I live in a very small village in the suburbs of York called New Earswick. New Earswick was built by Quaker chocolate magnate, Joseph Rowntree, located conveniently for the workers employed in his nearby factory. It is what was known as a Model Village and to a certain extent, the religious beliefs of Rowntree were enforced across the village. The most obvious way that this manifests, even in 2020, is the way that alcohol cannot be sold within the borders of the New Earswick. There are no pubs and the local shops do not serve alcohol. The Folk Hall (pictured above) does have an alcohol bar in it’s function room, though this is only open to private functions.
It is a well-known and popularly told story that during the 1960’s, Pink Floyd performed a gig at the Folk Hall in New Earswick. After hearing about this for years I have decided to try and find out some more information about this gig to write about it.
The first thing a cursory Google search yields is an article in the York Press from 2015. This article is advertising a 1960’s themed evening which local DJ, Gary Hall, was putting on at the Folk Hall in 2015. It does name the club night which bands played at during the 1960’s as the Tin Chicken Club, but a Google search for that came back empty. Despite the pride of place given to a photo of Pink Floyd at the top of the article, Pink Floyd are only mentioned in passing here. The main focus of Mr. Hall’s recollections is actually the Procol Harum gig which also took place here:
“I was just that bit younger than the people the club was catering for,” says Gary Hall, who lived nearby.
“I was aware that Procol Harum was number one and we came to listen to them from outside. I remember riding my bike up to where the link road is now and seeing people queuing from there to get in.”
Pink Floyd are then mentioned as having played the Folk Hall “in all their loon-panted, psychedelic glory, complete with that famous kaleidoscopic oil projector light show.” Unfortunately no details regarding a date of the gig is given. Some interesting information is also given here: the venue also hosted a concert by The Move and there were rumours that Ike & Tina Turner were “booked in”.
At the top of the Press article is a small photographic slideshow featuring five photographs. Three of them are just photographs of the Folk Hall, one is a stock photo of Pink Floyd and the other is grainy, indistinct photo captioned “Pink Floyd in action at the Folk Hall” (Pictured below). In fairness, it’s so blurry that you’d be hard pushed to confirm that this is in fact a photo of Pink Floyd but I’m happy to take them at their word. I have been in the Folk Hall many times but cannot make out enough of the interior in the photograph to confirm whether this was taken in there or not.
After this I decided to try Googling “Pink Floyd New Earswick Date”. I was given the date 21st October 1967 which came from this enthusiastically compiled but amateur list of York gigs. The Pink Floyd gig, again, only gets a cursory mention with no real detail. By this point I was starting to despair. Why was their no information about this? Surely someone there would’ve wrote about it. Or journalists maybe attended.
So now we come to the first piece of evidence to cast doubt on the whole idea that Pink Floyd played a gig in New Earswick at all. Armed with the date which the Folk Hall gig supposedly took place, I googled “Pink Floyd 21 October 1967”. This lead me to the Pink Floyd Archives concerts page. When I scrolled down to the 21st October 1967 I found something interesting. Pink Floyd were indeed in York on this date. Sadly however, the venue listed in the archives was not New Earswick Folk Hall but University of York, Hesslington, York, Yorkshire, England. So far, I have not been able to confirm this venue either. The Pink Floyd Archive is a fan-produced page and isn’t necessarily 100% reliable. Perhaps someone could have reported the venue wrong. I found that Pink Floyd did in fact play at the St. Valentines Dance in the Junior Common Room of Derwent College (part of the University of York) on 15th February 1969 (flyer depicted below). Perhaps, not knowing the venue of the 1967 York gig, the archivists decided to use the same venue as the 1969 gig they played around this time, for completion’s sake. I just don’t know.
So that’s where I am with this. I am continuing to search for more information and would definitely be very interested to hear from anyone who might have been there at the gig. Either at York University or New Earswick Folk Hall. If you have any information, please contact me.
It’s starting to look like the whole legend may actually a “suburban myth”.
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