Dagenham rock club revellers plan Village Blues Club reunion 30 years on

Around 30 years ago hundreds of music lovers regularly flocked to a rather run-down former bingo hall in Dagenham to see some of the world’s biggest names in rock.

Queen, Status Quo, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy were just some of the legendary bands to perform at the Village Blues Club, at the Roundhouse pub in Lodge Avenue. Open from 1969 to 1975, it was considered to be east London’s premier rock club.

Three decades on one former regular and passionate rock fan, Ken Ansted, is organising a reunion for all those who used to frequent the club in its heyday. The event will take place at the Roundhouse in May and is set to feature performances from one or two bands that played at the venue.

“I set up a Village Blues Club nostalgia Facebook Group in 2008 and have had a fantastic response from people that used to go there, many of whom I remember,” explained Ken.

“I then thought it would be wonderful to get lots of us together for a proper reunion at the pub and everyone was really keen.”

Ken, who watched his first performance at the club in 1970 and went there virtually every single Saturday night for five years with his friends, said: “Saturday was generally when the bands played and some of them were amazing.

“I saw, among others, Status Quo, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Rory Gallagher and Thin Lizzy.

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“They were all great, but I think the performances that stuck out was Gallagher’s – he was brilliant.

“We only used to pay about a pound to get in, which seems crazy now.”

The atmosphere at the club, the 58-year-old told the Post, was incredible.

“The hall would often be packed out with, sometimes, up to 2,000 people,” he said. “We would drink quite a lot, but there were rarely ever fights.

“Most of us were peace-loving hippies (with long hair and Afghan coats that stunk when it rained) who just wanted to enjoy the music.

“After the bands had played there was usually a house party somewhere and you’d wake up the next morning under a table somewhere in a daze.”

According to Ken the building used to be a bingo hall and was both basic and fairly run- down.

He said: “There was a bar and two stages, one which was just a wooden board on some beer crates. I’m sure the place would fail health and safety checks now, but we didn’t think too much about that at the time.”

The former Redbridge resident, who now lives in Swindon, believes the place closed down in 1975 following complaints from neighbouring properties about noise.

“The hall certainly wasn’t sound proof then,” he explained, “so I can imagine residents would have got quite fed up with the music. The closure probably also had something to do with the changing music scene. In the mid-’70s punk kind of took over, and rock fell out of favour for a while.”

Ken said he and his fellow former clubgoers can’t wait for the up-coming reunion.

He said: “It’s going to be great to see them all again and reminisce. It’s an opportunity to relive our youth for a little while.”

Those interested in joining the reunion should email Ken on badger@ansted.fsnet.co.uk or go to Facebook and search Village Blues Club at The Roundhouse Dagenham Nostalgia Group.

n If you would like to share memories or photos of the club email postnewsdesk@archant.co.uk or call 020 8477 3900.