“This well appointed club with stage, dance floor and three bars, has served the needs of its patrons since 1940. Top artists having appeared at ‘Ozzie’s’ include amongst their number names such as Ken Dodd, Jim Couton, Russ Hamilton, Billy Fury, Johnny Gentle, Mike Holliday, Lita Roza, Josef Lock and Jim Charters.
“Eight years ago the club became the headquarters of the Merseyside Clubs Federation. Its affiliated membership of 131 clubs covers an area from the Midlands to North Wales and operates under the chairmanship of Mr. Bill Davenport, and General Secretary Mr. Stan McGorian.
“The Sunday auditions of artists, both established and new, bring concert secretaries and talent scouts from further afield than the Federation area. The annual command performance of Merseyside artists under the auspices of the Federation is a show to watch for.”
Stan McGorian was able to inform me later on that the group, now called the Merseyside Clubs Association, had grown to 345 clubs. Incidentally, in those days we were more formal and columnists often used the ‘Mr.’ or ‘Mrs.’ in front of people’s names.
It’s no doubt that one of the biggest assets which helped to nurture the Mersey scene was the incredible number of venues. Apart from the Merseyside Clubs Association, which booked the rock groups and country music groups, there were also a vast number of venues throughout the entire Merseyside area:
Ellesmere Port, Chester, New Brighton, Birkenhead, Southport, Formby, Crosby, Runcorn, Widnes, St Helens, all had a variety of venues ranging from ballrooms to church halls, youth clubs, town halls, you name it!
Queens Hall, Widnes; La Scala, Runcorn; Aintree Institute; Plaza, St Helens; Majestic Ballroom, Birkenhead; Tower Ballroom, New Brighton; Locarno Ballroom; Grafton Ballroom; Jive Hive, Crosby; Ivamar Club, Skelmersdale; Mossway Hall; Holyoake Hall; Black Cat Club; Scorpion Club; Mandolin Club; Phoenix; Odd Spot Club; Kingsway, Southport; YMCA, Hoylake; Grosvenor Ballroom, Birkenhead; Civic Hall, Ellesmere Port; Cassanova Club; David Lewis Club; Riverpark Ballroom, Chester; Royalty Theatre, Chester; Pavilion Theatre; Rialto Ballroom; St Barnabus Church Hall; Samson & Barlow’s; Wells Fargo Club; Allerton Synagogue; the Morgue;
Alexandra Hall; Mossway Hall; Wilson Hall; Knotty Ash Village Hall; the Casbah Club; the Cavern Club; the Iron Door Club; the Downbeat Club; the Mardi Gras; the Albany, Maghull; New Clubmoor Hall; Blair Hall; Starline Club; Zodiac Club; Crane Theatre; Hope Hall; Hambleton Hall; Orrell Park Ballroom; the Temple; the State Ballroom; the Kon Tiki; the Kraal Club, New Brighton; the Cubik Club, Birkenhead; the Cherokee Club; Blue Angel; Cabaret Club; Del Rio Club; Litherland Town Hall; Bootle Town Hall; Empress Club; La Mystere; Lathom Hall, Seaforth; Merrifield, Old Swan; Mossway Hall, Croxteth; Neston Institute; Quaintways. Chester; St John’s Hall, Tuebrook; Town Hall, Skelmersdale; Valentine Rock Club; New Brighton Swimming Baths; New Brighton Pier; Silver Blades Ice Rink etc etc etc
Also of great importance were the local promoters who ran regular rock dances on a number of days per week at various venues. Pioneers such as Charlie McBain and Les Dodd and champions of the Beatles such as the late Brian Kelly, the latter probably deserving to be known as the first Beatles promoter because he booked the Beatles far more times than anyone else, apart from Ray McFall of the Cavern.
Forget the myth of ‘Cunard Yanks’, Merseyside had the edge because of the vast number of venues and the courage and support of the local promoters.