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'Folk at the Grove' History

by Brian Senior
FORTY-THREE YEARS at the same venue must be some sort of a record, but The Grove isn't the oldest folk club in existence, that honour goes to the Topic in Bradford.
Having the dubious honour of founding The Grove Folk Club back in 1962 and running it for the first fifteen years I was asked by Sam and Ed to write a few words in celebration.
In 1962 Holbeck was a mixture of back to back houses and mills and had a large Irish community. The Grove Inn was at one end of Victoria Road and St Francis's Catholic Church at the other. The church had a superb dance hall attached to it and a bottle of whisky would usually persuade the local priest to allow it to be used for ceilidhs.

St. Francis's Church and most of the streets have long since been pulled down but somehow the pub remains.
It is still almost exactly as it was forty-three years ago, a tap room, a drinking corridor, two tiny snugs and its famous concert room. Its only concession to 2004 is that it now has a ladies toilet!
From 1970 to 1974 the club hosted the Radio Leeds weekly folk programme. A number of these tapes have survived and the club will soon be releasing a compilation CD.

Memories of ...

The Chieftains - The night The Chieftains were booked at a local college and rang to ask if the bar would still be open if they turned up at 11.30 am. The landlord at the time was Irish. The bar was still open at 2.30am the following morning! What a ceilidh that was!
Double decker bus .. and pie & peas with Mike Harding The time we had joint evening with Mike Harding's club from Manchester. We hired a coach and arranged to meet them halfway at a pub in Todmorden called the Grove Inn. They arrived in a red double decker bus! there was lots of good music and a pie and pea supper to finish.
Locked out with ..... The McPeake Family Like the night the McPeake Family were booked and when we turned up the pub was locked and the landlord was dead drunk behind the bar. Fortunately the Adelphi pub offered us their concert room and a guard was left at the door of the Grove to direct people the half mile to the Adelphi.
... and 130 capacity! for Hedgehog Pie .... The night Hedgehog Pie were appearing and by removing every table we managed to squeeze 130 people in (the current limit is about 80).
That the Grove Inn has survived at all is a miracle and it now stands on the edge of what will be the largest combined office, hotel and residential development in the U.K.

Leeds Folk Clubs: by Hugh Taylor.
I first started going to folk clubs in Leeds around 1965. The first one was in a pub on Boar Lane hosted by Jon Rennard. I still had his LP up to a few years ago. we then started going to the Club Memphis in the RAOB club run by Johnny Wall. He alter moved it to the Irish Centre on York Road. Occasionally we'd visit the Brig Club at the Adelphi near Leeds Bridge, run by Bob and Hazel Spray. Bob used to sing in the Croppy Boys along with Jim Potter and Rennie Pickles.