UK Decay Forum Index UK Decay
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

Some notorious Luton Punk venues from the 70's and 80's.
Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next
Post new topic   Reply to topic    UK Decay Forum Index -> In The UK Decay Today!
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Site Admin

Joined: 03 Feb 2004
Posts: 1240
Location: Luton UK

PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2004 4:46 am    Post subject: Some notorious Luton Punk venues from the 70's and 80's. Reply with quote

Some notorious Luton Punk venues from the 70's and 80's.
Updated Febuary 14th 2008

We thought it might be a nice idea to see the sites of some of the Punk
venues that were home to the Luton Punk scene in the late 70's early

So we sent our photographer out on his bicycle to get some pictures of
what may be left of some of these venues.
Here's what we found: -

The 'Cork and Bull' on the corner of Park street and Cumberland
street. (Feb 2008; the venue is now called Manhatten's.)
In 1979 it was called 'The Grapevine' and was the main Luton Town
Centre 'Punk' meeting point.

We thought we would start here as for many this was where it all
'happened' in 1978/79
With the floor covered with sawdust and furnished with large
wooden beer casks and many cubbyholes for groups to sit in. It
was decorated suitably in dark wooden colours and had ornamental
Grapevine signs hanging on the walls. At the time there was 2 main
bar areas with the odd band playing in the rear area.
The Grapevine certainly lived up to its name with many of Luton's
Punks meeting there for the first time. Many a band was formed
after a few pints 'The Grapevine' didn't get away without the odd
punch-up either!
We think it shut down in 1980 or perhaps early 81 and on the last
day we completely
De-furbished the entire pub! After rolling out the great beer casks,
denuding the internal hanging signs and making away with everything
that would move inside, Steve the Voice who had climbed up the Pub
Sign post and was trying to 'relieve' the sign, was caught out by the

Halcyon Days!!

Can anybody remember the landlord's name?
(was it George?)

The Cork and Bull was trading up until 2006, it was re-opened as
Manhatten's later that year. In summer 2005 many ex-Grapeviner's
visited the venue to witness 'The Pokers' who 'Punk and Rolled' the joint!
Later that year in December, UK Decay Communities held their first
'Class of 1979 - 1989 Reunion I' event at the Cork and Bull. An
original Grapevine sign was hung up on the stage behind the bands,
a symbolic gesture that many in attendance would have seen all those
years ago. In the spirit of the occasion some even dug out their old
bondage trousers and 'Seditionary' T-shirts and pogo-ed along.
As the Cork and BulL, it was much the same internally with the stairs still
leading down to the toilets near the front door although they have
knocked the 2 areas into one large area now.
We have not yet visited Manhattens!
(Do the new management realise they need one of those blue plaques!?)

The 33 Arts Centre (1978-2002) situated at 33 Guildford Street
now sadly demolished.
The 33 Arts Centre as seen in 2006!

If the Grapevine provided the early social fabric for Luton's Punk life,
then '33' provided the 'nuts and bolts' services for the Punk
infrastructure. It took a few years to get the centre fully up and running
but in the early days there was much work to be done.
The centre was obtained and developed by the 'Reflex' arts group who
promoted arts and music in the town. Previously it had been a school
and a Hat factory and was completely full of relics from the previous
owners, which all needed sorting out before they could get going.
There were little or no funds available so volunteers, many of whom
happened to be Punks, carried out the early work.
With the promise of badly needed rehearsal rooms, green room and
performance space, arts workshops, restaurant and bar it was an
exciting time and provided a bridge between the Punk movement
and the perhaps more thoughtful 'fringe' arts and 'Jazz' cultures in the

In about 1980 the small performance space (maximum capacity of
about 70) became established as a music venue both for Jazz and
Punk music events, as well as fringe theatre (The world famous
'People show' for instance performed there several times) The 'Plastic
Records Audition Nights' established 33 as a frontline Punk gig! And
for the next 20 years or so the centre became a Luton institution.
Swallowing up next door (no35) in about 1981, which eventually
housed the 33 video collective (they produced amongst other things
channel 4 's 'Death Valley Days') and later on the 33 recording studio
as well as photographic workshops.
The 33 centre had always been the place in town for the �alternative�
sub-culture, to meet up in the veggie cafe or later on in the bar not
without its critics either however, but 33 has earned its place in the
towns history with world famous producer (Dave Arnold) and film
director (Danny Cannon) who used the facilities in their early days.
In the 90�s the 'Exodus' sound system put on a couple of Dub sessions
there and 'Hypnagogia' would fill out every space with pounding
drums and chill vibes.
Over the years there was so much that came out of �33�, too much to
mention here!
In 2002/3 the remnants of '33' finally moved into the newly furbished
'Hat Factory' Art's Centre, leaving the old building to its ghosts and memories

Matrix records and Clothes 1979/81(now demolished!) John Street
Aprox situated near the blue doors in the middle of
the'University Hostel'

This is the current scene of Luton's first independent Punk and New
Wave records and Clothes shop. Set up by 'Plastic records' and �UK
Decay� to provide the Punk community with all their needs here in Luton
as opposed to having to go down to London to get them. At least that
was the plan!
The premises had 4 floors including the basement, which had been
converted to a rehearsal room. The ground floor which was taken up
by the shop, the first floor being for the Plastic Records official office
and the 2nd top floor being for 2 flats (Steve Harle and Spon)
The shop attracted many from far and wide but the proprietors were
perhaps a little �over optimistic� in their business plans! And it became
increasingly difficult to maintain a steady supply of merchandise for
the consumers!
In the shop there sat a table-top space invader machine that many
will remember spending hours blasting away at! The shop also became
something of a meeting place in the time shortly after the Grapevine
had closed and at the same time as the Baron of Beef was becoming
UK Decay had written many of their finest tunes in the rehearsal room
that also once housed a memorable after tour party with The Dead
Kennedys. During the proceedings Jello Biafra from the ‘DK’s’ and the
‘UK DK’s’, ran amok amidst the Arndale car parks where Jello graffiti-ed
his name over the place. These scrawling’s allegedly lasted for years.

A week after that event, after a torrential downpour the basement
became totally flooded out. The 'death-knell' of Matrix!

The Baron of Beef, 1980-1982ish, later changed to The Elephant
and Tassle and then something else. Current name unknown! (up for
sale again!)

After the Grapevine shut down the vacuum created was soon filled
by The Baron of Beef.
As a bar built into the dreadful arndale centre it seemed an unlikely
venue however in a stormy atmosphere the landlord welcomed the
displaced Punk community with open arms!
Although small The Baron of Beef put on many a fine Punk gig and
later on perhaps after a change of management and name the early
'Switch Club' events were held here.

The Blockers 1981ish to the 90�'s. Now known as The Well,
HightownRoad, Luton
Currently closed, as of mid Febuary, 2008)

After 'The Baron' days the next venue became The Blockers. The bar
in those days was long and narrow with a courtyard out the back for
those hot summer evenings.
Punks and other punters would meet up here before moving on to
the Stingray club or The Switch club or perhaps occasionally rioting,
as they did in the early 80's copycat riots in Luton!!
The Blockers Arms was regarded by the authorities as a 'den of aniquity'
yet somehow it managed to survive throughout the eighties. Most of
Luton's alternative tribes would gather there and exchange drugs and
occasional fisticuff's, to a background of live music.
In the early 2000's the pub was reopened as The Well , a music venue
and Thia Restaurant until it shut down in 2007, it is not known what it's
future holds.

The Bricklayers Arms 1984ish to present, Hightown Road Luton
The Blockers shut for a period in the mid eighties after one too
many drug bust's and increasing friction between the differing tribal
groups, the punkier, alternative and goth types started dissipating to
The Coopers Arms and The George 11 in Bute Street. At least another
section of the now changing scene moved across the Hightown Road to
the newly furbished Bricklayers Arms, where DJ Crazy Fish would often
spin some of his jazzier and proto house grooves.

'The Brickies' as it is affectionately known as, is still pretty much the
same as it was some 17 or 18 years ago.
Alison is still the Landlady some of the barstaff still work there and if
you listen carefully you can occasionally hear some of Crazy fish's
grooves pounding away in the corner. Wins the prize for Longevity!

The Royal Hotel, 197? To the mid 80's. Corner of Bridge Street/
Old Bedford Road(Later to be known as Mirage)

During the late 70's was the home to the 'Reflex' events that would
range from the then jazz funk scenes (Quantum Jump), to the
Damned's 10th gig! This also could also claim to be Luton's first
introduction to punk, silly buggers left all the tables and chairs in
sittu, Dave Vanium clambered all over them knocking over drinks
and spitting out theatrical blood. Much to the annoyance of most of
the regular clientelle, whom were not ready for Punk just yet.
After the show Dave Vanium, Captain Sensible and co, ran amok in
town, ended up trying to break into first an off licence and them a
chemist in Farley Hill.

The Royal was Luton's premier music venue for the late 70's. UK Decay
played a memorable gig their hosted by 'The Mad Caps' a local biker
Later on it became a mainline nightclub Mirage whom The Switch
Club would use to host their events.

The Tech College 1979. Now Luton University. Vicarage Street

Many gigs here over the years, currently the Students Union are very
wary of letting in non members so most of us 'humble' Luton folk don't
get to go to any of their 'Do's'
Back in late 1979, the policy was different and their were several
major Punk events that happened here including the legendary
dual headlining gig with UK Decay and Bauhaus.
The Hall (the left part of the building in the Photo) has now been rebuilt
and now is part of the University facilities.
Today (February 2008) literally underneath the building in the picture,
underground, lies the ~University of Bedfordshire Student Union ‘Sub
Club’~, a 300 plus capacity live music venue.
The Sub Club host’s live events catering for today’s generations of
Scene-kid/Emo/Goth/Metal/Indie’ kid’s, it is apparently at times open
for non-students and even dare I say, Lutonian’s!

The Mad Hatters Mid 80's to the late 90's. Now known as Club M.
Cheapside, Luton

Home for a period to The Stingray Club and later to The Switch Club,
as well as a host of other events in its 15 years or so history. You
could rub shoulders with Luton 'Superstar' Paul Young as well as hosts
of Luton's 'Music royalty' here, at an early Stingray Club.
Notorious for its brawls and seedy gangland shenanigans after many
closures and re-openings it has now resurfaced as Club M. An
aesthetically pleasing looking building in the photo!

The Five-O Club Mid 80's till 2001. Dunstable Road, Luton. (Now

An Afro-Caribbean Social club with a restaurant and late license.
This clubs usual repertoire of Jamaican Sound Systems, talent contests
and Dominoes contests also became home to the M.A.D. club and later
The Switch Club in the 80's with many bands and DJ's putting on events
There were some really great evenings there but there were also some
bad incidents that marred the atmosphere for many unfortunately.
At the M.A.D. club in the late 80�s, saw such bands as Click Click,
The Cookie Crew, Mark Stewart and the Mafia, Renegade Soundwave
as well as many other bands and DJ's pounding the beats there late into
the night.
Later in the 90�s the club was hired by Exodus spin offs, The Eviction
Sound System and other rave sound systems.
The proprietors struggled through the late 90's to keep the club going
but sadly it was finally demolished last year
It used to be at the back of that car park!

Library Theatre St Georges Square, Luton 1964 to present
The Library theatre, which is at the top of the library building, was hired
out on numerous occasions. Many Luton bands played their including.
Karma Sutra, Corpelia etc, in the mid eighties.
Still there, still available for hire! No thanks too many rules and regs

Luton Carnival 1980/1. Stuart Street Viaduct
UK Decay played 2 years running at the world famous carnival. They
played at the main music stage that was situated at the bottom of this
car park.
Nothings changed here apart from the appearance of the office block
in the background

Identitiy Early 80's New Romance Fashion Clothes Shop Barbers
Lane, Luton

This Bleak block brick building used to be the home to Rick and
Kass's Identity fashion clothes shop, behind the shop in the same
building was the Barbers Lane recording studio Hero's, which was run by
the late Geronimo Geoff and Captain Blute.

Rick and Kass ran the shop that specialised in radical fashions for
the new romantic and goth sub cultures! Many used this shop to
'dress-up' for the nightclub scene. They eventually moved to
Kensington market (I think?) and resurfaced years later as hosts
for an upper class rave (the name escapes me at the moment!)
The studio behind the shop was run and engineered by Geromino
Geoff and amongst its clients were The Friction and UK Decay.
The building was left empty up until the last few years then it was
bought and god only knows what it is today? The River Lea actually
runs right underneath the premises!

"Lung Function" Bute Street Click Click rehearsal room and Pan
club next door.
Late 70's, The 80's

The Pan Club was set up in myth as being a secret venue for
the Sex Pistols early on in their history. It was a 'gay' nightclub
but was hired out for various events in the Eighties.
"Lung Function" was the name of Click Clicks rehearsal rooms
(scaffolded building) that became a kind of drop-in centre for
post punk/early "Electronic Body Music" musical renegades, who
were treated to many a fine Click Click performance. Many other
bands rehearsed there including In Excelsis, Corpalia,
Passchendale Party Girls etc it was indeed an informal venue.
Both venues now under �new management� Sadly no longer any
musical functionality!

The Bag Shop Wellington Street, Luton
News-Flash! The Bag Shop demolished! see here
This is where everyone got his or her Studded Belts! Don�t know
how long its been shut down and don't know what's happening now
but it is still there!

And this is a close-up of the shop window! complete with watchstraps
for 30p!

The Plume of Feathers, Bridge Street, Luton. 1982 � 1990�s?
Currently empty!

Newsflash....The Plume of Feathers has now been Demolished!
see here
The 'Plume' Hosted Luton Punk bands such as Screaming Blue Murder,
Phallic Symbols and Government Lies in 1982 and continued right up
to the 90's hosting live music although not necessarily Punk.
Oddly last year (2003), there were signs that the premise was going
to open up again under the controversial name 'The Nine Bar'! The
refurbishment continued for some time
And then when it was nearly ready for opening it went quiet and has
remained so ever since!
(Thanks for the info Blink)

The George 2nd Bute street, Luton 1800 to Date! Still in use.
A regular Live Music venue right next to the bus and train stations. The
Punk scene in
the early 80's had a slight honeymoo there a couple of times but it
never really took off for one reason or another. Nevertheless the venue
which has refurbished a few times is still hosting Live Music today.

The Edge Club Park Street, Luton. Mid Eighties to present.
Original name not known.

Hosted The Stingray Club and perhaps later the Switch Club
Now the Edge Club is host to a Student Nightclub audience.

And Finally for the time being

The Town Hall well we all know what that is!

Well thats it for the time being. this list is by no means complete but
should go some way to highlight some of the main venues of some 25
years ago! Please feel free to correct us as in some of the details, we
do our best but the fog of time can sometime's blur.

Further info on Luton 1978 to 1988 punk scene at the 'Friction' website

'Clubbing in Luton 1984'
History is made at night

Febuary 14th 2008
More venue's have been added in the reply's below.
It is hoped to recompile this topic soon adding the other venues
to the main post.
Again I am sure there are a few other venues, that deserve adding
to this list, ie The Kingsway Tavern, Barnfield and The Pink Elephant etc.
If you can think of an important venue we have left off, please let us
know. Even better if you can remmember any details of the bands that
played there and any information about the punk life of the venue,
please 'post reply'.

Twisted Evil Twisted Evil
updated 18th august 2003
updated 13th febuary 2008


Visit The new UK Decay Communities

Last edited by werewolf on Fri Feb 07, 2014 2:58 am; edited 24 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
blink poker

PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2004 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

just like to say very informative ,i'd like to correct the dates on the blockers i moved to luton in august 81 and the blockers was in full swing by then...also another pub not mentioned was the plume of feathers which had gigs on around 82 i played there with screaming blue murder also saw phallic symbols there ,and government lies ..wasn't there a club near the fly over on park street that had the stingray club there for a short while or have you mentioned that... Twisted Evil Twisted Evil
Back to top
Peter Out

PostPosted: Sun Aug 29, 2004 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stuart Street flyover - who remembers Mad's shiner??? OR the Outbursts at the Tech???

Happy days!
Back to top
jay wolfendale

PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2004 12:04 am    Post subject: Mad's Shiner Reply with quote

Yes ,i was there, There were some trendies, one hanging in the middle of the other two, going round kicking people, and i think it was one of them that threw the can at Dave, at about the same time they kicked Jimmy Favell. It was then that Dave jumped down into the crowd, and it all went off. Belts off etc. Ended up with Jimmy getting nicked for defending himself, which i've written about elsewhere(he got off)....
Back to top

PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2004 3:40 pm    Post subject: HYPNAGOGIA Reply with quote



Back to top
Site Admin

Joined: 03 Feb 2004
Posts: 1240
Location: Luton UK

PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2004 4:17 am    Post subject: Hi 'Tryst' and thanks for the correction! Reply with quote

Hi 'Tryst' and thanks for the correction!



Nice to see you here.
Yes we stand corrected!
In the nature of the culture,
a few brain/memory cells have certainlly been 'addled'!

We had you (on behalf of "Hypnogogia"), mixed up with the
"Eviction Sound System" ( Anyone seen 'Dave the Rave?)!

The error has been corrected and updated!

Thats whats great about these forum things, there is someone
out there who can help fill-in all those 'dodgy' memories!

Anyway thanks again
and thanks for the compliment! 'Tryst'

Twisted Evil Twisted Evil

Visit The new UK Decay Communities
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

Joined: 07 May 2004
Posts: 27
Location: Luton

PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2004 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You forgot the Black Horse, where I first met many of the Luton punks in 1984. I had joined the Hunt Saboteurs at the Luton carnival that year and met the guys from Karma Sutra who told me where to find this pub and I made it my local for a few years. It closed for refurbishing so we all started going to the Brikies instead and, ehem! Never went back.
I don't want to achieve immortality through my work, I want to achieve immortality by not dying.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
blink poker

Joined: 01 Sep 2004
Posts: 56
Location: leicester/shitsville

PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2004 10:19 pm    Post subject: black horse Reply with quote

well remembered tony i remember d.jing there with bugsy..was'nt the landlords wife german?? Twisted Evil Twisted Evil
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Site Admin

Joined: 03 Feb 2004
Posts: 1240
Location: Luton UK

PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2004 7:30 pm    Post subject: The Black Horse and the Cross Reply with quote

The Black Horse
Thanks Tony, we sent our 'cyclo-photographer' out to get this
shot of the Black Horse, as it is today. (11.11.04)

The Black Horse
Looks like its been recently 'tarted-up'. but its still there!
1984 was a funny time in the Luton Punk Scene with the closing
down of many of the classic earlier mentioned venues.
It was 5 years since the 'Grapevines' heyday and many of that
generation of Punks had moved on., or were moving from venue to
venue. Meanwhile a 'new wave' of 'alternative' and 'Post-Punk'
types were establishing a new scene in town complete with new
venues, The Black Horse being one!

The Cross

"God So Loved The World"!! The Crucifiction
This just had to be included in the list of 'notorious Luton Punk venues
from the 70s and 80s.'
As it stands today (11.11.04) at the junction of Wellington st. and
Russel st In full-on 'Coronation st.' land, it looks even shabbier now
than it did when the picture (above) was taken for the front cover
of UK Decays first single. Proof that both the Church and the UK,
really are in Decay!

Apologies for the slightly-out-of-focus feel, we could really do with a new didgy here!

There are more venues that will be included here from time to time,
such as: 'The Unigate Club', 'The Marsh House Nissan Hut' (venue
of the legendary 1979 Crass, Poison Girls and UK Decay gig) and
'The Pink Elephant', maybe 'The Kingsway Tavern' as well.
Please feel free to post up any comments or dont hesitate to point
out any venues that are not included above!
The Marsh Farm Nissan Hut see here
Twisted Evil Twisted Evil

Visit The new UK Decay Communities

Last edited by werewolf on Sat Sep 10, 2005 12:16 am; edited 2 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

Joined: 07 Feb 2004
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2004 12:43 am    Post subject: Pink Elephant. Reply with quote

I saw Osibisa there. Then it became Bob Wheatley's Cesar's Palace where I was incarcerated for my sins for 3 years. I could tell you some tales of club life there iff you have a few days. I can confirm that Spon did the follow- spott-light there for Freddy Starr!!!! He also laid in to the Captain there one night.. I guess he deserved it. The Belts live forever !
"Give me a toke before I croak"
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    UK Decay Forum Index -> In The UK Decay Today! All times are GMT
Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next
Page 1 of 6

Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group