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From disco to metal, they saw it all: Reunion planned for Norfolk’s bygone music meccas

Roy Starling, who is organising the reunion, holding a photo of himself from the old days. Picture: STUART ANDERSON

Roy Starling, who is organising the reunion, holding a photo of himself from the old days. Picture: STUART ANDERSON

Archant

They were the halcyon days of rock ‘n roll, when lyrics made us think as well as dance and excitement ran rife with every strum of an electric guitar.

The Stranglers performing at West Runton Pavilion. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARYThe Stranglers performing at West Runton Pavilion. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

And now a reunion is being planned for those who remember the 1960s, 70s and early 80s at a pair of bygone music meccas in north Norfolk - Cromer’s Royal Links Pavilion and the West Runton Pavilion.

Aylsham’s Roy Starling, 65, is organising the get-together at Walcott’s Lighthouse Inn to give fellow music fans a chance to reminisce about the old days.

Mr Starling said he had made his first visit to the Royal Links when he was just 15 and quickly became ‘addicted’ to the scene.

He said: “Apart from the brilliant music and atmosphere there were girls from all over the county and beyond. Looking back, although we didn’t know it at the time we grew up in a very special era.”

The Sex Pistols play their last but one ever gig at the Links on Christmas Eve 1977. Picture: RICHARD BROOKSThe Sex Pistols play their last but one ever gig at the Links on Christmas Eve 1977. Picture: RICHARD BROOKS

Mr Starling said he sometimes used to hitchhike to concerts until he got a Morris Minor in 1971, which could take “three in the front, three in the back and one unlucky one in the boot” to the shows.

He said he fondly remembered gigs by bands such as The Sweet “who portrayed a bubble gum image but were a really good heavy band”, Slade, Thin Lizzy “before they were famous”, Raymond Froggatt “who was the best night out” and Hot Chocolate “who were my favourite”.

Mr Starling said: “It was a fantastic place to grow up.”

The Lighthouse’s landlord, Steve Bullimore, also fondly remembers the era and used to work behind the bar at the West Runton Pavilion.

The West Runton Pavilion was one of Norfolk's top music venues Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARYThe West Runton Pavilion was one of Norfolk's top music venues Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Mr Bullimore, 62, said: “I saw all the established rock bands and punk bands in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

“I often got a lift with the legendary head bouncer John ‘Cookie’ Cook and I met several of the bands after the gigs. My only visit to the Cromer Links was the very last gig there in 1977 when the Sex Pistols performed.”

The reunion will take place on Friday, September 21 from 8pm, and Mr Starling and Dave ‘Musky’ Muskett will DJ.

Mr Starling said there would be “an eclectic mix of heavy rock, glam, punk, new wave, ska, disco, reggae and motown of the bands who graced those two stages. Come and see if you can spot an old girlfriend or boyfriend.”

Cromer's Royal Links Pavilion, below the hotel of the same name. Picture: SUPPLIED BY STEVE BULLIMORECromer's Royal Links Pavilion, below the hotel of the same name. Picture: SUPPLIED BY STEVE BULLIMORE

He said it had been 13 years since the last such reunion took place, which was also at the Lighthouse.

Entry is £5.

Legendary venues live on in memory

The West Runton Pavilion operated until 1983, hosting mid-1970s glam rockers including Glitter Band, Kenny and the Rubettes.

Steve Bullimore in his youth, which revolved around music. Picture: SUPPLIED BY STEVE BULLIMORESteve Bullimore in his youth, which revolved around music. Picture: SUPPLIED BY STEVE BULLIMORE

The venue later gave way to punk rock bands such as the Damned, the Clash, the Sex Pistols and the Jam and a new wave of British heavy metal groups which included Saxon, Iron Maiden and Magnum.

Old favourites like Motorhead, Ian Gillan, Ozzy Osbourne, Slade, Chuck Berry, T-Rex and Black Sabbath continued to perform at the Pavilion until it shut its doors.

Although the building was demolished, a blue plaque on the nearby Village Inn recalls some of the bands who played there.

Cromer’s Links Pavilion opened in 1964, hosting greats such as the Who, Move, Marmalede and the Sex Pistols, as well as Queen, Thin Lizzy and Nazereth before they were famous.

The entrance to the Royal Links Pavilion in Cromer.The entrance to the Royal Links Pavilion in Cromer.

A website and book called What Flo Said (www.whatflosaid.co.uk) by Julie Fielder is helping keep the memory of the two venues alive.

Steve Bullimore behind the pumps at the Lighthouse in Walcott. Picture: SUPPLIED BY STEVE BULLIMORESteve Bullimore behind the pumps at the Lighthouse in Walcott. Picture: SUPPLIED BY STEVE BULLIMORE

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