Here at The Chronicle we are constantly on the lookout for old pictures of our city in years gone by.
So when reader Bill Priddin contacted us to share some memories of his time as a DJ at Chester’s Royalty Theatre and Warren Club in the 1960s and 70s, we thought it would be interesting to see how many people remembered this nightspot from back in the day.
Bill (known as DJ Bill) says he was the first DJ in Chester, back in 1965. He was there playing a set at the opening night of The Warren Club on August 30 that year.
The Warren Club was situated underneath The Royalty Theatre, which Bill describes as ‘Chester’s answer to the Cavern Club', on City Road.
“Our club was managed by Norman Harris and the bar which was soft drinks only, was managed by Lila Harris, the mother of the late Keith Harris,” remembers Bill. “When the Warren closed I moved upstairs to the Theatre club upstairs.”
Dozens of the big names of the day performed at The Royalty, including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Ken Dodd, Helen Shapiro, Tony Christie and Alma Cogan. It really was one of the biggest performance venues the city has ever seen.
Frequent performers at The Royalty Theatre were local band The Black Abbots who had a residency there. They provided a popular mix of comedy and music to audiences before appearing on the TV show Opportunity Knocks in 1969.
Following their success, Bill left the Royalty Theatre to become the band’s road manager, and they went on to enjoy moderate chart success throughout the 1970s, with lead singer Russ Abbot becoming a household name.
“I have so many stories of the Royalty I could write a book,” recalls Bill. “They were such happy days, I wonder how many of those on the opening night would recognise themselves.”