Party time at the As­to­ria Ball­room

Rossendale Free Press - - Memory Lane - We want to fea­ture your old pic­tures Email us at com­mu­ni­ties@men­media.co.uk

IN this week’s Mem­ory Lane, we take a look back at the As­to­ria Ball­room, which rocked Rawten­stall with beat nights and star acts dur­ing its 34 years on St Mary’s Way.

Our reg­u­lar nos­tal­gia con­trib­u­tor Peter Fisher has sent us a se­lec­tion of pic­tures of the venue and we also have a shot of three As­to­ria door­men from the 1950s, sent in by Ge­orge Ha­worth.

Orig­i­nally a car show­room owned by John My­er­scough & Co and cre­ated by broth­ers John and Noel My­er­scough, the As­to­ria be­came a renowned mu­sic venue, where young­sters from Manch­ester, Bury, Ac­cring­ton and across Lan­cashire headed on Satur­day nights.

The As­to­ria had a dance floor that mea­sured ap­prox­i­mately 585 sq ft, able to hold up to 800 dancers at one time.

It was cov­ered in maple wood and hailed ‘one of the finest sprung dance floors in Eng­land’.

In 1959 the floor was re­sprung with more than 6,000 pieces of Cana­dian maple laid on steel springs, at a cost of £1,000.

The As­to­ria opened on De­cem­ber 16, 1932 and hosted its first event, the an­nual ball of the Rawten­stall Royal Bri­tish Le­gion.

At the event, the mayor, the late Al­der­man John Hamer, wel­comed the Lan­cashire cot­ton queen, Mar­jorie Knowles.

In the As­to­ria’s early years, there was danc­ing al­most every night of the week, with modern ses­sions, an ‘old tyme mu­sic’ night, a 50/50 night and the ‘pop­u­lar’ night on Satur­days.

In the 1940s and 50s, big name bands and vo­cal­ists played at the As­to­ria, in­clud­ing the Joe Loss Or­ches­tra with vo­cal­ist Rose Bren­nan, The Eric De­laney Band, and Dickie Valen­tine.

In 1959, John My­er­scough ju­nior came to the helm and pre­pared for the beat boom com­ing in the 1960s. Teenagers flocked to the As­to­ria for Satur­day beat nights, to see bands in­clud­ing The Kinks, Gerry and the Pace­mak­ers and The An­i­mals.

On May 22, 1965, The Who, con­sist­ing of Roger Dal­trey, Pete Townsend and drum­mer Keith Moon, played at the venue as part of their UK tour. In 1965, a group called Them played at the As­to­ria, fronted by singer Van Mor­ri­son.

En­try to gigs cost be­tween six and 15 shillings, de­pend­ing on the sta­tus of the band play­ing that night.

John My­er­scough hand­picked lo­cal bands to play at the venue, in­clud­ing The Hol­lies, from Manch­ester, and The Four Pen­nies, from Black­burn.

On Fe­bru­ary 7, 1966, the As­to­ria closed its doors for the fi­nal time, still un­der the own­er­ship of the My­er­scough fam­ily af­ter 34 years. John moved to South­port and took over Lewis Buck­ley En­ter­tain­ments, the agency that had booked many of the star acts into the As­to­ria dur­ing the 1960s.

The build­ing has now been de­mol­ished to make way for St Mary’s Way, the A56 Bank Street by­pass.

Our first shot of the week (Pic­ture 1) shows the As­to­ria and Holly Mount. Pic­ture 2 de­picts the As­to­ria and Tup Bridge, while Pic­ture 3 shows the out­side of the venue when Ivy Benson and the All Girls Or­ches­tra per­formed there.

Pic­ture 4 shows at­ten­dees gath­ered for the open­ing of the As­to­ria in 1932, while be­low that, Pic­ture 5 shows the ex­te­rior in April 1962.

Fi­nally, we have Pic­ture 6, sent in by Ge­orge Ha­worth, show­ing him (cen­tre) as a door­man at the As­to­ria in the 1950s, with Bob Chap­man (left) and John Chap­man (right).

If th­ese pic­tures bring back mem­o­ries, please get in touch. Thanks to all our nos­tal­gia con­trib­u­tors.

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