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Music Prog

Pink Floyd in New Earswick Update

Like a character from a Syd Barrett lyric, I appear to have egg on my face for ever doubting that the Pink Floyd gig at New Earswick Folk Hall took place.

Roy Hughes

I couldn’t find a list of Procul Harum gigs which included the New Earswick one, but I did find a full list of The Move’s gigs. They had one listed as “Tinned Chicken Club, York” on the 1st November 1967. As I wrote in the previous post, The York Press article called this the “Tin Chicken Club”. A Google search for that brought me to another Press article from 2006. This one featured an interview with Roy Hughes (pictured) who was the DJ at the Tinned Chicken Club. He gave a detailed & descriptive account of the Pink Floyd gig:

When the Floyd appeared, they were still in their early, Syd Barrett days. Barrett, Roy remembers, as being intense and “very intelligent”, but otherwise ordinary seeming. The band, who were still way pre-Dark Side Of The Moon, had big hair and psychedelic clothing, and were already honing the kind of stage show that was later to make them so huge.

They had, Roy recalls, oil projectors which they used to project a kaleidoscope of colours on the Folk Hall ceiling. “The hall was completely bathed in colour,” he recalls.

Syd Barrett, “bathed in colour” at a Pink Floyd gig, June 1967

As well as this account from Roy Hughes I’ve also received an account from a friends Dad, Terry Quinn:

Yes, they were supported by the Mandrakes from Scarborough. The singer was the late Robert Palmer! The Pink Floyd had their own light show all the girls hated them cos they couldn’t dance to the music! I think the gig was promoted by Radio 270

Radio 270 was something I hadn’t heard of. Terry also mentions it in a letter he wrote to the York Press in 2006. He say’s Radio 270 used to run 270 nights at the Assembly Rooms as well as the Folk Hall.

Radio 270 was a pirate radio station which broadcast from a boat named Oceaan 7 positioned in international waters, off the coast of Scarborough. This obviously is worth looking into for further blogposts.

I found further information by posting in a Facebook group, York Past & Present. Alan Carruthers remembers ” the huge speakers, and the lighting guys dropping coloured oil into goldfish bowls, through which they projected light.” He also has a humorous story about how he got home to Tollerton (about 10.5 miles form the venue) with two others on a scooter, taking turns to ride and walk alongside. Linda Magee remembers them dropping the oil into water to make psychedelic patterns.

As well as Pink Floyd, Procol Harum & The Move, Terry & Roy remember other great bands coming to York, such as MC5 in 1972 (at the Rowing Club) and the Rolling Stones (with Bo Diddley & The Everly Brothers) in 1963 (at the Rialto).

MC5

To finish up this Blogpost heres a classic performance of Astronomy Domine at the BBC. Despite being in black & white, you can see the patterns made by the colourful lights that Pink Floyd made with an oil projector.

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Music Prog

Legendary Gig or “Suburban myth” – Pink Floyd @ New Earswick Folk Hall, 1967

Pink Floyd in 1967

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.

New Earswick Folk Hall

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.”

Procol Harum in 1967

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”.

Ike & Tina Turner, 1973

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.

Grainy photo from York Press, 2015. Captioned on their website: “Pink Floyd in action at
the Folk Hall”

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.

Flyer from Valentines Dance, Derwent College, York University, 15th February 1969

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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