1963 rock in Aylesbury – and the opening of the Borough Assembly Hall

1963 saw the closure of the Grosvenor Ballroom for refurbishment, re-opening as the council-owned Borough Assembly Hall. During its closure, the Walton Hall stood in, with weekly rock concerts.

The Grosvenor Ballroom closed at the end of April 1963, initially for three months – but the date of the re-opening was put back a number of times, and eventually to October 7th.

For a list of gigs during 1963, please see below.

During the first months of the year, Eddie Friday continued to promote rock gigs at the Grosvenor on Saturday evenings. Among the artists appearing were Emile Ford and the Checkmates, Eden Kane, The John Barry Seven, Eric Delaney and his Band and the Vernon Girls.

Tony White in the Bucks Advertiser was particularly impressed with Eric Delaney and his Band. Eric Delaney was a drummer and bandleader, and Herbie Goins was the vocalist. Click on image to enlarge:

Eric Delaney review

Walton Hall

The closure of the Grosvenor caused some concern – the Editor at the Bucks Advertiser received a letter on behalf of “A Group of Aylesbury Teenagers” – see below. It was announced that Alan Wallis and Stan Wyatt, who had promoted gigs at the Town Hall before the fire in March 1962, had booked the Walton Hall for 19 weeks, to start when the Grosvenor closed. The first night at the Walton Hall was on 11th May – and the run eventually extended to 21 weeks, ending on 28th September. Click on image to enlarge.


Borough Assembly Hall

In September it was announced that the new name for the Grosvenor would be the Borough Assembly Hall – not popular with many, including Tony White in the Bucks Advertiser:

The Borough Assembly Hall. Look at it. Read it. Let it roll around your tongues for a while. You will probably agree with me. It sounds horrible! Believe it or not, this is the name Aylesbury Borough Council – new owners of the Grosvenor – have decided to call that popular centre of entertainment in the corner of the Market Square …

For goodness sake, why not leave it as it was. The Grosvenor is well-known over a large area either through the jazz club or the Saturday night dances that used to be held there until it closed. “The Grosvenor” is short. “The Grosvenor” is an appropriate name for a building that is to be the venue for the type of entertainment to be offered there.

And I say this. I’ll bet my whole collection of long-playing records that “The Grosvenor” is how it will continue to be known, no matter what the new owners like to call it.

The Bucks Advertiser also published a useful potted history of the venue (click to enlarge):

Potted history

Grand re-opening

The grand re-opening took place on 7th October, with a charity ball in aid of the Mayor’s Freedom From Hunger campaign, with Joe Loss and his Orchestra and Johnny Thunder and the Thunderbirds.

One of the singers with Joe Loss was Ross MacManus (who also played trumpet); Ross is the father of Elvis Costello (Declan MacManus). He also composed and sang the 1970s “I’m A Secret Lemonade Drinker” TV ad for R. White’s lemonade.

Joe Loss ad

BAH opening

Ian Samwell

Also of note is that during the year Ian “Sammy” Samwell presented record nights in Aylesbury on Wednesdays – initially at the Grosvenor Ballroom and then, after its closure, at the Walton Hall – see report below.


Ian Samwell was a member of Cliff Richard and the Drifters and he wrote “Move It”. He was later a record producer for artists such as Sounds Incorporated, Georgie Fame,John Mayall and The Small Faces. Later he was in-house producer for Warner Brothers in London, bringing artists such as Linda Lewis and America to the label, producing the first America album and the hit “A Horse With No Name”.


Pete Frame writes about Ian Samwell in the Epilogue to his book The Restless Generation. Ian had moved to Sacramento, California.

Sometime in late 1991, suddenly and unexpectedly overcome by breathlessness, he had collapsed and woken in hospital, where he was diagnosed with idiopathic cardiomyopathy. If he didn’t have a heart transplant, he would die, doctors told him – which was a bit of a bummer because he had allowed his medical insurance to lapse only six weeks earlier and the procedure was going to cost in excess of a quarter of a million dollars …

“There was no way I was going to get that sort of bread together,” said Samwell, “so I accepted I was going to die … I phoned a few friends, including Robert Allen, my lawyer in London, to ask him to bring my will up to date, and then fell into a deep sleep.”

When he came to, a hovering nurse came over. “Who are you?” she asked. “Samwell, Ian Samwell”, he replied, nodding toward the case notes at the end of the bed. “Yes, I know that,” she said, but who are you? The phone hasn’t stopped ringing. All these people have been calling with offers of money – Pink Floyd, Cliff Richard, Led Zeppelin … who are you?”

As soon as he had put the phone down, Robert Allen had got on to Jeff Dexter, the DJ / producer / manager who was Ian’s principal sidekick throughout the sixties and seventies, and Dexter phoned everyone he knew … Sufficient funds were gathered for an operation to replace his heart … and it pumped efficiently for another 11 years.

Ian Samwell eventually died on 13 March 2003, aged 66. Nicest guy you could ever meet. And he wrote Move It.

Ian Samwell obituary The Independent

DateVenuePromoter NameArtist 1Artist 2
5/1/1963Grosvenor BallroomEddie FridayEmile Ford and the CheckmatesMike Sagar and the Crestas
12/1/1963Grosvenor BallroomEddie FridayJohnny Carr backed by Mel Turner and the MohicansDave Seaton and the Leons
19/1/1963Grosvenor BallroomEddie FridayEden Kane backed by the Rhett Stoller GroupThe Lee Atkins Combo
26/1/1963Grosvenor BallroomEddie FridayJohnny, Mike and the ShadesBobby Patrick Big Six
2/2/1963Grosvenor BallroomEddie FridayPeter Nelson and the TravellersThe Tartans
9/2/1963Grosvenor BallroomEddie FridayThe John Barry SevenJohnny Anger and the Wild Ones
16/2/1963Grosvenor BallroomEddie FridayJohnny, Mike and the ShadesDru Harvey and the Jokers
23/2/1963Grosvenor BallroomEddie FridayDoug Sheldon backed by The SceptresBobby Rio and the Dominators
2/3/1963Grosvenor BallroomEddie FridayEric Delaney and His Band with Herbie GoinsThe Lee Atkins Combo
9/3/1963Grosvenor BallroomEddie FridayThe TartansPaul Dayton and the Deputies
16/3/1963Grosvenor BallroomEddie FridayRuss Sainty and the Nu-NotesMark Douglas and the Prowlers
23/3/1963Grosvenor BallroomEddie FridayThe Original CheckmatesRicky Marino and the Stormbreakers
30/3/1963Grosvenor BallroomEddie FridayThe Barry James Show featuring The Strangers with Gary and LeeMike Sagar and the Crestas
6/4/1963Grosvenor BallroomEddie FridayThe Black ArrowsPaul and the Hustlers
13/4/1963Grosvenor BallroomEddie FridayPeter West and the EmbersPaul and the Hustlers
20/4/1963Grosvenor BallroomEddie FridayThe Vernon GirlsMark Douglas and the Prowlers, The Noel Francis All-Steel West Indian Band
27/4/1963Grosvenor BallroomEddie FridayThe Fabulous FlintstonesRicky Marino and the Stormbreakers
11/5/1963Walton HallAlan WallisJohnny Milton and the CondorsThe Twistettes, Nick Troy and the Trojans
18/5/1963Walton HallAlan WallisGolli-Golli ShowJohnny Shadow and Danny Gavan, Paul and the Hustlers
25/5/1963Walton HallAlan WallisRay PilgrimTony Vince and the Minutemen, Colin and the Champions
1/6/1963Walton HallAlan WallisJet Harris's Original JetblacksTerry Judge and the Waders
8/6/1963Walton HallAlan WallisRicky Brown & The Hi-LitesMike Harper & The Cerveza
15/6/1963Walton HallAlan WallisRobb Storme and the WhispersThe Cavaliers
22/6/1963Walton HallAlan WallisThe Barry James Show with Gary and Lee and The StrangersTerry Judge and the Waders
29/6/1963Walton HallAlan WallisKevin Scott & His KinsmenThe Strangers
6/7/1963Walton HallAlan WallisJohnny, Mike and the ShadesMick Barber and the Travellers
13/7/1963Walton HallAlan WallisMike Everest and the Alpines Crazy Gang ShowThe Strangers
20/7/1963Walton HallAlan WallisSteve FrancisJohnny Anger and the Wild Ones, Apex Group with Colin York
27/7/1963Walton HallAlan WallisDave Dee and the BostonsThe Cervezas
3/8/1963Walton HallAlan WallisThe GamblersRoy Powell and the Off-Beaters
10/8/1963Walton HallAlan WallisJet Harris's Original JetblacksThe Cavaliers
17/8/1963Walton HallAlan WallisThe Federals
24/8/1963Walton HallAlan WallisLaurie Jay ComboGerry Temple, The Cervezas
31/8/1963Walton HallAlan WallisJohnny, Mike and the ShadesTerry Judge and the Barristers
7/9/1963Walton HallAlan WallisThe DowlandsThe Soundtracks, The Stranglers
14/9/1963Walton HallAlan WallisThe Ravin' SavagesThe Cavaliers
21/9/1963Walton HallAlan WallisThe Six CitizensDel Summers, Roy Powell and the Off-beaters
28/9/1963Walton HallAlan WallisBrian FisherThe Raiders
7/10/1963Borough Assembly HallGala OpeningJoe Loss and His Orchestra with Rose Brennan, Larry Gretton and Ross MacManusJohnny Thunder and the Thunderbirds
11/10/1963Borough Assembly HallStanley Wyatt PromotionsRay Piligrim and Minute MenThe Phantoms
12/10/1963Borough Assembly HallEddie FridayJohnny Carr and the CadillacsJohnny Anger and the Wild Ones
18/10/1963Borough Assembly HallStanley Wyatt PromotionsRay Pilgrim and Minute Men
19/10/1963Borough Assembly HallEddie FridayTroy Dante and the InfernosThe Delta Five
25/10/1963Borough Assembly HallStanley Wyatt PromotionsDanny Storm and StrollersThe Strangers
26/10/1963Borough Assembly HallEddie FridayJohnny, Mike and the ShadesRuss and the Sabres
1/11/1963Borough Assembly HallStanley Wyatt PromotionsThe CitizensThe Apollos
2/11/1963Borough Assembly HallEddie FridayThe Barron Knights with Duke D'MondJohnny Anger and the Wild Ones
8/11/1963Borough Assembly HallStanley Wyatt PromotionsRobb Storme and the Whispers
9/11/1963Borough Assembly HallEddie FridayUnit 7The Jimmy Ritchie Combo
16/11/1963Borough Assembly HallEddie FridayJohnny Carr and the CadillacsEddie King and the Chequers
23/11/1963Borough Assembly HallEddie FridayThe RedcapsJimmy Richards and the Javelins
30/11/1963Borough Assembly HallEddie FridayRockin' Henry and the HayseedsThe Pagans
7/12/1963Borough Assembly HallEddie FridayThe Eric Delaney BandDale Curtiss and the Blunotes
14/12/1963Borough Assembly HallEddie FridayJohnny, Mike and the ShadesJohnny Anger and the Wild Ones
21/12/1963Borough Assembly HallEddie FridayThe GamblersThe Coasters
28/12/1963Borough Assembly HallEddie FridayJohnny Carr and the CadillacsCliff Adams and the Twilights

2 thoughts on “1963 rock in Aylesbury – and the opening of the Borough Assembly Hall

  1. David Parker

    I found your site while researching Chris Barber. I played in several groups from 1957 to 1970. After I left school 1956, ex pupils formed a skiffle group ‘The Sons of Fred’ and played a Sunday at the Granada, the Theatre in the market square, and formed a weekly club in Haddenham. We played several village halls until some members had o go to work or university. That left our singer and I who then joined the Princes Risborough group, The Creoles who became Eddie Prince and the Creoles (1959) we played together for more than 4 years, locally, the Grovesnor, The Borough Assembly Halls and many other venues like the California Ballroom at Dunstable. We disbanded when the guitarist and drummer went pro in Germany (The Maggots) I joined The. Cavaliers for a short while until they had to finish, then The Whispering Four before, in 1965 I joined The Maggots in Germany. When I came back, I guested in a few groups (I can’t remember the names but one was doing The hobble on the Cobbles) For a while we formed a group called Daze and Nights and had a regular spot at the Aylesbury Social club (well before Concrete Parachute). I took a pub in Wingrave and formed a village band (The Rock-Hards and the Rockettes) to play odd gigs in the pub. I had a great time. I can fill in a few names of musicians if you need them for your research, I played Piano and still have my Burns Amp

  2. Thank you, David – fantastic information and memories.

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