Ashton Court Country Club - a look back
Gerry Brooke looks back to the times when Redwood Lodge was the Ashton Court Country Club
In 1970, I ran a quartet at Ashton Court Country Club called the Olympics in the then newly opened sports room.
In those days, the place was really buzzing with music and cabaret six nights a week.
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Three cabaret acts and a dance troupe would put on an hour’s show at each of the venues – the ballroom, the garden room and the sports room.
The Norman Cole Trio was employed to accompany the cabaret, with music for dancing provided by the Les Drake Trio, the Raymond Kaye Quartet, the Blue Diamonds and ourselves.
There was a separate disco room.
The club was run rather like a military operation with a glossy weekly programme showing pictures of the artistes and bands, and telling you when they would be appearing in each room.
The cabaret compere was Steve Conway. When introducing the dancers he would quip, “five lovely ladies – nine lovely legs”.
One day I remember seeing club owner John Ley come striding up the corridor from his usual home in reception and disappear behind the stage.
Next thing you knew the dance floor – normally flush with the rest of the floor – had retracted into a much lower sunken position.
It was John Ley playing with his new toy.
Unfortunately, it meant that all the adjoining chairs and tables had half their legs on the sunken floor.
It was chaos.
Another thing he would do was to override the amplification system and make announcements such as, “A taxi for Mr....”
He once did this in the middle of a singer’s big number, causing her to storm off stage.
But overall the club was a fantastic place with big crowds every night creating a great atmosphere.
It’s a real shame that such a place doesn’t exist today.
I was very interested in the stories about Ashton Court Country Club and Bristol Technical Engineering School (BT, November 3) as I have very happy memories of both.
I attended the technical school from 1948 to 1952, and can remember all of the masters’ names but unfortunately can’t recognise anyone in the photo.
Along with Robin Tanner, I used to cycle every day from Horfield to Bedminster and the annexe in Cheese Lane.
Others I remember are George Avent, Eric Clarke and John New. The latter played for Bristol Rugby and Eric represented Bristol Boys at football.
Ashton Court Country Club was very popular with my family in the Seventies.
We took advantage of all of the facilities.
The squash courts, however, had to be booked two weeks in advance, even when playing at midnight.
Saturday night was disco night with wives or girlfriends, but the men congregated in the lounge bar to watch Match of the Day.
Sunday afternoons was family time around the pool.
The garden and ballrooms were always very good value, with the comedian Max Wall being a highlight I will never forget.
My wife and I became members of Ashton Court Country Club in 1951, soon after it opened.
I am now 90, and my wife is 86.
We were vetted by a committee before we were accepted and we remained members for more than 50 years.
We used to have Sunday cream teas there for about 2/6d (25p) and can remember the cabaret turns in the ballroom.
When we were in our 60s, we learned to swim in the indoor pool.
Our teacher, Len Shearn, sadly died in the pool when my wife was the lone swimmer there.
As she couldn’t get him out of the pool she came running to me in the gym incoherent with shock.
But by the time I got there it was too late.
When Ashton Court became Redwood Lodge, my wife and I, as the oldest members, were asked to cut the ribbon to declare it open.
We resigned from the club a few years ago as my wife found the indoor pool too small and crowded for her to enjoy swimming.
Harold and Golda Seymour,
My wife and I, now both in our 70s, joined Ashton Court Country Club in about 1959.
After having our engagement party at the club, we married in 1963, and stayed members for the next nine years.
But when the club started to expand we terminated our membership, although we still use the club for occasions such as Mother’s Day and Christmas.
Under owner John Ley, the club was a lovely place to visit – we used to go most Saturday nights.
The cabarets were very good – there’s nothing like them now in Bristol – and the atmosphere was absolutely marvellous.
Many of the friends we met there we still see today.
John and Ann White,
Yout feature about Ashton Court Country Club brought the memories flooding back.
My husband and I were members in the early Seventies. We weren’t married then and spent a lot of time at the club.
We used to dance the night away at the Ranch House Disco and at weekends play badminton, swim or go to the cinema – we even held our engagement party there.
Bobby Crush was appearing in cabaret that night, which made it even more enjoyable.
We used to think it was marvellous to be able to do all these things in one place.
This was the heyday of the club and I remember going there at Christmas time and finding it hard to park and queuing for ages to put our coats in the cloakroom.
There was never any trouble at the club – no violence, fights or bad behaviour.
Mrs S Reynolds (nee Wilkins),