The Rock and Rhythm Contest ran for over 10 years and was organised by the Truro Round Table, with profits going to local charities.
The roots of the event lay in the many Rock and Roll and Skiffle contests that were held at the venue from around 1957 onwards.
Bands from all over Cornwall would descend on Truro City Hall (now Hall for Cornwall) once a year to take part in the contest, often bringing along with them a bus or two full of friends and fans from their home town or village.
Each band would play 2 songs in front of fans and judges. In the early years each band would be expected to play one vocal number and one instrumental. During the interval there would be a performance, usually from the winner of the previous year. It was a quick turn around, with bands having to set up, perform and clear the stage fairly rapidly ready for the next band to do their turn.
The first band would set up behind the main stage curtain, with the next band setting up behind the stage backdrop. When the first band had finished the next band had to quickly pull all their gear forward onto the main part of the stage. The next band would then set up behind the back drop, and so it would go on. There would always be one band performing and one ready to go. Of course when dragging their gear across the stage anything could get unplugged or damaged!
In the beginning the bands were judged by the great and the good, but later judging came from those more in tune with the current musical trends, including representatives from the three main local venues. In 1968 the contest changed its name to the Top Groups Championship, in an attempt to move with the times.
Winners were judged on originality, musicianship, presentation, professionalism and potentiality, with the top group taking away a silver trophy. The winners would also get the chance to support a visiting professional group, usually at the Flamingo. There would also be the chance to try out with the BBC or a recording company, however it's unclear whether this every actually materialised.
In it's early 60s heyday the contest would attract up to 1000 teenagers from all over Cornwall. The final contest (possibly) took place in 1972, by that stage the format had had its day and the musical landscape had changed considerably since the beat era.