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Last updated 21st July 2014


The Wooden Horse Folk Club Room at the Top
The Bothy Folk Club The Hale and Hearty Folk Club
The Midway Folk Club, Stockport
(formerly the Red Bull Folk Club)
Northwich Folk Club
Lymm Folk Club
(formerly the Railway Folk Club)
Harry Boardman
The Man and His Music






The Wooden Horse Folk Club

Meets at The Junction, News Lane, Rainford on Sundays at 8-30pm

The following history of the Wooden Horse Folk Club was sent in by Pete Gleave:

The Wooden Horse FC started life as the Travellers Rest FC in Crab Street, St Helens way back in 1970 or 71. For a good number of years this club was run by its founder, Graham Tabern and co-residents Wally Litherland and Len Blackwell, collectively known as Rough Edge. Later Graham's wife Bernadette joined them. This was a splendid club; much supported by Bernard, the landlord at the time.

As time went by the Rough Edge had to co-opt members of the audience to act as residents in times of crisis (flu epidemics, holidays etc) Among those asked were Big Ian, a Ships engineer on Supertankers and his oppo, little Pete Harrison - the former 6'5" and the latter 4'11"! About this time Judith and I had teamed up with two other regulars to form, in 1973, Blackthorn. Multi-talented Bruce Rothwell; now a Mister Big in the folk world of New Zealand (North Island) and multi-multi-talented John Murphy; later of Garva, McGuire, Murphy and Fahey and numberless other combinations of smarty-alec talent, were the other members. This led to us residenting at the club.

We lasted a little while until John went off to Ireland to learn to play the pipes (failure!!) and Bruce headed for the Antipodes in search of fame and fortune and a steady job.

When Rough Edge decided to bow out from the running of the club their place was taken by Moonshine a duo of Vince Luddon and John (surname forgotten). I remember that Vince was a leading light in the local G&S society taking all the difficult tongue-twisting male parts, such as the Major General in Pirates, the List in the Mikado and the Nightmare scene in Ruddigore(?).

Eventually they threw in the towel and into the breach stepped Bernie Forkin as organiser along with the rest of Caught on the Hop, Mick Burrows, Steve Jackman and Alan Hopkins (later substituted by Steve Padgett). All went well until an idiotic landlord decided it made commercial sense for him to lose the thirty or so people who came each Sunday to the club, in favour of the six regulars (three of whom filled his Best-side whilst the remaining three crowded out his tap-room.

So the club moved, to the George and Dragon in Billinge. Brilliant! Bob Hardy the landlord would sing Maori songs to us when the mood took him and furthermore he could never tell the time! Here the residents were Caught on the Hop, Bric-a-Brac (Alan and Margaret Marsden and Ian and Hazel Cafferkey), 'Lead Fingers' Eccles and Quartz (who had come together just at the time of the demise at the Travellers Rest. Three years, maybe more, of happiness when Greenall's decided to upgrade the pub. For 'upgrade' read 'ruin'!


The room was to be unavailable for 6 weeks. In the event it was nearer twelve months. The club moved rapidly to the Nalgo Club back in St Helens.

We tried, by heck we tried, to make a go of it but the concert room was too big for singarounds and too big for the audiences we could attract for a guest night. So it was move No 3.

We landed back in Billinge this time at the Eagle and Child, a wonderful Landlady in Eileen Walker, a belting bar staff, Izzy, Betty, Vonia and Hazel and a perfect sized room. Andy Anderson joined the residents during this stay. Ah bliss, years of security, until Eileen took ill and the relief landlord couldn't prevent the local yobs from getting out of hand. Bernie had had enough and nursing a black eye it was back on the road again.

For move No 4 the road was very short because we moved from the top of Main Street to the bottom. To be precise we moved to what had been residence No 2. By this time it had changed its name to the Pavillion where we performed in the stone built barn at the side of the pub. We had our own bar, the landlord gave us money each month to pay for national guests, and then the brewery moved him! The next incumbent closed the bar and placed his Jukebox by the clubroom door. What a p*****k. When the pub started to get raided regularly by the Drug Squad the time was ripe for another move.

Jim and Pauline, along with Eric and Sue, took us out to Eccleston, St Helens, where we set up camp in the Stanley Arms. Here it was decided that we ought to re-title the club with a moveable name i.e. get away from pub names. So it was goodbye to the Travs / George & Dragon / Nalgo / Eagle & Child / Pavillion Folk Club, we would become the Wooden Horse, in view of our many escapes! Lovely room, stone floor, pillar in the middle, what more could you ask?

Back in Business

Back in Business (Mike Bartram and Norman Wilson) replaced Andy Anderson at this time when Andy and Sheila emigrated to North Wales.

The Whole Hog (Rob Peacock and Frank Parks) became residents - great assets to the club. All went well until the landlord put on a Day of Folk on his car park - it was a tremendous event; but unfortunately he didn't apply for a licence and he was heavily fined. Move number 6.

LocTup Together

They say every cloud has a silver lining and this was the silver lining for the Wooden Horse. We moved to the Junction at Rainford Junction some 4 miles north of St Helens. A pub with an entertainments licence, a selection of real ales, a belting room and squeaky floorboards - this is heaven for a folk club. Unfortunately several resident changes have had to be made over the last few years but the stalwarts are now Back in Business, LocTupTogether, Mark Dowding (who replaced Rob Peacock when the pressures of promotion and residentship became unsustainable.) and Quartz. We have been here about 4 years, possibly more, and we don't want to move.

Mark Dowding

We reckon that Judith and I have been stalwarts of one folk club, albeit with six different names for at least thirty-two years, and I'm still only just 40!

Quartz (a few years down the line)
Pete, Judith, Steve and Sandra

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The Bothy Folk Club

Meets at The Park Golf Club, Park Road West, Southport, Sunday 8-00pm

Organiser Clive Pownceby has sent us in this potted history of the club...

All Those Years Ago...

Now stop me if you've heard this before but once upon a time, there were... well... just a smattering of Folk Clubs locally and, says Stan Ambrose, "All these were run by groups. As floor singers, we got our couple of songs and I had the idea, let's run a Folk Club with individual singers. Down in the (Liverpool) Cavern, the Spinners were down there. Tony (Wilson) wasn't there - he didn't like the Spinners; myself, Dave (Boardman) and Chris (Jones) were there. Tony was another solo singer who seemed to be very active, so we asked if he'd like to come and join us."

"We established it on a formal basis. I was Chairman, Dave was Treasurer and he brought his brother Godfrey in, Chris was Secretary and Tony organised the Guests."

The first Bothy opened at the 'Cattlemarket' in South Liverpool on 23rd November 1964 a Monday, the local press at the time describing its location as "near Stanley Abattoir" and referring to the "the resident guests - a strange title, and these will be Hilary and Joan."Melody Maker outlined that the four founders"as well as forming a loose group for certain songs, are basically solo artists trying to break away from the group-dominated Mersey scene."

Stan continues: "There were some pretty phoney clubs around. We needed... we didn't call them ground rules, more house rules. That's how it all started." There may have been a structured approach to the club (and those original 17 rules are still adhered to!) but it was intended to keep the evenings informal, whilst still maintaining continuity to create an atmosphere akin to a Scottish bothy.

Some weeks later at a Spinners concert at the Cambridge Hall (now the Arts Centre) says Stan, "People were coming up to them (the Spinners) and asking them to run a Folk Club in Southport. They said well we can't do that, 'cos they were going professional anyway and suggested us." In fact two full sheets detailing interested names for a Southport Folk Club had been collected and if the Spinners had said Yes to their proposed second club, events might well have taken a different turn but as it was, our four heroes rose to the challenge.

A daunting challenge perhaps? As Stan vouches: "We were told, oh we've had Jazz clubs, we've had this, we've had that. Nothing lasts in Southport."

Starting in April 1965, concurrently with the Liverpool Bothy for over a year, the Southport branch ran initially at the Railway Hotel on Chapel Street demolished as part of the municipal vandalism of the wonderful old station buildings in 1970/71. This vast Walkers pub boasted the longest bar in Lancashire. I remember it as the sort of place where ageing bar staff wore white jackets and the landlord saying, recalls Stan, "I don't mind what you sing, as long as you don't sing religious songs."

Kevin Littlewood, there on the first night, remembers: "When I walked in, there were three blokes asleep in the bar, obviously after an afternoon lock-in (pubs closed between 2pm and 7pm on Sundays back then), and I said 'Is this the Folk Club?!'"

He was duly directed upstairs. For various reasons - bigger room size, beer quality perhaps, after a few weeks the Club moved to Birkdale's Blundell Arms and stayed there until the end of 2003 - a record duration maybe, in Folk circles? I was member no. 776 when I first paid a visit on November 20th 1966, a Singers Night!

The Bothy Folk, as they had become despite their "wanting to stay as individual singers but people would come up, wanting to book us" (Stan again), found that running two clubs in addition to doing bookings locally and further afield in addition to the day-jobs, was becoming too much of a chore. It was decided to abandon one of the outlets and it had to be Liverpool. (last guest - Robin Dransfield July 13th 1966) This was for the simple reason that the city by then had a plethora of other clubs - Southport had the one.

Incidentally the group played at the 2nd Cambridge Folk Festival that year on a bill that also featured Carthy & Swarbrick, Hedy West and Louis Killen (weekend ticket £1!). Stan says modestly, "Well it was a question of knowing people. I'd lived in Cherry Hinton and used to be a local Councillor. Ken Woollard said do you know any groups? I said, yes, I'm in one!"

Changes in any organisation are inevitable. Christine (Mrs Hughie Jones - Spinners) left to start a family and in 1968 Dave Boardman took up a teaching post in Jamaica. Stan's work with Folk Scene - still running successfully on BBC Radio Merseyside, was taking up more of his time though he and Tony were individual residents right up until, the mid-'70s. Exeunt Bothyfolk!

That, gentle reader, is how it all began. As Stan recounts "It just seemed to happen", and now, with both Tony and Dave sadly deceased, "I feel like the Godfather. Like all groups we had our problems - but they were always resolved. Tony always wanted to wear that hat on stage!"

There have been many comings and goings over our 42 years to date but always with Godfrey Boardman on the door throughout, and maybe not with as many upheavals as some clubs undergo. I became a resident singer in 1974 and took over as Organiser, on a 6 month trial basis from Tony in 1975 when he went off on a teaching secondment in Hull. He never wanted his old job back and when I'd chide him about this in later years, he would say, to my eternal pride "The Club's in safe hands."

I can only say that thanks to him and his fellow founders, we all inherited a going concern that they'd made second to none.

We've only recently released a Club CD though as individuals, the Residents are no strangers to the studio and in the early '70s recordings were made for a vinyl album, funded from raffle profits. I wonder what became of that master tape? There were also plans for a 'Bothy Book' too, which was never published. Now maybe there's an idea for our 50th birthday? - and for the 60th, we'll...

It really is too late to stop now!

Clive Pownceby

(interview with Stan Ambrose conducted by Clive Pownceby and Kevin Littlewood March 2007)

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The Midway Folk Club
(formerly the Red Bull Folk Club)


Peter Hood from The Red Bull Folk Club at Stockport contributed their club's history some years ago, which is now a little out of date! However, it is still relevant...

Peter Hood
(photo courtesy of Red Bull Folk Club)

First, the Bridge inn folk club on Mondays is no more (ahhhh!)and is now the Red Bull Folk Club. Same Club, same residents new venue.


This is going to get complicated, so listen closely! In about 1975 I had a band with a few friends and we played at The Fir Tree folk club in Reddish. We played lots of places but that one in particular fits the story.

It was run by Vic Hassle and Geoff Monks amongst others, we only knew about five songs and one of those was a Les Barker poem based on 'Long distance information '. Les Barker turned up at the club to do a spot ... We were too mortified to sing the song but Pete Fidler, the crooner with the band grabbed Les in the bog and asked him if he'd mind if we did the song. Of course he said yes, the rest is history and a very blurry history. We sang the song did a few more gigs and 'Breakfast of Champions', the band, disappeared forever.

Many years later, my baby Sister, Sarah Hood, asked if I would drop down to the Egerton Arms in Stockport to sing at a singers night run by Kieron Hartley and Clive. We went and my interest in playing folk music was re-kindled.  Sarah and I got paid a couple of times and she went to sing more and eventually got on folk on two and sang with 'The Timekeepers' appearing on the Poynton Folk Club CD.

My Brother-in-Law, Pete Goode, became the resident for the Monday singaround at Poynton Folk Club and I went down there and Pete encouraged me to play more. Kieron and Clive, and Vic Hassle became residents at around this point as well. A further club 'Grannies' was being run by Pete Roberts and Phil and Clare Allen, I also sang in there and met loads of great people, Dave Clarke, Dave and Angie, Jon Brinsdale, Lynn and Barrie Hardman and many others.

At this point Poynton was run by Lynda Boyle on Saturdays with Dougie and Sue Price running the Monday singaround - Dougie and Sue left Poynton and asked Phil and Clare Allen and me, Peter Hood to run the Monday night. We had a fantastic run on the Monday nights, most of the South Manchester folk music people came to the club, Mark A'Hearne, Rick Carlton, Anne Yates, Angie , Pete Roberts , Vic Hassle, Geoff Monks, Dave and Lynda Wildblood, Ken , Lynda and Katherine Edwardes, Jim Embleton , Whiskery Bill, John Ashurst, Mary Asquith, Fran Early, Sarah Hood, Gail Hood, Pete Goode, Doug Price, Dave, John Greenhat, Amanda and Dave, Pete Farrow, Geoff, Dave McGowan and many others.

Poynton, sadly closed for performance, still retains an excellent dance evening, but the folk singing moved through many phases until it came to the Red Bull Stockport. I was also involved as a resident with The White Swan Folk Club run by the legendary Annie Morris, along with Kieron and Mary Hartley and ... Vic Hassle.

Annie fired my enthusiasm for folk music and when the White Swan folded, it left a void very hard to fill. By this point I had teamed up with Lynda Edwardes as a duo and the support Annie gave to all her residents leaves a stamp that's visible to anyone who played there.

The Red Bull is the product of all those great clubs, people who love folk music and welcome it wherever it occurs. It's not my club but belongs to everyone in the Stockport area who enjoy being with people who play or listen to live folk music of any sort. The residents are all the people of the Stockport area who enjoy performing and listening to folk music and dance.

You Know Who You Are... thank you to you all!

Red Bull Folk Club:

Peter Hood, Lynda Edwardes (Publicity); Anne Yates (Treasurer); Jim Embleton, Ged Derby, Pete Farrow, Pete Roberts, John Ashurst (E-list..send  your email for inclusion), and many more on the list above who are an essential part of the great Stockport Folk Music scene



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Room At The Top

Meets at The Old Packet House, Burscough Bridge, Mondays at 8.00pm for an 8:15pm start

What was to become The Room at the Top folk club started in the room upstairs at the Rigbye Arms, High Moor, near Parbold and had the first night on Monday 12th February 2001. The room was cosy and friendly and a charge of 1 for entrance was made. Seth Holden was responsible for organising many of the performers who would come along and do their stuff in the earlier days.

Because a fee was being paid for the use of the room, however, the club was barely keeping its head above water. The landlord was only interested in the fee for the room and the money over the bar and when a request to finish 15 minutes later at 11-15pm was refused and the fee for the room was raised it was time to find a new venue. That new venue was the Railway Hotel in Parbold village and the club was renamed "The Room at the Back" after a suggestion by a member of the audience.

After a successful couple of years at the Railway, the brewery decided to move the builders in to "improve" the pub and as a result the "Room at the Back" became a room all around the bar with big screen TV for Monday night football along with the pool table. It was time to go pub hunting again for a pub with a separate room that we could have for nothing.

As luck would have it, less than a mile up the road, the Red Lion in Newburgh had an upstairs function room that the landlady was willing to let us have for nothing on a Monday evening and so with a change of name to "Room at the Top", the club was there for a number of years despite several changes of Landlord along the way - at one time there were four different landlords over a period of two months!

Unfortunately, the Brewery (Marstons) decided that the room we were using should be paid for by the various groups and whilst it was levied at 10 per night, it meant that we would have to double the entrance fee to include payment for the room and so we made enquiries elsewhere and found the Ring o Bells a couple of miles down the road who were willing to let us use the upstairs room for nothing well we were going to bring 20-25 people in every week on what was a dead Monday night otherwise. Eventually we migrated downstairs to a room behind the bar which although it was open to the pub, didnt bother us too much with extraneous noise.

One night in October 2018, we went to the Bells, only to find it shut! The landlord had locked the place up with immediate effect and not told anyone. The race was on to find another place after reading of the clubs plight on Facebook, the manager of the Old Packet House in Burscough Bridge invited us to have a look to see if it was feasible to run the club there and we decided wed give it a go. Being central to Burscough Bridge, a number of local people can now walk there and weve noticed a significant increase in the number of people who come along on a regular basis. The number of singers has also increased slightly and it rare for us to go round the room twice on a night on some nights weve gone up to 11:00pm in order to get everyone in.

Although the club is billed as a Folk Club, it's a loose term. We are acoustic/roots based but anything goes. We have people singing different types of songs or instrumentals - middle of the road, folk, pop; people who recite poetry and monologues; or give us readings from books - even a bit of Shakespeare! Basically anything.

So if you think you'd like to come along and do your stuff (so long as it's not too rude!) or if you'd just like to watch other people perform then you will be made very welcome. First-timers get in free and get a raffle ticket and it's still only 1 for everybody else.

Over the course of a year, the club has a subsidised Christmas meal (in January), An Easter Egg raffle where everyone gets an egg (at Easter of course), and a barbecue in the summer paid for out of club funds. The raffle usually consists of a bottle of wine and, depending on numbers in the room, a box of chocolates. Recently weve been getting a box of eggs thanks to Lesleys hens! Occasionally people will bring something to add to the raffle so although we don't have a membership as such, there is good value to be had for regular attendees.

Whilst we are mainly a singers club and there are no regular guest nights, we have had a couple of nights where people have done an extended spot and one night there was a VERY FULL house for Tom Bliss on his final tour in July 2009. We had Peter Bond in 2012, Nick Caffrey and Ed McGurk in 2014 and Scolds Bridle in 2016. Also in December 2016, BBC Radio Lancashire recorded The Christmas edition of The Drift with Phil Brown at the helm and a number of guest singers and musicians. This has been broadcast a couple of times since.

Sadly, a few of our regular attenders have passed away over the last few years and as a mark of remembrance, we have made donations to their favoured charities. Steve Bannister was someone who got in touch after I met him many years ago at the Ormskirk Folk Club and it was a pleasure to see him and hear his songs again. John Littlewood was one of the original members of the club almost from week one and although he entertained us with readings from newspapers, classical poetry and limericks, he had a hidden life (from us anyway) as a champion amateur chess player. My father, John Dowding passed away in January 2013. His contributions usually included poetry and readings. He was in his element reading the rather risqu monologues of Steve Morris but was equally at home with the classics of Keates and Shelley (or as he called them Sheets and Kelly!) They are all sadly missed and fondly remembered.

Anybody is welcome to come along either to perform or just sit and listen. We meet most Monday nights - the only nights we don't meet are Bank Holiday Mondays and either one or two weeks around Christmas depending which days Christmas and New Year fall.

Due to an increase in the number of people coming along to play over the last few months, we have recently started the night at 8:15pm. We still go round with everybody doing two songs and if time permits we will go round again for another song each which brings us to the break at around 10:15pm when we have the raffle. There are people who like to go at this point for whatever reason which is another reason for starting earlier. After the break the last half hour is now taken up in a number of ways depending on the number of people left. We have carried on singing, had a workshop with one or two of us giving our experience of playing different instruments, gone round the room asking everybody why they got interested in the songs they sing or had a session where people are playing together. This last option has had the added bonus of people joining in with a harmonica or a mandolin on songs that they wouldnt normally play. Everybody seems to enjoy what we do so the new approach appears to be working well.

If you'd like more information about the Room at the Top, contact Mark Dowding on 01257 464215.

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Lymm Folk Club
(formerly the Railway Folk Club)

Meets on Thursdays at 8.30pm, usually at the Spread Eagle, Lymm...

The club used to meet at The Railway Hotel, Heatley until it closed unexpectedly in July 2007 (subsequently destroyed by fire in November 2011), but now is somewhat itinerant! Most weeks we meet at the Spread Eagle in Lymm Village centre, with occasional concerts at Lymm Rugby Club or the Saracen's Head, Warburton. Click  here to download the latest information!

In its heyday...

Ravaged by fire

Early memories of the club...

This potted history of the Railway Folk Club starts when Ann Clancy, who was the club organiser at the time, moved to the North East at the end of June 1995. Written records prior to this date are not (yet?) available, so anyone who can furnish us with more information is very welcome to do so!

Perhaps these recollections will jog your memory?

The folk club started in 1980 (give or take a year) at the Thorn Inn in Appleton Thorn, run by Maggie Goodall. Regulars were: Maggie & Mick, Graham Sowerby, and the twins Jack and Norman, who went under the name of the Mynah Birds (possibly Minor or Miner?).

Late 1985 (or early 1986?), the back/upstairs room at the Thorn had been made more restauranty and less welcoming to the folk club, so the club moved to the Railway and adopted the name "The Boddy Shop" to celebrate the departure from Greenall-land and the chance of a decent pint. In the early days, the bar in the function room was actually used, although it tended to interrupt the performances on occasion.

Memorable nights at the Thorn included Martin Carthy, Martyn Wyndham-Read, Brass Monkey, John Kirkpatrick, Allan Taylor, Tom McConville & Gordon Tyrell, Ewan McColl, one of the first ever outings of the Electropathic Battery Band, "Tony Gibbons and friends", etc... so there were good guests right from the start.

We used to go regularly 'cos we lived only a mile or so away in Stretton. We used to go with Paul & Leslie who introduced us to Earl of Stamfords.

Lyn and Alan Goodkin
(Earl of Stamford Morris)

In July 1995 the  first newsletter  was published. A committee of six had now taken over the running of the club, with Graham Sowerby looking after bookings, Don Davies handling the publicity, and Geoff Smith responsible for financial matters.

The new management decided it was time to be more ambitious, so 'big names' were approached to fill the program for the new season, in addition to supporting local talent. This is now the established philosophy of the club - one of our most memorable nights was Monday 17th July 1997 when we had none other than Tom Paxton playing to a slightly more than capacity audience!

For a couple of seasons, Don sent newsletters out by mail. But he got fed up licking stamps, so now we do it electronically on this web site! If you wish to be notified by email when the guest list changes, simply  click here. Please note that this is NOT an automated mailing list!

Graham and Sylvia  rarely have the opportunity to visit the club these days, and we miss their fine repertoire of songs, some of which were written by Graham. Around mid 1997, Graham's many other commitments forced him to reluctantly retire from club activities, handing the bookings list over to Don. He returned with his new band 'Cautious Half' in October '97, and again for a Saturday Special (free admission!) with 'Three's Company' to record some 'live' tracks for their new album in October 2000.

It was around this time that Rick and Lesley Nelson and Bernard Cromarty were elevated to the status of 'Residents', though exactly when is a little fuzzy!

Heather and Don Davies  first came to the Railway around fourteen years ago, during which time Heather's tambourine has become a force to be reckoned with! Between them, they have written quite a number of songs, many of which were inspired by places they visit when on holiday. Under the name 'Kapsali Bay Folk' they recorded an album of songs about the Greek Island of Kythera, engineered by Bernard (in his front room!), and the songs were presented one Saturday evening at the club as a 'Son et Lumiere' with Rick on Bass, and Bernard on various instruments. During the performance, slides of Kythera were shown as a backdrop.

September 1997 saw Heather and Don marry in Delph (Saddleworth). Blarney Stone (as Garva were then named) provided the evening's entertainment, with some Railway regulars contributing, too (including the late Malcolm Disley), and Bernard was the organist for the ceremony. Sadly, the same day saw the funeral of Princess Diana...

Trevor Morton  had been a Railway 'resident' for around fifteen years, taking his turn in running Singers Nights and Guest Nights with great aplomb! No longer as fit as he used to be, a couple of strokes and the odd fall here and there made even walking difficult without various appliances. For a few months we were all concerned that he wouldn't be with us for very much longer, but, to everyone's delight, he fought back with vigour, and participated regularly on Singers Nights once more, occasionally running the evening in his own inimitable style - his wit was still as razor sharp as ever!! Sadly, a massive stroke took him from us on

Geoff Smith  was our 'doorman' until ill health meant his visits became less frequent in 2000. We miss his fine unaccompanied singing and his jovial company. Ian now acts as doorman in Geoff's place, but needs to eat quite a few extra Weetabix before he matches the stature of his mentor!

Bernard Cromarty first came to the club around Easter 1997 having known Don through work for a year or so; Janet Russell was unable to appear at very short notice, and Bernard stepped in and did the gig instead. A few months later he was 'promoted' to resident status. Illness has prevented Bernard from being quite so active in the running of the club over the past two years, but he seems to be recovering now, so watch out!

Lesley and Rick Nelson became residents around the summer of 1998, and we are delighted with the way they are going from strength to strength, not only with their musical performances, both as a duo and as soloists, but also in the professional way they can run the evening (which gives Don a break!). They recently celebrated '100 years of Rick & Lesley' by inviting everyone to a birthday ceilidh at Altrincham Masonic Hall with - you've guessed it! - Garva!

We can justifiably claim to be one of Britain's top folk clubs now - how many other clubs can boast that Dave Swarbrick rang to say 'Martin Carthy and I are doing eleven gigs together this year - can we do one of them at the Railway?' That was our grand opening to the 2001-2002 season. Oh - the answer to the question is ten!!

What is the secret of the club's success? Well, there's really no secret. Give people what they want, and they come flocking in droves. Alternate Guest Nights and Singers Nights (and occasional Saturday Specials) mean there is something for everybody - and the room itself is ideal. You'd have to pay at least twice as much to see some of our guests at, say, the Bridgewater Hall - and you'd be a lot further away from them, even on the front row! Whether there's thirty or ninety in the room, the atmosphere is always cosy and welcoming, and Paul, the landlord, keeps a fine bar with 'guest beers' every week.

Thanks to Bernard for the use of the club history from the
Lymm Folk Club  website
where more information and photographs are available.

Since the above was written there have been a quite few changes...

Don and Heather Davies 'retired' in December 2002, handing over the organisation of the club to Stewart Lever. Paul Burgess, the landlord of the Railway, retired in 2005, and Frank took over... Everything was just fine until Lymm Festival 2007, when Frank disappeared on the night of July 1st, and we were left with some festival events and no venue!

We decided that, as the club was often referred to as 'Lymm Folk Club', and we were without a venue, now was a good time to 're-brand' the club from 'The Railway Folk Club' to 'Lymm Folk Club', so that the club name wasn't 'venue dependant'. We were fortunate that two festival events were being held at Statham Lodge that year, but our Thursday guest that week (Billy Mitchell) appeared at the Saracen's Head, Warburton...

We were unable to find another venue who could commit to every Thursday, so we now share the Spread Eagle with the local Masonic Lodge, who have a long-standing prior claim to use of the room... when we cannot use the Spread, or we need a bigger venue, we now use Lymm Rugby Club, and when neither is available we return to the Saracen's Head at Warburton, where we also have our annual Singers Christmas Party, shared with Bollin Morris.

In November 2010 Stewart handed over the reins to Bernard Cromarty...

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Northwich Folk Club

Meets on Fridays at 8.30pm in the bar of the Harlequin Theatre, Queen Street, Northwich, and occasionally at Davenham Players Theatre.

Northwich Folk Club was born in March 1977 when Jeanie Hammersleigh, then an officer for DAN (Development of the Arts in Northwich), brought together some local performers (including Iain Bowley and Tony Howard) at the White Lion in Witton Street. After a run of successful nights that spring, a group of people (including Sandy Boyle) formed a committee which has seen the club run continuously for thirty seven years. There have been many changes, but Sandy (and husband Sean), Iain and Tony are still connected with the club.

The club ran at the White Lion for about seven years or so, during which time the one and only Northwich Folk Festival took place in 1983. Starting with a kitty of fourpence, the club has, through a mixture of guests and singers' nights, gained a reputation and a financial stability that is the envy of many other clubs. After a short spell at the Coachman's Inn in Hartford, the club moved to its present location in the Harlequin Theatre where folk music lovers still meet on Fridays throughout the year. The club is still run by a committee whose members take turns to host evenings at the club.

Some of the regulars at Northwich

Over the years, many notable names on the circuit have performed at the club, including Martin Carthy, Ewan McColl, Dick Gaughan and Andy Irvine. Many less well known names have also proved to be excellent entertainment, and in between guests, the talent in the club ranks has had its own chance to shine. Many a talented musician or singer has risen from the audience, some of whom have gone on to professional or semi-professional status.

Regulars are from time to time invited to do a "super-spot", a chance to improve their skill by doing more than the usual one or two songs. There are some fine voices and talented players with guitar, fiddle, bazouki, flute, squeeze box and bodhran (amongst others). There was even a highland piper amongst the regulars once.

Anything from traditional to contemporary, blues and beyond can be heard in the club, with local artists mixing with guests from as far afield as Hungary and the U.S.A.. The club has also arranged ceilidhs and boat trips, and is always open to new ideas.

That First Night... Iain Bowley reliably informs me that the first night was kicked off by Rob Ollerton doing "Misty Moisty Morning". Iain made his own contribution, a version of James Taylor's "Fire And Rain".

Check out the Northwich Folk Club's  website  for more information

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The Hale & Hearty Folk Club

...meets for a SINGAROUND at 8-30pm on the first and third Friday of every month at the Cross Keys, Milnthorpe, Cumbria

With eleven residents, we are provided with a different host each time we meet.

They are... Frank and Sheila Lewis, Steve Black, Bob Hellon, Dave Summers, Gill Turner, John Hodgson, Roy Wilcock & Bridget Guest, Ken Lawson, David Littlewood, Roy Adams, and Dave Hall.

We maintain a smoke-free clubroom welcoming singers, musicians and listeners alike.

Our History:

The current club is a descendant of the Arnside Folk Club created by Steve Black and John Harper in 1985 where it ran monthly, mainly as a singers club with an occasional guest booking which included Jez Lowe, Fiona Simpson, Ian Bruce and Isaac Guillory.

The Regulars gather round for a pint and a photo

Refurbishment in 1994 brought about a move to the Bull's Head, Milnthorpe... Steve Black took over and we met there twice each month. Occasional guest bookings included: Di Henderson, Mal Brown, Tim Laycock, The Wilsons, Jim Sharp, Dave Summers, Roy Wilcock & Bridget Guest, Robin Laing, Donal Maguire, Th'Antique Road Show, Chris Wilson, Ann Anderson, Paul Dalton, Barry & Ingrid Temple, Jane & Amanda Threlfall with Roger Edwards and Martin Ellison, Davy Jones & Frank Kay, Matt Armour, Bob Hellon, Ken & Pat Wilson, Fahey-Murphy-Maguire, Alison McMorland & Geordie McIntyre.

When the installation of the big-screen TV sent shock waves through our hitherto quiet room, we moved again to the nearby Milnthorpe Institute and Frank Lewis took over. The night was changed from Sunday to Friday and a number of the regulars were recruited to form a rotation of residents to host each evening in turn.

In July 1999, we moved again to the Kings Arms at Hale which is just over the border into Cumbria. We then changed our name to become the Hale & Hearty Folk Club and although we are somewhat out in the sticks, we continue to draw a good crowd.

The club now meets at the Cross Keys in Milnthorpe a couple of miles up the road due to the room at the Kings Head being used for other purposes.

Songs with big finishes are a speciality here!

During the summer of 2001 we made studio recordings of the residents and friends of the club and in September the CD "Grassroots" was released. With 22 tracks embracing a pleasing mixture of traditional and contemporary folk, it has received excellent reviews and has been welcomed by Cecil Sharp House as an important addition to their library archives.

All sales profits are donated to the Blackwell sailing charity for the disabled, copies are available from Frank Lewis for £9-00 including p+p. Ring Frank for more details on 01524 401203.

Standing room only for Frank in this popular club

Telephone Frank on 01524 401203 for more information about the club or the CD, or you can send him an  email.

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Harry Boardman
The man and his music


MP3 Audio Part A

MP3 Audio Part B

MP3 Audio Part C

MP3 Audio Part D

MP3 Audio Part E

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