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Lowlands West Derby Merseybeat mansion reopens
A Victorian mansion in West Derby that was host to many Merseybeat groups is set to reopen after a ?1.2 million refurbishment.
Lowlands, a Grade II listed building, was home to The Pillar Club in the 1960?s, a favourite haunt of many of the Merseybeat groups of the 1960?s.
Up to 400 people would cram into a small room at the back of the building which served as an over 21?s Coffee Bar.
The house, built in 1846, was purchased by the West Derby Community Association in 1957, with the help of a donation from Lord Sefton.
"This is where many of the major bands of the sixties would have had their Cokes and their Pepsi?s," explains West Derby Community Association trustee Stephen Guy.
"Many of the major bands of the day, Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Searchers, Billy J Kramer, also later on The Hollies, The Big Three, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Herman?s Hermits, they all came in here.
"So, it?s historically a very interesting area."
The Italianate building, which served as offices for The Inland Revenue during the war is one of the few survivors of the many mansions that once littered the West Derby area.
"When I was a kid I remember the demolition men would pull three mansions down for the price of two," recalls Stephen Guy.
"The Victorian mansions were not regarded highly in the past."
In The Beatles ?Anthology? George Harrison remembers how he heard of the now famous Casbah Club while at Lowland?s.
Harrison also played the club in the late 1950?s before he joined The Beatles when he was with The Les Stewart Quartet.
The refurbishment, with Heritage Lottery funding, will enable Lowlands to continue as a community centre.
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Good stuff. Great find kev.
I have to confess to being a regular there in the late 50's to mid 60's and got to know the building quite well, having helped to decorate parts of it, as well as helping to fit out, around 1962, the over 21's Coffee bar on the top floor, which I gather is still preserved.
The Pillar Club was actually in the basement and extended the entire depth of the building from front to back. It was typical of the cellars most mansions had. It got its name after the brick pillars supporting the ground floor. Looking back, it was, like many venues of its time, including the Casbah a short distance away, a serious fire hazard, with very limited means of escape.
The bands only played on Sunday evenings and attracted fans from a wide area. On the remaining evenings the premises operated as a members only youth club / coffee bar with taped music. Table tennis tables had to be removed before the Sunday gigs. The Les Stewart Quartet played many of the earlier gigs but some felt they were of fairly ordinary ability and the organisers began to seek out the fresh talent emerging throughout the city.
I can remember seeing all the groups named in the Echo article but I cannot remember any appearance by Billy J Kramer. The Dakotas did however play there on quite a few occasions before becoming Billy J's backing group. One band not on the list but one of the most popular to play there was the Remo Four, fronted by the late Johnny Sandon. Many Lowlands regulars thought them to be the most accomplished musicians, especially Colin Manley on lead guitar.Other regulars included Rory Storm & The Hurricanes and the Fourmost.
The doormen enforced a strict dress code, requiring the male species to wear suits and ties but I guess that was fairly typical of many similar venues and the groups themselves were generally similarly attired.
Oh, happy days!
Had regular updates from the West Derby society on this and amazed at the progress. Here's to the same story with Sandfield Tower!
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