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remembering the Gale at Camp Hill


The Nightingale started life at (in 1969).
“It was a terraced property, which basically consisted of two rooms plus a backyard that was built upon. A long thin tunnel…the restaurant kitchen was on the back; the Manager’s office and the toilets were upstairs. The upstairs toilets included both a Gents and a Ladies, the Ladies was often used for alternative purposes (sex). The restaurant was an A table at the end of the room and the entertainment initially consisted of a jukebox. In the summer the backyard had a lot more action.”

jinks became involved with the club in 1971. At this point he had accepted his sexuality.
“One evening I went in, the club had two half doors to prevent anyone barging in, and Laurie Williams stopped me and told me my membership had expired. He said to me, ‘See John Jinks not paid…it is in the book.’ “I replied, ‘I’m John Jeffries.’”..‘Alright bab, go on in.’”

jinks had a black and white car that was licenced as a taxi. His car was well known as it would often be parked outside the Nightingale from 11pm onwards. (05:30)

The first Members’ Party Night was at Christmas 1973 or 1974. All the committee members brought food along with them for the buffet - “Everyone brought bloody mince pies!” At that time, women were allowed in but only when signed in by a member.

jinks was an ordinary member and started off as responsible for music organisation. He would buy the records for the juke box, change them in his own time free of charge, take the old records for his own collection and the club would reimburse him for the cost of the records. Then they had a new concept and decided to bring in a DJ and put two turntables in the restaurant area. jinks became the first DJ at the Nightingale.

“At the very outset of the club, they used £600 of Derek Pemberton’s money to set up the club. was treasurer, Charlie Sewell was Secretary, Stanley Smith (Charlie's very long-time lover) was part-time barman and Ray Bassett was a full time barman at all four venues.”

set it up as a members’ club; if he had set it up as a proprietor’s club he would have still owned it. He would take the money from the club and put it into a different bank account. He was not pocketing it; he was going to use it to set up another club. The committee found out and sacked him.”

“…the then treasurer, John…a leather queen, motorcyclist, bank manager…found an accountant, Fred Cunningham… a lovely guy. Fred created new books and put all that money back into the club and the finances of the club.” “When John left jinks became the treasurer.”

Contributed by: John Jeffries aka jinks, 60

Click here to read the full interview with this contributor