Halcyon days of Batley Variety Club

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The photo reproduced in last week’s paper of the Batley Variety Club door staff in tuxedos ‘n’ ties would certainly stir a few memories.

And with Dorothy Squires’s name clearly visible on the neon behind it becomes easy to date the photo during the week of April 21-27, 1968, the first of the feisty blonde’s two appearances at the celebrated night spot. Already a veteran by this time, her ability to belt out a song and her set backs in life were equally well documented.

Surprisingly, she later settled locally in Ackworth before returning to her homeland of Wales to live out her final years.

Also visible on the neon sign is the name Ray, in fact Ray Fell, a jack-the-lad comedian with a sharp wit and a knack for split second timing and delivery turning otherwise mundane material into something hilarious with a stony-faced punch line.

Further down the bill The Lorne Gibson Trio, who off stage was Eric Brown, a Scotsman who settled in London and who passed away in 2003. With resident performers Linda Russell and Bruce, The Deb Set and the mischievous Jerry Brooke ever present, the club offered astonishing entertainment in those halcyon days, stars of international repute becoming frequent visitors on Bradford Road and here’s the deal, at admission prices though relative to the times you would not believe! The above show for instance at 7/6d (37 1/2p).

For 11 years Batley Variety Club was a byword throughout the land setting the bar for other clubs to follow and with subsequent years distancing us ever further from that era, it becomes even clearer what an influence it became leaving an abiding memory to all that tasted those times.

MICHAEL STORR

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