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Blue Lagoon

 
 
 

Location:

Cliff Road, Newquay

 
     
 

Alongside The Flamingo and the Winter Gardens, Newquay’s Blue Lagoon was one the premier venues in Cornwall in the 60’s.

Site of the Blue Lagoon (just behind the horse and cart). Thanks to Delphine Dunstan

Site of the Blue Lagoon, 1925

The Blue Lagoon started life as 27 Cliff Road around the early 1930s. The property was somewhat larger than standard town houses and contained servants quarters in the attic. A reverend purchased the house and the property next door, converting it into a Temperance Hotel, it was then owned by friends of the Coster family and operated as the York Hotel. Around 1937/38 Harry Coster's father bought the property and converted it into a penny arcade, keeping the first and second floors as accommodation for the family.

With the onset of the second world war and the death of Harry's father the property was requisitioned for the war effort, being a base for training pilots prior to the D-Day landing. The family were allowed to stay in the building as long as they helped with the war effort, so married family members used to cook cakes and serve tea to the troops when they were dismissed in Cliff Room. Unmarried aunts had to work in the NAAFI at RAF St Mawgan.

Once the war ended the property was converted in the first version of the Blue Lagoon, which included large murals of bare chested beauties reclining by blue lagoons, which cuased quite a stir at the time! The ballroom went from strength to strength, following the latest trends. Delphine Dunston (Harry's daughter) remembers dancing to the Lancers, strict ballroom, the jitterbug and the creep, amongst many others! Even during the ballroom era lines would form down the road, with dancing taking place every night throughout the week

Cliff Rd 1960, with the Blue Lagoon top left

The venue always had a summer band and Harry used to travel to Archer Street in London to interview them. Roy Kenton was a favourite and he played several summers at the venue. He several of his band members loved it so mich they ended up moving to Cornwall!

Roy Kenton Orchestra at the Blue Lagoon (image courtesy Gary Kenton)

1958

early 60s

The Blue Lagoon Ballroom in 1961 (courtesy Peter Hicks)

 

The venue was completed redeveloped around 1964/65 into the club that lasted much of the 60s and 70s. It attracted many professional artists and musicians. By working as a syndicate with The Flamingo in Redruth, the Winter Gardens in Penzance and Lido in St Austell they were able to secure expensive artists at a reduced price as they could do three gigs in a row.

It had a steady crowd of regulars but during the summer months brought in thousands of tourists. With the RAF base (St Mawgan) just up the road, there was also an abundance of forces personnel in town at the weekend, keen to dance and have a good time.

.As the 60s began to happen the Blue Lagoon starting putting on beat bands. Ballroom would remain throughout much of the sixties, with lessons and dancing taking place on Monday nights. Bingo, always popular with the holiday crowd, would fill the gaps taking place most days,  however Saturday night would become the beat night. It was also the place to visit on a Saturday night, with teens making their way from all across Cornwall fill it to the rafters.

The Onyx Set live at the Blue Lagoon 1965

The Good Times

Safron live on stage, 1970s

With the combination of locals, visitors and RAF boys Blue Lagoon would be packed every night. This allowed the venue to put on plenty of both local bands and bands from out of county who were yet to make a name for themselves. One of those bands was The Fenmen, who secured a couple of hits with Bern Elliot in the early 60s. The band featured future members of the Pretty Things. Their harmony driven Beach Boys influenced sound would go down extremely well with the surfing and beach crowd.

As Chris Dyer of Minehead band The Witness Four recalls; the patrons did not mind what you played as long as it was Beach Boys number...........

The Fenmen live at the Blue Lagoon. Photo’s courtesy Ugly Things Magazine (check out the Fenmen CD through the Ugly Things website HERE)

The venue would also bring in some big names who were riding high in the charts. Wishful Thinking was another Blue Lagoon regular, bringing the ever popular harmony sound to the Newquay crowd. The venue also featured big names of the day, such as Deep Purple who were just making a name for themselves with ‘Hush’. Ambrose Slade would undertake a residency before making a name for themselves as Slade.

Screaming Lord Sutch would also play the venue on one of his many visits to the county. Bemused patrons were treated to a display of Lord Sutch decked out in his horns and stage gear waving the plastic stage palm trees at the crowd!

Ginhouse live on stage

Throughout the week there would be a local band holding residency. On a Thursday a named band would play, usually a semi-known band (or one coming to the end of it’s life…). The local band would then move from the main stage to play support to the better known band, to a second support stage, with the known band as headliner.

Saturday night would bring in the big bands, mostly who were currently riding the charts. The lesser known big name band would then move to support act and the local band would perform as opener on a very small stage off to the side. The local band and lesser known national band would rotate through 45 minute sets, with the main band coming on after the two bands had each performed two sets. The main band would then play for around 1 ½ hours. So on a Saturday night there would continuous live music from 8-1am.

Pete Berryman remembers the Blue Lagoon;

We, The Shondells (above), were resident band there in the summer and I was there before that with The Drifters. We alternated through the evening with the resident dance band, Ken[?] Butterworth. Us "beat groups" killed tha dance bands. Pity really, they were good musicians. At that time we were morphing into mods and I got a black eye coutesy of St.Columb rockers just outside the entrance.

The venue was also often used as a rehearsal space for the Staggerlees, they could often be found grouped around the Dansette listening to the latest records, then playing it note perfect later that evening!

Disaster was averted sometime in the mid 60s when builders were brought in to undertake some roofing work. Unfortunately they were clearly not up to the job as the roof collapsed soon afterwards. Not only did the roof come down but part of the building to as the builders believed that the steel RSJ’s ran across the complete building. When they removed the intermediate pillars it was found that the RSJ’s were joined on each pillar causing the roof to collapse and destroy part of the building!

Photo’s courtesy of Newquay Old Cornwall Society

Blue Lagoon, 1966/7

The site would be built up, creating an imposing three stories, including shops on the ground level. As with many venues at the time as the 60s moved into the 70s live music started to fall out of favour and the disco would take over. Harry's wife passed away in 1972 and he started to lose heart, eventually selling the venue on not long after. He kept the shops located underneath the club which were run by his daughter Delphine's husband until their retirement. It would remain a disco venue and ceased putting bands on around 1977/78.

Keith French MBE remembers the venue;
I ran the 'Keith French Roadshow' throughout the 1970s. I regularly toured the West Country appearing at quite a number of venues as well as' The Garden ' included ' The Blue Lagoon ', Newquay ,'The 400 Club ',Torquay ,'Tiffs in Town', Union Street Plymouth . As well as a number of smaller venues we were also regulars at several military base clubs, notably the naval clubs at Culdrose, St. Mawgan and Plymouth. The tours were arranged by DJ Rocky Rivers who had established the idea of 'London DJs' coming to Cornwall. Rocky had turned agent and worked from a small office in Oxford Street later changing the business name to 'Mushroom International'.

Keith at the Blue Lagoon

 

The street level would open as shops, with the upper levels being a disco and the back area looking out over Great Western Beach became, quite appropriately, a swimming pool complete with water slides hanging precariously over the edge of a large drop to the beach. A lift was also added to the outside edge of the building.

The venue would continue a leisure and entertainment centre throughout much of the 80s and 90s until the pool closed and the site was redeveloped. The shops would move out and the pool removed and it would open as a single building as part of the Barracuda pub chain, later to be taken over by the Springbok pub chain. Springbok would start to introduce occasional live music back into the venue (having Bo Diddley booked to perform prior to his death), although nothing now remains from its 60s heyday.

Sadly the economic downturn has led to the venue currently being closed and up for sale once again.

The site of the Blue Lagoon in 2009

Blue Lagoon gigs

Here are a list of gigs that took place at the Blue Lagoon. 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.

 

 
 

1965

22-Jan-65

Friday

Poets

Dominators

“In aid of Cornwall Spastics Society”

30-Jan-65

Saturday

Vigilantes

Trev Lapham and his Band

 

06-Feb-65

Saturday

Rick and the Hayseeds

Dave Mills and his band

 

13-Feb-65

Saturday

Johnny Barrett and his band

Manny Cockle with the Big Beat Combo

 

20-Feb-65

Saturday

Dave Mill's Quintet

Renegades

 

27-Feb-65

Saturday

Coasters

Intruders

 

13-Mar-65

Saturday

Johnny Barrett and his band

The Shades of Blue Group

 

20-Mar-65

Saturday

Trev Lapham and his Band

Rick and the Hayseeds

 

27-Mar-65

Saturday

Coasters

Blue Caps

 

03-Apr-65

Saturday

Dave Mills and his band

Big 4 Beat Combo

 

10-Apr-65

Saturday

Coasters

Vigilantes

 

19-Apr-65

Monday

Trev Lapham and his Band

Big Four Beat

 

24-Apr-65

Saturday

Coasters

Rick and the Hayseeds

 

01-May-65

Saturday

Applejacks

Vigilantes

 

08-May-65

Saturday

Dave Mills and his band

Big Four Beat Combo

 

15-May-65

Saturday

Johnny Carr and the Cadillacs

Individuals

 

16-May-65

Sunday

Trev Lapham and his Band

Rick and the Hayseeds

 

22-May-65

Saturday

Coasters

Jaguars

 

28-May-65

Friday

Mike Cotton Sound

Big 4 Beat Combo

 

29-May-65

Saturday

Dave Mills and his band

Rick and the Hayseeds

 

05-Jun-65

Saturday

Dave Mills and his band

Others

 

07-Jun-65

Monday

Ted Coleman and his band

Rick and the Hayseeds

 

09-Jun-65

Wednesday

Big Four Beat Combo

 

 

11-Jun-65

Friday

Dave Mills and his band

Vicarage Five

 

26-Jun-65

Tuesday

Staggerlees

 

“Every Tuesday throughout Summer Season”

29-Jun-65

Friday

Staggerlees

 

“Every Friday throughout Summer Season”

01-Jul-65

Thursday

Big Beat Combo

 

 

03-Jul-65

Saturday

Staggerlees

Big Beat Combo

 

04-Jul-65

Sunday

Image

Rick and the Hayseeds

 

05-Jul-65

Monday

Chevrons

 

 

06-Jul-65

Tuesday

Staggerlees

 

 

08-Jul-65

Thursday

Sounds Incorporated

Big Beat Four Combo

“we couldn't get the Beatles…”

22-Jul-65

Thursday

Mike Cotton Sound

Big Four Beat Combo

 

23-Jul-65

Friday

Mike Cotton Sound

Big Four Beat Combo

 

26-Aug-65

Thursday

Washington DC

DJ Seven

 

27-Aug-65

Friday

Staggerlees

DJ Seven

 

28-Aug-65

Saturday

DJ Seven

Big Four Beat Combo

 

29-Aug-65

Sunday

Staggerlees

Rick and the Hayseeds

 

30-Aug-65

Monday

DJ Seven

Kodiak

 

31-Aug-65

Tuesday

Mighty Avengers

Staggerlees, DJ Seven

“Straight from London”

11-Sep-65

Saturday

Deltas

Big Four Beat Combo

“Columbia records”

12-Sep-65

Sunday

Deltas

Big Four Beat Combo

“Columbia records”

18-Sep-65

Saturday

Mike Raynor and The Condors

Misfits

 

19-Sep-65

Sunday

Jaguars

Rick and the Hayseeds

 

22-Sep-65

Wednesday

Ray Allen Band

Rick and the Hayseeds

 

25-Sep-65

Saturday

Soul-Tones

Chevrons

 

26-Sep-65

Sunday

Variations (Exeter)

 

 

02-Oct-65

Saturday

Lively Set

Telstars

 

09-Oct-65

Saturday

Emeralds

Jaguars

 

16-Oct-65

Saturday

Mike and the Alley Cats

Buccaneers (Bristol)

 

23-Oct-65

Saturday

Hi-Grades

Hi-Jackers (Exeter)

 

30-Oct-65

Saturday

Profile

Rick and the Hayseeds

 

06-Nov-65

Saturday

Just Five

MT (Empty) Vessels

 

13-Nov-65

Saturday

Dave and the Diamonds

Jaguars

 

20-Nov-65

Saturday

Beat Merchants

Buccaneers

 

27-Nov-65

Saturday

Les Fleur De Lys

Rick and the Hayseeds

 

04-Dec-65

Saturday

Cherokees

Vigilantes

 

11-Dec-65

Saturday

Tony Jackson and the Vibrations

Jaguars

 

18-Dec-65

Saturday

Peddlers

Gentlemen

 

24-Dec-65

Friday

Staggerlees

Vigilantes

 

26-Dec-65

Sunday

Mike Stuart Span

Jaguars

 

31-Dec-65

Friday

Staggerlees

Snirds

 

01-Jan-66

Saturday

Meddy-Evils

The Onyx

 

 
     
Did you visit this venue? If so please get in touch!
 
 
     

 

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