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BACK TO THE ROYAL PIER!
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
Taken from The Southern Echo 20th January
courtesy Daily Echo
'What's On' Scene South 7th January -courtesy Daily Echo
HAMPSHIRE HERITAGE-22 January
courtesy Daily Echo
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.
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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