Wednesday, 3 December 2008

RAWTENSTALL ASTORIA


And here below we have the Astoria story.....

Rawtenstall Astoria Ballroom December 16th 1932 – 7th February 1966 – 34 yrs

The very popular old Rawtenstall Astoria was built originally in 1932 out of the motor car showrooms and workshops of John Myerscough and Co. The new venture was the brainchild of brothers John (snr) and Noel Myerscough. The Ballroom remained under the ownership of the Myerscough family up until its sad closure on Tuesday 7th February 1966.


The motorcar Showroom and Workshops of John Myerscough and Company which in 1932 was
converted into the "Astoria Ballroom" (Click over to enlarge)
(Photo: My thanks to John Myerscough for sharing this photo with us)


A rare old postcard again showing the pre Astoria when it was a garage
(Photo: thanks to Peter Fisher for sharing with us)

The original site dates back to 1839 when it had been the site of the Holly Mount School, a school for the very young employees of the adjacent local Cotton Mill called the Fold Mill and owned by David Whitehead and Sons.


This is a rare old photo showing the building when it was the Holly Mount School
(Click over to enlarge)

This was the original entrance to when the property was the
Holly Mount School for young employees of the nearby
David Whitehead and Sons (Click over to enlarge)




The Astoria was a very special and up market venue for its day being able to boast about the purpose made sprung dancefloor which measured approx 585 sq ft and covered in maplewood and was capable of holding a capacity of up to 800 dancers. And following on in 1959 this floor was yet again resprung with over six thousand pieces of Canadian Maple laid on steel springs – and yet again the Astoria was able to boast that it was one “of the finest sprung dance floors in England. The cost of this work in 1959 was £1000.


The Astorians from the 1930s

The Ballroom opened on December 16th 1932. The very first event held at the Astoria was the Annual Ball of the Rawtenstall British Legion, when on this occasion the then Mayor, the late Ald. John Hamer welcomed the Lancashire Cotton Queen, Miss Marjorie Knowles.Those early years supported dancing almost throughout the week with learners sessions, all Modern sessions, an Old Tyme Music Night, a 50/50 night and probably the favourite the “Popular” night which was on Saturdays. As time went this levelled out and the norm seem to settle down to a regular three nights a week activity.

The band in them early days was led by Henry Haworth with Ruth Raymond on vocals, this band was later succeeded by bandleader Alan Hargreaves, then in 1950 James Heyworth took charge and under his direction The Astorians gained national fame.


Jimmy Heyworth
Photo: Kindly shared by his son  James Heyworth

Jimmy Heyworth Orchestra
Photo: Kindly shared by his son James Heyworth

Jimmy Heyworth and His Astoria Orchestra EP


In the Late 40s and during the 50s it boomed with dancers, the Astoria hosted some of the biggest band names and star vocalist around at the time such as: Joe Loss Orchestra with vocalist Rose Brennan, Johnny Dankworth Orchestra with Cleo Laine, Eric Delaney Band, Ted Heath Orchestra, Dickie Valentine, Lita Roza, Dennis Lotis, Ray Ellington with Marion Ryan, Edmundo Ross, Ken Mackintosh, Ivy Benson and her all Girls Orchestra and the list went on…..

A newspaper cutting from 4th August 1990 reflecting on the death of Joe Loss
and a photo reminder of when he appeared at the Rawtenstall Astoria.
(Click over to enlarge)

The Jimmy Heyworth Band (Click over to enlarge)






A much later photo of some of the members of the Jimmy Heyworth Orchestra
(Click over to enlarge)
Kindly shared to us by Pauline Emmet Dagg
Some old Postcards or photos showing the Astoria from years gone by: (Our thanks to the Bacup Times, Dave Haworth and Peter Fisher for kindly sharing their "Astoria photos" with us)




(Our thanks to Dave Haworth and Peter Fisher for kindly sharing their Astoria photos with us):-

1950
1960

A photo of the Astoria from 1962




1966
Down the side of the Old Astoria leading to the Fold

By 1959 John Myerscough (jnr) came to elm, and thankfully he had the foresight to prepare for what was to become the mighty beat boom which arrived in the early 60s. During the early 60s up to and sometimes more than 600 teenagers would come to the Saturday night beatnights which featured lots of headline groups of the day like: The Animals, Kinks, The Who, Small Faces, Moody Blues, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Hollies, The Mojos, Yardbirds, The Spencer Davis Group (see poster thanks to Kieran Ridehalgh ), Maurauders, Honeycombs, Rocking Berries, Unit 4 plus 2, Sounds Incorporated, Rhythm and Blues Incorporated. Their was a cramped dressing room to the right hand side, just after coming through the main entrance where the groups would prepare themselves, before having to be escorted through the noisy crowds making their way to the stage. Cost of admission those days was anything between six shillings to 15 shillings and sixpence, levied in accordance to the status of the band playing on that evening. Besides the great headliners there was also two other groups supporting. These groups also where always of a fine quality handpicked by John Myerscough himself and would usually consist of the best bands around at the time from Lancashire including Manchester and Yorkshire - amongst them where: Wynder K. Frog, The Warriors, The Raging Storms, The Dappers, The Imps, The Swinging Hangmen, The Pagens, The Avalons, The Avengers. The Travellers (Rochdale). The star attraction groups during those explosive years of the 60s where booked into the Astoria by Agent Lewis Buckley Entertainments of Southport. Lots of Posters, Handbills and Newspaper adverts shown below


The following adverts have been kindly shared to us by Jeremy Barnfield, and most of the small flyers have been shared by Kieron Ridehalgh

I am also indebted to rock historian Steve Riley for kindly filling in the gaps with groups and others which I was missing, all of which have appeared at the Astoria on the dates shown

1963

June 8th 1963  "The Outlaws"

June 15th 1963 "Jetblacks"

June 22nd 1963 "Ketty Lester and the Mike Digby Trio"

June 29th 1963  "Terry Lightfoot and his Jazzmen"

July 6th 1963 "The Hollies"

July 13th 1963  "Jet Harris and Tony Meehan"

July 20th 1963  "Dick Charlesworth and His City Gents"

July 27th 1963  "Closed for Holidays"

August 3rd 1963  "Closed for Holidays"

August 10th 1963 "Mike Preston" "Keith Powell and the Valets" "The Lionel Morton Four"

August 17th 1963 "John Leyton with the Hi-Fi's"

August 24th 1963  "Shane Fenton and the Fentones"

August 31st 1963  "The Big Three"

September 7th 1963 "Faron's Flamingos"

September 14th 1963 "The Marauders"

September 21st 1963  "Mike Berry with the Innocents"

September 28th 1963  "The Redcaps"

October 5th 1963  "Eden Kane and the Downbeats"

October 12th 1963  "Craig Douglas" and "Brian Diamond and the Cutters"

October 19th 1963  "Peter Jay and the Jaywalkers"

October 26th 1963 "The Original Checkmates" and "The Lionel Morten Four"

November 2nd 1963  "The Fourmost"

November 9th 1963  "Shane Fenton and the Fentones"

November 16th 1963  "The Rockin Berries"

November 23rd 1963  "Duffy Power and the Prowlers" and Clay Ellis and the Landsliders"

November 30th 1963 "The Tony Meehan Combo" and "Eddie G Marten and the Sabres"

December 7th 1963  "The Swinging Blue Jeans"

December 14th 1963  "The Maurauders"

December 21st 1963  "The Hollies"

December 24th 1963  "The Four Pennies"

Boxing Day December 26th 1963  "The Dennisons"

December 28th 1963 "Freddie Starr and the Midnighters"

New Years Eve December 31st 1963 "The Four Just Men" and Eddie G Marten and the Sabres"

1964

January 4th 1964 "The Karl Denver Trio" 
with support "The Phabulous Phantoms"

January 11th 1964  "Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders"

January 18th 1964  "Pete Maclaine and the Clan"

January 25th 1964  "Dave Berry and The Cruisers"

February 1st 1964  "Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders"

February 8th 1964 "The Four Pennies 
with support "Eddie G Marten and the Sabres"

February 15th 1964  "The Big Three"

February 22nd 1964  "Mike Sheridan and the Nightriders"

February 29th 1964  "The Merseybeats"

March 7th 1964  "The Downlands"
with support "Nomads"

March 14th 1964  "The Redcaps"
with support "Dominators"

March 21st 1964  "The Tornados"
with support "Denny Seyton and the Sabres"

March 28th 1964 "The Dennisons"
with support "The Excheckers"

April 4th 1964 "The Four Pennies"
With support The Mustangs with Ricky Day"

April 11th 1964 "Chris Sandford and the Coronets"

April 18th 1964 "The Fourmost" plus
support "The Dalesmen"

April 22nd 1964 "The Four Pennies"
with support "The Cyclones"

April 25th 1964  "The Sheffields"
with supports "Mutineers" and "Chapters"

May 2nd 1964 "Johnny Kidd and The Pirates"
with support "Mr Smith and Sum People" and "Ian Dean and the Brystals"

May 9th 1964  "Brian Poole and the Tremeloes"
with support "The Dappers" and "The Cyclones"

May 16th 1964 "The Undertakers"
with supports "The Phabulous Phantoms" and "Ian Curtis and the Dominators"

May 23rd 1964 "The Brumbeats"
with support "The Mighty Avengers"

May 30th 1964 "The Merseybeats"
with supports "Pilgrims" and "The Chapters"

June 3rd 1964 "Mr Smith and Sum People"
with support "The Silhouettes"

June 6th 1964 "The Swinging Blue Jeans"
with supports "The Mustangs" and "The Dalesmen"

June 13th 1964  "The Hollies"
with supports "The Deltas" and "The Mutineers"

Saturday June 20th 1964  "The Kinks"
with supports "The Warriors" "The Electones"

Saturday June 27th "The Four Pennies"
plus supports "The Pilgrims" and "The Dawnbreakers"

Saturday July 4th 1964 "The Pretty Things"
plus supports "Mustangs" and Chapters"

Saturday July 11th 1964 "The Warriors"
plus supports "Mr Smith and Sum People" plus "The Dappers"

Saturday July 18th 1964 "The Mojos"
plus supports "The Beatmakers" and "Ian Dean and the Brystals"

July 25th 1964 Closed for Holidays

August 1st 1964 Closed for Holidays

Saturday August 8th 1964 "The Animals"
with supports "Stirlings" "Steve and the Suspects"

Saturday August 15th 1964 "The Escorts"
plus supporting "Silhouettes" and "Mutineers"

Saturday August 22nd 1964  "The Zombies"
with supports "Kris Ryan and the Questions" and "Mustangs"

Saturday August 29th 1964 "The Paramounts"
plus supports "Pilgrims" and Ian Dean and the Brystals"

Saturday September 5th 1964  "Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders"
plus supports "Elders" and "Fourways

Saturday September 12th 1964  "The Honeycombs"
plus supports "The Electones" "Dawnbreakers"

Saturday September 19th 1964  "David John and the Mood"
with supports: "The Beat Boys" and "The Vincents".

Saturday September 26th 1964  "The Long and The Short"
plus supports "Mustangs" and "Mutineers"

Saturday October 3rd 1964  "The Kinks"
plus supports "Ian Dean and the Brystals" and "Curts Creatures"

Saturday October 10th 1964 "Kris Ryan and The Questions"
plus supports "Vicki and the Kordettes" and "Footsteps"

Saturday October 17th 1964 "John Lee Hooker" and "The Groundhogs"
plus supporting "The Dappers" and "The Stirlings"

Saturday October 24th 1964  "The Wackers"
plus supporting "The Pilgrims" and "Flames"

Saturday October 31st 1964  "The Poets"
plus supports "Deltas" and "Blues by Four"

Saturday November 7th 1964 "The Takers",
plus supports "The Peddlers" "The Mustangs"

Saturday November 14th 1964  "The Rocking Vicars"
plus supports "Dawnbreakers" and "Fourways"

Saturday November 21st 1964 "Sounds Incorporated"
plus supports "Mutineers" and "Electones"

Saturday November 28th 1964 "Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders"
plus supports "Beatmakers" and "Dean Antony and the Meteors"

Saturday December 5th 1964  "The Soul Agents"
plus supports "Mustangs, Curts Creatures

Saturday December 12th 1964 "The Rockin Berries"
plus supports "Ian Dean and the Brystals" and "The Pagans"

Saturday December 19th 1964  "Dave Berry and the Cruisers"
with supports "The Dappers" and "The Atoms".

Christmas Eve Thursday December 24th 1964 "The Four Pennies"
with supports "The Mustangs" and "The Fourways".

Boxing Day Saturday December 26th 1964  "The Warriors"
with supports "The Mutineers, "The Vincents"

New Years Eve Thursday December 31st 1964 "The Moody Blues" 
plus supports "Deltas", "Footsteps" and "Flames"

1965















Yardbirds (features Eric Clapton)




Spencer Davis Group


Photo: Them (features Van Morrison)


Photo: The Pretty Things


Saturday February 20th "Rhythm and Blues Incorporated"
plus supports: "Mr Smith and Sum People" and "The Tremmers"


Photo: "The Beat Merchants"



Photo: The Nashville Teens









This is the true poster used for the "Zombies" appearance


















This is a copy of the original poster for "The Who"
who appeared at the Astoria on May 22nd 1965.





Saturday July 3rd 1965 "Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders"
plus supports "Electones" and "Tom's Rigg"

Saturday July 10th 1965 "The Birds"
plus supports "Mr Smith and Sum People" and "Pilgrims"

Saturday July 17th 1965 "The Hollies"
plus supports "Beatmakers" and "The Invictas"

Saturday July 24th 1965  Closed for holidays
Saturday July 31st 1965 Closed for holidays

Saturday August 7th 1965 "The Walker Brothers"
plus supports "The Avalons" and "Gideons Ways"
















Saturday October 16th 1965 "Pretty Things"
plus supports "Mustangs" and "Saracens"

Saturday October 23rd 1965 "David John and the Mood"
plus supports "The Nevadas" and "The Black Arrows"

Saturday October 30th 1965 "Alan Price Set"
plus supports "Pilgrims"

Saturday November 6th 1965 "Hedgehoppers Anonymous"
plus supports "Electones", "Sounds 5"







Saturday December 4th 1965 "Clayton Squares"
plus supports "The Mutineers" and "Reflections"






Christmas Eve Saturday December 24th 1965 "Wayne Fontana and the Lads"
plus supports "Ian Dean with Mondo Kane" and "The Mustangs"

Christmas Day Sunday December 25th 1965 "Mike Sax and the Idols"
plus support "Sidewalkers"

December 27th 1965 "The Four Pennies"
plus supports "Wynder K. Frog" "The Habit"

New Years Eve December 31st 1965 "Tony Jackson and the Vibrations"
plus supports "Toms Rigg" "Electones" "The Exceptions"


New Years Day 1st January 1966 "Toggery Five"
supported with "Outer Limits" and "Baskerville Hounds"

This is a true copy of the original poster used for the Measles concert on Jan 8th 1966

Saturday 15th January 1966 featured "Fontella Bass with Just 5"
and supported by "The Rogues" and the "Seatroots"

Saturday 22nd January 1966 featured "Spencer Davis Group"
and supported by "Estelles" and the "Eddie G. Martin Combo".



This is a replica showing the very last dance at the Astoria,
which featured The Clayton Squares with support of Mike Hurst
with the Trekkers and the Firing Squad. (1966)


The sad closure of the Astoria and the protest etc:






Thanks to Rawtenstall Library for providing scan of newspaper cutting

Thanks to Rawtenstall Library for providing scan of newspaper cutting




This photo shows the building being offered for sale (Click over to enlarge)
Thanks to Peter Fisher for kindly sharing this photo with us
And when John Myerscough finally closed the doors in 1966, he moved to Southport and took over that very Agency (Lewis Buckley Entertainments) himself.

I would like to thank Bacup Times for kindly supplying me with the photo of the Astorians and also for the poster of the Astorians with Jim Heyworth The Astorians.

Lovely emails received in regards to the Astoria:

Mail added 
February 2009, which was kindly received from Joyce Whelan (Nee Newton) with some notes about the Band especially about her dad who was the saxaphone player and whom had also been responsible for most of the musical arrangements of the band:-

I have just enjoyed looking at the Astoria ballroom newspaper cuttings, in particular the Jimmy Heyworth articles, I was just a child in those days but my father Mr Eric Newton was a saxaphone player in the Jimmy Heyworth band during the fifties and sixties, he also did a lot of the arrangements for the band and I have seen photos of the band winning the melody maker cup, also photos of my dad taken with John Dankworth, Ted Heath etc. It is even more nostalgic to me and my family as my father died on January 14th of this year (2009), after a short illness. He was 87yrs old when he died, but he remembered the happy days of the band at the Astoria and often talked about the people and the music. I do vaguely remember going to the Old Astoria as a child, but my memories are mainly with the new building, especially a couple of re unions the band did in the eighties for charity. My brothers and I have copies of the Decca record that the band won the championship with, of course this record is very precious to us, as my dad is mentioned for the arrangements.Thank you for printing the cuttings on your page, it has been a lovely trip down memory lane for myself and my family. Regards. Joyce Whelan (nee Newton).



Mail added 18th February 2009 kindly received from James Heyworth:

Dear Bryan,

I am James Heyworth son of Jimmy Heyworth and Margaret ( nee Myerscough)

I just wanted to send you a note to say how appreciative I am for your feature of the blog on the Astoria which I discovered on the internet. Dad died in 1994 and Mum died in 2006. Her brother John Myerscough is still alive and lives in Ainsdale Southport. I have many fond childhood memories of the old Astoria and your blog enabled me to show my children nephews and nieces what the old Astoria was like.
I am currently researching the Myerscough Family tree and have got back to the 17th Century. They hail from Kirkham and were blacksmiths, John Robert arrived in the Rossendale valley as a blacksmith journey man and as you probably know set up one of the first motor car sale rooms in the country selling Chryslers. The show room was converted to the Ball room.
Thank you very much for your photographs
Regards
James Heyworth



Mail added: 18th March 2009 from John Myerscough:
Dear bee jay,
I much appreciated your article about the Old Astoria in Rawtenstall. I have been passing some of my memories on to James Heyworth (son of the famous band leader) and he is planning to send some of it on to you.
I am John Roy Myerscough, son of John Myerscough and grandson of John Robert Myerscough, the blacksmith who became a motor dealer in quite a big way. I was running the ballroom for quite a time, and booking the groups who appeared. I now live in Ainsdale. Anyone who would like to contact me can do so at john-myerscough@uk2.net.
Keep up the good work, and I may try to add more info later.
Regards,
John Myerscough.



The photo below shows the great floods of the early 60s, and just shows the Astoria with their billboard advertising the Mojo's..- please click over photo to enlarge. (Thanks to Dave Haworth (Goodshawlad) for the photo).





John Myerscough "remembers that day well. A Saturday, heavy rain, and water overflowed from the river and poured down the road at the side of the Astoria called The Fold. It started to come into the basement, where the boiler room and the gents cloakroom and toilets were. It came in through a manhole, which must have originally been for the delivery of coke, and in later times was used for delivery of heating oil. It must have got to 12 or 18 inches deep in the basement during that afternoon. Eventually it subsided, and we tackled the clean-up operation to be ready for the dance in the evening. Amazingly, a member of the public came downstairs and offered to help us with the clean up. I can't now recall who else was there helping.
Anyway, we were able to open for the dance - I see from the poster outside that it was The Mojos appearing, though I would have said Unit 4 + 2, but my memory must be wrong".

Showing the Astoria in 1967 after demolition

All gone now! and this below is a more recent photo showing the Old Fold Garden on the actual Astoria Ballroom site and also a plaque to commemorate.......




Also you may want to read even more about the Astoria at:-

http://www.manchesterbeat.com/venues/rawtenstall/astoria.php