A brief memoir of the Eighties from Andy Hall.
After the political desert of the Seventies, the Eighties brought an oasis of hope. The club had been shut down. And the Labour Party who dominated the committee at the time were determined to sell it to raise money for their coffers.
Back then I was selling anarchist newspapers and books with a few others on the precinct (The Black Flag, Direct Action, Peace News and so on), the SWP had their stand just around the corner where the Nationwide Building Society used to be. We would swap papers at the end of the afternoon.
Dennis Pye encouraged us to support the club and I remember rescue meetings in the Falcon pub (now long gone). Then the club reopened, heralding a renaissance of true socialism in the town. And I joined the CPGB, becoming secretary of the Bolton Branch.
Molly Weaver and Louise Davis were prominent members, as well as being comrades in the Communist Party. Louise was expelled from the CP by the national committee because of her association with Stalinism - Paul Harris and myself re-carded her! Louise made a fantastic toast on the club steps at one Wood Street May Day Rally – “To our comrades, and our class”. Simply put.
We based the local housing co-operative in the club (Sensible – still going strong and giving me a roof over my head nearly 30 years on). I can also remember the club selling a range of beers from the USSR and Cuba, bought from a workers’ co-operative in Leeds.
Of course there were the gigs, huge crowd pullers promoting radical musicians. Chumbawumba and the Poison Girls to mention just two. We would close the street off to traffic and build a stage by the end wall. Over a thousand people turned up - I had to spend most of my time dissuading the police from disrupting the events. The British premiership of the Situationist International film “Call It Sleep” was also staged at the club (https://archive.org/details/call_it_sleep_situ).
And then there were the debts, reputedly owed to the brewery, which was pursuing us for a large amount of debt. It was Alan Hattersley who took me to the side one evening. He had a drinking mate who happened to be a lawyer, he’d told Alan that the brewery was out of time on pursuing the loan and we subsequently fought this matter in Blackburn High Court (with support from Henry Fallows Solicitors) winning hands down, getting the club off a massive financial hook and securing our future.
And here we are!
Peace, love and justice.