Offerton Palace
Offerton, Stockport

I played here every Thursday night in 1962/63 with the Pete Marsh Trio.  Every other night of the week they were the Pete Marsh Duo, I was added on Thursdays because that was 'Dancing Night'.  The other two guys were Pete Marsh on organ (the same Pete Marsh that Dave Bowker played with in Beirut?) and Mal Riddell on Drums. 

Mal was the youngest and was a great drummer in spite of only having one leg!  He was a good mate of mine who got me the gig in the first place.  I heard that he died quite young, I think in South Africa where he'd been playing at Sun City. 

The Palace was a converted cinema and owned by Sid Elgar who also owned the Southern Sporting Club and the Sale Theatre Club.  When I first played there the compere was Johnny More a very versatile singer/comedian/impressionist who later appeared on TV on 'Who Do You Do?'.  I recently heard that he was now working the cruise ships.  He was a really nice guy with a Sinatra style voice. 

Johnny left when the club in Sale  burnt down and Kevin Kent the compere from Sale was moved over to Offerton.  Kevin had been a member of the 'Keynotes' a vocal group that had been very successful in the 40's and 50's.  He was a top class act and technically brilliant.  He went on to be vocal MD at ABC television where he had a girl called Elkie Brooks in his singing group.  He became Elkie's manager.  I last heard of Kevin singing with the Syd Lawrence orchestra, a gig that would suit him right down to the ground. 

Kevin, the ultimate professional, understandably had a very poor opinion of my guitar playing and he made no bones about it.  By the time that I finished at Offerton, my skin had considerably increased in thickness.  Luckily for me, the Manager of the Palace was a former professional wrestler, Mike Sullivan, who had a broken nose and cauliflower ears which had obviously rendered him tone deaf.

One of the great things about the gig was the cabaret.  While I was there we had acts like Gene Vincent (one of my all time heroes), the Springfields with Dusty herself, Nat Gonella (one of my jazz heroes and a personal friend of Satchmo's) and the amazing Wee Willie Harris.  Wee Willie was a total loonie (and probably still is) who brought his own band which always included a top jazz drummer.

I was there when the Beatles and the Mersey thing took off. Amazingly, Brian Epstein honoured a pre Beatles success contract that he had with Sid Elgar and put the Beatles in, and later Gerry and the Pacemakers, for peanuts.  I don't know how well the Beatles played that night, you couldn't hear them for the screaming.  They came and had a pee in the one and only backstage wash basin which was in the bandroom; I should have bottled it, I could have been rich now.  Paul McCartney was very complimentary about my brand new Guild guitar, I expect that he still remembers the incident. 

We also had our share of the 'Where Are They Nows?' (who gives a ****?), such as the 'Batchelors', who borrowed Mal's drums for a week and gave him 2/6d (12.5p) at the end of the week by way of rental, and Craig Douglas. 

Craig brought his own pianist with him and on the first evening, Craig, piano player, Pete and Mal were all on stage.  Pete was chewing gum.  Craig whispers to piano player and piano player indicates to Pete that Craig wants him to take out the gum whereupon Pete slams down organ lid and walks off stage. 

Craig had to do without the organ all week, the moral being you upset the musicians only at your own peril.

Pete Crooks
23/3/09

Dont forget OFFERTON PALACE  which doubled with the Southern. I worked all the  clubs with the duo Jason & Gee.

Compere at Offerton Palace - KEVIN KENT - the best.

Dave Garnett
14/4/12

I remember being booked at "Offerton Palace" on Turncroft Lane Offerton around '65ish. We were a young group consisting of a lead, bass & drums setup, with a vocal harmony sound. Our job was to fill the gap before the main act with the usual get up and dance numbers plus a couple of Four Seasons and Beachboy songs we were trying out.

Imagine our surprise when the "Compere" came rushing on stage halfway through our spot waving his arm's insisting we cease playing immediately as we were doing the main act's program - (Reg Coates Combo), after an exciting exchange of words on stage in which the "Compere" resorted to physical threats allegedly passed on from a spokesperson in the Reg Coates Combo.

As Mr Coates had allegedly a certain reputation in getting his own way, we decided, discretion being the better part etc. - to follow the Compere's suggestion and went home, really quite chuffed because a professional band had obviously considered us a musical threat.
Needless to say we refrained from further bookings at the venue, we also made sure we and the "Reg Coates Combo" never appeared on the same bill again. 

D.Rimmer
27/5/12

I was barman at the Palace 1962 - 1967. Great atmosphere at this friendly club.

I have numerous memories and highlights include:

  • One night stands (Thursday) including Beatles, Springfields, Gerry and Pacemakers, Peter and Gordon (inexperience showed),The Honeycombs.
  • American stars including Johnny Ray, Guy Mitchell (appeared tipsy)
  • Regular club acts including Syd and Eddie, Freddie Starr, Jimmy Tarbuck, Terry Wayne, Johnnie Goon Tweed, Norman Collier, Vera Day, Joe Ruggles, The Bachelors, Evelyn Doyle, Lynn Perrie, Mr X (Josef Locke?), Vince Hill (later to make an album live at the Palace), Danny Williams, Joan Turner, Neville Taylor, Charlie Williams, Ken Goodwin, Faith Brown, Vince Eager, Jimmy Young, Gerry Dorsey (later Englebert), Migil Five, Karl Denver, Julie Rodgers, Glenda Collins and so many more.

There was a regular weekly BBC tv show called "Club Night", compered by Donald Peers recorded at the Offerton Palace.

The Searchers pre-recorded a spot for Top of the Pops singing Needles and Pins.

"An evening with Sabrina" was cancelled due to only a handful of tickets being sold - a huge disappointment.

Big Mike Sullivan was our manager.Sid Elgar the owner.Kevin Kent the compere- the best in Britain for my money.Pete and Malcolm on organ and drums  - tremendous musicians.

Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent were regular customers

Kevin Kent was Les Dawsons agent at that time.

My personal "moments" include:

  • Celebrating my 21st on Christmas Eve 1963 with Mike Sullivan and Eunice at their home ln Romiley after finishing work with Wee Willie Harris in attendance.
  • Serving the Beatles with Coca Cola in their dressing room prior to them going on stage.
  • Travelling in driver Jack Plants van with the Bachelors taking them to their 3rd gig of the night at the Cromford Club in Manchester.
  • Being personally introduced to Johnny Ray on a Sunday afternoon at the sister club , the Southern Sporting.

I used to put the records on in the warm up period at the start of the evening. I took advantage of this by always playing the latest releases of Billy Fury who was my personal favourite.It was ironic that Billy actually played the Palace shortly after I had moved on.

And the best act I ever saw there?   The Springfields with Dusty.

Tony Philbin
1/4/13

For many years on a Sunday night I would go in the club and sit at the back watching the acts and chatting with Sid Elgar.  Sunday was probably the best night because Sid would watch the acts and if he didn't approve he would fire them off.

I asked him one night about which act he thought was the best, he told me that on one occasion weather being so bad only one act turned up and Sid asked him to continue for as long as he could.  It was Justin Gee.  He did over two and a half hours without repeating himself once.  His singing and impersonations were brilliant.  It is a shame he died so young.  One of the best clubs in the North of England - Happy Days!!

Bill Mellor
2/9/13


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Comments

Trevor Johnson
Hi to Peter Marsh.Glad to see your opponents went well and hope you are still doing o/k. Your last message requested my phone No which I did send but I don't know if you got it. Would love a catch up some time. We are just 2 thirds of our usual 3 months in Spain and will be home after 25/03/2017
28th February 2017 8:30am
Dave Longson
Played bass with mates Neil Colin and Charlie in the band that did the Big Beat Dancing spot quite a few times c1968/69. We were kids of 16 and the band was called Ebenezer's Ha'penny and later Traction. We got lots of helpful advice from Kevin Kent and were familiar with the same wash basin that the Beatles utilised. We're all still playing!
28th February 2017 6:07am
David Longson
with the exception of Colin, sadly no longer with us
28th February 2017 6:17am
Jean Pearson
It's been great reading all your comments about the Offerton Palace Theatre club, I used to go there on a regular basis, what great acts we saw.I well remember Peter Marsh on the organ and Mal Riddell on drums.My husband Jeff was a waiter there for several years, he had the front pitch near the stage.I saw Kevin Kent right up to when he died as he went in a local pub in Great Moor.I used to love him singing "You brought a new kind of Love to Me" I met Johnny More in Albert Square at an event organised by Fred Fielder. Weren't we lucky to have lived in the era of these clubs, I'll never forget what great times we had.
2nd February 2017 2:10am
Bob Copeland
Hello to Jean Pearson, I read with interest your comments on Offerton Palace, particularly your husband Jeff, i wonder if he was one of the waiters we got to know, from memory i think he either was applying or worked for Kelloggs,if it was him he was super efficient and and real nice guy helping us to enjoy some of the best times ever.
27th April 2017 4:13am
Bob Copeland
Hello Offerton, I was fortunate to frequent Offerton Palace during the early 70s untill it closed for refurb but sadly never opened again as a nightclub,had some fantastic nights there seeing all the chart topping artists & groups from the 60s, i remember well the Pete Marsh resident band with Ray Dean as compare, regular waiters to our table were Geoff, Kevin, & Terry,super efficient, never new their last names i wonder where they all are today, those days were the best times of our lives, i also remember Syd Elgar regularly bringing a crate of champagne to the stage for the top of the bill group/singer so they would carry on a further 15 minutes of brilliant entertainment,we always sat on the corner table next to the the bar on Saturday nights, would appreciate any info on names mentioned.Regards Bob Copeland
3rd July 2016 5:46am
Bill Mellor
I asked Sid Elgar one night who was the best act he'd seen. Without hesitation , he said Justin Gee. One snowy winters night the only artist to show was Justin . So, instead of five acts he went on stage and did two hours without repeating himself once .He saved the night.Fantastic.
21st June 2016 7:54am
Peter Marsh
Hello D. Rimmer, I just wanted to say what a great memory you have because I played for all those acts you mention with lots of great personal memories. I remember we had our BAND CALL - a specific time when the musicians at a sister club (for Mal and myself we would go to the Southern Sporting Club on a Sunday afternoon at 4:00pm sharp) and rehearse with all the acts - nearly always six - for the following week Sunday thro Saturday that they would appear at Offerton and the Southern. The musicians for years at the Southern were Anita and Bobby. Husband and wife who had been playing together for years and years. They were ultra reliable, excellent readers and jolly good people to be around. Anyway - one of our duos would rehearse half the acts and then the other would rehearse the remaining three. One week Mr "X"shows up. Well, he was in top form belting out the highest and the loudest notes know to mankind while he was sat waiting to go through his "charts" ... Read More
25th July 2015 6:09am
Mike McGahan
I worked at Offerton Palace for about 10 years during the 60s and 70s as a drinks waiter. I knew Tony Philbin who posted above. I remember all the acts he mentioned, plus others such as Tony Christie , Roy Castle, Dave Berry, and my favourites The Bonzo Dog Doo Da Band. At that time all cabaret clubs were waiter service only, you couldn't go to the bar for service. So tips were good. Almost everyone tipped, and we used to take for half a pint each time. This meant good money over a night, especially busy nights when you worked non stop, often carrying a tray full of drinks on each hand. Bitter used to be less than 2 shillings 1965. At the end of each night the bar staff presented the waiters with a pint pot so that we shared some of the tips. This was called "pot money". There used to be a small casino there for a while, owned by someone called (I think) Freddie Crisp. There used to be about 12 waiters working each night, I remember some such as Johnny Tuson, Brian ... Read More
15th November 2014 10:10pm
Peter Marsh
Hi Mike
Do you remember me? I was the organist from when the Palce opened until 1972. Best time of my life. I moved onto cruise lines and sailed the world for 32 years. Now live in Florida, retired and enjoying life. Keep smiling. Pete
30th December 2014 10:51pm
Graham Wray
Hi! Pete. I played bass with The Answers for the dance spots at Offerton Palace on several occasions. Kevin Kent was compere and he produced a demo disc that we made in Stockport. It was 1966/67. We were there when Vince Hill recorded an album. They were great times and I remember the drummer was a fantastic all round percussionist with bells and whistles. I packed it in mid '67 and settled down. All the very best to you and yours. Graham Wray.
2nd January 2015 12:52am
Peter Marsh
Hi Graham,
How can I forget you and the band? When you started to play it meant Mal, the brilliant drummer at that time, and I were probably propping the bar up swigging one too many. Happy days, nothing like Syd's clubs anywhere anymore. I guess we were all working in a unique era - never to be seen again. I don't actively play "out" anymore but keep saying I should write a book. I "goof off" in my studio once in a while but just staying cool here in SW Florida. Keep smiling. Regards to any one who remembers me. Peter Marsh
21st July 2015 2:42pm
Mike McGahan
Hi Pete. I remember you well, together with Mal on drums and Kevin Kent as compare. I never saw better resident musicians anywhere else.
Looks like your music gave you a great lifestyle.
Best wishes.
2nd January 2015 1:24am
Peter Marsh
Hi Mike, You are right. Kevin Kent, Mal and myself did a pretty good job. We used to rehearse often and always tried to emulate whoever made our rendition famous in the first place. Not always possible with the Reigg Organ. It was a loud beastie for sure but being pre-synthesizer was not good at other sounds. No strings or horns or anything else but "in your face organ"..... I have had a wonderful life in music. Started work for P&O in 1974 and retired from Disney Cruise Line in 2006. During these years travelled just about everywhere more than once, and enjoyed every minute. Played with some of the best musicians in the world and accompanied lots of stars I can't even remember. I do live in a nice place called Naples in SW Florida where I am enjoying retirement. I try to get back to Manchester once a year. Nice to go back but the bloody weather sometimes makes me return to Florida sooner than planned. Keep smiling, regards to any who remember that great little ... Read More
21st July 2015 3:00pm
Trevor Johnson
Hi Peter bet you don't remember me. I worked with you at most on Ferranti's along time ago now,Pete wolfenden was another worker. Glad to know you did well. Do you remember the air hornets you had on your car and the wolf whistle. Can't remember what the car was though, perhaps a Morris miner. Keep the faith and all the best. T Johnson
17th June 2015 10:05am
Peter Marsh
Hi Trevor, Now there's a name from the past - FERRANTI. Yep - we had some good times there for sure. Is Pete Wolf still around? I remember the Morris Minor with the huge horns installed under the bonnet. Every time I pressed the horn button the Morris would slow down about ten mph. Should have faced the horns to the rear of the car - might have made it go a little faster. The wolf whistle was another experiment fastened to the exhaust pipe. Worked well until it got clogged up with exhaust junk. Happy days. How sad that a company a large and successful as FERRANTI would have folded. My parents insisted I got a trade in engineering before they allowed me a try at music. Funny how music is still around and how I earned a living all my life churning out all those great tunes. Retirement in Florida is good, and too bloody hot and humid some days, but better than the horizontal rain I remember so well in Chadderton. Keep Smiling and regards to all who remember FERRANTI and those great ... Read More
21st July 2015 3:14pm
Trevor johnson
Hi Peter Thanks for the reply, let have tried to find Pete wolfed en but to no avail. Glad you are enjoying your retirement. Do you remember Bill Lees and the Dial own. Bill worked on the servo section at Ferranti's. Haydon Clough was still around up to when I retired 14 years ago. We are also enjoying retirement spending Jan to April in Spain every year to get rid of the winter. Keep well, Trevor
7th October 2015 10:20am
Trevor johnson
Hi Pete. My last reply to you suffered from that dammed predictive text. My fault should have checked before sending. Sorry about that. I have tried to find Pete Wolfenden but failed up to now. Do you remember Bill Lees he worked on servo section and played in the Diablo group on base guitar I think. I got married in 1959 and was drummed out of Ferranti along with Roy Dobson and Roy Lumbley i believe Roy Lumbley died some years back, we all got married on the same day.Peter are you on Facebook or Skype.my Skype name is hoover_ex Regards Trevor
13th November 2015 12:14pm
Peter Marsh
Morning Trev,

Hope you’re nice and warm. It’s only going to be around 86 today. I am still a *****!

Sorry to hear about Roy rolling the black dice. Will happen to us all one by one - another *****!
Hope you can find Pete Wolf - maybe he’s gone too - Geez.
Don’t know how I managed to stay at Ferranti until ’68. Guess I was lucky.

I’m now 75 and still pretty fit apart from my knackered knees. No cartilage left after walking my ***** off all those 32 years on the ships. Just started a part time job eight weeks ago - now am a UBER TAXI DRIVER over here and earning a little disposable income to spend on a cruise in the Spring.

My Skype name is unklstinki but don’t holdyour breath. What is your phone number? It is so cheep to call the UK now - about 2c a minute - so I will give you a bell if you send me your number. OR - do you have an iPhone? If you do you WE CAN FACE TIME each other. Nice!

Later time to log on.

Stay well.
Peter Marsh
239-595-6171
14th November 2015 9:45am
Trevor johnson
Thanks for replying Pete. Don't know the code from the states but my number is 01706 843901. As you said not good for Roy but nobody get away from here alive. Weather here today 11degs right now it's 23:38 and it's 3.8degs. Going to get my head down now. By for now. Trevor
14th November 2015 10:39am
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