DOVER KENT ARCHIVES

Sort file:- Folkestone, December, 2018.

Page Updated:- Saturday, 22 December, 2018.

PUB LIST PUBLIC HOUSES Paul Skelton

Earliest 1956

Tofts

Latest 1970s

(Name to)

35-39 Grace Hill

Folkestone

Above showing the latter premises of "Tofts."

Tofts

Above taken from Google maps 2009.

 

Tofts was originally a Dance Studio & Youth Club operated by Harold and Doris Toft next to the old Pleasure Gardens Theatre on Bouverie Road West. The building was pulled down to make way for the Orion Insurance building in the early 1960's. The club was later called the Tofts Jazz Club and had over 6000 members and moved to Grace Hill in mid 1964.

The ground floor part was later occupied by various bars (Tom Brown`s, Cartoon, Toffs, Toby House, Heroes et alii).

 

From an email received 10 September, 2013.

Becoming more impressed by the day with things you can find on the web I one day wondered what obscure thing I could Google for.

I know, what about "Tofts" I thought, my old club from teenage years. To my "amazement" your page came up and to read how the club progressed into hosting such famous groups was fascinating.

You see - I was there the night Harold and Doris opened their club at the Pleasure Gardens Theatre sometime around 1956 I think. I was member number 49 and still have my membership card somewhere.

My friends and I were mostly jazz fans in the era of rock n roll so to hear about a "jazz club" opening was exciting. It was a little different to what we expected. Harold and Doris were ballroom dancers and proceeded to give jive lessons - ballroom style! We danced to records and after lessons would hang around listening to music. After a couple of weeks we asked Harold if we could bring our own records - real Jazz as we thought, modern and New Orleans etc.

Gradually the attendance grew and very soon they gave up trying to teach jive as every one was doing their own thing and having a great time. Some people began to bring rock n roll music, Bill Haley (we couldn't have imagined then he would one day actually come to "Tofts"). So Harold began to play all the latest pop and rock such as Elvis of course, Fats Domino, Little Richard all mixed in with Jazz bands like Chris Barber, Dave Brubeck, Humphrey Lyttelton, Louis Armstrong and Pop Music of the day.

The bright lights gave way to subdued and coloured lighting and I wouldn't mind betting what we had was the first ever discotheque.

I would go 3 to 4 times a week. From memory they first opened on a Sunday and in fact called it "The Toft Sunday Jazz Club" then opened Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturday nights. There was no booze just soft drink but if you were in the know it was possible to go into the Theatre through a connecting passage and enjoy a drink in the bar. I never saw it crowded in there so I don't think too many were aware which is surprising given that on busy nights there were probably at least 500 to 1000 people. I really don't know how many that hall would hold.

I was pleased to read that Harold was very recently playing golf and in good shape. He was an impressive man and very nice.

Folkestone was a great place to grow up in the fifties though I don't suppose I thought so at the time but it had a lot going for it. I left in 1958 to live in Australia and have visited a couple of times since but sadly It wasn't the same place having declined in many ways. Even my old house is now a shopping centre!! Ah well progress I suppose.

Hope you enjoy this bit of reminiscing.

Mike Dale.

 

Information taken from website http://www.kentgigs.com 22 May 2011.

RESIDENT BANDS

1962/3 - Pat Barry & The Travellers - The Sundowners - The Lonely Ones - The Playboys.

The club moved to Grace Hill and as well as being the first Disco in Town, it also became probably one of the best music club venuesthat Fokestone - No, Kent, ever had. The Opening gig Featured Georgie Fame.

When Harold and Doris retired the building became a Disco called The Toby Bar which gradually faded into oblivion, and is now the base for a building company.

Around 9 years after the sale of Tofts to Bass Charrington, sadly, Doris died.

In 1987 Harold remarried.

2009 in an interview with Harold he said was 87 living in Surrey and enjoying rounds of golf. (Harold the gentleman as ever, was polite about those he played against.) He is as fit as a fiddle and spoke like a young man with much enthusiasm about the days of Tofts, the bands and Folkestone, he wanted us to thank the club members for their respectful behaviour over the years that led to the good reputation of the club. When Tofts closed there were over 10,000 registered members. Membership cost 1/- (one shilling - 5p) The reason to operate as a club was to allow gigs on Sundays.

Harold does keep in touch with some local musicians and Jeff K. who worked with him for many years.

Tofts in the 60's was a challenge to play as there was a very small stage (more like a platform for drums) with a low ceiling, rumour was that Long John Baldry put his head through it. Harold Toft says it is not true.

P.A. speakers had to be placed on shelves down the side walls. No alcohol was served and the bouncers were tough and quick to deal with any disturbances which were very rare. The police and community were always impressed with the reasonable behaviour of the attendees.

The atmosphere was electric, all of the top bands wanted to play the venue. There was an Ultra Violet light above the dance floor which Illuminated the girls' underwear (and dandruff) whilst they danced around their handbags.

 

The best gig ever, at Tofts.

Geno Washington and The Ram Jam Band - Chris Ashman 1968/9
Geno once appeared with a heavily bandaged had due to the fact he had caught his finger in the ceiling of a venue the night before.

We (the End) supported Gino (and many others) at Tofts as we were the resident band for some time (can't remember the year) but after the gig Gino and loads of us went back to a house in Hill Road to party (possibly Spud Taylor's - bass with the End). I remember sleeping on the floor with some girl along with loads of others, Gino as well. Spud will most probably recall it better than I can......

Rod Jones.

 

Canned Heat.

Canned Heat toured the UK on I suppose what you would call an exchange deal with the USA who took in John Mayall. A part of the deal was that they also swapped road managers/engineers. On the occasion that Canned Heat came to Tofts, they turned up with an enormous truck and were upset that the stage was so small. John Mayall's engineer calmed the band saying the acoustics' were superb and he would reduce the equipment required to do a great show, which it was.

 

Four Tops.

Space was sometimes a problem - as a part of the contract for the Four Tops tour there was a need for an extension to the stage. On the night, the Four Tops arrived too late to perform due to an earlier Independence Day gig at the American Embassy where they wouldn't let the band leave. As usual, Tofts had a policy that if a band "no showed" the audience were given a ticket for the next show or return. In this case the Four Tops managed to squeeze in Tofts to complete the contract at the end of the tour.

 

Derek and the Dominos

 - were awful, this was during Clapton's drugs and booze binge time - left very early to go see Ten Years After at the Leas. They were excellent, having stood in for Jethro Tull at short notice. - Nick Ashman.

Hi Chris...

I'm sure above is a mistake.

I went down to Folkestone that night from Ashford to see Van Der Graaf Generator at the Leas Cliff Hall with a couple of mates & the train was full of people going to the Toff's for Clapton's Dominoes gig & the Leas for VDGG was nearly empty. - Dave Sheather.

 

14-May-1966 John Mayall's Blues Breakers 3 months before Eric Clapton left to join Cream.

Nice

 

During 1966 - 67 - Wilde Flowers

 

28.1.1967 - The Who

Tofts policy was to give good value to their members. In the case of this historic visit, Harold and Doris subsided the gig to the tune of £500.00 That was a lot of money when the average wage was around £10 a week, and gig ticket 3/- to 15/-

(Incidentally a ticket for this gig recently sold at auction for £300 to an Australian who bid by telephone.)

 

18 Feb 1967 - Cream

 

1967??? - Jimi Hendrix - Hendrix never played Tofts, he played the Hillside Social Club, Grace Hill. (Knocked down now)  31st Dec 1966.

The Experience also rehearsed there on the 1st Jan 1967.

 

Noel Redding who was a a member of The Lonely Ones, a former resident band, did turn once up in a Rolls Royce with a dog and a bunch of muso cronies but on this occasion was thrown out......

Harold Toft

 

Those were the days........Shacks

 

19th January 1968 - Freddy Mack Show.

I still remember sitting on the kerb outside Tofts after one concert talking to Freddie.

I also remember that his 2 tone Jaguar car being parked next to us.

THE FANTASTIC FREDDY MACK SHOW (Rayrik TPLMP 142/143) c1966

I still have a copy of the album recorded at Tofts, it is signed by Freddy Mack and dated 19th January 1968 - Graham Wright.

Note... Reputedly recorded live at Tofts.. Harold Toft says if it was it was without his knowledge. Prince Buster was the the only artist to officially record a live album at Tofts....... Chris Ashman

 

14 September 1968 - Alvin Lee & Ten Years After

 

Who can remember Mod band Dave Amboy & the Amboy Dukes ?? 1968 ? loads of the mods on the stage singing into Dave Amboy's microphone..ha!! - see Dec 1969

 

What about the Edgar Broughton Band Tofts gig around 1969/70'ish...great days indeed !! ...Dave Sheather

 

Guess this is a mater of taste, but Fleetwood Mac for me (1969)

Black Sabbath were pretty good. We tried to persuade them to come up to Bluie's Playgound (formarly the Beehive) with us after the show, but they wouldn't believe that there was an all night club in Canterbury. Nice guys though. .....Molly

 

Ambrose Slade were appearing there on 9th August 1969.....

Melody Maker for August 1969 ..it included an advert for Tofts of Folkestone....Chris Selby

 

Zoot Money

Sat 27th September 1969-Max Romeo

Sat 27th December 1969-Dave Amboy

11 April 1970 - Black Sabbath

Sat 4th July 1970-Steve Millers Delivery not THE Steve Miller btw

09 May 1970 - Hawkwind

15 Aug 1970 - Derek & The Dominoes

Sat 3rd October 1970-Daddy Longlegs

Sat 10th October 1970-Head Rock Circus Tour

What about the "Acropolis", With "Archie", Wasn't he a bouncer for Harold and Doris?

 

Best gig at Tofts?. So many. Canned Heat, Moody Blues, Geno Washington, Freddie Mac, Fleetwood Mac, Who. Those were the days ....Shacks

 

Hi Chris

I am looking for a copy of a vinyl album recorded live at Tofts in Folkestone by Laurel Aitken around 1968/69

I think it was called Laurel Aitken live at Tofts. The front cover showed a load of my skinhead mates crammed onto that tiny stage Can anybody help?

Thanks

Ray Smith

 

Reputedly recorded live at Tofts.. Harold Toft says if it was, it was without his knowledge. Prince Buster was the the only artist to officially record a live album at Tofts....... Chris

 

There was a band we supported called the "In Crowd".

I remember lending all our gear (The Circuit) to Alexis Corner who arrived at Tofts without any equipment as his had all been nicked...Rod Jones

 

From an email received 11 March 2012

Hello to all former Tofts lovers,

I remember the club so well. I used to live in Folkestone between 1967 and 1970. I was about 17 years old then (I am now 62) and at the time I was addicted to the Tofts disco. I practically lived there. I now live in Toronto, Canada and just last summer, I went back to Folkestone, all the way from Canada, hoping to find Tofts. To my disappointment, it was no longer there. In fact I was so amazed to see Folkestone being so different. So much worse than the Folkestone I used to love. It has become so run down and neglected. Does anybody remember Eric Clapton playing at Tofts?

I also tried to find the Morrellis Coffee shop. That was also gone. So sad but of course we are talking about 45 year ago. Does anybody know what happened to Morrellis?

Finally, I tried to find the other Disco which started in 1970 which was called the “Seventies”. I could not find that either. All in all it was a very disappointing trip.

Life in Canada is great but for me home is always Folkestone.

Cheers for now.

Farhad Fahimi.

 

From an email received 29 October, 2012

My father was the manager of Morellis in the 60's. The group still exists in Canterbury and Broadstairs. I remember Tofts so well in the late 60's, a beer in the "Foresters Arms" then of Tofts.

I remember going to see Bill Hayley and the Comets, it was packed to capacity.

Mario Sambucci.

 

From an email received 22 June, 2013

Just been reading your piece on Tofts. A few pieces of extra info:

1. Who concert in 67 - you didn't mention Keith Moon kicking over his kit at the end of My Generation and trapping a female audience member!

2. Archie Argyriou of Acropolis coffee bar fame was never to my recollection a bouncer (may be confusing him with 'Bruno' Brunt - shorter and stockier but similar facially.)

3. You didn't mention Spencer Davies Group with Stevie Winwood (c 1966) not long before he left to form Traffic.

4. The band that played Tofts 31 Dec 1966 when an unknown Jimmy Hendrix played the (uncool) Hillside Club was the ' Mike Cotton sound with Lucas' - I saw the latter, but have friends who went to the Hillside, and it's the only decision in my whole life that I still regret!!

5. I did get lucky in Summer of 66 when we heard that Clapton's new band was going to play a club in Tontine street (Ambassador or something like that?) which had previously been a ballroom dancing venue. We saw one of Cream's first gigs at a range of one metre.

I left Folkestone in 68 to go to university and never returned. It's only with the passing of time that I realise how lucky we were to have one of the UKs best club scenes outside of London in that period from 1964-68.

Up to around 1964, it was basically a local band venue, where you could always get live music on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night (the latter always good to set you up for school on Monday!) From 64 onwards, there was usually a name band on a Saturday night and the most memorable of these were the various incarnations of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers.

Things really hotted up in 1966 with more top names (and some not so top names) most weekends. Some other names that I can still recall that you haven't mentioned:

· Rufus Thomas.

· The late great Alexis Korner – best live gig ever .. he played into the early hours, way beyond his slot.

· Amboy Dukes (whom you do mention) - they had a record deal with “ All I need ” which was a bit of a mod anthem for a while.

· Jimmy James and the Vagabonds (who always drank in the "Shakespeare Arms" - long since demolished for a road scheme - in between sets).

· Some awful band that had the ‘Gilbraltar Sound' as an answer to Los Bravos who were a Spanish one-hit wonder in summer of 66. Didn't see them!

Regards,

John Curran.

 

From an email received 27 June, 2014.

I remember seeing John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Ten Years After, Duster Bennett, Canned Heat, Jethro Tull, Desmond Decker and the Aces, Fleetwood Mac, Amen Corner, Sandy Denny, Bonzo Dog, Love Affair, Chicken Shack, Blodwin Pig, Ginger Baker (in either Cream or Blind Faith, or both), Steamhammer and many more that slip my memory at the moment.

These were either at Tofts or Leas Cliff Hall late 60s, early 70s when I was in my late teens, early twenties.

I also remember seeing Fat Mattress on the Bayle.

I recall that Harold and Doris Toft lived in Sandgate at the time, in Castle Road, in a house backing onto the beach.

During that era, we were really lucky living in the Folkestone area to have all those fine musicians playing the venues on an almost weekly basis.

The other venue which I visited on a regular basis was The Seventies Disco, under the Grand Hotel on The Leas.

Regards

Chris Georgiou.

 

From an email received 1 May, 2014.

I have a bit of an update for you.

As we mentioned, the building was opened as "Toft's" by Harold and Doris Toft - on 29 May 1964. It was a dance club. I'm not sure whether this club served alcohol or not - the old one didn't (at Pleasure Gardens - their last night there was 24 May). There was an article published on 30 May 1964, either in the Folkestone Herald or the Gazette... I can't remember which offhand. (Incidentally, the sign on the building said TOFTS (going down, one letter per line) and the ads said Toft's. Whilst the article mentioned Toft's Jazz Club, that almost seems to refer to the Pleasure Gardens facility, although it's used interchangeably.

An article dated 12 February 1977 "Couple win battle with disco" mentions The Toby House and has a photo, which shows the frontage with signs both as Toby's Disco Bar and The Toby House. It was apparently owned by a company called Bass Charrington and was a disco/bar. Apparently, it opened in the summer of 1975. The battle was about noise keeping them awake as they lived behind and above the property and restricted the venue to one live night a week, to finish at 11.30pm.

Another article dated 6 January 1984 "Disco up for sale" shows the Toby House was for sale for £105,000 after being closed for over a year and on the market for six months. Apparently a brewery was interested. Apparently, it was run by Mike Oliver. Oh, and Blancmange played there in 1982!

A third article dated 9 October 1992 "Noise threatens to close night spot" (what did they expect after the last case?!) references The Cartoon Club, showing the signage I remember in a photograph with Dave Godden outside. It seems the council refused to renew the public entertainment licence.

So... we've got Toft's from 1964 - probably 1974 or 1975 (certainly at least 1970: http://www.rockpopmem.com/Fleetwood-Mac-Fleetwood-Mac-Tofts-Folkestone-Flyer/65226.htm). Then the Toby House from 1975 - 1982. Then I guess Heroes. Then The Cartoon Club at the end of the Eighties / early Nineties until probably 1992. And then Tom Brown's, which I think closed in 1998, didn't we say? I think they were all more clubs than pubs, though. Talking of which, Kat-Man-Do / Fat Sam's was definitely a club, not a pub. I believe it was JG's amusements before that. And, of course, you've left off the worst place - now simply known as "the Priz"... it's La Parisienne / Onyx / a variety of other names, formerly Marine Pavilion. I'm not sure you'd want to mention that place, though! ;-)

On my trawl through the archives, I found an ad for the Mucky Duck from January 1989. The same issue actually mentioned Eurotunnel putting the properties they compulsory purchased in Newington, Frogholt etc. back on the market! I remember the Mucky Duck being where the bridges are - your photo seems to confirm that. I guess the pub was one of few casualties! Wasn't there also a house that was moved? I think it went to Sussex!! Anyway, the ad mentioned a Sunday roast and live music on Tuesdays and Saturdays. They had a selection of 5 real ales including a weekly guest beer!

I also saw an advert for Baptist Galleries from 9 June 1989 advertising 28 retail units to let. Whether that was all of them and the start of Baptist Galleries, I don't know. It became Wetherspoons in Folkestone after that, of course... but not before appearing in an episode of 2point4 Children as the grand lodge of the secret plumbers' society "The Brotherhood of the Plunger"!

http://youtu.be/QAItRa6bFEc?t=7m00s

I haven't had a chance to speak to Chris yet, but I owe him a CD... so I'll get round to that soon! I'll see what I can find out about Cassidy's Cavern, too. I did see a reference to Cassidy's (restaurant) at another location in I think the Seventies... whether that's related, I don't know.

By the way, you have Acrise Place listed as a town. It's a building. My Grandmother lived in Acrise and worked in the house in the Fifties/Sixties. It was open to the public, but owned by Mrs. Papillon - funnily enough, the house was apparently built by the Papillons, sold, then rebought by her husband after the war. It was bought in the Eighties by Bary Bushell - he's a bit of a Jimmy Godden landlord type, had something to do with The Metropole in recent years when the arts centre / restaurant / gym were still going. The property has its own church, but I'm pretty sure there was never a pub in its grounds! I don't think there's ever been one in Acrise, either - I'll have to check with my Mum. Also, Old Hawkinge is separate from Hawkinge - again, I don't think there has been a pub, but I'll check. Likewise, everything in Frogholt is really old - no pub!

I noticed The Chequers at Swingfield is listed on the page as Selsted/Swingfield, but only appears on the Selsted page. You might want a redirect on the Swingfield page, as per some other pubs (e.g. the Black Horse at Densole).

Oh, there's used to be a sort-of website for the Palm Tree at Elham:

http://www.palmtreelodgeandcampsite.co.uk/history--the-palm-tree-inn.php. (Now 2015 removed.)

It's part of the campsite page, although I'm not sure that's going any more, either! That takes me on to a wee tech error - the pub is really in Wingmore, as per your listing. However, if you click on Wingmore (Shepway) it takes you to Wigmore (Shepway) with no pubs listed! As per your other listing, the only Wigmore is near Gillingham.

I think that's all for now!

Mark Haurahane.

 

LICENSEE LIST

TOFT Harold & Doris 1956-70s

 

The premises has been owned by Mike Stokes sine 2003. I do not know what it is currently being used for.

 

If anyone should have any further information, or indeed any pictures or photographs of the above licensed premises, please email:-

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