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Stockton Folk Club 1962 - 2012

Find out about the first 50 years; add your memories and stories; correct the record or post a query.

Click here Click here for a brief(ish) history of the Club

To add your stories, comments, corrections etc. to the thread below, send them by e-mail to mail@sfc

Please include your name ( you can add a pseudonym if you wish for publication). Because we have a responsibility for this site, we reserve the right to reject or edit material that is defamatory, manifestly untrue or totally irrelevant!

Date Name  
Feb 2012 Johnny Handle

[more from the early days] One of the eccentric performers who visited the club regularly was Fred Osborne, who would perform on various stringed instruments from the one string fiddle to the dulcimer: he would sometimes dress up as a pirate to sing sea shanties! There were two Indian lads who were regulars, and after much persuasion got up one night to sing amazing wedding songs from their part of the world.

I recall an occasion when various club members arranged to take over a farmhouse for a "Folk Weekend" in the Cleveland Hills. It was embarrassing for me as my Bond threewheeler couldn't make it up the bank, and I had to walk on to get some help from the lads to push it the last quarter of a mile. We had a good weekend mind, 'cos the hangover lasted till Tuesday.

29 Feb '12 Steve Lane John - I really enjoyed reading the 50 years story of the club and look forwards to the addition of the memories of the many over the years. You must have put a lot of work into this!
One thing I would like to add is in my early days the way the night always ended with the singers (and hangers on?) who got together in a group huddle for a shanty or three. I have not seen that anywhere else. Strange male bonding but it worked. [Not just the males: I'm sure Ron enjoyed it more when he was huddled with one of the female singers!]

Other minor points - Graham shouting out mind my balls, the stage, the ladies toilet for the pub meaning women had to come in from the front room and walk all the way to the front.....[and they didn't or couldn't always wait until the end of a song, which sometimes disconcerted our guest performers!]
9 Mar '12 Eddie Walker Eddie sent a personal memoire of the Club which can be accessed here
2 Sept '12 Liz Law

My first recollection of going to Stockton Folk Club was when it was held in the Talbot. I recall hearing a girl singing "The Trimdon Grange Explosion" which moved me greatly - I expect that was the first time I heard a song by Tommy Armstrong. As the history says, we were all seated round the billiard tables, but another thing to mention, for the benefit of younger readers, is that it was all lit by candlelight, something that these days would be impossible (Health & Safety). [Don't think the candles were a regular feature - Ed]

I also remember later going to one session at the Black Lion. To get to the entrance you walked down a long alley down the side of the pub and into a room at the rear. To help readers imagine the size in those days, the room was full and I recall noticing that the floor was marked out with white lines for a badminton court. I played a floor spot that night, I think I sang "Lily of the West" a Joan Baez number, accompanied on my trusty old nylon strung guitar, an instrument I haven't played in many a year. There was a lot of noise, which soon subsided once the audience realised that a singer had started to play - a well-mannered bunch they were.

When the club moved to the Sun, I went along one night on my own and was immediately invited to a party the following Saturday - a good illustration of how friendly the club was, and is! Terry [Conway] and I love[d] coming to Stockton....We were very honoured when Ron Angel came out of retirement to hear us on our last guest night at the club, since he had been so unwell.

So, long may a lovely club continue to flourish!

14 Jan '13 Dick Miles Apparently, I am the guest performer who has been booked the most times at your club, I would like to say that I consider this a big honour.
I have had some great times at the club: fond memories of many people but particularly Ron Angel, who always gave me great encouragement.
I also remember when the Wilson Family were barred from the pub, a particularly unbusinesslike move by the pub management, but with or without the Wilsons it has always been a first rate club, renowned for quality nurdling and good chorus singing. yours. Dick Miles
15 Feb '13 Franc Roddam It gave me great pleasure to find your website. As 16-year-old, working class boys from Norton, my friend Mick Connell and I discovered the folk club at The Stork and Castle. I remember it with great fondness, it was an extraordinary learning experience for me, both culturally and musically and has been extremely valuable to me throughout my life. Miraculously, I ended up directing films in Hollywood and my use of music in these films has been guided from the early influences of the folk club.

I have very fond memories of all the people who performed there and was very happy to see a photograph of some of them on your site. Please pass on my best to any of them who might remember me.

[Franc directed cult film Quadrophenia amongst others. He also devised the TV format for Auf Wiedersehen Pet for which Mick Connell was an inspiration]

6 Apr '13 Ken Lee Just reading the comments on your website, the latest being from Franc Roddam. Franc was the person who got me interested in the Stockton Folk Club and like Franc I went along to the Stork and Castle and had some great nights, loved every single minute of those evenings and the memories have stayed with me over the years, often discussed when I meet up with my brother who also became a folk club enthusiast and actually sang at the club on a couple of occasions. Ron Angel, Ken Crawford, Dave Lewis members of the Fettlers singing those great Graeme Miles Songs, the young up-and-coming Vin Garbutt plus the incredible guest singers that came to the club in the 60's. I could go on a long time about those great days, but I can see that the spirit of the club is still being carried on today by its present members, long may it continue. Send everybody my very best wishes.
21 Sept '13 Chris Allison I've just come across this memory-prompting site. Was it Fred Osborne who would sing 'Yuper dee a di'?[probably] And was he the phono-fiddler? [yes]

I used to fetch up at the Stork and Castle with my chums as the teenage Hireman Chiles (?), singing stuff we'd collected through years of field research in hidden corners of the British Isles. Or did we learn stuff from from Corrie Folk Trio LPs?.

Fred Osborne took a shine to us, and gave us a kind mention in his column in a mag called the 'Banjo, Mandolin Guitar monthly', or some such.

6 Nov 2020 Richard Grainger

[ Stu McFarlane, Mac of the Teesside Fettlers, died peacefully in Gracelands Care Home Guisborough on November 1st, aged 80. Richard shared these memories.]

I first saw Mac performing with The Creel, a trio consisting of Dave Lewis on Mandolin, Malcolm Harrison on Guitar and Mac himself as vocalist and front man. They were a busy band and highly regarded. This would be late 60s / early 70s I guess.

When Malcolm Harrison left the band for London, Mac and Dave Lewis joined the Fettlers. [Mac became a fixture and was in the] line-up that was to earn so much fame and put Teesside on the map: Stu McFarlane (Vocal and Spoons), Ron Angel (Vocal and Whistle/Flute/Harmonica), Frank Porter (Guitar) and Sean McManus (Piano Accordion). [For other members of the Teesside Fettlers over time see main History text]

Mac kept the band going through many changes in later years and was acknowledged by many as the face of the Fettlers.

A talented raconteur with a big voice, after working at Dorman Long he joined BBC Radio Cleveland, producing the Folk Radio Show. His experience as an entertainer came in handy and he soon became a popular rario pesonality: he was highly skilled too in recording and editing audio in the days of tape.

I was fortunate to be favoured by Mac and enjoyed many appearances on his shows, solo and with Penny Hedge, the first band I joined with Pete King, Roy Enticknap, Brian Griffiths and Pete Wray.

Mac sang my song "Whitby Whaler" after he and Ron approached me during a folk day at The Wheatsheaf in Hutton Rudby, organised by John Taylor. They were very much my heroes so I was delighted to agree. Mac recorded it on the album "Ring of Iron" and sang it widely, including on BBC TV's Songs of Praise.

I learned a lot from Mac. He was a talented and disciplined performer.

14 Nov Dave Lewis I was so saddened to hear of the death of Stewart McFarlane.
I have happy memories of working with Stewart over the years.
It was in 1966 that I was first introduced to the Folk club scene at the “Rifle” in Canon Street, Middlesbrough. My neighbour Stewart Macfarlane happened to be looking after the door at the time. It was here that I started playing the guitar and mandolin with some college friends.
In 1967 Stewart Macfarlane, Malcolm Harrison and I formed "The Creel" folk group. We played at the folk clubs in Middlesbrough, Stockton, Hartlepool, Redcar, and regularly at the “James Finnegan Hall” in Eston.
In September 1967 Malcolm Harrison went to London to study graphic design. Shortly afterwards, Stewart and I joined Ron Angel, Ken Crawford and John White in the "Teesside Fettlers" folk group to replace Alex Mclean and Cliff Robson who were leaving for pastures new.
In 1968, we played live on a Tyne Tees TV outside broadcast with Marion Foster, at the Billingham Town Centre, to celebrate the town’s absorption into the County Borough of Teesside.
On 19 August 1968 In Leeds, we played live in the Yorkshire TV studios on the news programme "Calendar", and recorded for two future "Calendar" programmes earlier that day.
On 30 January 1969 we were on the Wally Whyton show "Walk Right In" at Tyne Tees TV alongside the "Corries" and “Dorita Y Pepe”. The programme had been pre-recorded some weeks earlier at the Tyne Tees TV studios in City Road, Newcastle.
Later Stewart was to regularly use my recording of "The Mason’s Apron" as the introduction and background music to his “Focus on Folk” club spot each week.
Stan Laundon had recorded this tune amongst others during “Helter Skelter” appearances, when I was a member of Jackaroo.
Great times indeed.
Best Wishes to all,
Dave Lewis

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