Portsmouth Music Scene


The Portsmouth Music Scene
Clarence Pier Pavilion


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New Baths Assembly Rooms at Southsea 1871 but no Pavilion yet built

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Southsea Pier New Pavilion 1882

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From the Illustrated London News 2nd May 1896. ---- THE CLARENCE PIER, SOUTHSEA : BUILDING TO BE REMOVED.

The War Office and the Admiralty recently appointed a joint committee of military and naval officers to examine plans for the defence of Southsea and Portsmouth town and harbour against a hostile squadron which might possibly run in past the forts at Spithead. It is considered that the buildings on the Clarence Pier, the Esplanade Hotel and the Pavilion, which are in direct line of view, and of artillery fire, between the King's Bastion and the entrance channel, must be immediately removed.


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From a Portsmouth and Southsea Guide Book around 1900


the carlton dance band

The Carlton Dance Band, date from the mid 1920's. The venue was the Clarence Pier, Southsea.
George Bennett was the piano player, better known in later life as Billy Bennett, who ran
Bennetts Musical Instruments in New Road. Harry Quinton was the drummer. Sadly, the other players are unknown
Note the assortment of instruments and the megaphone

Southsea's original pier, the Clarence Pier, is now a complete contrast to the resorts later pier that was built at South Parade. Most people visiting Southsea Clarence Pier would probably not even realise the complex were in fact a pier, if it wasn't for the name. Its history is also a tale of two contrasting halves. Firstly the elegant pavilion pier, so typically Victorian in style and opened by a future king, to be replaced by a post-war amusement complex, bold and brash, in equally typical 'kiss me quick' style.
Building commenced on Southsea Clarence Pier in 1860, opening to the public for the first time on 1st June 1861. From 1866 the Landports Southsea Tramway ran directly to the pier, being superseded by the Harbour Railway Station in 1873. In 1874 Southsea Clarence Pier unusually became the centre of a local dispute when the operating company attempted to block access to the beach, between the pier and the nearby Esplanade Hotel. A crowd of local protesters, led by one Mr B Miller, broke down the offending barriers, burning them on the beach. Southsea Clarence Piers most striking addition, the stylish octagonal pavilion, was opened by the Prince of Wales (later to become King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra) on the Monday opf the third week in August of 1882, marking the last development of the pier until the turn of the new century.Madame Adalina Patti (Sopprano) the 'Queen of song' attended the opening concert. She sang "The Cuckoo" and "The Nightingale". She was then 39 years old . She died 27th September 1919. Increased steamer traffic to the resort prompted the Pier Company to build a concrete extension in 1905, and further work in 1932 saw the addition of a new café, sundeck, shops and a concourse hall.

It was during the Second World War that Southsea Clarence Pier was to suffer its saddest hour, and the country was to lose one of its great Victorian legacies. Being in such close proximity to the large ports of Southampton and Portsmouth, the Southsea resort was always vulnerable to attack and, on the night of 10th January 1941, Southsea Clarence Pier was hit by German bombs and totally destroyed.
Re-building of the pier didn't commence until 1953 when the first pile of the new substructure was driven in, the work continuing for a further six years. Unlike all other piers, Southsea Clarence Pier is unique in the fact that it runs along the beach rather than out to sea, making the whole structure much wider than it is long. In 1959 work got underway on the superstructure featuring the 60ft (18m) steel tower that still dominates the site today. Messers A. E. Cogswell & Son's, in association with local architects R. Lewis Reynish, designed the superstructure at an estimated cost of £250,000. Mouchel & Partners designed the deck and landing stage. Work was completed on the Southsea Clarence Pier ready for opening on 1st June 1961, exactly one hundred years to the day since the original pier was opened.
Love it or hate it, today Southsea Clarence Pier is often billed as the largest amusement park on the south coast and boasts all manner of amusements, rides and activities that one would expect from modern seaside complex
Work on the pier commenced in 1860 and it opened on 1st June 1861. From 1866. The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) opened the pavilion in August 1882 and, in 1905, a concrete extension was built to accommodate increasing boat traffic. In 1932 a new cafe, sundeck and concourse hall were built along with shops on the front.
Bombing destroyed the pier on 10th January 1941 but in 1953 the first pile of the reconstructed, lower structure was driven. Six years later, rebuilding of the superstructure began to the design of Messrs A.E.Cogswell & Sons in association with Portsmouth architects R.Lewis Reynish. This was set to cost an estimated £250,000. Mouchel & Partners of London designed the deck and landing stage.
Clarence Pier, featuring a 60 foot steel-framed tower, re-opened on 1st June 1961. The pier is unusual in being a lot wider than its length. Facilities included indoor complexes (such as Pirate Pete's Adventure Playground, arcades, and ten-pin bowling), and outdoor fairground attractions including a roller coaster, big wheel and a monster express train. There were also various fast-food outlets, and an ice-cream parlour. These have been added to and updated over the years and the pier remains an extremely popular attraction, having been billed as 'the largest amusement complex on the south coast'.

The original Clarence Pier was built in 1861, and was opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales who attended a concert given by the combined band of the Royal Marines Artillery and Royal Marines Light Infantry.
Up until 1873 the Pier had a tramline from Portsmouth Town Railway Station (now Portsmouth & Southsea) which ran right onto the Pier, taking passengers and luggage to the Isle of Wight on steamers. In 1905 the Pier was extended to accomodate increased boat traffic. Further extensions were made in 1932 when a café, sun deck and concourse hall were added. Then on 1st June 1941 the Pier was bombed by the Luftwaffe during the heaviest air raid on Portsmouth of World War Two.
clarencemen It re-opened in its present form some twenty years later on 1st June 1961; the Pier with its funfair has been synonymous with Southsea, it boasted favourite concert parties and shows, and ever-changing rides, slot machines and video games etc. For most visitors, their favourite memory of the Pier is the laughing sailor machine which stood outside. For a penny you could make him split his sides. The original machine has been preserved, and recently restored. It is now held in a collection maintained by the pier's current operators.
"Mind The Baby, Mr Bean", an episode of British TV comedy series "Mr Bean" was filmed on location at Clarence Pier (as well as other locations in Southsea). This was prior to the closure of the North Western part of the park and the closure of the Wheel Of Fortune public house. The episode shows the Super Loop, Skyways roller coaster, and many of the park's other attractions from that time. Clarence Pier was also the filming location to the teen pop band, "S Club Juniors" song, "Fool No More" filmed mainly on the dodgems but the rollercoaster, 'Skyways' can also be seen in the video.

Jun 1, 1961 - Mouchel & Partners designed the deck and landing stage. Work was completed on the Southsea Clarence Pier ready for opening on 1st June 1961, exactly one hundred years to the day since the original pier was opened
In the early 1960's the resident band was the Eric Galloway Orchestra. About 1963 that changed and Arthur Ward brought his band to the Pier, at first with singer Mike Devon, and later Mick Reeves.

By Chris Owen of the NEWS Portsmouth , Wednesday 22 June 2011
Memories of 150-year-old Clarence Pier, Southsea, keep coming. Ernest Humby (far left, front row) with workmen colleagues on Clarence Pier, Southsea
Mike Jones, of Telford Road, North End, Portsmouth, who sent this photograph of his grandfather, Ernest Humby and fellow workers on the pier. He and his brothers were painters and decorators in the city for many years and here is Ernest (kneeling on the left hand end of the front row and wearing a trilby) surrounded by his workmates.
Mike says that on the back of the picture his grandmother had written: ‘Taken on Clarence Pier as they finished up.’ He adds: ‘It must have been taken before 1936 as that’s when he died, aged 54. His brother James is sitting next to him.’

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24th September 1928

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13th January 1931

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the new Pavilion 18th October 1934

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1st September 1934

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7th December 1935

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7th December 1935

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Christmas 1935

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1935 -------------------- 12th December 1935

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21st April 1936

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12 May 1936

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27th May 1936

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April 1936

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From the 1936 Portsmouth and Southsea Guide Book

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Hugh Frossard and his Broadcasting Orchestra play at Clarence Pier around June 1939

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On the 10th January 1941 Clarence Pier was bombed during the heaviest air raid on Portsmouth of World War Two
and the Clarence Pier Pavilion and the Espanade Assembly Rooms and Hotel were no more.

However,..... after the war,...

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17th August 1951

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6th December 1952

Into the 1960's ?

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Arthur Ward Band Clarence Pier: Bob Quinton (P), Arthur Ward (D), Sammy Seal (B), Ron Henning (Tpt), Ron Cann & John Wynn & Fred Hutchings (S), John Dally (O)
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Arthur Ward Band Clarence Pier: Chris Waters (Tbn), Johnny Wynn (TS), Ricky Whichello (AS), Ricky Price (Tpt), Arthur Ward (D), Sammy Seal (Elec B), Chiz Bishop (P)
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Arthur Ward and his Band

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16th & 25th November 1977


Known Performances

1894 February 24th Miss Ethel Bevans, Mr Franklin Clive, Royal Marine Light Infantry
1894 June 2nd Miss Louise We3aver, Mr Musgrove Tuffnail, Royal Marine Light Infantry
1894 June 4th Miss Ada Patterson, Mr Wilfred Cunliffe, Royal Marine Light Infantry

1903 August 31st to September 5th The Montagu Minstrels

1904 June 27th to July 2nd Aeolian Opera Singers
1904 July 4th t5o 9th Komedy Koncert Kompany
1904 July 18th to 23rd The Serenaders
1904 August 1st to 6th Miss Helen Mar & Mr Rohan Clensy's Summer Concert Party
1904 August 15th 50 20th Madam Lloyd's Choir & Orchestra
1904 September 5th to 10th The Ragamuffins
1904 September 12th to 17th Aeolian Opera Singers
1904 September 19th to 24th Aeolian Opera Singers
1904 September 26th to Octber 1st Reuben More's Pierrots & Dons

1905 July 3rd to 8th Aeolian Opera Singers
1905 July 10th to 15th The Dandies
1905 July 12th to 17th The Olympian Concert Party
1905 June 26th ti July 1st Aeolian Opera Singers
1905 Julyu 31st to August 5th The Serenaders
1905 September 4th to 9th The Dandies
1905 September 11th to 16th Sydney James Strolling Players
1905 September 18th to 23rd The Serenaders
1905 September 25th to 30th Komedy Koncert Kompany

1906 June 11th to 16th The Olympian Concert Party
1906 June 25th to 30th Aeolian Opera Singers
1906 July 16th to 21st The Serenaders
1906 July 23rd to 28th Sydney James Strolling Players
1906 July 30th August 4th Sydney James Strolling Players
1906 August 13th to 18th Aeolian Opera Singers
1906 August 20th to 25th Aeolian Opera Singers
1906 August 27th to September 1st Komedy Koncert Kompany
1906 Spetember 3rd to 8th Sydney James Strolling Players
1906 September 4th to 11th The Serenaders
1906 Sep[tember 10th too 16th Sydney James Strolling Players
1906 September 17th to 22nd The Serenaders

1907 June 3rd to 8th The Strolling Players

1928 September 24th Golden Cameos, Carlton Dance Band

1931 January 13th Carlton Dance Band

1934 September 1st Holiday Fair
1934 September 8th Summer Revellers
12th May 1934 Sidney Clarke and his Dance Orchestra
1st September 1934 Teddy Brown plus the Carlton Dance Band

1935 Summer Season Speedtime First class London Artistes.
1935 Peter Mills and his Band
September 1935 Return of Vincent Norman and his Band
7th December 1935 Vincent Norman and his Band
11th December 1935 Dance Band contest, won by Bert Osborne and his Orchestra
12th December 1935 Vincent Norman and his Band

21st April 1936 Vincent Norman and his Broadcasting Band
1936 May 27th Teddy Joyce and his Versatile Band

1939 Hugh Prossard and his Broadcasting Orchestra

1952 December 6th John Hanson, The Pavilion Palm Court Orchestra

1961 June 3rd The New Clarence Pier was opened
1961 Nov 4th Eric Galloway and his Broadcasting Orchestra
1961 Nov 7th Eric Galloway and his Broadcasting Orchestra
1961 Nov 11th Eric Galloway and his Broadcasting Orchestra
1961 Dec 1961 Eric Galloway and his Broadcasting Orchestra

Dec 2nd 1962 Eric Galloway and his Broadcasting Orchestra

'The Cavern Club' at Clarence Pier.
5/4/64 Dave Curtis and the Tremors plus The Stereos
6/4/64 Kevin Scott and the Kinsmen plus The Dynamos
12/4/64 Soul Agents plus Terry and the New Cons
13/4/64 The Fabulous Flamingoes plus Dante and the Infernos
19/4/64 Shane and the Shane Gang plus The Storms
20/4/64 The Diplomats plus The Del Rio Four
26/4/64 Grant Tracy and the Sunsets plus The Dynachords
27/4/64 The Arthur Ward Orchestra plus Brian Fisher and the Raiders
3/5/64 Carl and the Rapiers
4/5/64 The Travellers plus The Fenders
10/5/64 Flamingoes
11/5/64 Dave Dee and the Bostons plus The Hellstones
16/5/64 Mark Twain and the Saxons plus The Semitones
17/5/64 The Age Beaters
18/5/64 Ritchie Peters and the For-tunes plus Chris Noble and the Noblemen plus The Courtelles
24/5/64 The Classic plus The Fleetwoods
25/5/64 Mark Twain and the Saxons plus The Fenmen
30/5/64 The Arthur Ward Orchestra plus Club Cabaza Latin American band plus Kevin Scott and the Kinsmen
1/6/64 The Cresters plus The Phantoms
5/6/64 The Arthur Ward Orchestra plus Club Cabaza Latin American band plus Dante and the Infernos
6/6/64 Daniel Boone and the Emerals plus Chris Noble and the Noblemen
13/6/64 The Arthur Ward Orchestra plus Club Cabaza Latin American band
15/6/64 The Classics plus The Ivy League
20/6/64 The Arthur Ward Orchestra plus Club Cabaza Latin American band
22/6/64 Mick Troy and the Trojans plus Mark Twain and the Saxons
27/6/64 The Arthur Ward Orchestra plus Club Cabaza Latin American band plus The Tycoons
29/6/64 Chick Graham and the coasters plus The Companions
4/7/64 The Arthur Ward Orchestra plus Club Cabaza Latin American band plus Six Feet Five
11/7/64 The Arthur Ward Orchestra plus Club Cabaza Latin American band plus The Satalites
18/7/64 The Arthur Ward Orchestra plus Club Cabaza Latin American band plus Dave and the Druids
25/7/64 The Arthur Ward Orchestra plus Club Cabaza Latin American band plus Tony Benson and the Skylanes
8/8/64 The Arthur Ward Orchestra plus Club Cabaza Latin American band plus Dante and the Infernos
15/8/64 The Arthur Ward Orchestra plus Club Cabaza Latin American band plus The Daisies
22/8/64 The Arthur Ward Orchestra plus Club Cabaza Latin American band plus The Jokers
29/8/64 The Arthur Ward Orchestra plus Club Cabaza Latin American band plus The Bumbles

17/4/65 The Coastliners appeared at Clarence Pier with Arthur Ward’s Band
Thursday, May 27, 1965: 'R&B '65', Clarence Pier, Clarence Esplanade, Southsea, Hampshire Also on the bill: The Downliners Sect, Mike Devon and The Diplomats. One show, from 8:00pm to 1:00am. Right after their performance, The Soul Agents returned home, while Rod Stewart went across Southsea Common to the recently opened Birdcage Club at Kimbells Ballroom on Osborne Road, and sat-in with The Brian Auger Trinity.

10/5/1968 Manfred Mann

12th June 1974 Barclay James Harvest, Rare Bird
21st June 1974 Coast Road Drive

1977 November 16th Wayne County's Electric Chair, Alternative TV
1977 November 25th Shjam 69, Staa Marx, Chaos

1985 December 23rd The Street Rods, The Kingbeats, Rock Therapy

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As Clarence Pier is today.


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