Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers – Witch Doctor 7th September 1965


Andre Palfrey-martin collection 

Peter Millington…He did another stint in 1987 at the second Big Beat Reunion – did you miss that too? He was a master of live performance and such a genuine bloke, proud to have played on the same bill with him and chatted.

Caz Simpson… Sadly I did miss it, he’s a top notch bloke and very underrated

Mick O’Dowd… Always one of my faves.

Andre Martin… Remember a gig with these boys in Summer 67 at The Surf City Club, Tunbridge Wells. They were booked in for a special night, it was usually disco remember working the venue for several months in 1967 9.00pm – 2.00am all that I can recall was it was small and over some shops in Monsoon Road I think access not the best, but in those days all I needed were records, equipment was all built in and provided by Management.

Mike Knights… I know this gets a little bit boring, but yes I was at this one to.

Lloyd Johnson… I saw them at The Assembly Rooms in Tunbridge Wells in 1964. Fast forward to 1981 and I had a visit from a shipping agent at our Kings Road Shop. The company was Benco and the person who came to see me was Cliff. He became our shipping agent. Several years later when Chris Sayer and I were organising ‘The Big Beat Reunion’ on The Pier Cliff asked me if he could come down and join in, of course I jumped at the chance to have on the bill. I spoke to Chris about it and Henry Harvey, Jonah & Chris said we’ll back him!…they practiced for a hour with Cliff on the afternoon whilst we were dressing the stage. Cliff was so pleased to meet his old mate that was in The Searchers. We’d booked The Searchers as top of the bill. The night was a dream and a huge crowd showed up.

Paul Huggett… Great band. Saw Cliff and some of his originals at a Butlins 60s weekend a few years ago, still impressive. Chris Farlowe and the Zombies on the bill too.

Trevor Spears… I also saw them in 64 at Tunbridge Wells great band and supported by another good band The Preachers who later had a couple of members killed in a car crash! I was also in the support group in Lucerne Switzerland with them and the bass player was Chas Hodges and an amazing piano player Roy? cannot remember his surname!

Lloyd Johnson… The Preachers played at The Pamdor in the club upstairs for Dave Muriel’s 21st…there were only around twenty of us there…

Andre Martin… I can remember working with them back at “the surf club” in Tonbridge in 1967. Great live band

David Edwards… He had a hell of a voice and a great band

Mick O’Dowd… Highly under rated band.


Who remembers Courtneys? – 1986

photo supplied by Karen Sweatman

Matt Thomas… Never stepped foot in the place but I can spot Karen lol

Gavin Hide… Yep. Remember in 86 home on leave….plus about 20 others from RAF ARMY bloody good summer leave

Lisa Jane… Went in once

Karen Sweatman…  Lived there around 86!

Eugene Hughes… I was the DJ on the opening night. Played cards with Norman Courtney a few years back.

Samantha Blake… loved courtneys xx always in there xxxx

John Busbridge… Was it at the bottom of Wellington Square on the right?

Roy Penfold… Spent a few months working behind the bar around that time!

Eugene Hughes… It’s was where Flavours of India is now. Or maybe that’s gone also.

Wendy Weaver… I liked Courtneys . The last time I went there there was the film The Stud projected onto the back wall of the stage

Eugene Hughes… thats right. It was controlled in the dj booth. I can remember when I was working there one night. Alex Higgins was playing Terry Griffiths in the final of a snooker tournament. I turned off the light display on the wall and put the match on the screen. The punters were loving watching it. Norman Courtney was going bonkers.

Karen Sweatman… Willie George also DJed there in the 80s. I looked up onto that screen one evening whilst dancing, and saw my boobs jiggling about! He had focused the camera on me! One very quick and screamy flee from the dance floor!

Matt Thomas… After Courtneys I think it was called Rusty’s,but I liked Googleberry’s the diner it became after

Tony Court-holmes… used to go there a lot

Terry Hardwick… I was the dj there after Mike Alen along with Kevin Frost and Willie George remenber remember that African Grey Parrot Rupert. Then it was taken over by Joe Oriorden and called Rustys after his wife Eileen. Norman Courtney was a real Character . Billy Ocean when the going gets tough. Saturday love . Just buggin. I cant can’t wait. Set me free.

Maxwell Fox… I am Norman’s grandson – my father, Steve Fox, was a DJ there; and that’s “how she met my mom”, Norman’s daughter! Do any of you have any pics of Norman or the place in general? Send them to me please!

Tony Ham… Nigel Sivers on the left, Robert Hollands in the middle.

Martin Richter… name names Karen.

Karen Sweatman… I only knew the guy sitting on my lap! Had never met any of the others!

Steve Mann… I remember happy hour

Karen Sweatman… me too. Tequila sunrises lined up. I was only 16 but was never asked there!

Patrick Briggs…O yes guaranteed a fight every Friday glasses flying through the air . Great club

Dawn Mann…Yes loved it in there, they had a small stage for some mad reason I used to get up there and dance. Well at least I thought I was dancing haha!

Vivienne Gibbs… Yes I do – it was great all the while it was 21+ but went downhill a bit when they lowered it to 18s and over

Debbie Marie… I think I only went in there when I was about 15/16 and my BF at the time had a broken leg so he sat with his leg up in a chair all night

The Witch Doctor St Leonards on Sea 1964 to 1967 by Nick Bloomfield.

Nick Bloomfield… Steve Marriott, David Bowie, The Moody Blues, Status Quo etc I’ve been fascinated by the story of a small live music club called the Witch Doctor which was started in St Leonards in 1964 and where many future pop stars and bands played. This video is not a detailed account but rather a personal view and a fond look at what became the place to go in Hastings for a few years in the 1960’s.. I have queried some of the claims made by others which is always dangerous but I worked hard on the research so hopefully most of this account is accurate… Hastings Pier was its big brother and had most of the big bands of the time but the Witch Doctor had a kind of magic. During my research I discovered that a Manchester based Business Man and major club owner was trying to expand his interests south. His name was Dougie Flood and some claim he had close connections with the ‘Quality Street Gang’ in Manchester. He bought clubs in both Catford and Hastings as ‘Witch Doctor’ clubs. Later the Catford club was rebranded as ‘Mr Smiths’ like the one in Manchester. Everyone knows about Hastings Pier and all the bands who played there From Hendrix to the Stones. The Who, Sex Pistols etc Pink Floyd played their last ever gig with Syd Barrett there. Much less well known though is The Witchdoctor which was a club formed in 1964 and based in Marine Court, St Leonards, the iconic 1930’s building that looks like a ship. It took much longer than I thought it would so if you don’t like it I don’t care as I’m knackered…

Gerry Fortsch… I was a bit to young to be allowed in to The Witch Doctor but as I was tallish and had long hair and sideburns I never had a problem.

Alan Esdaile… Well done Nick, must have taken you forever.

Andy Qunta… Very interesting! Thanks, Nick! I never went to the Witch Doctor as it closed before we moved to the Hastings area, but I remember my brother Tony & I played at the Cobweb in late ‘69/early ‘70 with our band Static Emotion, (also featuring Dave Austin, the late great Chris Sambrook).

Mick Knights… Was at the opening night and saw all the bands with the exception of Simon Dupree. Some famous names that were booked but cancelled on the night, one was Little Richard, I can remember Tony Powell sitting at the top of the stairs refunding the ltickets. I thought the owner was an organist and if I remember had a record out called Image which was played a lot but wasn’t really what people wanted to hear. I did see someone fire a shotgun at the main doors, was that to do with the Krays? Could go on but it’s time to take the dogs out.

Nick Bloomfield… I envy you seeing them all! There seems to have been a very flexible management structure in The Smiths organisation! I think the man you’re thinking of is Alan Haven and I’ve found the record you mentioned. ‘Images’ ‘from 1965.

Mick Knights… Nick, Yeah, a bit too sophisticated for the likes of us back then! You’ve certainly got the old grey cells working, I’ve posted about the Who gig before, of course nobody imagined they would become the force they did, back then they were just the best chart band around, I think I’m right in saying that Tony Powell booked them after taking a poll to find out which band people wanted to see. Always smile when I see the footage especially the sweaty bobbing head of Colin Gilcrest (Mr. G) sadly no longer with us. The girl dancing by herself I’m pretty sure is Silverhill Lill who was always there, as you can tell all the regulars had nicknames mine was ‘L I’ because I had the letters emblazoned across the front of my Lambretta. Really must stop rambling on, but between the Witch Doctor closing and the Cobweb opening the ballroom below was used for live bands on a Saturday night but sadly none come to mind!!

Chris Meachen… I went in once when it was the Cobweb, but the only feature I can remember was a tree trunk in the middle of the room, presumably as a funky kind of seating..

Stephen Moran… This is great Nick! I’m currently working on a PhD about the popular music histories of Hastings, and the Witchdoctor and the Cobweb made important contributions in addition to the Pier Ballroom of course, its great to see the Witchdoctor story captured so well.

Lynn Graham… I was in there at every available opportunity

Arthur Brown… I saw Steve Marriott at The Crypt

Tony MacDonnell… What a great film. Before our time in this area but so interesting. I played in a band in North Devon in the sixtes and we supported some of these acts in our local venue . Georgie Fame mentioned the Witch Doctor when he played a concert at the White Rock a few years ago. Once again – brilliant film and an important piece of local history.

Allan Testot-newick… I remember so well playing venue in 1966 with the King Bees we had a Brill night

George Underwood… Allan, ah yes, I remember now

Ian Williams… Allan, Local band ‘Spyke’ also played there

Mick O’Dowd… Used to be a member (still got membership card) even though I was underage. Saw some great bands there and always remember that the bouncers always seemed to wear Brut aftershave!

Stuart Moir… Played there many times supporting name bands of the era .


Pickettywitch – Aquarius 29th April 1972.


Mark Randall… Is this the lady that was ‘allergic’ to the 20th century? If so, she should be feeling a bit better now

Alan Esdaile… Yes that’s the one, Polly Brown, Mark. She was also in Sweet Dreams and had a hit with Honey Honey.

Jan Warren… OMG, not my kinda music, I always went to Aquarius to see Fusion Orchestra!! 🙂 <3

Julie Corrigan… It was Sheila Rossall not Polly Brown. Sheila was in New Pickettywitch.

Kiki Dee – Aquarius 2nd February 1974



promo photo trade ad for –  I got the music in me

Jenny Tyler… Kiki Dee was so good. Brilliant singer.

Mick O’Dowd… Highly underated talent. She was once signed to Motown and released an album on that label. One of the few “white” artists on their actual Tamla Motown label as most were found on Mowest etc.

Clifford Rose… I saw her at Hyde Park in 1976 and she was excellent, even though she used a cardboard cutout of Elton John when she performed ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’.

Downtown Saturdays 1981 with DJ’s Barry Page & Simon Veness

Martin Richter… Barry Page is the best dj – ever!

Vince Ray… Wow. So where was Downtowns on George Street?

Fred Marsh… Saturdays was at the end of George St above the amusements, never forget the stairs up to it or indeed trying not to fall down them a few hrs later

Vince Ray… Oooh yes, didn’t realise Saturdays was Downtown too

Andy Wilson… Nobody called it Downtown though – everyone still called it Saturdays.

Inside Saturdays Nightclub George Street Hastings 2019

supplied by Maureen Fuller Hastings Old Town Traders Facebook page.

Jill Lawrence… I remember it as Aquarius !

Jim Breeds… I remember it as both

Eugene Hughes… Me too. I can remember carrying Steve Maxted’s speakers up those stairs. Would need a conveyer belt today.

Martin Richter… I was assistant manager there in the 80’s – among other places !

Paul Bryant…

Martin Richter… Paul, name and shame

Sandra Bryant… I was there when it was the Aquarius

Alan Esdaile… Remember it well. Does anyone know what it is going to be now?

Maureen Fuller… spoke to builders today they are only repairing front of building as dangerous cliff is pushing front of building out not doing anything inside

Alan Esdaile… Thanks Maureen, its been empty now for ages and surprised no one has done anything with it.

Carol Arnold… saw Hot chocolate up there !

Leigh Wieland-Boys… me too! Worked up Aquarius as glass collector & Saturdays as cocktail waitress! Happy days

Tony Court-holmes… reopen? I was thrown down the stairs by a bouncer

John Beeching… I don’t remember it at all, but then there is lot about the seventies I don’t remember

Jacqueline Marsh… Is that the old roller skating rink I remember going there as a ten year old and learning to roller skate and dance on skates, my big achievement was skating backwards. Not sure if this was the same place? anyone remember the skating rink upstairs?

Maureen Fuller… Yes it was I used to go every Sat morning

John Busbridge… I remember it quite well, went there on my stag night in the snow! Half of my mates didn’t make it due to the snow! That would have been in February 1983.

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