— HISTORY OF SUNBRIDGEWELLS —
This area is all about your experiences and memories of The Little Fat Black Pussy Cat Nightclub owned by Shirley Crabtree (aka BIG DADDY).
We know from evidence that The Pretty Things played on the 14th August approx 1964.
The iconic Jimi Hendrix has been reported to have appeared there after a session in Ilkley.
The Beatles played an after hours gig in the Old Cellar Bar on Ivegate, having performed at the Gaumont (the former Odeon Cinema).
We welcome your views and knowledge of this area and if you just so happen to have any photos of your experiences, we would greatly appreciate these to share.
*** Press cuttings from www.bradfordtimeline.co.uk/music.htm ***
Best memories and tales of the events and performances of The Little Fat Black Pussy Cat Club :
alan8447 says... ( From Telegraph & Argus Comments Section )
The tunnels were used as a disco/night club around early 70's. it was called The Little Fat Black **** Cat Club. It was unlicensed and featured mainly northern soul recorded music, but occasionally had live bands and 'all-nighters'. Rod Stewart played there regularly before his days with The Faces. Others I remember that played there were Long John Baldry, Zoot Money, Georgie Fame, Alan Price etc. Pauline Matthews was a regular attender. I think that it became a plumbers store after it closed.
Excerpt from Bradford’s Noise of the Valleys (page 2 and 3) :
After the success of the Reelement Disco certain Pleb members were keen to start a new venture in Bradford. They soon found a property to rent a huge cellar (Millergate) owned by Patchett’s of Queensbury. This ran at the back of the new bar development on the site of the old Provincial House, adjacent to what is now Centenary Square. They obtained planning permission and conversion work started, with the room being redecorated and a stage and snack bar built as well as the installation of a sound system.
So, on Saturday 14th August 1964, Bradford’s first independently run music club was born. It was named The Little Fat Black Pussycat Club after a San Francisco poetry club.
On the opening night The Pretty Things were a great success and after that the club opened every Friday and Saturday as a members club, with DJ Dave Wilcock working the all nighter. Kiki Dee was amongst those who attended the all nighters and apperently worked in the cloakroom. Many groups appeared, including London’s The Action and Preston’s The Mood who, after playing the club, changed their name to The Little Fat Black Pussycats in honour of the Club.
When The Moody Blues played there on the 31st October they were paid £55, which was a lot of money in those days, and a sure sign the club was packing the punters in. Unfortunately the local police were concerned about the size of the crowds and the potential drug problems, so they put pressure on the landlord and the organisers and in the end the club had to shut down.
It had lasted for around nine months.
1. Bradford Town Centre started around 1230 in the areas of Kirkgate, Ivegate and Westgate forming a T section – with the market square on the T. We have exposed the T as part of our foundations and we can call this the true foundation of Bradford. Visitors will be able to view for themselves the quarry face 30 ft underground.
2. John Nelson – famous Wesleyan Methodist – was incarcerated in the dungeon at the top of Ivegate in 1744. The plaque at the top of Ivegate states this. We know of no other dungeons within 9 ft of this plaque .
3. The Spotted Ox – public House – was started around 1802. This building was formerly the courthouse of Bradford.
4. The Brewhouse and company was a local brewery established under the same title and was described as having a never failing well of excellent water regarding its sale in 1868. The business had been up and running for upwards of 60 years.
5. The building was purchased by Charles Waller for the sum of £7525.00 and turned it into Waller’s Brewery Bradford Ltd. Today's money equiv. £595000.00
6. Under the Bradford improvement act of 1873 Charles Waller sold 125 sq yds of the building to create Sunbridge Road in Bradford. In the agreement with Bradford Corporation they agreed to build a tunnel entrance on Aldermanbury. Bradford which is now the entrance to Sunbridge Wells, Bradford. Miller Bank was widen and raised in level by some 20 ft and changed to Sunbridge Road.
The area called Upper Miller Gate was formerly Miller gate before the new road was built.
Waller’s Brewery carried on trading with a bottling plant in the tunnel with beer supplied by Bass and many other breweries in country. There was a large increase in bottled beer at this time – early 1900’s.
The building comprised of offices (12000 sqft), the brewery and bottling plant spread over 2 underground levels, The Grosvenor Hotel and 6 other retail units.
The brewery was sold to Trafalgar brewery in 1938. Which subsequently went on to taken over by The Leeds and Wakefield Brewery
7 .The tunnel with its entrance on Aldermanbury, Bradford was used as a air raid shelter during the Second World War its is on the attached list is called Millergate subway – it was the largest air raid shelter in Bradford. A old gent has spoken to us saying the tunnel was rammed to the gills with people during an air raid.
8. By 1956 the building had begun to split its title deed and 11 Upper Mill Gate became a freehold with the rights to use the sub sub basement as a plumbers merchants and general warehouse. In an around this time fireplaces were fitted in Bradford town centre and the residual rubble was dumped in areas within the tunnel. This practice continue and a decision was taken to put the rubble into the cavities of the unused tunnels areas and walled up. It was done by employees during the coal strike of 1957. We have been told this by a passer by. It was an early form of fly tipping. The areas that the tipping occurred in were the old leasehold areas and because there was a great deal of timber it lead to a great deal of dry rot.
By 1964 the premises now derelict were leased by the wrestler Big Daddy and opened as a night club called the Little Black Fat Pussy Cat.
Acts that performed there included
The opening act were The Pretty Things
The Steampacket – with Rod Stewart on vocals
The Moody Blues
Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames
The Graham Bond Organization
The club was painted with a couple of coats of whitewash and fitted with a sound system and coffee bar. The club was unlicensed and had a reputation for underground behaviour. Having spoken to the old bouncer / doorman – now 70 odd – he now says he only realized what all the smoke and funny smell was in later years – he was with his wife and I guess he had to say that. It was the start of the swinging 60’s and Bradford had its own underground den for the Bradford Beatniks of their day.
The club was closed after about a year by the fire brigade due to not having enough exits and also complaints about the general Nuisance.
People have told us that the Beatles played an after gig set at the old Cellar Bar that is at the Top of Ivegate and is to be reopened within Sunbridge Wells as a new Laurel and Hardy multimedia bar – showing films including Laurel and Hardy, Harold Lloyd etc.
9. The steps from Sunbridge Road to Aldrmanbury are called The Brewery Steps and will be renovated under our project.
In the late 80’s the area in front of the tunnel was used by Bradford Council as an area for storing road sweeping carts and a place where workers would shelter from the rain.
10. The Grosvenor Hotel was turned into a Berni Inn in the 70’s and then in the early 80’s a very successful pub called the Ram’s Revenge. There were rumors at the time of the dungeons below and devil worship going on that added to the hearsay of old Bradford. Indeed it has been said that the Landlady’s cat would not go into certain parts of the pub. The cat is was said moved out to an adjoining pub.
We have had ghost hunters who have been in and picked up a positive reading on their instruments !! I have been in there all night at times and never felt anything apart from a cold breeze where the hairs on the back of my neck stood up together with a sense of foreboding. Not that I am a believer.
11. During the 1990’s with pub chains merging and businesses changing due to the recession the buildings became empty and the tunnels still filled with debris and were in poor condition suffering from dry rot and the like. The dry rot was creeping round the whole building and to the sub structures. It was by chance with the door open I managed to see for myself what was left below Bradford in 2006. Armed only with my mobile phone I started to take pictures in the dark and wonder who owned the tunnel and what is had been and what it could be. It was quite wondrous alone in the dark not knowing what to expect.
I approached Dayal Sharma OBE who owned part of the tunnel and negotiated the sale of his part of the tunnel and property on Upper Millergate. There then was a 3 year period when I went through each part of the tunnel ownership and negotiated with each of the freeholders to secure the whole tunnel area as a whole structure. I was putting back together all the pieces which had been split up in 1956.
Since then two Lord Mayors and the leader of the council have toured the tunnel and been impressed with the transformation.