The Narracott – Steve Brown
Local estate agent, auctioneer and now writer Steve Brown is ‘Woolacombe born and bred’, representing the third generation of one of the oldest ‘boarding house’ families in the village. In his first book, he relates with warmth and humour the fun and trauma of growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s in what was then a fledgling resort.
Further information on how to obtain a copy of Steve’s book please email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone who likes to use the old adage that the ‘Swinging Sixties’ didn’t reach Woolacombe until at least 1975 should perhaps reflect upon ‘The Narracott’.
In a relatively few years during the mid-1960s, this semi detached Edwardian hotel was transformed into the modernistic building as seen today. Not perhaps so kindly regarded, aesthetically, ow, but architecture is often dictated by fashion and, in the mid 60s, this was avant grade beyond anyone’s dreams.
We watched the construction in awe; rumours abounded until, eventually, the signs went up ‘Cabaret Bar’. What did this mean? ‘Cabaret, that’s Striptease, isn’t it?’ So went the dialogue in the village. Dictionaries were hastily consulted in an attempt to understand what was to be foisted upon the good people of the parish.
And what actually happened was amazing by any standard.
It opened onto 1960s Woolacombe – our entertainment would never be the same again. Groups, yes proper Beat Groups – but not only the local performers, excellent as they undoubtedly were. An appearance on the fledgling ‘Top of the Pops’ (hosted in those days by such luminaries as David Jacobs and Pete Murray, and with an audience of millions), or a record high enough in the ‘Hit Parade’ would almost certainly guarantee an appearance at The Narracott -Hot Chocolate, The Swinging Blue Jeans, The Merseybeats, they all appeared, and many more.
It was commonplace for the glitterati of Torbay to leave their homeland, bypass Exeter, and travel to The Narracott on Saturday nights in order to enjoy the best of National Entertainment! For opportunistic Woolacombe boys, the chance to mix with the sophisticates of the south coast was a dream come true.
Surely nothing could surpass this. But then, in 1967, The Marisco Club opened above Simpsons Garage, with Ray Burfitt as the first manager. Leading notables to follow in his steps before the decade was out – Jim Ashford, Mick Lock, (The Spirit of) John Morgan and Terry and Doreen Latham.
But nothing could usurp the glamour of The Narracott