Liverpool guide to the ’70s launched in style last night!
Merseyside’s bar, club and music scene of the 70s is celebrated in our latest book, launched at Waterstones in Liverpool One last night.
The ‘Dirty Stop Outs Guide to 1970s Liverpool’ is an affectionate look back at the era defined by glam rock, industrial action and the rise of punk, told by the people who were there.
These were the days of gigs at Liverpool Stadium, cabaret nights at Allinson’s and grabbing a granny at The Grafton, when cabaret was king and wrestling drew huge crowds. Big bands played small venues, girls danced around their handbags and the brave ones drunk Pernod and blackcurrant and lived to tell the tale.
You could see David Bowie at the Top Rank Suite for 50p, before the newly built St John’s Centre venue went on to become Bailey’s, Romeo and Juliet’s, Studio 54 and then Rotters. Down below it had The Moonstone, The Penny Farthing and above the revolving restaurant at St John’s Beacon, or as one diner described it ‘the chippy on a stick’.
Clubs like The Babalou, The Beachcomber, The Timepiece and Ugly’s drew big crowds to the Ropewalks end of town, where you were judged by the width of your flares and the height of your platform shoes.
The London Road end of town was booming in those days, with The Shakespeare, Sampson & Barlow’s and The Peppermint Lounge, and as you got over to Hardman Street there was Rumblin’ Tum, The Sink, Kirkland’s, Chaucer’s and O’Connor’s Tavern.
Some of the places are still going strong, places like The Philharmonic Dining Rooms, The Everyman Bistro and the Blue Angel, or The Raz, as she’s known to her friends.
Others, like The Mardi Gras, The Royal Tiger Club, The She and The Victoriana are long gone, but live on in the memories of those who spent their formative years there.
Over the water the club scene boomed in New Brighton, Birkenhead and Wallasey, with venues springing up in grand old hotels, houses and cinemas.
The book was officially launched by contributors, including local radio legend Billy Butler, Doreen Allen of Eric’s, Brady’s and Planet X fame, and club night promoters and local lads Marc Jones and Ian Prowse.
These were the days of lidos and bathing beauty contests, and while many were embracing mass-market foreign package tour holidays for the first time, the long hot summer of 1976 saw the Wirral and Southport coasts filled with sunbathers, desperate to escape the heat of the city.
Southport still had its seawater bathing lake, and couples on days out could steal a kiss on the River Caves boat ride at Pleasureland. It had plenty of clubs of its own too, and many would travel to the town to trip the light fantastic at Tiffany’s in Ainsdale, or show off their moves at the Northern Soul half hour at the Dixieland on Monday nights.
Author Jade Wright, formerly the Liverpool Echo’s music writer for more than a decade, has collected memories, pictures and mementos from people across Merseyside for the book. She says: “It has been amazing to see how much the city has changed since those days. It seems like a different world.
“I loved hearing about the revolving restaurant where the Radio City Tower is now, and people’s brilliant memories of going there for dinner. Looking at the prices it must have been a real special occasion place, and the stories about people sitting down at the wrong tables after going to the toilet – they didn’t account for the restaurant having moved – are fabulous.”
The Dirty Stop Outs Guide to 1970s Liverpool is a reminder of those brilliant nights, and the people who made them what they were.