Ken Allen already owned one of the first nightclubs in Plymouth, which a lot of folk from Cornwall visited. Ken was from Saltash and also owned the Riverside Country Club in the town. He had seen a report on Westward TV about how Bodmin was becoming a ghost town now that the DCLI had left the town's barracks.
David Murphy had undertaken some basic renovation to the jail and had put on some trad jazz nights, but it was quite short lived and ended when David returned to his native Sheffield after leaving Bodmin Grammar 6th form.
Ken went down to have a look around as he was interested in turning the ruins into a succesful business. Upon looking around the jail he met Reg Medger sitting on the steps. Reg ran the local news agent and was also the current owner of the jail.
Ken asked what the largest room in the building was, which was 300 in the jail's Chapel. Asking if it was for sale Reg enquired what he would do with it. When Ken mentioned his plans and the fact that he was already a club owner Reg replied that it was just what the town needed. After agreeing a price a handshake deal was done and the club opened in 1967.
Ken operated the club for a few years before selling it on to George Morecombe. People would flock from all over Cornwall for an evening of dinner, dancing and at midnight the casino would open (the only one in Cornwall).
The venue featured a few rock bands, but mostly featured cabaret entertainment. John Austin and his show band were thehouse band.
Coconut Grove at Bodmin Jail
(with thanks to Graham Hicks)