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Southampton England

1960s The original entrance hall

Two major fires in 1987 and 1992 sealed the fate of the old Royal Pier that jutted out from the ornate entrance building whilst the jetty is only a shell but still standing defiantly on its 19th century support pylons.  The old Pavilion Ballroom was a major attraction over many decades and its heydays were the Swinging Sixties, which form the basis of my webpages within this site, so please take a look by navigating the Site Map including this:


Early 1960s  - only 2 bob  (10p!)

Fast forward to 2008 - the old deserted gatehouse and entry hall building has been beautifully renovated by local businessman Kuti Miah who owns several Indian restaurants in the area. He has now opened the Kutis Royal Thai Pier Restaurant which offers great views across to the docks and surrounding waterway so this might pave the way for further investment in the rest of the derelict Pier that might someday be restored to its former glory


2008 Kuti's Royal  Thai Pier-Click on photo for website


Take a look at the Kuti Royal Thai Pier website to see the amazing transformation that has seen one of Southampton's favourite buildings in a brand new setting.   The photos can only convey a taste and the venue needs a personal visit to wonder at how the beautiful restaurant has been combined with the Victorian splendour, thus retaining its history and links to the times when local people, headed off to the Pier for the best night out!  The friendly Thai staff dressed in traditional costume provide a great welcome and delicious authentic food of the highest quality, with various areas in which to dine.  The views are breathtaking, looking across the busy Southampton Water with the better weather providing a chance to sit outside on the balcony and verandah areas.


I had recently been in talks with the management and they were very keen on some of my suggestions with regard to bringing a taste of the Sixties back to where much of it began for many local singers, bands and DJs.  Kutis Royal Thai Pier Restaurant is now well established and rated highly as one of the finest in the UK, due to its unique location by the waterfront and dockside area. It has rapidly become the European Cruise Capital and harking back to its former glory with many of the world's finest new liners tied up through the year.  This was the press release and I am leaving it on this page for the moment with a view to updating it plus a report on this very show



Thursday 28th January 2010 at 7-30 pm

For the first time in many years, Kuti’s Royal Thai Pier sees the return of live entertainment in the surroundings of the beautifully restored building. This nostalgic evening brings back memories of the old Pavilion Ballroom and features comedy/vocal entertainer David St John, who first appeared at the Pier back in 1958 as a ten year old rock n roll singer! David later went onto sing with many top local pop groups in the area before going solo in the Seventies and his website contains an amazing collection of old photos and information about those early days. Many of the featured bands, singers and DJs on this website appeared at the old Pier ballroom so this themed night promises to recall those great days for those who were there.

David at the  Royal Pier Pavilion 1958

He is joined by none other than the legendary DJ Johnny Dymond who was ‘King of the Pier’ throughout the Sixties plus the Top Rank Ballroom and many more venues around the Southampton area. Johnny was also known as ‘Mr Romance’ as he was responsible for many couples meeting up on the dance floor as the mirrored ball threw thousands of tiny stars all over the ballroom. His smooth patter and superb choice of music steered many couples towards a dance, a relationship and several marriages as a result! He will be playing many old classics as well as talking about his own terrific memories of the Big Night Out, plus any input from the audience as they share their own. The evening finishes off in a ‘Party Night’ finale in the marquee to the rear of the main restaurant so bringing back the memories of the old Royal Pier Ballroom and recreating the Big Night Out with the classic hits of the Swinging Sixties!   Johnny is travelling over from his home in sunny Spain and looking forward to recreating a touch of the atmosphere as well as meeting up with any of the original dancers. It is hoped that a few 'surprise' guests might be able to attend - all part of the fun that has been missing for too long in the city!  If any former 'Teddy Boys and Girls' wish to come suitably attired then they would really boost the atmosphere as we take everybody back to those great days!

Johnny Dymond- Royal Pier/Mecca Ballroom 1965

David St John:

"I’m so excited at the prospect of appearing at the Royal Pier, my favourite building in Southampton that holds so many memories for me and those who used to love dancing the night away. I will be performing my usual comedy act with loads of gags about the city nightlife, docks and much more localised material. In addition, I will be singing many of the classic rock n roll and pop hits that I used to perform all those years ago and guarantee many of the audience joining in! I am also pleased to work alongside Johnny Dymond, whose great talent made him more of a showman than a disc jockey and we will be joining forces for even more laughs. We will be reviving the Golden Days of the Royal Pier and invite anybody to share their own memories of those great days-just come and say hello to me or Johnny"



                                                    David                                                     Johnny at Radio One 1970            Spain 2009



"Hi pop-pickers! I’m also looking forward to treading the boards of the Royal Pier after so many years. The old Pavilion Ballroom holds so many memories from my years as resident DJ as it was THE place to be back in the Sixties. Whilst it has been sad to see the decay and dereliction of the old jetty, it is terrific to see the surviving entrance hall transformed into Kutis' beautiful restaurant. It will be very nostalgic for me, plus the old Piergoers who used to dance to my records and live bands. Please say hello on the night and we can also give you a mention over the mike to share YOUR own memories if you were lucky enough to have been there.  I'm also joined by another old pal DJ Geoff Knight who spun the discs at the Pier and other local venues in those heady days"

Johnny's proud mom!



Taken from The Southern Echo 20th January

courtesy Daily  Echo

'What's On' Scene South 7th January - courtesy  Daily Echo



courtesy  Daily Echo

Text version

Fans of the swinging '60s will be able to relive the glory days at Kutis

Bringing the'60s back to Royal Pier

Ah, those long, lost days when the sound of Do Wah Diddy Diddy, Zabadak, and Itchycoo Park, echoed round the Mecca Ballroom on Southampton's Royal Pier. Yes, it really is more than 40 years ago when those sounds of the '60s took Manfred Mann, Dave, Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick, and Tich, as well as the Small Faces to the top of the hit parade.

Later this week the '60s will be conjured up once again with the Royal Pier turning back the clock to when high fashion was flamboyant frills, flared trousers, crazy prints and stripes, and that was just the men. As the 1960s continued to swing, the Pier ballroom was the only place to be as people crowded on to the dance floor beneath the revolving, glitter ball and plastic palm trees. The pier pavilion hosted regular teen club nights with bands such as the Three Stars, Wranglers, and the Blackjacks on stage for a two shilling (10p) entry ticket. Although the Mecca Ballroom is no more, the, result of two fires, which ripped the heart out of the pier, the spirit of the '60s is about to return to the Royal Pier.

The long boardwalk, which stretched far out into Southampton Water, the shelters that kept so many visitors dry in sudden, summer showers, the green painted seats, and the kiosk selling, milk shakes, ice creams and postcards may only be nostalgic memories but the landmark, gatehouse is still in great shape. It was in 2008 that one of Southampton's best known restaurateurs, Kuti Miah, breathed new life into the deserted gatehouse and transformed it into a city nightspot serving Thai cuisine.

Next Thursday sees the return of live music to the surroundings of the pier, when "Back to the Sixties" is staged in the beautifully restored gatehouse. This nostalgic evening features comedian and singer, David St John, who first appeared at the pier in 1958 as a ten-year-old rock 'n' roll singer. David later went onto sing with many top local pop groups in and/ around Southampton before going solo in the 1970s. Also making an appearance will be DJ , Johnny Dymond who was 'King of the Pier' throughout the '60s plus the Top Rank Ballroom and many more venues around the Southampton area. Johnny was also known as 'Mr Romance' as he was responsible for many couples meeting up on the dance floor as the mirrored ball threw thousands of tiny stars all over the ballroom. The evening will finish with a "Party Night" finale in a marquee at the back of the main restaurant, bringing back more memories of the old Royal Pier ballroom. For more information about the night log on to

©Keith Hamilton Daily Echo 2010




Echo report on the show- 4th February

courtesy Daily Echo

This was one of my most memorable nights as the clock was turned back some 50 + years when  I first trod the boards at the end of the old Royal Pier in the Pavilion Ballroom. It was the most exciting time as rock n roll was sweeping the country and this dance hall was the best in town, full of young dancers jiving away to the local bands.  I was just ten years old and had been singing the hits for a few years before, usually by sitting by the jukeboxes in any number of coffee bars that had sprung up and learning the songs.  The ballroom was managed by one of the most respected impresarios in the area - Len Canham and you will find loads of photos and information on my other webpages so take a look.  He also worked with another local manager/promoter Reg Calvert who is also mentioned elsewhere but whose life was tragically cut short in 1966 when he was shot by a business rival in the murky waters of the Pirate Radio days  - again see the other accounts elsewhere on the site.


My early 'career' was curtailed after just a few appearances at dancehalls in the area, when the school authorities found out as I was an underage public performer so then forced into early 'retirement' !  In fact, I was told that one of my teachers had been in the audience on one of these 'hops' and was shocked to see me bound onstage and gyrating like a young Elvis! A few years later, I resurfaced as the new wave of pop groups took over from the previous crop of singers and spent some ten great years all over the South.


I had organised two successful 'Back To The Sixties' Reunion shows at the Concorde Club (see Site map) in 2008 and 2009 so was starting to get prepared for the third show in January 2010.  Always keeping in touch with the Southampton scene via the online Echo website, I was excited to see that old gatehouse had finally been restored to its former glory by local Indian restaurant magnate  Kuti Miah who owns a chain of top venues in the area.  I got in touch with his office and mentioned my history at the Pier as well as my website which has been growing over the last few years.  Much of the content has evolved from the old Pier Pavilion history and Kuti was very impressed with it all, as well as being keen to retain the heritage of one of Southampton's most popular buildings.   During the autumn of 2009, I called into the Pier and met with manager Kamal Miah to discuss my idea of bringing live entertainment back to the Pier after an absence of some thirty odd years when fires tore through the old wooden structure and sealed its fate.  It also tied in with having Johnny Dymond back in the UK from his home in Spain as he joined us at the Concorde Club on the Friday 29th January so a perfect chance to feature us both with our dual links to the old days.


Kutis advertised this special 'Back To The Sixties' night and organised a special Thai meal that was served at the start of the evening with classic sounds of the 50s and 60s being played in the background to set the scene.  The restaurant was full and many of the audience were of 'that age' who used to attend the dance nights along the old jetty that now stands as a shell and fenced off for safety reasons due to the dangerous condition of the original Victorian supports.   Johnny Dymond then started the proceedings with some great warm-up chat and reminiscing about his hilarious years at the old Pier before introducing me for my opening spot- a mix of comedy and old songs that I grew up on!   My second set was geared towards mostly singing more classic rock n roll/Sixties classics and near the end of my show I was able to spring a surprise on a couple of friends who were sat in the audience.  I had known Pete Broyd for a for a few years as he was one of the first ex-singers to have found my early webpages on the local music scene and sent me some terrific old photos, stories and much more (read about him on other pages)  In fact, Pete was one of the first regular Pier singers with his Blackjacks group around '59-62 before he chose to settle down into a 'normal' dayjob!  He owns one of Southamptons' top wedding hire shops- Addis Grooms in Portswood and has come along to the Concorde shows to enjoy the nostalgia of his own early days.


I introduced Pete to the audience who were very impressed with seeing him back at the Pier as he regaled us with a great story about the time back in 1959 when he was one of the very first singers to perform the unreleased Cliff Richard hit of 'Living Doll' which was his first number one (written by Lionel Bart)  Like many singers and bands at that time, Pete and the Blackjacks used to listen to the pop music programmes and often recording them on basic reel to reel tape recorders.  Then they would set about learning the lyrics, chords and arrangements before performing the songs on the very same night!  Cliff had sang this new song on a radio show, just before the single was actually released so Pete and the boys were one of the very few performers who pre-empted this massive hit and the teenage Pier fans had their own preview!  See the old Echo ads below to see how much people would pay for a night out............



                                                     Pete 'Living Doll' Broyd                                                       Back at the Royal Pier


I then asked the audience if we should get him to sing that very same song as I naturally have the backing track so lucky to persuade him to get up and do it all over again!   It was the same key and original arrangement so Pete just took the mike and proceeded to deliver this great number in the way that it was meant to be and finished to a great applause!


The live show finished at 11 and then we invited the audience out to the heated marquee to the rear of the restaurant where Johnny got them all dancing and singing away with his great collection of more Sixties hits plus chat that took them all back to how it used to be!  We were also grateful to fellow Pier DJ Geoff Knight who had provided his superb DJ equipment for this final party segment as the clock was turned back over some forty five years, and it was good to talk with so many people who were part of this special night.  Johnny was worried in case some chap turned up and blaming him for helping him to meet up with his future wife as they danced under that magic mirrorball that had cast its romantic spell over so many Pier-goers!



                                                         'Smashy & Nicey'?                                                      JD      PB      DSJ

I am now in talks with Kutis with regard to the next special evening back at the place it all began for us three above.



Latest news


Now booking for Sunday 13th November 2011 - an interactive evening that celebrates the history of Southampton's Royal Pier and a few centuries of local history. I will be highlighting the story (with added comedy)of the much loved Pier as well as inviting any personal memories from the audience -  many of them will have probably enjoyed the great dance hall days of yesteryear.

Following this, I will be singing classic hits from across those same years and expect many to hit the dancefloor as well!

Advance booking now from Kutis Thai Pier Restaurant and now selling fast!  Priced at only £15.95 including superb Thai cuisine buffet.  Call reception on 023 80 339211 or via website:   e-mail:  Facebook and Twitter also can be checked out.


This follows from previous successes in which I have been able to  organise the return of live music to the Pier some thirty odd years since the closedown and fires that resulted in the dereliction of this once great landmark.  Talks are currently being held and it is hoped that Southampton might see the long overdue renovation and development of the jetty.


Kutis Thai Pier offers amazing views of the waterfront and you can dine whilst looking at the many cruise ships that now use the port facilities and make a booking to tie in with the actual movements of these beautiful liners.  Many locals will have fond memories of the busy 50s/60s docks traffic and watching the Queens Mary, Elizabeth, QE2 plus many more great ships that put Southampton on the world map.




More early 60s' Royal Pier Dance Nights adverts:





Note the 'Three Stars' - my first backing group 1958!

Alan Fraser-Brian Ferguson-Johnny Watson


Sunday 10th October 2010

Following on from the success of the first show outlined above, I returned for another special 60s night at Kutis along with the ever popular Rick Brown, whose own band- Ricky & The HiLites played at the old Pavilion Ballroom way back in the early Sixties.  I will be adding a full report and photos in the near future so come on back!





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