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Flamingo Ballroom

 
 
 

Location:

Illogan Highway, Redruth

 
     
 

The Flamingo Ballroom in Pool would become one of the biggest venues in Cornwall during the 60s. Alongside The Winter Gardens and The Blue Lagoon it was one of the biggest draws in the South West, hosting many of the biggest national groups of the day. The establishment was also quite unique in that it was run by Joy Hone, one of the few women in the industry at the time.

The Flamingo Ballroom in Pool would become one of the biggest venues in Cornwall during the 60s. Alongside The Winter Gardens and The Blue Lagoon it was one of the biggest draws in the South West, hosting many of the biggest national groups of the day. The establishment was also quite unique in that it was run by Joy Hone, one of the few women in the industry at the time.

Located in Pool in between Redruth and Camborne the site was originally a dump for mining materials, previously part of the Wheal Agar section of East Pool and Agar Mines.

Joy’s father purchased the 10 Acre site and built a petrol station, garage and car show room on the land, later building a cafe alongside. He liked boxing and had always wanted to have his own venue. He thought the venues around the local area were too small and always wanted to put on boxing shows in a much larger arena and set about creating what would become the Flamingo Ballroom.

At the time the venue was believed to the largest of its kind the West of England, with seating for 200 and parking for 1000 cars. The main hall was 150ft long by 50ft wide and had a specially constructed sprung floor for dancing. A large stage was build, that if required could accommodate 300 people, and there were three dressing rooms created for visiting performers. There was also a large central ring for boxing, and room for 1300 spectators.

The main entrance to the venue was facing the main road, with a booking office on the side of the building, along with accommodation. The other side of the venue contained the cloak room and conveniences. Behind the main building was a small building that housed 200 people. This would be used as the Flamingo Club, a membership only venue with a licensed bar.

The Flamingo was set up as multi-purpose venue to be used for music, sports and committee meetings.

The main hall would open around Dec 1957, with the club and bar opening on the 20th November 1957.

The venue started on putting boxing and later wrestling matches. It also had a pub built alongside it, so was a popular draw. Joy’s father would suffer a heart attack in the early 60s. At the time she as working in the petrol station and her husband was in the Navy. He came out of the Navy with some money and the pair decided to invest it in the venue and take over its management.

Joy began by booking ballroom acts, and through this learnt her trade. She would also continue to bring in boxing and wrestling matches, but began to diversify by putting on skiffle and jazz nights. As music developed she was soon also booking beat and later rock groups.

The Rebels on stage, late 50s

Unlike many of the other venues in Cornwall, the Flamingo would continue to be a multipurpose establishment. It was a cavernous building, and partly because of that it required a steady stream of business to keep it going. People traditionally wouldn’t venture out in the bleak winter months, and it was also difficult to get out of county bands to travel down the treacherous Cornish roads, so in Jan/Feb time few bands played the venue and the programme would mainly consist of wrestling shows, which were much cheaper to run.  Throughout its history the site would also see many dog shows, as well as visits from three current Prime Ministers. It would also host one of the first Radio One shows. One of the wrestlers, Fred, would act as resident bouncer at the venue. He would also live in a room on the stage area.

Its musical history began with Saturday night dances for the ballroom crowd, with visiting acts such as Ted Heath and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. Blind organist Peter Bartle would entertain the crowd during the intervals, to ensure there always some music playing.

Peter Bartle

One of the big draws for visiting bands was the on site accommodation. Local hotels and B&B’s would always want guests to book in for at least a week, which was no good for a visiting group. The Flamingo had 18 rooms available, which was perfect for a visiting orchestra or big band, or a rock group and its entourage.

c1961/62

The Flamingo would host mostly big name groups, selected in part due to their success on the ‘hit parade’. The Winter Gardens had a young crowd in the local area who were regular patrons, and the Blue Lagoon was always packed to the rafters due to the young crown in the Newquay. The Flamingo had less of an available local crowd, so was somewhat reliant on pulling in the big names and therefore the big crowds. Joy would put on coaches to all parts of Cornwall, ensuring that crowds could make a hassle free journey to the club and back again.

While The Winter Gardens and Blue Lagoon would regularly feature Cornish bands packing the bill, at the Flamingo it was usually as a support for a visiting band. Many of the venues bands would come through Lionel Digby in Torquay, who booked and arrange some of the bigger stars of the day. With a capacity of around 2000, if you were a local band and secured a gig at the venue, you knew you had made it!

Joy was often concerned that performers would not show. Tom Jones could earn £500 in London, but with only a £250 in Cornwall she would always ensure there was a contract in place to make sure they showed up. Tom did show up and the locals made a good attempt to grabble him off stage. Joy didn’t have use of the police to marshal events so would often employ the St John’s Ambulance. Simply having representatives in a uniform was often enough to deter any trouble.

Tom Jones backstage at the Flamingo

One band who did fail to show was The Pretty Things. A telegram was sent to say the band were too sick to attend. joy happened to be in London that weekend for a motor show and paid the band a surprise visit. It was apparent that they were most likely unfit to perform, but not due to illness! Needless to say with a contract in place they did later perform, but at a knocked down price.

Joy remembers another difficult performer. In 1963 Gene Vincent was touring the UK and paid a stop off in Cornwall. The support band at the time decided to tackle Gene’s “bee bop a loo la”, which left Gene furious. He flat refused to go out on stage, until joy had some rather stern words with him. 

Steve Marriot and the Small Faces also received the wrath of Joy one evening. At each gig joy would gather all the performers together and explain the running order for the evening (which was always the same each week), and woe betide anybody that didn't stop and listen to their orders. The Small Faces were rehearsing on stage during this weekly ritual and when their orders came to stop and listen Steve had to get the last word in by playing a riff, which resulting in the band getting a full dressing down from Joy and standing on stage like naughty school children.

Terry Fround used to play Cornwall regulary with his band Stonewall Jackson, and he remembers the Flamingo;

We also received a good dressing down from Joy, we were doing a sound check she stopped us from the floor and we stood on stage and got the b------g of a life time, also we were told what to play, at the end of the gig we played an encore and Joy told us if we do that again she will pull the plug on us!!! Apparently she switched Deep Purple off the week before during their encore!!!! We also stayed at the Flamingo in the rooms at the back and Joy told us strictly no girls in the rooms!!!

Darlings of the psychedelic underground, Pink Floyd were not so popular with the locals when they played the venue in December 1967 as part of a tech college dance, complete with a slowly dissolving Syd Barrett. Although the hardcore Floyd fans lapped up the gig those looking for a dance band were sorely dissapointed. The band played most of the Piper LP. Syd got worse as the evening went on and by the end of the night he had been unplugged and was left strumming away on his guitar slightly off stage.

John Tresidder remembers the Floyd gig; "Floyd, from the 'Psychdelic Underground Era', who went on to produce the acclaimed Album, Dark Side of the Moon, in 1973, proved to be innovative, flamboyant and dynamic, with a superb light-show, but they did disappoint, a little, owing to them not playing their hit single, See Emily Play. However, the group, with the charismatic Syd Barrett, as the Lead Singer, were almost invisible on stage, owing to them performing beside a dozen or more, 1800mm (6’ 0”) tall “prop” speakers, free-standing, with additional speakers, the same size, perched, crucifix-fashion, on the top – an impressive sight, indeed!"

A letter to Melody Maker at the time was less than complimentory about the gig! "If any readers are intending to see Pink Floyd, my advice is don't. They played here recently and were so unbelievably bad the support group had to be brought back early. It was the opinion of most of the 1000 students at our dance that they were the worst group ever to appear in Cornwall."

Another memorable gig was the arrival of Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come. Known for his theatrical stage show, he didn't dissapoint arriving complete with smoke and fire effects.

The venue also play host to the final gig by John's Children in 1968, when Chris Townson hit John Hewlitt over the head with his guitar resulting in the break up of the band.

John the Fish remembers The Flamingo;

I saw The Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra at the Flamingo but I can't put a date to it and there were no more than a couple of dozen people, if that and they were lost in that vast hall.- the gig was put on by Reg Mann from Bristol - he had a reputation of failures - concerts, festivals, even a river-boat shuffle from Bristol to Lundy - all failures - needless to say he lost a lot of money but he loved his music and the musicians - the Pigs were their usual hilarious selves and were enjoyed by all who were there

A few weeks later I saw Stephane Grappelli and his Hot Club of, whatever he was calling the band at the time, again put on by Reg - the support was a ragtime piano player who announced what he was going to play through the mike, with the spotlight on him - he then left the stage to play the grand piano which was on the floor - a man came with a ladder and climbed up to redirect the spotlight - when the piano player finished his piece he then went back on stage to the mike to announce the next piece and the man the climbed the ladder and redirected the spot on to the stage, by which time the piano player had finished his introduction and had gone back to the piano - this went on for three or four numbers.

Stephane and the band came on and were excellent - Diz Disley, who was responsible for bringing Stephane over here from France, was doing the introductions - witty man that he was, there were many references to the lack of audience and for there final number he said "We've got to go now as they need to bring the airplane back in".

In 1971 the venue played host to a group contest, similar in style to the Rock and Rhythm Contest at Truro City Hall. The event was put on by Yardley's and Laney. Yardley's being sellers of musical instruments and Laney amplifiers. Hairy Magpie were one of the band's who competed, but didn't win.

Thanks to Graham Hicks

In 1972 the MC5 almost brought their incendiary performance to the venue, but due to quibbles over money (this was of course the era of the the 'free festival') unfortunately it wasn't to be.

In the late 70s/early 80s tastes were changing. Punters wanted to go to clubs, rather see live bands and there was also little interest in boxing and wresting matches. Joy sold off the share of her the venue to another director and moved on. During it's final days the venue was used by Dickies as a storage warehouse for it's distribution business. It also operated as an indoor skateboard park.

For a short time the land at the rear of the venue was also used as by a circus, including all it's animals!

It was then used by several supermarkets, firstly Mainstop, then Prestos and finally Safeway who sadly demolished the famous venue. Although they struggled for a couple of years with planning permission a new store was built, and remains to this day, now known as Morrisons.

The Flamingo in it's final days

A reunion was organised by Freddie Zapp in 1995, bringing back together some of the patrons from the old days!

Roger Brokenshaw & Joy Hone at the reunion

 

The site of The Flamingo, in 2010

Thanks to Queen in Cornwall for additional images

 

Flamingo gigs

Here are a list of gigs that took place at the Flamingo. Over time more will be added. These are all taken from advetisements placed in the local press, so there is a likelyhood that some didn't take place, or bands were changed. If you have any to add please get in touch.

1965

09 January 1965

Saturday

Tornadoes (Exeter)

 

 

21 January 1965

Thursday

Poets

Dominators

"Snow or blow. Warm up to the fabulous rythm of…."

23 January 1965

Saturday

Johnny Cordell, Mustangs, Dominators

 

 

30 January 1965

Saturday

Telstars

Dominators

 

06 February 1965

Saturday

Diamond Dicers

Vandells

 

13 February 1965

Saturday

Colin Anthony and his beat combo

Misfits

 

20 February 1965

Saturday

Hal Ryder and His Spirits

Individuals

"Direct from London"

27 February 1965

Saturday

Linda Laine

Sinners, Del Sparton and The Dominators

"Big Beat Dance Night - England's answer to Brenda Lee"

06 March 1965

Saturday

Garry Kane & The Tornadoes (Exeter)

Misfits

 

10 March 1965

Saturday

Sounds Incorporated

 

 

13 March 1965

Saturday

Sabres

Roger and Mary, Vandells

 

17 March 1965

Wednesday

Long and the Short

Big Four 

 

20 March 1965

Saturday

Garry Kane & The Tornadoes (Exeter)

Renegades

 

27 March 1965

Saturday

Johnny Cordel and his Mustangs

Vigilantes

 

03 April 1965

Saturday

Telstars

Misfits

 

10 April 1965

Saturday

Sounds Incorporated

Jaguars

 

11 April 1965

Sunday

Jaguars

 

 

16 April 1965

Friday

Trendsetters Ltd

 

 

17 April 1965

Saturday

Trendsetters 

Rick and the Hayseeds

 

18 April 1965

Sunday

Trendsetters Ltd

 

 

19 April 1965

Monday

Trendsetters 

Rick and the Hayseeds

 

24 April 1965

Saturday

Hi Jackers

Dominators

 

01 May 1965

Saturday

Cops and Robbers

Misfits

"Direct from London"

08 May 1965

Saturday

Billy J Kramer & The Dakotas

Roe Boys

 

22 May 1965

Saturday

Original Checkmates

Rick and the Hayseeds

 

29 May 1965

Saturday

Johnny Carr and the Dynamic Cadillacs

Soul Society

 

05 June 1965

Saturday

Federals

Misfits

 

06 June 1965

Sunday

Federals

 

 

07 June 1965

Monday

Federals

Layabouts

 

12 June 1965

Saturday

Rip Van Winkle & his Fabulous Five

Vandells

 

19 June 1965

Saturday

Johnny B. Great and the Quotations

Rick and the Hayseeds

"Direct from London"

26 June 1965

Saturday

Little Frankie and Her Country Gentlemen

Big Four

"Thank your lucky stars"

03 July 1965

Saturday

Johny Ringo and his Mighty Condors

Vigilantes

 

08 July 1965

Thursday

Tom Jones and the Squires

The Layabouts

 

10 July 1965

Saturday

Riots Ltd

Soul Society

 

17 July 1965

Saturday

Russ Sainty and the Nu Notes

Misfits

"Direct from London"

18 July 1965

Sunday

Russ Sainty and the Nu Notes

 

 

22 July 1965

Thursday

Merseybeats

Layabouts

book now

22 July 1965

Thursday

Merseybeats

Layabouts

 

31 July 1965

Saturday

Gophers

Prowlers

"the professional groups"

04 August 1965

Wednesday

Acker Bilk

Gophers

 

07 August 1965

Saturday

Twinkle

 

book now

14 August 1965

Saturday

Guy Hamiton and The Sensations

Renegades

 

18 August 1965

Wednesday

Animals

Guild

 

21 August 1965

Saturday

Vickie

Peter and the Sabres, Soul Society

 

22 August 1965

Sunday

Vickie

Peter and the Sabres

 

26 August 1965

Thursday

Les Fleur De Lys

 

 

27 August 1965

Friday

Hermans Hermits

 

 

28 August 1965

Saturday

Trendsetters Ltd

Rick and the Hayseeds

 

29 August 1965

Sunday

Trendsetters Ltd

 

 

30 August 1965

Monday

Trendsetters Ltd

Layabouts

 

04 September 1965

Saturday

"two glamorous girl singers"

The Wainwright Gentlement, Soul Society

 

11 September 1965

Saturday

007s

Smokey Joes

 

18 September 1965

Saturday

Adam Faith & The Roulettes

Riot Squad

 

25 September 1965

Saturday

Mike Cotton New Sound

Others

 

26 September 1965

Sunday

Mike Cotton New Sound

 

 

02 October 1965

Saturday

Emeralds

Misfits

 

03 October 1965

Sunday

Emeralds

 

 

10 October 1965

Saturday

Mark Lloyd and the Monotones

Misfits

 

11 October 1965

Sunday

Monotones

 

 

16 October 1965

Saturday

Condors

Rick and the Hayseeds

 

23 October 1965

Saturday

Pretty Things

The Others

 

30 October 1965

Saturday

Alan Brown Set

Soul Society

 

06 November 1965

Saturday

Peter Jay and The Jaywalkers

Rick and the Hayseeds

 

13 November 1965

Saturday

Dave and The Strollers

Misfits

 

20 November 1965

Saturday

Trendsetters Ltd

Misfits

 

27 November 1965

Saturday

Tony Rivers and the Castawars

Onyx Set

 

04 December 1965

Saturday

Gamblers (Billy Fury)

Dissatisfied

 

11 December 1965

Saturday

Mojos

Soul Society

 

12 December 1965

Sunday

Mojos

 

"Members only"

16 December 1965

Thursday

Dissatisfied

Onyx Set

"Portreath Life Saving Club Christmas Dance"

18 December 1965

Saturday

Cops and Robbers

Hayseeds

 

19 December 1965

Sunday

Cops and Robbers

 

"Members only"

24 December 1965

Friday

Zuider Zee

Survivors

 

25 December 1965

Saturday

Heinz and the Wildcats

Smokey Joes, Dissatisfied

 

26 December 1965

Sunday

Heinz

 

 

31 December 1965

Friday

Trendsetters Ltd

Reactions, Misfits

 

02 January 1966

Sunday

Trendsetters Ltd

 

 

 

 
     
     
Did you visit this venue? If so please get in touch!
 
 
     

 

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