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At: Groove Pad, 48 Saltaire Road, Shipley BD18 3HN
Venue (not Club) Tel: 01274 586542

Est: 1956



Club Constitution, History,
Memoirs, Records,
Facts & Trivia

Club Constitution

The Club's Beginning
By Alex Eaton. A report on the earliest years of The Topic Folk Club written for 30th Anniversary and published in 1990 in Tykes' News in three parts.

The First 12 Years
By Denis Sabey, Tykes' News 1968

The First 25 Years
Booklet produced by the club in 1981

The Club in 1970-72
By Trevor Carolan. A personal memoir with some photos

The Topic at 60
The view from 2016, by John Waller

Three T&A Articles
Written by John Waller in 2022

Historic Photo Gallery
A selection of photographs from the very early days of the Club

Songs for The Topic at 60
Songs written by club members to celebrate The Topic's 60th anniversary, performed 3 November 2016

Gigs List
Club nights from 1957 to last week

Compiling the Records
Trevor Charnock on tracking down sources for the gigs listed

Guest Artist Links A to Z
Web links for 732 Topic acts

The Club's 15 Venues

Sept 1956 to 11th Apr 1958:
Laycock's Rooms, Albion Court

18th Apr 1958 to Aug 1959:
Oddfellows'/Unity Hall, Rawson Square

4th Sept 1959 to ?Apr 1960:
Fox and Goose, Canal Rd

May 1960 to mid-1963:
Oddfellows'/Unity Hall again

Mid-1963 to 22nd Nov 1968:
Sun Inn, Sunbridge Rd

29th Nov 1968 to 24th Jan 1969:
Market Tavern, Godwin St

The year of 4 venues: The Market Tavern, 6 weeks, Rawson Hotel (Jan 31 only), The Ukrainian Club (Feb 7th-Sept 19th), and then the start of the 22-year stay at The Star Hotel.

Sept 26th, 1969 to Mar 1st, 1991:
Star Hotel, Westgate

March 8th, 1991 to Jul 8th, 1995:
Peel Hotel, Richmond Rd

Jul 13th, 1995 to Dec 29th, 2005:
Melborn Hotel White Abbey Rd

Jan 5th 2006 to Feb 28th 2008:
Cock and Bottle Barkerend Rd

Mar 6th 2008 to Dec 19th 2013:
Bradford Irish Club Rebecca St

Jan 2nd 2014 to Aug 22nd 2019:
Glyde House, Glydegate

Aug 29th 2019 onwards
The Merchant Bar, Peckover St

--20 month Covid Break--

Nov 4th 2021 - ongoing
Groove Pad, Saltaire Rd, Shipley

Club Night
For nearly 40 years the club met on Fridays - also with Saturday concerts in some of the earlier years - but it has been Thursday nights from March 24 1994.

Logo & Straplines
June 1995 - first appearance of the Wandering Fiddler logo
September 1995 - "Probably" dropped from "Probably the oldest Folk Club in the World".
January 2009 - Wandering Fiddler dropped. New strapline

Drinking & Smoking
The club was a non-booze venue at the very start, with a lot of school-age attendees, but moved to a pub (the Fox and Goose) in 1959, so U-18s no longer allowed. March 1995 saw "Thank you for not smoking" appear, and 1st July 2007 smoking in pubs was made illegal.

The raffle started on 26th August 1966, after the Committee had noticed funds depeleting. The first prize was a 15/- record token, and 1 6/8 was taken in ticket sales (a little under half what was taken on the door that night). It has continued ever since.

Secretaries & Bookers

Club Secretaries
1958 to 1982

Isobel Arlott
Sept 1958 - Sept 1959
AM (Molly) Brown
Sept 1959 - ?
Sandra A Kitchingham
April 1961 - ?1962
Malcolm McGeorge
?1962 - Aug 1964
Hilary Stevenson / Tideswell
Sep 1964 - March 1966
Pat Butterfield
April 1966 - June 1967
Jan Heatherington
July 1967 - March 1968
H Denis Sabey
April 1968 - May 1970
Jim Boyes
May 1970 - Nov 1971
Roger Sutcliffe
Nov 1971 - June 1972
Ken Hall
July 1972 - March 1974
Mick Wheeler
March 1974 - March 1976
Trevor Charnock
April 1976 - April 1982

Booking Secretaries
1982 to now

Ronnie Wharton
May 1982 - May 1988
Deanna Norman

June 1988 - March 1992
Brenda Baldwin
March 1992 - March 1993
Roger Sutcliffe
March 1993 - Nov 1994
Philomena Hingston
(sometimes with Finola Hingston)
Nov 1994 - Dec 2003
John Waller
Dec 2003 - Dec 2008
(with Simon Alexander Jun-Dec 2006)
Rahel Guzelian
Jan 2009 - Dec 2010
Joe Grint
Jan 2011 - Jan 2012
Anthony Charnock
Jan 2012 - Sep 2013
Sue Gaffney
Oct 2013 - Dec 2015
Rahel Guzelian
Jan 2016 - Jan 2018
Sue Gaffney
Jan 2018-Jan 2020
Martin Richards
Jan 2020 on


NB: The first few months of a new booker's reign were generally booked by the previous incumbent.

Topic Folk Club Guest List Through The Years: Compiling the Historical Records
by Trevor Charnock

January 2011

This is an update on the post I made in 2004. Some things have happened and I am amending the post to bring it up to date.

When I started with the guest list in 2004 I compiled it from handouts that I had in my possession at that time and copies of Tykes' News that I had from its inception in magazine form from late 1975. With this I managed to put together the guest list from October 30th 1970 to the end of 1991. This list, however, had some omissions in 1971 and 1972, as well as everything before 1970.

I said that I hoped to do a more complete guest list if and when I managed to recover the club minute books covering 1958-1982. I discovered that three of the club's Treasurers' Books were also missing; these of course would have helped greatly as they would have had the record of payments to guest artists. For quite some time I tried to track these books down with no luck and I had just about given up hope of recovering them, but at the end of 2009 I was given a case that had been used to carry the club's equipment for running the club's admissions table. Much to my surprise, when opening it I found it contained the missing minute books and one of the Treasurers' Books covering November 1968 to October 1974.

When going through the Minute books I found that the guests booked were mentioned, but in a lot of cases not the dates that they were booked for. There are no minutes at all from November 30th 1962 to January 29th 1964. The Treasurer's book had a period - around 1970-71 - where the date and the amount that the guest was paid was entered, but not the name of the guest. Some of these gaps could be filled in, though there are quite a number of holes.

It is worth noting that in the very early years of the club guests were not booked on a regular basis, as that was not really what the club was about in those days. It was mainly to learn about folk music and develop the singing and musicianship of the members. This allowed the club to provide its own entertainment. It does appear to be the case in those days that if concerts or Hootenannies were held they would be on a Saturday in the clubroom, with Fridays being mainly for the social gatherings and self-entertainment. Due to the fact that in the early days there were not many folk clubs about, especially outside London, guests could be booked at very short notice. Towards the end of the 1960s guests became booked on a more frequent basis and Singers' Nights became more rare.

I have to thank the following for their help. Geoff and Mary Twentyman, who put me in touch with Terry and Audrey Stott. Terry was the club treasurer from 1962-1969 and had at one time copies of all the club's accounts over that period. Unfortunately the only ones that had survived covered the period November 19th 1965 to November 11th 1966, so my guest list dates for this period are down to him. Eddie Saxton, a very early member of the club, who let me copy some of the photographs he had taken in the clubroom. In the background of one photo were posters on the clubroom wall which gave me four dates for 1960. Malcolm McGeorge, a former club Secretary between 1963-64, who let me have copies of some booking forms he had for 1964. Elaine Carter (nee Claffey), who sent me a handout covering a three-month period. Also Jacquie Wilks, who let me know from notations in one of her diaries a guest night that had been changed at short notice.

These people have been a great help to me, and there may still be others out there who might be able to help. At this moment in time I think I have gone as far as I can go. The missing two Treasurers' books may still turn up, in particular covering 1958 to 1968. One can hope.

It has been suggested to me that I could go to Central Library and look back through the editions of the Telegraph and Argus that they have stored there, more than likely on microfilm. This of course would be a very time-consuming exercise. One problem in the past is that even when I knew the club had an advert in the paper it took some spotting. The time I would have to cover is between September 1956 and December 1971, excluding the weeks I have already got. I do not totally rule this out but it will be a case of finding the time, as it would be a big project.

If anybody out there has any information on the club including photos you can get in touch with me via the web site or e-mail me at


August 2013

On my last post on this matter I mentioned it had been suggested I look through the Telegraph and Argus Archives to see if I could find anything. I knew this would be a time-consuming exercise, however at the back end of 2011 I started to do this.

As I said before, I knew that the club did not always advertise the nights and this proved the case. I started out at the beginning of September 1956 as the club started in September 1956, though some people think it was earlier. I was right about the lack of advertising but was surprised how little was done. One can only assume that the club was popular enough without having to advertise.

One thing as I was going through the papers was the amount of other music that was on in Bradford at that time and in particular The Students' Club which mainly featured Traditional Jazz. It ran five nights a week and the Saturday all-night sessions were legendary. I know this as I used to attend them and the Thursday Rock and Roll nights. If you drive in the direction of Manchester Road past The Odeon you are driving over the cellar where the club was. I was also finding other interesting articles in the paper, so much so I had to give up looking through the whole paper and just concentrate on the entertainment adverts or I would never finish.

I got up to the end of May 1969 in December 2012 when I took a break for Christmas intending to go back in the New Year. However at the end of 2012 Central Library closed down to allow repairs to the building to commence; unfortunately at this point (August 2013) it is still has not reopened. There have been several articles in the Telegraph and Argus about it and the problems, though there is more positive news about it now and it looks as if sometime next year (2014) I may be able to return to the task.

For the early years of the club I would be pleased if the Treasurer's book for that period turned up as that would answer a lot of questions. It may yet turn up. I had at one point given up on the Minute books turning up but they did, so one can have hope. There are some people who might be able to help from the early days who were either acted as treasurer, secretary, committee members or just club members. John (JB) Stewart, D Mills . Isobel Arlott, A M Browne, Hilary Stevenson, Sandra A Kitchingham, Molly Brown, Vince Lacey, John Barraclough (Brother Harvey lives in either Australia or New Zealand) Terry Sheals, M Seals, Dave Gledhill, J Wilcox, V McCabe. These are names taken from early minutes and Christian names were not always used. It might be useful to hear from M Pickles who was the treasurer in the early seventies and might be able to give more information on the nights when we knew the fee paid to the guest but not the name as he recorded these notes. I understand he moved down south and I think was an accountant.

I will resume my search of the T & A archive’s when The Local Studies Department along with Central Library eventually reopens.

Watch this space!

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