on the nights it got a bit rough. Lived in Fallowfield, and used to go in The Friendship Pub.He had a great liking for the jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal.
I played for the Snake Lady on numerous occasions..She used to put the snake on the floor, uncoil it into a straight line and let it wander towards the front row. It was hysterical to watch grown men do backwards somersaults put of their chairs.She used to have a big chap (her husband) in a leopard skin loincloth stood a the side of the stage, with a very big machette in a
case just in case the sanke got out of hand.
I`m sure I
remember Al Ritchie as a compere but Berts club was on Whitworth St next to the XJ6 disco and Cobwebs. Wayne "Check" Allen used to compere there a lot.
I also worked in Jack Dillon`s, Lonsdale Club - like a boxing Gym on the way in.
On the next corner to Bert`s club, I also remember a bouncer called Brian. Used to wear black dark glasses.He was at the Cabaret Club near the Midland Hotel.
By the way, I still have the cheque from Paddy for the last weeks work....Framed!!!
I opened the bar in the Droky with Sue and Yakky. I also was dj when the band had a break. I made the uniform for the Droky and believe that we introduced the mini to Manchester because Jean Shrimpton hit the newspaper for daring to wear her skirt 4" above the knee, so I suggested we wear ours 8".
I made shocking pink shifts with a split to the waist and we wore white ice skating boots and for a change we had skating skirts.
I think every noteable band of today used to come to the Droky. The assistant manager then was Peter Haggis, there was also Mary Birtles, Frank Booth, Ricky was the head waiter, they were really exciting days.
Wow, just went through all your comments re mr Smiths. I was a croupier at the Portland Club when I first got to Manchester and then got a job as the dj at Time and Place.
Now that was a discotheque well before its time.
Fond memories though of Mr Smiths. Found a 10 bob chip once on the floor and ended up making 20 pounds on roulette in 1970 - I was a rich man.
Great to hear all your comments, anyone there from Time and Place days or Nice and Easy?
Remember seeing Tony Christie at Mr Smiths some time in the early 70's I think. An underestimated singer & great performer . Peter Kay sang Amarillo - a hit all over again
Somebody mentioned Jack Dillon and the Lonsdale Club ? My lovely Auntie Peggy married him, I remember him, the club and Liverpool Stadium. But does anyone have any more info ? They ran pubs too.
To Gill and the others reminiscing about DJ Simon Bates @ Mr Smiths. Guys sorry to have to let you know that sadly he passed away a couple of moths ago. I worked with Simon for many years after Mr Smiths and he was the actual driving force behind the phenominal KFM Radio in the 80's, responsible for recruiting the main dj line up at the start of transmissions... In his latter years he was resident at The Alma Lodge Hotel in Stockport and still as flamboyant as ever, RIP mate.
Can anybody remember Ricordo Morcilo - he was the head waiter in Mr Smith club in 1966/67. It was nice to work with him, there were so many other wonderful people, I can hardly remember all the names. I would love to meet them.
My dad was head door man in the late sixties - early seventies. His name was Neil Brockbank (big Neil). Does anybody remember him?
I was just browsing for Welsh memories when I found your recollections of Paddy McKiernan! I was assistant manager of Cadwalader Jones in Pwllheli for a short, but dramatic, time in 1974 or 75. The manager was, I think, called Graham - we lived on site in that rickety, wind-battered old building. He was very into black magic - he must have thought he could scare me!
Paddy and his family used to come down for short breaks at a little place they had there, and to sail their yacht. One night this bunch of very smooth men in black suits showed up: a far cry from our usual clientèle. They explained that they were Paddy's "protection". We'd never paid protection in Wales and, according to these chaps, Paddy had stopped paying on his other clubs. They told me they'd torched his other businesses - reading your memories above, that can't have been true! They came back once or twice. I couldn't reach Paddy and ran down to their beach place to get advice: the family and their boat were gone. We didn't give the gangsters any money but, bizarrely, one of them offered me a job in London. I declined.
With no funds from Paddy and the worry that our "protectors" would be back, we ran the club on takings for a few weeks. After the cash & carry stopped giving us credit and our electricity was about to be cut off, we just locked up and left. I've sometimes wondered what the McKiernan family got up to after that: I liked them, and it's good to hear they carried on adventuring!
One cold dark Manchester night in December 1969 I turned-up unannounced at Mr Smiths to ask for DJ work. I was met at the door by the manager whose name, I think, was Melvyn? I owe a lot to Melvyn because he hired me to be the new DJ in the Drokiweeny.
I had great fun working the ultra violet lights, blasting-out Tamla Motown, and, from my elevated position on the spinning stage, having the best views of all the girls dancing below. It was a crazy time being in Manchester late '69 early 70's......I've been trying to make sense of it ever since. Does anyone remember me as DJ 'handsome' Steve Hanson!
Anyone got a photo of me taken as DJ at the Drokiweeny?