The Rookery. The original house (owned by the Rumball family) that sat on the site of what is now Tall Trees (With thanks to Sara Bentley)
Originally known as Tolcarne Farm the site was later own by South West Gas Board before it was purchased by Albert (Bill) Bailey around 1952/3. Bill converted the building into a country club, hosting simple entertainment such as cards, fruit machines, darts as well as a jukebox, bar and accommodation. It was also a meeting point for Newquay Motor Club.
Country Club Membership book (With thanks to Sara Bentley)
It was Bill who named the club ‘Tall Trees’. Family members all submitted names into a hat and Bill managed to rig it so that his name came out of the hat! The name came about due to the abundance of trees of the site. Bill operated the Tall Trees Country Club for around 10 years before it was sold on to Derek Bater in the early 60s.
Once Derek took over the property he continued to operate as an entertainment venue, but developed it into the first nightclub in Newquay. Initially it was a very small venue and Derek scoured the local area for a resident band to perform, finding The Zodiacs, who were a popular Newquay band. To begin with the venue was so small it only hosted Mike Messenger and Roy Grose of the Zodiacs, who performed as a duo in the bar area.
As the venue become more popular Derek applied for planning permission for an extension and built a side room with a stage area. The club could now hold more people and the remaining Zodiacs were bought in as house band. By 1965 The Zodiacs had renamed themselves Mike & The Messengers and continued to play as resident, and only band, at the club. It was a packed house every night, full of both locals and holiday makers during the summer season.
The Zodiacs live at Tall Trees, early 60s
In 1965 Derek extended further to create an upstairs area, and then the venue really took off. It could now hold 6-700 and was packed to the rafters most nights. Mike & The Messengers continued as resident band (and still the sole band performing at the club) and Derek decided to make a recording of the band (named on the record as ‘Bater’s Lot’) at the venue with the hope of securing more gigs, recording or publishing deal, etc.
Mike & the Messengers recorded at the venue
Although nothing came of the recordings the venue continued to increase in popularity and in 1967 Derek converted the basement area into the Wig Wam club. This operated as a cabaret club with singers, comedians, etc. This was compared by Mike Messenger, who would split his time between the Wig Wam and performing with the Messengers upstairs (who would play as the Mick Jackman Quartet when Mike wasn’t with them).
Mike and the Messengers in stage gear at Tall Trees
Mike & The Messenger finally left the venue in the late 60s, but it continued to operate as one of the biggest clubs in the area. By the 70s the venue was being managed by Albert Samoluk, with Derek’s elderly moth (nicknamed ‘dinger’) sitting in the kiosk collecting the money. Like most venues at the time the DJ was starting to replace the live band and it no longer had a resident band performing, becoming solely a disco venue, albeit one of Cornwall’s largest and most popular. By the 80s and 90s major club nights were being run at the venue and clubbers were coming in from all over Cornwall. Still operating over three floors it was also briefly renamed Lucifer’s in the 90s.
In the 00s it became one of the South West’s leading dance venues, however suffered something of a decline when it changed its name to Pure and introduced a lap dancing element. It closed down in 2010 but after a period of neglect reopened under its original name and continued to operate as one of the county’s longest running clubs.
Tall Trees in 2009
Did you visit this venue? If so please get in touch!