Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hope and Anchor - Historic Music Venue - Threat of Demolition 2009

Hope and Anchor - Historic Music Venue - Threat of Demolition

This article is from 2009 from the original HOBO site on Vox.

The Hope and Anchor pub in Whitefriars Lane (Central Coventry) is under threat of demolition. Musicians and music fans in the city are protesting the loss of the historic venue that enabled the Enemy and Two Tone bands to get started. 
Now owned by Coventry University, the site is to be demolished to widen the road and provide more car parking facilities!

Coventry Weavers
Back in the 1850's Coventry Weavers regularly met at the 'Anchor' for union and benefit society meetings and Digger Dave of the Broadgate Gnome raised an environmental question "What will happen to the apple trees in the garden. They are the only local remaining ones of the local variety Wyken Pippin". 
 However it is it's role as a pub venue with historic importance to the Coventry Music scene that has caused protest over its closure and threatened demolition.

The Coventry Music Scene
Pete Willow
In the early 1970's it was one of many city centre pubs that formed a circuit for local and regional bands, folk clubs and discos along with the Colin Campbell, Plough, Golden Cross, Hand in Heart, Three Tons. Councillor Dave Nellist recalls being a DJ there in the early 70's. Folk performer Pete Willow tells us 
" I ran The Magic Lamp Folk Club there in the 70s with Bob Powell. Guests included Joe Stead, Armpit Jug Band, (the late, great) Gerry Lochran, Cliff Aungier, Kev Dempsey & Polly Bolton, Martyn Wyndham Read, Dave Paskett, and many others. Some good memories waiting to be bulldozed."

Two Tone
However it was during the punk and Two Tone days that the pub really cut it as a venue when an explosion of Coventry bands hit the scene. Top local bands, many of whom appeared on the  Sent From Coventry album, appeared at the venue (where, I think, the album was launched - correct me if I'm wrong).The list is endless but includes - Vietnamese Babies, Squad, Urge, Hot Snacks (Machine), EMF, Criminal Class, The Wild Boys, The End, and of course Two Tone bands The Selecter and Specials. Later bands include The Travelling Riverside Blues Band, The Primitives, Naphalm Death and The Enemy.

New Generation of Musicians
More recently one of Coventry's top acoustic artist and promoter Kristy Gallacher ran an acoustic night there, encouraging  a new generation of Coventry musicians and Horace Panter has played there many times in recent years.

Hobo was alerted to this by Paul Maddocks of the Coventry Society and since then a range of Coventry musicians and fans of all ages and Councillor Dave Nellist have protested the demolition.

Roger Lomas (Ex Sorrows fuitarist and Selecter's Producer) said on Facebook 
Prince Buster with Roger Lomas
" Another venue lost!! When the hell are the powers-that-be in Coventry going to step in and INSIST that this does not keep happening ???"
Roger is remembering that over the last couple of years a number of Coventry music venues were threatened with closure owing issues over noise, including The Golden Cross and The Tin Angel and more and has been an issue in the rest of the country too at a time when the Government is stressing the importance of the Creative Industries.

Coventry's music scene has always been mainly centrally based and cohesive. Young people have traveled into the city centre for pubs and entertainment for decades now. While progress and redevelopment is important it's often done in disregard to the communities that use the City Centre. Locating new residencies next to longstanding  venues with a music licence is not a good idea. The new residents protest the noise and the musicians, landlords and fans protest the closure of the venue.

So What's Happening Now?

The Coventry Society have initiated a protest on a Facebook group and socialist councillor Dave Nellist is leading the campaign with the head of the Coventry Society Paul Maddocks. Bob Brolly is holding a debate on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire Radio. The Coventry Telegraph have covered it at least twice - Campaign to Save Doomed Pub and tonight (October 26th) the day it was originally due to be demolished The Pub should be demolished says Ex Landlord 

Tonight it looks like demolition has been stalled and some discussions have taken place but the fate of the building still hangs in the air. -

The Coventry Telegraph report -" A spokesman for Coventry University confirmed plans were still in place to demolish the pub and said a meeting took place on Friday between university bosses and the council to discuss ways of providing alternative performance venues in the city."

However, Mick Farr, a former landlord at the Hope and Anchor, told the Coventry Telegraph that he thought the pub 'should be closed down'. He claims that while the pub was good in it's heyday, recently the pub wasn't making money and was mostly empty except on Friday and Saturday. Dave Nellist denies that the pub was not used when it was open.

For sure a lot of pubs are suffering around the country owing to people paying the price of the machinations of the financial Rude Boys but as Peter Every says, in response to a comment on the Coventry Telegraph article 
"  Hope and Anchor. Post-Thatcher reasoning = "Dave Nellist hasn't got a clue obviously, if the former Landlord states it wasn't making money .. then that's that .. whats the point if these people who are fighting to save it never drank in there anyway! Get a life!" Hey! there are 400 empty rooms in Buckingham palace. BULLDOZERS!!!! Which bit of heritage don't you get? clearly the bit that happens after 1979...

We've Been Here Before! Here's a Meditation.
Holyhead Youth Centre, Coventry
In 1973 we started Hobo magazine in response the bulldozers flattening the Coventry Arts Umbrella Club which had in some way facilitated bands with gigs, rehearsal space and more. It was getting harder for local bands to find venues to play, especially if they were young and new. Our campaign led to Coventry Voluntary Service Council arranging for us to have use of The Holyhead Youth Centre theatre to organise a weekly mixed media gig. So many young bands came to us and some of them told us they were about to give up as there was no where to play by the mid 70's. One 16 year who started off at the Hobo Wokshop, Holyhead Youth Centre was Dave Pepper - who later went on to form the X Certs, his band at the time was Phoenix (as he mentions in the comment below). When we moved to the Golden Cross we gave a first gig to a jazz rock group.The bassist was a young Horace Panter who wrote to Hobo asking if we knew of anywhere they could play (See letter below). 

Hobo Workshop
Back then you wouldn't know the importance of first step venues to artists but two other bands we gave first gigs to in 1974 were Analog and Trigon.  Later those two bands formed the Two Tone band Reluctant Stereotypes out of which came King in the 80's.Midnight Circus was another band whom we put on a few times. Later they became The Flys and appeared on Grey Whistle Test. It's leader Neil O'Connor joined his sister Hazel on the Breaking Glass tour as a guitarist. Meanwhile downstairs in the cellar, Charlie Anderson was youth leading a group of West Indian musicians who even then sounded great. No one would know that five years later most of these shy musicians would be creating pop history in the The Specials and Selecter. Neol Davies came along to help organise a jam session and we tried to encourage some of Charley's group to join in. They were a bit shy but Neol, already knowing Neville a bit,went down and jammed with them in the cellar. A few years late I saw Neol in bands like Chapter 5 and Hard Top 22 with some of them - transitions along the way to the final Two Tone line ups.

Horace Panter's Letter to Hobo Magazine in the 70's
And my point is...
Horace Panter letter to Hobo
I mention all this to illustrate the point that without places to start off, play and grow, develop stage presence and performance skills, make connections such as the one that Neol and Charley made, no new musical developments will happen in the city. At the time, no of us knew what some of the musicians would go on to do, including the musicians themselves and today in Coventry there are a range of impressive bands and acoustic artists coming out of the city. They deserve to be supported and to have a range of venues where they can play, build up a following, learn by mistakes and develop their own cultural heritage.

Whether or not the Hope and Anchor survives, I welcome the discussion that's going on between Coventry University and The Council on how best they can provide alternative performance venues in the city and the discussion on Bob Brolly's show. One important feature though is not to make them all corporate entities with entrance fees that restrict participation. Equally important is the intitative involved in somebody creating a venue or disco, whether they just be organisers or musicians. 

Kristy Gallacher
Good examples currently, are Kristy Gallacher, Emma McGann and Justine Watson who not only promote and play their own music but initiate acoustic nights to encourage others. They are not the only ones of course but without pubs available, these initiatives can't and would never have taken place.

Without them Pete Chambers wouldn't be able to write books like this >-

Comment from Dave Pepper 10/27/2009 (on the old Vox version of this article)
"I'd forgotten I was 16 years old when we played the Holyhead Club? Is that what it was called? It was with my school band from Caludon Castle(Pheonix) We used to open for a rock trio, though I cant remember their name. The drummers mum would take us there! It was the first 'venue' Id ever played, and just using a 500 watt PA at that place started me in music. After a couple of bands between 17 and 19 years old around the Rugby area I then joined Bob Brollys'Calvary'! actual money but not my thing! Then an audition with Gay and Kev (X certs) and I was happy! Great to read this trivia guys! All the best, Dave Pep."

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