The mid 1960s saw the rise in popularity of nightclubs and bowling alleys, they have both nearly disappeared in the intervening years, there are still some around but not nearly as many as there were. The “Kirk” or the Kirklevington Country Club was one of a number in the Stockton area, other clubs I remember are, The Marimba and The Contessa in Middlesbrough, The La Ronde in Billingham and the best known of all The Fiesta in Norton.
These clubs offered top class entertainment, including many international acts, youngsters from this time were not overly interested in pubs and social or working men’s clubs, beer and bingo were becoming old hat, the dance halls which had been a mainstay of evening entertainment alongside the cinema, were in decline in the 1960s. The “Kirk” was one of two popular clubs in the Yarm area, the other being “Club M” at the Tall Trees Hotel, both of these sites have housing on them now.
The “Bongo Club” deserves a special mention, one of the very first in the area, I know it lost its licence a couple of years ago but I have seen reports that it is in the throes of being reopened, it may already be open. These clubs were very much a part of the industrial north, from Sheffield to Newcastle in the east and Liverpool and Manchester in the west, Batley was particularly well known nationwide.
I have no doubt there are many people who have fond memories of places such as The “Kirk” and have a story or two to tell. My only interest in these clubs is from a social history point of view, I have never been in a nightclub in my life, pubs, cinemas and theatres were part of my social whirl and, yes, I did go ten pin bowling.
Photograph and details courtesy of Bruce Coleman.