The Topic was founded by Alex Eaton and friends in Bradford, West Yorkshire, in 1956. The actual date of the first meeting was sometime in September, but for a long time the club celebrated its birthday in early November - including the 25th anniversary in 1981 - probably recognising when things became more formalised. One spur to creating a formal club that charged money (instead of simply having singaround sessions) was to raise funds for refugees from the Hungarian Uprising of 22-24 October. Paid guests came a while later.
The Topic has survived when all the other similar weekly clubs formed before it (and many since) have folded up, and now it is the oldest continuously-running folk club in the world.
Although it has moved several times two thirds of The Topic's existence has been at just two venues - 22 years at the Star (1969-1991) and 11 years at the Melborn (July 1994 to the end of 2005).
Over the years there have been over 2,400 club nights and hundreds of people have appeared on the Topic stage - paid guests, semi-professional support acts, visiting club exchanges, and local singers and musicians. John Waller has been going to the club for some years as listener, singer and MC on occasions. From the end of 2003 until 2008 he was responsible for booking most of the guest acts.
Take a look at the comprehensive website for more information on the history of the club, a list of gigs from 1970 to now, a list of links to more than 350 of the people who have performed on the Topic stage over the years, and a listing of the acts booked to appear in the future.