Orpington Folk Club
A Brief History of Orpington Folk Club
THE ROYAL OAK
THE ROYAL ALBERT
THE WHITE HART
December 1982September 2002
THE ANGLESEA ARMS
September 2002December 2004
THE CHANGE of HORSES
March 2005March 2019
THE ROSECROFT SOCIAL CLUB
April 2019March 2020
Farnborough Social Club
We have chosen to keep our Logo
Occasionaly guest(s) write to us about their memories of the club
'The Levee Breakers'
(12 String Guitar)
(Tipple & Harmonica)
Beverley Kutner (Beverley Martyn)
Michael (Henry Viii) Bartlet
Three local music enthusiasts launched Orpington
Folk Club on the 17th May 1965, Kevin McCabe, Chris Andrews and Terry Sparkes. To advertise the
club they performed in Orpington, Bromley and Sidcup High Street. With Kevin on guitar,
Chris on a rare Washburn banjo and Terry dressed in a town criers outfit. They were to be
pleasantly surprised on their opening night.
Note from Chris, Sept 2009 : It was Ralph May
who gave Kevin and I the bug to go traveling and ended up on the road
for years. Did Terry ever play the fiddlle? Who is the fiddle
player in the photo?
Ralph McTell in conversation with John Beresford, January 2008.
The Levee Breakers Link...
Photograph :- Harry Pattullo.
The first evening featured a group called "The Levee Breakers"supported by the resident group "The Poachers", photograph left. It was held at the "Royal Oak", Green Street Green. This was to be the clubs home for more than fourteen years, until the pub was refurbished in 1979.
Above some of the club members get together and decorate a float for the Whitsuntide bank holiday Fifteens association carnival parade 31st May. They played and sang all the way up Orpington high street to Goddington Park. For four years
running the club entered a float in the Orpington carnival in late May, singing and playing well
known standard folk songs like
"Goodnight Irene". For their efforts they even won a prize one year.
Lorry supplied by :- Tommy Farrant
Photograph :- Kentish Times
No prizes for recognising Harry
On that first night, over two hundred people attended. So many that the guest group performed outside for 60 or more of those who were unable get into the room. In
its infancy the club regularly featured such notables as Ralph May later to become Ralph McTell (Ralph
had his first ever paid gig at Orpington) John Renbourn, Davey Graham
(who wrote the guitar tune "Angie"), Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick.
David Bowie and his side kick Ken "Wild Man" Simons did several
floor spots, Wally Whyton, Bill Clifton and many more have all played
at the club.
(See our Gallery of Fame page)
On the 21st March 1979 "Fiddlers Dram"
appeared at the club
instead of the booked guest, Martin Carthy who was unable to attend. They recorded "Day Trip To Bangor" shortly afterwards and were on "Top Of The Pops", at number two or three. (Dingle's Records
While at the "Royal Oak" the opportunity arose to decorate the room. The Resident musicians, organiser and secretary painted the ceiling mat black with star clusters
resembling the constellations. Lighting was installed to improve the mood of the room and the use of
a microphone and sound system to assist the guest(s). The wall was covered in posters and record
sleeves. A part of the wall behind where the guest(s) performed was covered in the autographs
of the performers. One such autograph written by Stan Arnold said, “Stan Arnold outwitted
by a cat.” The pub cat had sat on a stool next to Stan during his performance and
Stan said, to the cat "what do you think of the show so far" the cat responded by licking itself
where only a cat can reach.
To advertise the club one of the residents made a billboard
and placed it alongside the A21 main road, which runs adjacent to the pub. Vehicles traveling between Bromley,
Sevenoaks and Orpington via Green Street Green were able to see it. He also climbed
on to the roof of the clubroom and painted the words "FOLK CLUB" in large bright letters, which
could be seen from the road and by low flying aircraft. The club members went out several
times in the dead of night to stick posters up around Orpington and the surrounding area. They also spent many a cold Saturday morning giving out handouts in Orpington high street.
Due to a change of ownership and renovations in 1979 the
club moved. It found a new home at the 'Royal Albert', Lower road, Orpington and changed its meeting night from
Monday to Friday evenings. A group of members got together to bring chairs and tables from
"The Royal Oak". traveling in convoy to the new venue with items of furniture including a stall sticking out the windows. The change of venue at this time spawned a change in organisation.
Some of the mainstays of the club got together to spread the work load and each chipped in £5 to help
with the cost of advertising the different night for reopening the following Friday. Such
is the faith and enjoyment in the club that by 1982 a substantial following built up. Unfortunately the change in day from Monday's to Friday's meant that Dave Plane was unable to commit to the weekly meeting at the club.
Due to alterations, on the 5th November 1982 and the need
for more room, the club moved to 'The White Hart', Orpington, situated centrally in the High Street, in the upstairs function room. Finally changing from a Friday, to Thursday evenings, on Thursday 2nd December 1982.
In 1986 the club celebrated its 21st birthday, an event marked by the unveiling of a commemorative plaque on the front wall of the pub, a live broadcast by Radio Kent, produced and edited by the late Simon Evans and much loved Charlie Jacobs. The club has taken part at various civic and charity functions. 1984 for "One Good Turn" it was in concert with Motley and Kent Korkers. 1989 it took part in the opening of 'Crofton Halls' formally the civic centre halls. In 1990 the 'Scratch Band' helped to raise cash for A.R.C. Appeal for Romanian Children by performing at a garden party at Farnborough
Park. The Club's 21st and Jubilee birthday was also celebrated by the placing of a plaque on the outside wall of the pub.
1990 was the club's 25th anniversary year. It was celebrated
by making a live recording of the then "Scratch Band", made up of resident
musicians and organiser. It is available on cassette for £3.00. As part
of our own celebrations and Bromley council's Arts Festival, 'The Scratch
Band' played in concert with Jake Thakray at Coney Hall, near Hayes, Kent. In March there was a special club night sponsored by Bromley Council with
ex-Steeleye Span and Albion Band member, John Kirkpatrick and his wife
Sue Harris. And finally on the 25th anniversary night the 17th of May,
an evening of music was arranged with as many of the original organisers
and musicians that could be mustered. Throughout 1990s the guest performers featured were chosen
from those that had supported the club over many years. The club organised a few open-top bus trips. Stopping off at the 'Norman Conquest' Rochester for lunch and several Kent village pubs on the way back. Laden with beer, musical instruments and performing to the locals at every opportunity. In the autumn, rambles through the countryside finishing up at a pub for
lunch and a song or two. At Christmas a meal at The White Hart pub with
club members, residents and organisers.
There have been many memorable moments over the years.
One highlight for the club was in September 1997 when Sydney Carter
("Lord of the dance" 1963) arrived with Jeremy Taylor our guest for the night. Sydney was persuaded to sing. He performed "My
Last Cigarette" which he had written in hospital. A memorable evening.
After 20 years at The White Hart, Orpington Folk Club had to move. The White Hart changed to Spirit 'Q', a different arm of the Spirit brewery and was refurbished
and turned into a sports pub. We where able to find a venue at the 'Anglesea Arms' Kent Road, Orpington
from 26th September 2002 until 16th December 2004. It was decided that evening
to find some where else as the previous landlords had left and we were not made as welcome.
After much traveling around looking for a venue and false promises we have found another home at the
'Change of Horses', Farnborough Village, Orpington. Pete and Margaret our hosts enjoy
our music and are happy to have us there.
On that first night 3rd March 2005, "Triality" were our guests.
Unfortunately only two of the brothers could make it. Charlie and Ted Handle but
Elated club organisers on the first night at the 'Change of Horses', Farnborough. Brian Bruce, Ted Handley, Ivan North and Steve Jennings. 3rd March 2005.
May 19th 2005 was the clubs 40th birthday. Many guests, ex-resident singers/musicians and members were invited. Ross Barlow sang a song specially written by him to mark the occasion called,'When Ralph McTell played Orpington'. After the interval Ted Handley and Ivan North cut the cake and Terry Sparkes gave a short speech about the start of the the club in 1965. He gleefully pointed out that "There was no one there over the age of thirty". As from the 3rd March 2005 we now meet at the "Change of Horses", Farnborough High Street, Orpington, Kent.
During March 2007 some great news came our way, the pillars
supporting the club roof, 'the restaurant' were to be removed. Although very grateful for the use of
the restaurant the pillars were a nuisance and blocked the view of guests and floor singers. We are glad to see the back of them. The Change of Horses has to be one of the best folk venues around.
17th May 2007 the club reached its 42nd birthday.
was eclipsed by Colin Clark's
Charity Singers Night. To our suprise we raised a massive £211.50.
Sadly Brian Bruce died on Tuesday 28th October 2008
after a long illness
which he and his wife Elaine fought bravely. It was his enthusiasm
that helped the club survive through 2004 and 2005. He was instrumental
in helping us to find our new home at the Change of Horses and was able
to book guests that we thought not possible. His enthusiasm, energy
and warm, gravelly voice will be missed by us all.
Brian Bruce Timeline...
Saturday 29th November 2009 the Scratch Band were asked to play for a charity barn dance for the Trefoil Guild.
The Trefoil Guild is an organisation of over 20,000 members - mostly made up of women and men who have been and still are connected with Guiding and Scouting. To the left is a thank-you card from their leader Ruth Short.
Poem from :- John Cottrell
about the Folk Club resident musicians and singers John Cottrell...
Mike Stapley - Anne Halford - Ted Handley - Ken Bridgeford - Steve Jennings
Organisers and residents at Orpington Folk Club, April 2015 before Ken & Mike's retirement.
Tuesday 26th March 2019, bad news arrives Wisdom & Michaela are leaving the Change of Horses at very short notice. This unfortunately leaves the venue without a licensee, so has had to close for an undetermined time. After much searching by us all, Anne was able to find us a venue at the Rosecroft Social Club, St Mary Cray, for as long as we need it. It is hoped that we will be able to return to the Change of Horses, soon. As of 12th March 2020 we are still at the Rosecroft, and it looks like we will be staying there.
Sadly during the 1st wave of the Corona virus, Wisdom died on the 10th April 2020. Youtube:- Wisdom
Thursday 19th march 2020, more bad news due to the Coronavirus outbreak we have had to close the club. It is hoped that the enforced closure won't last long but who knows? The Coronavirus has been labelled as a Pandemic by WHO, the "World Health Organisation". Many elderly, and people with underlying health conditions have sadly died, also some people thought to be healthy individuals. The BAME communities "Black, Asian, and minority ethnic" have suffered disproportionately, many working in the NHS. It has also brought financial problems for small, and large businesses.
Thursday 15th October 2020, Orpington Folk Club finds a new home. After being at the Rosecroft Social Club for about a year the owners of the venue have decided to call it a day and close for good. This unfortunately left us without a permanent home, yet again for 6 months, although we could not meet anyway due to the Coronavirus. This has given us time to find another venue which we have done at the Farnborough Social Club. So we look forward very soon to seeing all our folk music friends again.
Orpington folk club is the longest continuing surviving folk club in Kent