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The Borough Bailiff

Mitre Folk Club

The Mitre hosted Sunday folk evenings in the late 1960s, with local singers such as Zeke Deighton and guests including Vin Garbutt. In those days clubs often operated a membership scheme - a 1969 membership card is pictured below.

Mitre Membership Card

One group that appeared on a regular basis was the Greasy City Skillickers who were playing at the Mitre on the night the Americans landed on the moon in 1969. Another regular playing the accordian was Sid Page.

Knaresborough Folk Club

In October 1974 John Burrell began a long tenure running what would become the Knaresborough Folk Club. Its initial home was the converted stables behind the Royal Oak (not to be confused with the Old Royal Oak in the market square), and some early guest performers included Magna Carta, Dick Gaughan and Tony Rose.

In 1976 the club moved to the Commercial Hotel (renamed the Borough Bailiff not long after), and went from strength to strength. On some memorable Friday nights audiences were treated to the sublime guitar work of John Renbourn, the strident concertina playing of Peter Bellamy, and the dextrous cycling skills of Ashley Hutchings (the Fairport and Steeleye founder pedalled through the audience for his Cecil Sharp show). With a diverse guest list including Jake Thackray, June Tabor and Lindsfarne's Alan Hull the club was packed, but singers nights were also well supported.

John Burrell

John Burrell (above) singing Roll Alabama Roll at Knaresborough Folk Club with Allan Taylor and Tom McConville. John can be heard along with several other local singers on the Henshaws Benefit CD. Read his personal account of the Knaresborough Folk Club's history by clicking below

In 1974 some members of the club formed the Knaresborough Mummers. Since then the Mummers have performed countless times around the district (and further afield on occasion), raising money for local charities. Click here to watch a clip of them performing the 'Blue Stots' play in the Alive and Kicking show at Harrogate Theatre in 1987.

Leaflet from 1976

Click on the 'play' icon below to hear a recording of the Watersons singing Meeting is a Pleasure at the club in the 80s. More sound clips can be found here.

Blind Jack's

After John gave up the running of the club at the end of 1985 Joe Nicholson took over the role, assisted by Maureen Smith and Roy Hardacre. A new era was marked by a change of location to the Station Hotel, and the club was renamed in honour of one of the town's most celebrated figures ('Blind Jack of Knaresborough' achieved fame as a road builder, but was also a noted fiddle player). The club remained in an upstairs room at the Station for a few years, until a noisy new sound system downstairs proved too obtrusive.

Read Roy Hardacre's account of the history of Blind Jack's Folk Club here:

The Board Inn became the club's new home, but a year of shifting the heavy tables in its function room was enough for Joe and Mo, and despite some popular guest nights the singers nights weren't being as well supported, so they decided to hand the torch on to someone else. During their tenure there had been numerous memorable evenings, including appearances by artists such as Simon Nicol & Ric Sanders, Martin Simpson, Strawhead and Kathryn Tickell. Joe remembers The Shepherds (Joe Hutton, Will Atkinson and Willy Taylor) with particular affection.

1995 advert for Blind Jack's

Lindsey and Reg Crawford took over the running of Blind Jack's from 1989, and again the club was relocated. In a case of history repeating itself, Knaresborough's folk evenings were held once more in the Royal Oak, followed by a move to the Borough Bailiff. Just to complete the sense of deja-vu, the club's closing night at the end of 1995 was marked by a guest slot from Vin Garbutt, just like ten years earlier.

Third Friday Folk

The story wasn't quite not over, however, as the Third Friday Folk singarounds kept the music alive for several more years. This was born from the ashes of Harrogate's Friday 13th club, which had closed its doors at the end of 2005 with a concert from - who else - Vin Garbutt (he seems to do a Grim Reaper spot in our locale each decade). The club met once a month, and was run by Edna Barker and Roy Hardacre, just two of many people who have helped over the years to make Knaresborough a vibrant home for folk music. Originally the venue was the Mother Shipton Inn, but then the Third Friday Folk nights moved to the Mitre Inn, the same venue that hosted folk singing evenings forty years ago. The evenings were well supported, but sadly due to accommodation problems they came to an end in November 2009. There is, however, a monthly club at the Traveller's Rest in Harrogate which meets on the first Monday of the month.

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