The original idea for the Grimsby Folk Club came from Bob and Helen Blair who moved to Cleethorpes from Fife in 1963. They had been running a folk club in Fife and when looking for information on the local folk scene they met John Connolly behind the counter of the Grimsby Music Library. Bemoaning the fact that the nearest club was across the Humber in Hull, the idea of a Grimsby club was born.
After an article in the Grimsby Evening Telegraph inviting others of a like mind to get in touch, Bill Meek, a local biology teacher, joined the group. These four began meeting at the Blair’s flat and after putting together a repertoire of songs they formed The Meggies. The search for somewhere to perform led to the first meeting of the ‘Grimsby Folk Song Club’ which was held in a room above the Duke of Wellington pub in Pasture Street, Grimsby, on Wednesday 29th January, 1964.
About 70 people turned up for this first meeting. Music was provided by the Meggies and the first guests of the club, the Folksons from Hull – later to become the world famous Watersons. There was also a couple of songs from Marion Hudson, granddaughter of the legendary Joseph Taylor, of Brigg Fair fame. A very auspicious beginning to a long history.
It wasn’t long before the club became so popular that it outgrew the room at the Duke of Wellington and a larger room at the Queens Hotel in Cleethorpes became the venue for around 150 members and a growing number of regular local singers and musicians. Guests of the club whilst at the Queens included Cyril Tawney, Martin Carthy, Rev. Gary Davis, the McPeake Family and even Paul Simon – twice!
After a change of management at the ‘Queens’, the club moved to the Lifeboat Hotel on Cleethorpes sea front and whilst there the line up of the Meggies acquired some more members and became the Broadside. Unfortunately the Lifeboat was not really suited to acoustic music and so after a few months another move found the club further along the sea front at the Dolphin Hotel.
This was to start the most successful period of the club’s history when most of the country’s top Folk performers were booked as guests. A typical month in 1967 featured The Young Tradition, Hamish Imlach, Tim Hart and Maddy prior, and Jeremy Taylor. At this time there was also a fine array of local performers. Among them were groups such as The Broadside, the Galley, the Graingers, and Silver Birch, and many individuals who went on to be well known and respected by the Folk community nationally and, in some cases, internationally.