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The Fiesta revisited

From left, Pete Embleton (compere) Ray Dales and Paul Smith (original resident Fiesta band members) Bob Gibson (compere) and at the back, Chris Lipthorpe

From left, Pete Embleton (compere) Ray Dales and Paul Smith (original resident Fiesta band members) Bob Gibson (compere) and at the back, Chris Lipthorpe

IT was one of the most glamorous nightspots in the country – and now a charity night is set to rekindle the venue’s flame.

In its 1960s and 1970s heyday, anyone who was anyone in showbiz played Club Fiesta, in Norton High Street.

The venue was a hugely popular venue for the people of Hartlepool, making the short trip from the town to watch the biggest and best names from the world of showbiz.

Cliff Richard, the Beach Boys, Stevie Wonder, Lulu, Tommy Cooper, Morecambe and Wise, Dusty Springfield, Bill Haley and the Comets, Bob Monkhouse and The Searchers were just some of the acts topping the bill.

And memories are sure to flow on November 10 at a reunion of staff and club-goers at the Marton Hotel and Country Club, in Stokesley Road, Middlesbrough, with proceeds going to forces charity Help For Heroes.

It’s the brainchild of Chris Lipthorpe, whose dad Jim branched out from being a 1950s bandleader with the Jimmy Lipthorpe Swingtet to start running the club with his brother Keith in 1965.

Rehearsals have started, with members of the original band getting together.

First on the bill were Mike and Bernie Winters and Alma Cogan – and the big names just kept on coming after that.

And by the time it closed in the early 1980s to become the Black Cats disco, its glittering place in showbiz history was sealed.

Chris, 51, said: “After a period of austerity, Teesside in the mid-60s was emerging as a thriving place and they wanted to reflect that.

“The Rink Ballroom in Hartlepool was in its final days and many people from the town wanted to see the real big names of the moment.

“Thousands of people from Hartlepool would visit the Fiesta across the years.

“The Ellerman Bee-line bus company would arrange nightly trips from Hartlepool to Norton High Street, about a quarter-of-an-hour journey, taxi companies in Hartlepool were working overtime to get the people to see the stars.

“Lots of relationships and marriages were started in the Fiesta, many no doubt still going strong in Hartlepool to this day.” Chris added that the Fiesta was a “great release for the townsfolk” and that Hartlepool United players including Malcolm Dawes, Tony Parry, Terry Bell, Barry Watling, John McGovern, Bill Green and Neil Warnock were all regulars.

To launch the reunion, members of the old resident house band – vocalist and compere Pete Embleton, drummer Paul Smith, bass player Tubby Ayton, pianist Paul Flush and saxophonist Ray Dales got together.

Tickets for the reunion are £25, which includes a prize draw.

They are available from.club-fiesta.co.uk, Marton Country Club reception or by calling (0191) 6450750.

 
 
 

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