ad supplied by Sarah Harvey cutting supplied by Andre Palfrey-martin collection
Sarah Harvey… Being a bit too young to visit The Cobweb at that time…. was this the actual opening night? February 23rd, 1968.
Wendy Weaver… I think Don Smith owned the Cobweb or even the Witchdoctor in the early days. He also had Aquarius I think and certainly owned Rennies (later Dennies) plus the Penguin Snooker Club until it was purchased for the Town Centre Development. He hoped to make the space that was the Cobweb a Casino but could not get permission.
Andre Martin… The Witch Doctor and Cobweb, were owned by another Mr Smith from Manchester who owned amongst other clubs in the North Mr Smiths in Manchester, the Catford Witch Doctor and several others. Don Smith was another Smith, who had interests in and around Hastings in the club business. You also had Eric Rennie, who I understood had the head lease for the Dolphin, which included Witch Doctor, Grenadier Club and Restaurant in Marine Court.
Wendy Weaver… Don Smith and Eric Rennie were partners. I know Eric Rennie had passed on when I met Don Smith back in 1981. I think they both used to drive racing cars eons ago. Most of the clubs he had had were leasehold but the old cinema where the snooker club was owned plus the nightclub of course. It was thought to be originally the mortuary of the Priory opposite. I came to Hastings in 1979 so most of the interesting places had closed by then.
Caz Simpson… Paul and Barry Ryan’s dad was good friends with Alan Jensen, I was there the night Big Al bought him up from the club downstairs to show him our Cobweb
Mick Knights…. I always understood that the Witch Doctor was owned by a session organist, also seem to remember they played a single of his back in the early days called “image” pronounced imarge.
Andre Martin… Alan Haven was the organist and he would double with Tony Crobie – Alan Jensen had a real passion for their type of music and promoted the duo at the Witch Doctor. The record was great and was used as a signature tune on one of the Pirate Radio Stations. Having just looked back – I see that the Opening Night Advertisment for the Witch Doctor – quotes McKiernan Entertainments [London]Ltd as the operators I think that was Paddy McKiernan who was at the helm, but there were definite links with the Manchester and London Operations.
Andre Palfrey-martin collection
Nigel Ford… I remember older guys & gals on the school bus talking about going to these clubs with mainly Tamla Motown artists(?) How long did they last as I started going to the pier in ’70 once I was independently mobile from Battle but never went to the Cobweb or Witch Doctor? We had the Hastings Observer which kept me in touch with what was on in ‘astins!
Andre Martin… somebody was asking about the ownership etc of the Witch Doctor, I have posted information to this, but have now found a press cutting from the summer of 1964 that gives more details, I have copied out the relevant section of the article in the Hastings Observer which is mainly about the whole Dolphin Complex
Andre Palfrey-martin collection
Kevin Burchett… the first night club i ever went to met a german au pair in there and we went to the i.o.w pop festival in 1970
Mick O’Dowd… Oh how the mighty Mojos have fallen, supporting Fingers Lee.
Andre Martin… Not bad survived for 2 years without a fire !