Sunday 18 November 2012

Singing among the socks

The Bothy Folk Club in Southport was established in April 1965 and is still going strong. It has over the years had four permanent homes:

1. The Railway Hotel, Chapel Street, 1965.
2. The Blundell Arms, Birkdale, 1965 - 2002.
3. The Shelbourne Hotel, Lord Street West, 2003 - 2005.
4. The Park Golf Club, Park Road West, 2006 to date.

My first visit to the Bothy was to the Blundell Arms in 1978. I never knew the Railway; it was demolished in the late 1960s, long before I began going into pubs and even before I moved to Southport. A pity, because I see it was a Walker's house, and I used to like Walker's Bitter. The only snippets I have picked up are that it had an extremely long bar and that the club moved from there because its popularity meant that it had soon outgrown the Railway's function room.

Click on the picture for an enlarged view.
I found this picture of the Railway on the internet recently along with an old map showing where the pub had been. For those of you who know Chapel Street, it was where Marks and Spencer is today, which means that folk songs were once sung where the men's clothing department now is.

Another interesting building in the picture is the old railway station which was demolished at the same time to make way for the current concrete and tile monstrosity. Some Southport people like to complain that our council, being linked with Bootle and Labour-dominated, is responsible for the decline of our attractive seaside resort, but this demolition took place at a time when Southport had its very own Tory council, who presumably granted planning permission for what was probably portrayed as an exciting and modern development. The picture proves that the decline of our town did not begin with local authority reorganisation in 1974; the now-saintly previous council sanctioned acts of vandalism such as the destruction of a fine old railway station and a viable public house. The 60s might have been great for music but they were a disaster for architecture.

The Bothy did not begin in Southport; the Southport Bothy was an off-shoot of the Bothy Folk Club in Liverpool, established in 1964. That Bothy lasted only a couple of years and was closed down when there were, I'm told, folk clubs every night of the week in Liverpool, whereas Southport had none other than its own Bothy. I think the idea was to concentrate efforts where the need was greatest. I don't know enough about the Liverpool Bothy to write a post; perhaps I'll invite a guest to contribute something. But in the meantime, with this picture I have seen for the first time a lost pub of Southport and my folk club's first venue.


  1. I often sing folk songs in the mens clothing dept in M&S; under my breath of course.
    Kevin L.

  2. There is an expression about socks humming ...


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