Thank you to Neville Brown for the history of the Barn Club.
The Barn Club was originally created by its former owner Ronnie Jelbert back in the swinging 60's. Previously a couple of farm barns in a field, the barns were cleaned out a few bales of straw, a bar in the corner, a local band & a few records and the Barn dance hall was open for business. The first band to perform at the club would be the Buccaneers, and the Layabouts would soon become something of a house band.
With a few improvements over the years a bar called the Wagonwheel was added and the Stargazer Bar followed this with a late license till 1am. This was created to provide a source of entertainment for the camp & caravan site that surrounded the Barn.
In 1973 the lease was put up for sale and a company called Goodhews of London purchased the lease for 25 years with an option to renew it for a further 25years. Goodhews, whose name came from the managing director and father to the later to become famous Duncan Goodhew and his 3 brothers John, Rupert and Neville.
This was a successful business that owned Pubs Restaurants and Hotels all over the country. In the early 70's two former employees from Rank (Athol Souter and Ray Bain) took an idea that they had about using records only in a dance hall instead of live bands, an idea that was rejected by Rank. Goodhews offered to give it a try at their bar, The Castle at Richmond.
The work to convert the bar into a Discotheque began with the sound and lighting provided by Dennis Kuschell, the building work by Alf Gibbons and the designer was a young designer Mick Gibson. The club Cheeky Petes opened and this was the start of many clubs to follow all over London. It was so successful that the company started looking for further sites all over the country and the Barn was one of those which had all the attributes that were required by the company.
Following the New Years Eve party of 1973-74 work commenced at the Barn the same team responsible for Cheeky Pete's arrived on site and the transformation of a dance hall to the first purpose built discotheque in Cornwall commenced.
Keith Hardy a former Disc Jockey promoted within the company was appointed to audition DJs and prepare for the opening. Positions for staff and DJ’s were sought after by many as the news of this new concept swept across the area.
At the auditions I (Neville) together with many other DJs were rejected by Keith Hardy who chose my friends Duncan Warren plus Doug Murphy and Gary Cains who had been DJs at the Barn prior to the closure.
On April 24th 1974 the Barn opened it’s doors and the people of Penzance were given a London style nightclub whose décor sound & lighting was ahead of the other clubs and dance halls in the county. It was so advanced that it attracted customers from North Cornwall and even Plymouth who came regularly each weekend to stay on the campsite and party in The Barn’s unique atmosphere.
Keith Hardy returned to London to prepare for other new clubs who were preparing to open and Tim O’Connel (Toc) was appointed as the first manager with a former head barman at the original Barn dance hall Roger Atkins as his assistant.
The Barn whose reputation for giving first-class entertainment became very popular and queues the length of the car park were regular every weekend. The Barn was open 7 nights and the Stargazer was open 7 nights and 7 days with live entertainment, with a backdrop of stars.
Roger Brokenshire and Mike Bray at the Stargazer Club, Summer 1971
It wasn’t long before The Barn played a major roll in the community, not knowing then that it was to continue playing this role 35 years later and I expect many more years to come.
I started my career with the Barn later in that year as a relief DJ and progressed to manager 10 years later. The Barn has filled my life with many great memories.
Brian Robinson of visiting band The Sound of Time remembers the Barn Club;
The infamous Barn Club caravan was thoughtfully provided for the visiting bands and a permanent colony of 'crabs'. Shiver.
Terry Fround used to play Cornwall regulary with his band Stonewall Jackson, and he remembers the caravan;
At the Barn club Penzance the agent used to hold back part of the fee until they examined the famous overnight caravan and if there was any damage we had to pay, mind you the accommodation was pretty awful!!!!
Thanks to Terry Sherring
Sweet Life, live on stage at The Barn Club, 1969
The Barn Club in 2010
Barn Club gigs
Here are a list of gigs that took place at the Barn Club. Over time more will be added. These are all taken from advetisements placed in the local press, so there is a likelyhood that some didn't take place, or bands were changed. If you have any to add please get in touch.