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13 November 2014

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You are in: Stoke & Staffordshire > Entertainment > Music > Features > The Place

The Place

The Place now split into two venues

The Place

It’s said that ‘The Place’ in Hanley in Stoke on Trent was the UK’s very first discotheque.  It was certainly well-known for breaking a lot of the sixties’ R&B stars

The venue, in Bryan Street in Hanley, was one of the country’s most famous nightspots during the 60s and 70s, and remained open until the late nineties, when it underwent a series of refurbishments (becoming variously known as Rosie’s, La Terrazzo, etc) but always returning to its original name.

It seems almost unbelievable now, but breaking pop-heroes (David Bowie, Led Zeppelin) played The Place on its tiny stage, as well as R&B heroes of earlier times, such as Long John Baldry and Chris Farlowe.

But it was also as, basically a new kind of entertainment – dancing to a dj who played well-chosen, popular records – that The Place became really famous.  It was that new phenomenon, a discotheque.

Management

In those days of course, there wasn’t such a thing as a ‘corporate chain’ and the management under legendary Martin Donovan ran it as a prestige venue, though they did run a sister ‘Place’ nightclub in Manchester for a while. They also developed an adjacent bar and dancefloor under the name of The Placemate, which would have a different music policy and age-range to the main club.

In fact, the owner and founder of the club Kevin Donovan (no relation to Martin) wrote a book about the club's great days - The Place (Part One) - which is now a collectors' item.  However, Part Two never got written....


Terry Walsh interviewed former manager Martin Donovan in 2009, as Martin talked about how the club developed and grew from its opening in 1963. Martin himself was originally a punter there, who was asked to manage the club in 1968 (he later moved on to other legendary North Staffordshire clubs, Sammi Belles and Maxims).   Click on the link below to hear the full one-hour interview...

Your Comments

However the history of The Place is many and varied, and not one man can know it all. So, if you ever went to The Place, or have some facts about the club – can you let us know them by writing your comments on the board below?

last updated: 24/08/2009 at 16:12
created: 17/02/2009

Have Your Say

What are your memories of The Place?

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Ken Morgan
As a founder member of The Place complete with paper car sticker 'I'm a Place-mate, Mate!' one of my claims to fame was that Long John Baldry stood on my foot! I remember seeing many names including Judy Driscoll & The Steam Packet, LJB, Chris Farlowe etc. There was a great little jazz trio or quartet playing I think on Wed or Thurs nights. The cold beef sandwiches were also great. Rules were of course enforced and I recall being embarrased once when we took friends and the management insisted my mate wear one of their ties.

Jill
I went to the place late 60s early 70s. Tuesday was the best night, great bands, fond memories of the Place.

Mike Goodliffe
Well I started work at the Placemate with great management team Barry Salt Jim Heath Tony Plant and Dave Stanley we were then were clubbing started for the over 18's they then moved to the Place at 21 and to Maxins of Hanley at 23. Kevin Donovan and Bill Morris certainly got the marke sown up. I started when i was 17and a half (naughty)1972 and left in 1990. During this time i had seen boy meets girl they get married have children and there children get married that what The Place,Placemate, Maxims were about they were the people of the potteries they made these venues there own and supported them year after year until the big companies took over then it became a percentage trail and not entertainment value for money. I remember Martin bringing into the venues tv's for the first time in the uk and large screens to show football etc this was in 1984 and we lanched them with the first showing of Thriller by Michael Jackson at midnight. this was great tv's around the dancefloors and bars how new is that 1984 and people today think its good. Martin told us to take them down because it wass killing the atmoshpere because people were not talking to each other anymore how right he was. Great times Great people. Thank you for giving me such a great life in the 20 years that i was manager Placemate, Sammi Belles.Chico's Maxims of Newcastle live on in my heart GREAT DAYS.

Peter Jones
Whatever happened to :- Bruce Beaston !!?

Barbara Hudson ( Robertson)
Can remember going to the Place and later working for several years at the Placemate with Graham Bagnal,etc. Worked in the cloakroom and then on the door, taking your money. I remember these times with great fondness. Those were the good times.I must say that i have a copy of THE PLACE, it's part of my past and I would not part with it.I made some good friends in those days and I remember them if it was yesterday.

Peter Jones ex. Hartshill now S/Wales
Sunday night' if I remember correctly, Fleetwood Mac Peter Green, Marsha Hunt see what you think of this we just recorded it this week - "ALBATROSS" !!!.and of course, Jimmy James and the Vagabonds.Great, Grteat nights, including Ttretham Baths Friday night BBQ'S, Ceramic City Stompers Jazz men, plus great groups.

TONY HALL
I WENT THERE EARLY 80'S TO WHEN IT CLOSED , I WENT ON THE LAST NIGHT WHEN IT SHUT, I HAD GREAT TIMES IN THERE,OPEN MORE PLACES LIKE THAT, I MISS THE PLACE AND THE PEOPLE IN IT.

Tony Boulton
I worked the tiny upstairs bar in the late 60's and used to hang out there on off nights. I remember Bill and Kevin, but also Tony Salt and Dave Bracegirdle as well as me owd mate Dave Weetman who was a bouncer alongside Mick Massey. Saw some amazing acts, several off which are mentioned here - Fleetwood Mac, Brian Auger Trinity, Chicken Shack, Steam Packet, Alan Bown, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Arthur Brown. We had some great after hours Christmas parties, too. :)

Tracy Cope and Gillian Cope
We laughed, loved, danced, and did lots of growing up in the place. We remember the cellar, the bistro, rockfords, the basement. We listened to the birth of house music in the mid 80's. Best of all we were sisters who became friends with the onset of our many adventures every weekend in the Place.

lynda fox
met terry there he played organ for a band from the south called cop n robbers we used to go to bills house

Delphine Copeland
I worked there as a barmaid, around 1994, made some great friends who I am still in touch with today. Loved working there, it was fantastic! Then when the cafe bar became Rose 'O' Briens i worked there as well for awhile before heading of to uni. Great days

Colin Petrie
I may be wrong but I think the last song of the night was Time is Tight, Booker T & The MG'S.

anne
Does anyone remember one of The Place birthday parties at tha old Trentham Gardens "BBq and Splash" had a fab time with my mate Jenny still see her most weeks about 40 years after.It could never happen now to much health and saftyI would also like to know what the last record was "you know the instumental one " !!!

Mick Stone
I used to go about 3 times aweek, great place to go remember seeing John Fred and his playboy band there one Sunday. also The Alan Bown Set.

natalie x
i loved the place some really good times there sad its closed - bring back the place

Peter Gilbert Llandrindod Wells
Used to go to the Place and Sammi Bells often with my mates from Shrewsbury in the mid 70s,what a great trendy venue with the prettiest girls who all called you Duk,they were really good times and well worth putting on a suit for a visit.

Jan
Used to go there on pop and crisp nights for the teenagers (Wed + Sun) about 1986 then went on to enjoy R&B all dayers there and Saturday nights were the best! My friends and I prefering the music in the basement with Trevor M would meet up with mates from all over the country who had travelled to be at THE PLACE. They were the days!!!

jossy turner
the best nites of my life spent at the place.the memories and friends i made their will stay with me forever..

Tony
Just found one copy of Kevin Donovan's book on Amazon. Ordered it and waiting for it to arrive!

Stu Wykes
I, like John Richardson above, worked for Post Office Telephones as it was, and spent a lot of time at Stone College. I seem to remember visiting the Place and seeing "Chappo" & Family perform there (late 60's early 70's) and possibly Kenny Ball?

Ken Egan
I remember the Place with great affection, I used to live in Broome St in Hanley which was just a ten minute walk from the Place, so consequently, I would be there at least four nights a week. I saw some great acts too; Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, Peter Greens Fleetwood Mac, Mike and Bernie Winters, Long John Baldry and a lot of American acts which I can't remember now. Also, where are all the people I used to know in those days, Bruce Beeston, Eric Chadwick, Jim Oliver, Brendan Graal, Mick and Paul West, Elaine Robinson, Terry Dennis, Jim Westwood, John Croxton just to name a few. Those were the days, a fantastic time and unforgetable memories.

1960s clubs
I was 18 in 1965 and used to go to the Crystal every Saturday. Downstairs in the Hawaiian bar would be local groups playing the latest from the charts. In the main hall one floor up was the revolving stage and I remember the legendary Lonnie with his group Lonnies Few who would always end the night with an R & B rocker that went on for ages. At the side of the dance floor was the area where you had your chicken and chips in a basket and drank Double Diamond. On the third level was another bar where they introduced discos.
We also used to go to the Top Rank in Hanley. I think I went there on the first saturday they opened. All I can remember from the top rank is the open staircase which descended onto the main dance floor. Every time I hear Tom Jones It's not unusal or Unit 4 plus 2 with Concrete and Clay I am taken back to the Top Rank.
We also went occasionally to the Adulte in Burslem and later to the Heavy Steam Machine.
One place not mentioned very often is the Clayton Lodge hotel where we used to go on a sunday night. If my memory is correct it was one of the last places where the dancing was the rock and roll jive or bopping as we called it. Then gradually they started playing the stand about and do your own thing dances but you wouldn't get up without a girl.
Somone mentioned coach trips to the potteries for the night life. In the 80s I worked in Manchester and met people who lived in places like Blackburn who told me stories of their regular saturday coaches to the potteries for the Place and the Crystal.
Regards - Mike, Stafford

Luke, Bristol
I still think its good even twenty years on. I had the best time of my life there in 1983 cause i met my wife there! Amazingly we still love each other, great club and we just think its the PLACE.

Dennis Tuckerman
At The Place 1964-5, We (The Levi Set Blue's Band) had a residency at the Place for those 2 years. Founder Members were Jeremy Spencer (Hammond Organ), Dennis Tuckerman (Lead & Slide Guitar), Ian Charles (Bass) & John Charles (Drums). What a great 2 years that was.
We were all still at King Edward VI's Grammar School in Lichfield, 16/17 years old. We played mainly Elmore James with a few 'Keep on Running' etc. covers.
Some say Fleetwood Mac began with Peter Green, others say it started here. All 4 of us are still around, I'm in touch with Jeremy . I play once a year in our band called 'One Night Stand' if you want to recapture the music of that era and that Band, myself (Guitar & Vocals) along with Rob Aston (Guitar), Jack Tuckerman (Drums, Guitar,Vocals)& Andy Gray (Bass, Guitar).
If our old Manager from Shenstone is out there anywhere please get in touch!!!

Bob Owen
The Place - best place in the Midlands in the 60's!I lived in Stafford and went to The Place in the late 60's. there was nothing to beat it anywhere in the Midlands. I am making MP3s of the music that was played there at the time and it brings back great memories: Sock it to em JB, Girls are out to get you, Candy, Looking for a fox.
Sad to hear that it is so changed

Bezza, Woking Surrey
Used to go every friday,sat,night in the 70's and it was just as good on a monday night to. Great place to meet all your mates. Big pete used to be the bouncer on the door, he was the gentle giant,and their birthday partys used to be brill long may it continueBezzaWoking Surrey

John
Hi. I remember Sonny boy Williamson in the early '60's who was accompanied by an unknown band from Newcastle upon Tyne - who had a massive hit a few months later with 'Housing of The Rising Sun ' - The Animals !!!As a direct consequence of seeing this performance I gave ' 70 's disco a complete miss and concentrated on live performance. I have met many artists over the last 40 years and spent many hours in conversation.Thank you martin for a great job.

Charles Aldridge
nik gee,the organ instrumental i am not 100% sure it may be wade in the water by ramsey lewis i have the record on single vinyl 45 & 33 LP both on the chess label.
Mike-stafford i was also 18 in 1965 the third level at the crystal was called the brunswick bar do you remember Mr Smiths & the penny farthing in hanley? Once waited almost 5hrs @ Mr smiths to see hedgehoppers anonymous sing there hit 'its good news week'.
The penny farthing where all the birds sipped there drinks with there little fingers in the air & talked down there noses???.
Also went to top of the world in stafford on some saturday nights.

Jez (Jeremy Kelsall aka Jazzy Jeremy)
Now in Bristol but I used to DJ in "The Basement" on Thurs nights. Such happy memories, great music (who can forget all that electro funk, Herbie Hancock, SOS Band and the Jazz Funk). I can remember when lads were not allowed to dance on their own (had to be with a girl) - got thrown out once!! Made lots of great friends with staff & guests. Can still see me dancing with my then girlfriend Bev.
Also used to go to Maxim's in Newcastle a lot - always too drunk to recall many nights though.A big Hi to anyone who remembers me!!

nik gee
Does anyone remember the name and artist of the organ instrumental, that was always played as the last song of the night? Then it was chucking out time. This was during the late 60's early 70's.

Janie
I used to go late 60's early 70's, they had lots of fab groups and "Ugly Ray Teret" used to DJ.Worth the trip from Manchester!

Steve Wilkinson
was the Head doorman at the Place for 4 years late eighties to early nineties. What a great club it was. Met lots of great people and had some amazing times there. Hi to anyone who knows me

john richardson
In the late 60s and most of the 70s I used to work for the GPO who had a training school near Stone. At the end of a week's training course we would all go to the place on a thursday night, and have a really good "end of course" outing. In many ways its amazing that it's still there as an entertainment venue, although of course the character has changed considerably.

john - newcastle
a great club, used to work there when it was great, the Bagnalls, Steve and his dad new how to run it well for the people. run down in later years by poor corprate decisions and non stoke people running it. really really sad that it's gone

Mike - Stafford
I was 18 in 1965 and used to go to the Crystal every Saturday. Downstairs in the Hawaiian bar would be local groups playing the latest from the charts. In the main hall one floor up was the revolving stage and I remember the Legendary Lonnie with his group Lonnies Few who would always end the night with an R & B rocker that went on for ages.
At the side of the dance floor was the area where you had your chicken and chips in a basket and drank Double Diamond. On the third level was another bar where they introduced discos.
We also used to go to the Top Rank in Hanley. I think I went there on the first saturday they opened. All I can remember from the top rank is the open staircase which descended onto the main dance floor. Every time I hear Tom Jones It's not unusal or Unit 4 plus 2 with Concrete and Clay I am taken back to the Top Rank.
We also went occasionally to the Adulte in Burslem and later to the Heavy Steam Machine. One place not mentioned very often is the Clayton Lodge hotel where we used to go on a sunday night. If my memory is correct it was one of the last places where the dancing was the rock and roll jive or bopping as we called it. Then gradually they started playing the stand about and do your own thing dances but you wouldn't get up without a girl.
Somone mentioned coach trips to the potteries for the night life. In the 80s I worked in Manchester and met people who lived in places like Blackburn who told me stories of their regular saturday coaches to the potteries for the Place and the Crystal.

John
Hi Terry and Martin, I remember Sonny boy Williamson in the early '60's who was accompanied by an unknown band from Newcastle who had a massive hit a few months later with 'Housing of The Rising Sun ' The Animals !!!As a direct consequence of seeing this performance I gave ' 70 's disco a complete miss and concentrated on live performance. I have met many artists over the last 40 years and spent many hours in conversation.Thank you martin for a great job.

Nathan Hammond
Without a doubt the best night out to be had anywhere in the late 80's. Nisar Sherwani was a very imposing figure on the door, but a great bloke to know.

Paul Jervis
Used to work there towards the end. Massive shame that once liquid opened and creation was updated, no money was spent on the Place and it went down from there. Loved the rabbit warren feel of it, you could almost get lost on a night out but always bumped into someone you knew. Sorely missed but never forgotten

derek hollinshead
Great night out good music pretty girls

john gregory
i now live in alice springs, northern territory, sometimes songs come on the radio that remind me of the years that i went to that great place., and the friends i made there.

Yates
I worked on the door when the Place first opened

Charles Aldridge
Meet my wife there in 1968 married in 1969 & its our 40th wedding anniversary on 15th March had great nights great bands.Ps what happened to Bill Morris ???

Andrew Blagbrough
Went many times in my youth but best memory was seeing Fleetwood Mac - a great band!

margaret wood
i used to work there behind the bar, i was pregnant with my son who is 26 now. we had a great laugh.

ray billingham
we regularly travelled from Stourbridge on Saturday nights - a round trip of about 80 miles but it was worth the drive.

lynn.rosslyn
We used to go on Mondays. Kids night but only because no alcohol was served and the live bands were cognisance of the times of the last buses.Really fab nights, building on those Saturdays when we could get in. Fab timesLove Lynn xz

Mike Knox
The Place was a great Friday night out, but to correct your article, The Placemate was not adjacent to The Place but was in Newcastle.

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