Sunday, 16 November 2014

Places of the Interest Newcastle and Gateshead : The City Hall - Mini Mayfair

In recent years, the Newcastle rock scene, has slowly been strangled and squeezed to death leaving very few decent rock nights left to attend especially, on a Saturday night. Newcastle once had a one of the most prominent rock communities in the UK. It was home to the Mayfair Ballroom, which provided a home for Newcastle's rock community on a Saturday night, and a venue for a whole host of gigs. I know many people who've attended the Mayfair, and I have heard them talking about their fantastic experiences; this makes me feel as though I've missed out.The Mayfair shut its door in 1999; I was eleven years old, at the time and too young to attend.

The Mayfair was hailed as both Europe's biggest and longest running Rock venues.(1). The Mayfair ballroom, first opened its doors on the 12th September 1961, and the last event was held on 21st of August 1999. It's estimated over 5,000 rockers turned out for the event to say their goodbyes, despite the building able to safely host 1,500 people. The Mayfair was closed down because the land it stood on, was purchased by Land Security, the UK's largest property developer; the land was purchased to build the Gate, a modern entertainment complex.(2,3,4 & 5). 

A local journalist, Nic Outterway, who at the time worked for the Sunday Sun was given the task by his editor to start a campaign to save it. Outterway worked with promoter, Sue Collier, who started the campaign the 'Ballroom Blitz' informing people of the potential demolition threat. They gathered support from musicians like, Dave Stewart, Alan Price, Chris Rea, Lindisfarne, Jimmy Nail, Bryan Ferry, Danny McAloon, Toy Dolls, Venom, and Mark Knopfler. Despite all efforts the Compulsory purchase order was finalised sealing the execution warrant for the Mayfair(5).

Over its forty year life span, The Mayfair hosted some major performers during their early careers. These have included; AC/DC, The Who, Pink Floyd, Queen, The Police, The Prodigy, The Cross, Kylie Minogue, Tin Machine, U2, The Clash, Iron Maiden, Faith No More, Judas Priest and Nirvana

However, the Mayfair claimed as Europe's largest rock venue in regards to records  concerning the Mayfair, there's limited information available. One man, Marshall Hall, has tried to compile information to write his book the 'Ballroom Blitz'. He has researched by interviewing gig and commercial promoters; he's strenuously researched bands who played there trolling through four decades worth of local newspapers.  
Hall is also  interested in anybodies personal memories of the Mayfair; he wants to include in his book and website. He has asked people to kindly share copies of tickets, posters, or photos (5).

The City hall was built in 1927, and the Harrison organ was added in 1928 hence becoming Newcastle's first music concert hall. Until the sixties the venue hosted mainly large orchestras, choirs, and recitals. During the sixties this changed with the spread of the music revolution; the venue hosted The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis. 

For decades the venue has hosted many large names like Bruce Spingsteen, who considered  this one of his best performances during his career, along with Dire straights and Motorhead . Over the years, the venue has developed a reputation for being an excellent venue for comedy performances (7). 

However, Newcastle council in 2012 , were considering closing the venue as way of saving money, but over 13,000 people signed a petition to save it from closing down. One the larger supporters for the petition was the North East Music Group,  
Hazel Plater of the organisation comments,  "the venue represents a place of History for the City". Currently, the council is now undecided for the venues future(8). 

During the 2000's decade, Legends filled the gap of the Mayfair along with Krash, which was more for the teenage rockers both were held on Saturday nights . Legends was sold  and the new owners decided to they wanted to cater for a different clientele.

 In recent years, there were individuals who wanted to bring back the Mayfair alive.The Mini Mayfair was created back in 2010  from the dreams of Dianne, who felt that there was nothing to cater for the mature rockers and decided to resolve this by creating the Mini Mayfair. However, it's been a challenge for her to maintain the night as it's moved venues and finally found a home at the Newcastle's City Hall. They mainly specialise in rock music from the 70's, 80's 90's and occasionally some early 2000's (6). The venue is held in the basement in Newcastle City Hall and is a great night, with reasonably priced drink. It's one of the only places that plays Nightwish, which is an added bonus.   

Entrance of the City Hall 

Entrance to the theatre

The DJ's one hiding because he knew I am taking photos

People on the dance floor

My boyfriend and his friend, 

Me and my out fit 
1.Roger. (2014). Mayfair Ballroom. Available: Last accessed 15/11/2014.

2. Chronicle. (2009). Rock fans revive the spirt of the Mayfair Ballroom. Available: Last accessed 15/11/2014.

3. Chronicle. (2013). Remeber when: Rocking times Mayfair. Available: Last accessed 15/11/2014

4. Outterside, N. (2013). ' Stay far from the fence with the electricity Sting. Available: Last accessed 15/11/2014.

5. Marshall Hall. (2014). Mayfair Ballroom . Available: Unable to find . Last accessed 11/11/2014

6.Mini Mayfair. (2014 ). About Us. Available: Last accessed 15/11/2014

7.Newcastle City Hall. (2014). Visitor Information. Available: Last accessed 15/11/2014.

8.BBC. (2012). Newcastle City Hall: petition launched to protect venue.Available: Last accessed 15/11/2014

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