Sandy Brown Jazz

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The Prince Of Wales
Buckhurst Hill

 

John Ferguson and Albert Craske wrote to us about 'once upon a time' jazz venues they remember and wondered if others recall them too?

John said: 'Alas, I think the 'Down At The Res' got swamped out years ago by a malignancy of  Noisicians!   The 'Prince of Wales' Buckhurst Hill was another pleasant venue in those old days'.

The item brought memories back for clarinetist Pete Neighbour:

'I have just been browsing through your latest missive and saw about the Prince of Wales, Buckhurst Hill. I am sure there will be many, many readers who remember this Buckhurst Hill Stationvenue. It holds particular memories for me as I grew up in the Walthamstow area of London and this was one of the relatively local venues that had a fairly high standard of jazz; if my memory serves me correctly, six nights a week - maybe even seven. I'm pretty sure it was located in Albert Road, immediately across the road from Buckhurst Hill Underground station'

Buckhurst Hill station

'I was particularly lucky as I just happened to be in the 'right place at the right time' - when I was in school my clarinet teacher was Andre Beeson who, as well as teaching me clarinet from the very beginning also introduced me to jazz. Andre used to perform on many occasions at the Prince of Wales; I think, on Tuesdays mainly in a band led by the late pianist Pat Mason. I recall Tony Allen on drums (now living in Spain), various bass players, Brian Prudence, Bob Bryan & Pete Skivington amongst them. Many trumpet players used to front the band; Mike Cotton, Alan Gresty, Ray Crane, Alan Wickham spring to mind. Jackie Free I think was the regular trombone player.'

Prince of Wales site

Here once stood .....

 

'Thus began my 'sitting in' experiences. Fast forward a few years and I think Monday night was 'big band night' - two bands used to alternate every other Monday. I used to play in one led by Norman Brittain; the other bandleaders name escapes me. Digby Fairweather used to lead a band on another night (Thursday?) and I recall John Altman also leading a band on a night there also.'

'As a young teenager is was a great venue for me to hear guys and Pete Neighbourplay a few tunes. I also remember a drummer by the name of Peter Prince, who, I believe, like myself is now based in the USA. There were many, many other musicians who used to appear there sporadically; Eddie Thompson, Jim Douglas, John Barnes, Dave Jones, Randy Colville, Charlie Galbraith, Roy Williams............also another blind pianist called Tommy Bridges who I think used to do a Saturday night there? I did, for a while, lead a quartet there one night a week featuring John Richardson on drums and Roger Barnes on piano.'

Pete Neighbour

'I think the Landlords were Bob & June - they were obviously jazz fans and I can picture them very clearly in my minds eye. They moved on and it became just another pub........then, a few years ago it was demolished and there are now flats on the plot.'

'Ahhhhhhhh........memories!'

Click here for Pete's website.
2010.10/11

 

Clarinettist Alvin Roy writes:

'Further to what Pete Neighbour wrote about the Prince of Wales in Buckhurst Hill, I also played there with Roger Barnes (piano), Johnny Richardson (drums) and Harvey Weston (bass) on Sunday nights and the pub was indeed run by Bob and June Perkins. I knew Bob when he worked for a music publishers in Soho and we shared an office for a while, but he never held that against me....... I remember Martin Taylor would come down and sit in with various bands, including mine and I often wonder what happened to him (!?). It all seems a lifetime ago, probably because it is - but I have fond memories of the venue and the bands that played there.'
2011.01

 

Trombonist Jack Free also remembers the pub and says:

'I played with Pat Mason up there for at least 3 years, it was mostly me, Mike Cotton and Andre Beason in the front line - of course there were other subs when we had other gigs. The rhythm section mostly was Pat Pete Skiv on bass and Tony Allan on drums. We had lots of people come & sit in including Kenny Ball, Digby - who brought along Wild Bill one night, Julian Stringle, and I remember the singer Georgia Brown  and there were lots of others that I can't remember.'

'I do remember Harry Klein used to play up there on a Sunday with Charley Galbraith and for some reason, the landlord (Bob) gave him the sack. I was doing a gig with him later and he was still upset.  He said: 'I`ve played with Ronny Scott, Dankworth, the BBC Big Band and doing all the session work - and I get the sack from that poxy governor  of the Prince Of Wales pub!

 

John Ferguson adds to the picture:

'I was aware of a buzz about the place as I was arriving at the Prince of Wales, Buckhurst Hill, and soon discovered that no less a legend than 'Wild Bill Davidson' (of whom I'd never heard) would be appearing here today. I think the usual 'line up' was in attendance.'

Now, this was a long time ago, so there will be omissions - for which, my apologies. Tommy, the blind pianist and his faithful Lab, Derek Quinnel (the London cabbie) on bass guitar, Mike Cotton (one of Acker Bilk's lads) on trumpet and maybe Charlie Galbraith ( I think?) on trombone; he did very well for an old 'un and could pull out some delightful 'quotes' - breathless though he was. There was extra entertainment when Charlie's daughter arrived: she would step up onto the stage, and this attractive, long-legged, very short skirted, eye-pleasing dish would bend over to place a large, fond kiss on her dad's puffing cheek, all to the great delight of the male segment of the audience. On drums I think there was Tony who also MC'd proceedings. He was not a great drummer , but was a magic MC - witty and natural.

There was a pleasant young chap who played a very small sax; he had quite a mop of curly hair and had I think they're called 'spats' on his brogues. His first name is John and he's quite well known for writing film music (and wearing spats!). I did speak to him on one ocassion, which is how I'm able to refer to him as 'pleasant'; a pity I can't remember his surname! I can give you a clue: he has the same name as the actor who plays Dot Cotton's son, Nick, in East-Enders - just in case you're a fan!

A short, plump black lady also arrived. I can't remember her name or much about her; she could certainly push a song out with great conviction and could make things go with a swing. I do remember that lady marrying some blue-blood or duke or baron... or something titled. Apparently, she had a long-held wish to marry and become a baroness or some such thing and drive to and from the ceremony in an open landau, which is exactly what she got. Anyway, the whole thing was shown on TV - the marriage not the Prince of Wales show! An amateur guitarist, sitting at table near me who often used to get up and join the line-up told his wife 'Crikey, I'm getting in on this', and jumped up on the stage and joined the musical banquet that had generated. I had a great seat at a small table and had made my way through a few pints of Guinness which inevitably resulted in my having to visit the gentlemen's powder room. When I returned, someone had nicked my seat, so, rather than cause a fuss, I sat on the edge of the stage - a great place to be!

To cap it all, Georgia Brown turned up and was soon on the stage, which was now becoming a bit crowded. Not surprisingly, she sang 'Sweet Georgia Brown'.

When 'time' was called on this incredible extravaganza, I, complete with a cargo of Guinness, began to make my way out, but decided to shake hands with Wild Bill who had adjourned to a tiny room at the side of the bar. I was equipped with a level of audacity which had been lent by my Guinness prop, so I knocked on the door and went in. Bill was just pouring himself a large slug of something in a whiskey coloured bottle (he was reputed to see a bottle off every day). I reached out and thanked him for his visit and performance and said: 'It was a great pleasure to meet you, Jack' . Well, I told you about the Guinness didn't I? I left poor Wild Bill with a very surprised look on his face; I hope he didn't think that this was representative of how 'memorable' his performance had been!

I made my way to my Sherpa van and drove home without the slightest difficulty.'

 

David Gent writes:

'I am grateful to Mike Durrell for the further information on the Prince of Wales in Chingford, and for reminding me that the pianist was Rex Cull, not Rex Kyle as I misremembered (it was a long time ago). The pub was still going in the early 70s but the Wednesday jam sessions were replaced by a disco, which itself was enlivened by numerous fights.
 
Some more names have floated into my mind. The bass player on Wednesdays was Ronnie Spack - I last heard of him in the 1980s when he was living in Southend-on-sea. Kay Garner sometimes sang with Rex et al on Saturdays. Kay, who died some 7 years ago, was one of that select bunch of session singers who appeared on almost every record. She worked regularly with Madeline Bell, and together they were featured on most of Dusty Springfield's hits. Kay stayed in touch with her jazz roots, working with Tubby Hayes among others.'
2015.11

 

If you found this page interesting, you might also like our pages on:
Wood Green Jazz Club: Fishmongers Arms
The Cy Laurie Club
The Dancing Slipper, Nottingham
New Merlins Cave
The Six Bells, Chelsea
Cooks Ferry Inn
Eel Pie Island

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