(Written by Ron Wheeler in Spring 2010)
On a warm sunny day in early May 1964 the three founders of the club, Stan Burgess, Chris Scott-Warwick and Ron Wheeler were seated in a lead lighted bay window to discuss Stan Burgess’s latest idea, “the founding of a new folk club”. Also with them was Ron’s girl friend Kathy Harris. Drinking a decent pint of beer they wrote out a list of aspirations for the club, many of which still stand true today.
The venue for this meeting was a public house on the Hagley Road in the Quinton area of the city. (Now sadly belonging to a Gastropub chain)
- The club should be primarily for locally based singers.
- It should encourage “first time singers”.
- Its aim should also be to develop a regular audience.
- A venue not used by any other folk club of suitable size should be found.
- A nucleus of regular singers should be encouraged.
- The clubroom should be on Friday nights and have good acoustics for the singers.
- The club would be called MacDonalds.
- The club would be non-profit making.
(any money taken on the door would be used for publicity purposes or an occasional guest singer)
The details of the start date were also decided and, to general agreement, it was decided that the club should open at approximately the same time as the other clubs in Birmingham closed for the summer thus providing a continuing arena for locals to enjoy live folk music. One of the founders, plus one other, should always try to be at the club to give a guarantee of an evening’s folk singing. The three regular singers were to be Stan Burgess, Chris Scott-Warwick and Erick Gooding (a newcomer to Birmingham, recently met by Stan and Ron)
Ron Wheeler would look after matters, financial and secretarial as well as look after the membership side of the club. 2/6 (old money) would be the initial entry charge on the door.
Ron and Stan had been friends for many years and so Ron was not surprised when Stan contacted him later that same week to let him know of the fact that he had located a suitable premises for the club and of the 500 posters he already had printed advertising the new club.
Stan asked Ron to help him put the posters up around Birmingham on the coming weekend in time for the club opening which would be the Friday afterwards… less than two weeks after the meeting and giving time for news of the new club to be spread around the Birmingham Folk scene. This, with the aid of a bucket of paste and a stepladder, they managed to do… not before Ron had fallen off the step ladder twice… The posters were everywhere, advertising the new folk club at the Hungry Man Public House adjoining the back of Bingley Hall off Broad Street.
The Club opened at the end of May 1964 at 8.00 p.m., door charge to non singers being 2/6d.