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Author Topic: Ultra Club, Hassocks  (Read 843 times)
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pomme homme
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« on: May 20, 2015, 18:35:07 PM »

Here's another seemingly unlikely venue for some of the top rock acts of the sixties. In 1965/66, at least, the Ultra Club was at the Downs Hotel, Hassocks. I'm not sure exactly where that is/was. Searching online for the Downs Hotel, Hassocks throws up one reference only to an hotel of the same name in Keymer Road, Hassocks (q.v. http://www.francisfrith.com/keymer/keymer-downs-hotel-c1955_k127015). But as I can find no current reference to this, I wonder if it's disappeared in the subsequent half century. There seems to be an Ultra Club in existence today, which is at the Hassocks Pub, Station Approach East, Hassocks - which I assume not to be the same location as that of the Ultra Club of the sixties and thus I assume that in its name the current club pays tribute to its predecessor.

It seems that either the Who liked playing at the Ultra Club or that those who frequented the Ultra Club liked the Who. The Who played three gigs there in 1966 - on 2 January, 29 August and 11 September. That same year saw the Hollies play the Ultra Club on 16 January. The Yardbirds were to have played there on 19 January but cancelled. Had they not done so, the 'groovers' of Hassocks would have had quite a January!

The Yardbirds did play the Ultra Club in 1965, appearing there on 4 April. Had you wanted to see Eric Clapton on guitar, you'd have been disappointed. He'd left the group a month earlier. So you'd have had to put up with Jeff Beck instead! But the Hassocks fans of 'Slowhand' wouldn't have had to wait long to see their idol playing in town for John Mayall's Bluesbreakers had a gig at the Ultra Club on 11 July. In addition to Eric Clapton and John Mayall, on stage would have been John McVie (later of Fleetwood Mac) and Hughie Flint (later of McGuinness Flint and the Blues Band).   
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Pete
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« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2015, 09:36:20 AM »

Downs was next to the railway station, now shown on google maps as "The Hassocks" . It was a Whitbread managed pub, don't remember a function room there though
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pomme homme
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« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2015, 10:13:50 AM »

Thanks, Pete. However 'next to the railway station' suggests the Hassocks Pub - the venue for the Ultra Club today - whereas the Downs Hotel shown in the photograph in the hyperlink appears to be adjacent to open country with the South Downs in the background. Whilst I appreciate that this photograph dates from the fifties, my memories of Hassocks date back to the sixties (when my grandparents lived there) and they don't suggest that a pub on the north side of the B2116 would have been adjacent to open country and, when photographed front on, would have shown the South Downs in the background. So maybe there was another Downs Hotel in the Hassocks area in the sixties?
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pomme homme
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« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2015, 10:21:55 AM »

It would appear that the Downs Hotel and the Hassocks Pub were different places. In a 'Visit Hassocks' leaflet the following appears:

'In the 1960s, pop groups including The Who and The Hollies played at the now demolished Downs Hotel in Keymer. Other visitors included Acker Bilk and the notorious murderer, Dr Crippen!'
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pomme homme
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« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2015, 10:24:43 AM »

Confirmation for my belief, that the Downs Hotel and the Hassocks Pub were at different locations, appears to be provided by articles on the Downs Hotel which are to be found at http://content.yudu.com/Library/A1frnf/SouthDownsLivingmaga/resources/35.htm and http://content.yudu.com/Library/A1fbku/SouthDownsLivingSept/resources/10.htm.
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Pete
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« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2015, 10:46:55 AM »

don't remember any dealings with the "posh" one, I was in the area 1987-2000. Thinking more I think the Hassocks was the Station or Railway hotel and changed it's name after the brewery decided to upgrade it to lose it's bad reputation and following a stabbing (fatal?) outside
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Margot Lacher
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« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2017, 09:01:43 AM »

Hi everyone, just to make this all quite clear! The Ultra Club of the early/middle 1960s was at the now demolished Downs Hotel in Keymer. There is a housing estate on the site now. I worked there and met all the big name bands who played there. At the time it was owned by a man who called himself Captain Brown and the bands and the club all happened on a Sunday night. The Bands I can remember who played there included The Who, Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, The Move, The Action, Eden Kane, Long John Baldry, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, Deep Purple and many more. Keith Moon always liked to play five a side football after the gig and took my broom to ride like a horse. My job was to run a cloakroom for the ladies and sweep up, clear up glasses and make sandwiches and tea for the bands at the end of the evening. Some local boys were appointed as bouncers, I clearly remember the Bundy brothers, John and Mick and their friends doing this. Obviously, the Captain was in it for the money but it was a really great venue and he did get the very best big name bands there on a regular basis. I was so sad to see it being demolished. Happy Days!
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Pete
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« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2017, 14:42:20 PM »

Welcome & thanks

Nostalgia trip for you http://www.francisfrith.com/uk/keymer/keymer-downs-hotel-c1955_k127015
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