Music and clubs that defined an era in Berkshire
PUBLISHED: 11:18 28 March 2017
Credit: Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo
The nostalgia just keeps on coming, pop pickers, and this time we look at the music and clubs which defined an era
In 1972 rock and pop superstar Rod Stewart arrived in Winkfield near Windsor with model girlfriend Dee Harrington to look at a property he was thinking of buying after his accountant had wisely advised him to turn too much ready cash into substantial bricks and mortar.
In his candid book, Rod: The Autobiography, he recalls how the current owner of Cranbourne Court, Lord Bethell, appeared to have fallen on hard times, with Dee quietly noting his near threadbare trousers. Rod bought the 18th century Grade II listed stucco-faced mansion and its 17 acres of gardens and paddocks for £89,000.
Previous residents had included Admiral Sir Charles Rowley (18th century Commander in chief of the Navy at Portsmouth), General Sir Thomas Willshire (he served in Anglo-Spanish and Peninsular Wars) and the Victorian actress Edna May, who had retired there. Bob Hope and Bing Crosby and their families rented it for the summer of 1961 while filming ‘The Road to Hong Kong’, and actress Sophia Loren had been a regular visitor.
When the couple moved into the 36-room pile with its imposing entrance hall complete with 40ft ceiling and expansive staircase, their belongings could fit into one room. It became a two and a half years project of redecorating and Rod also converted two bedrooms to display his model railroad collection. Holes were knocked in the adjoining rooms so that trains could pass back and forth.
He also added a swimming pool and put a Wurlitzer jukebox in what had been the staff kitchen. It was a pretty happy time, with pets everywhere and Dee riding the horses kept in the paddock, but by 1975 the couple broke up and Britt Ekland was to become his partner for two years. They lived at Cranbourne Court for a year or so before moving on.
During his time at Winkfield, Rod was often seen out and about at watering holes such as the Fox and Hounds at Englefield Green. Some nights he called into Wooburn Grange, a popular nightclub across the border in Bucks, the exterior of which was used to portray John Cleese’s comedy TV series, Fawlty Towers.
And although Rod Stewart moved on, his long-term pal Elton John still lives nearby at Old Windsor. Jimmy Page, our favourite old rockers, Jimmy Page, of the Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin, has hopped about Berkshire. Led Zeppelin was formed at The Thames Boathouse, Pangbourne, and he later moved down the river to Mill House, Clewer, Windsor, the former home of actor Sir Michael Caine. He’s still not far from the water, now living in Sonning.
As for Rod, now 72, he remains busy touring and playing major venues across the world.
An amazing night out in Windsor
From the early 1960s the town was a magnet for those who wanted to listen to the latest sounds or dance until their feet were sore. What really put the town on the map was the Ricky Tick Club launched by John Mansfield and Philip Hayward.
It started out as a rhythm and blues club in The Star and Garter in Peascod Street and was a regular venue for now legends such as The Rolling Stones, who played there nearly 40 times, and Eric Clapton at the start of their careers. This is where many lucky people saw The Who or Jimi Hendrix (who was paid £20) for the first time, paying the pre-decimal equivalent of 25p for a ticket.
And as if that wasn’t enough to get you moving, a dance competition might be held and there was a chance you might get a free record as the bands promoted their sounds.
The Ricky Tick also moved about – gigs took place in Reading, Maidenhead, High Wycombe and Hounslow, and for a while it settled at The Thames Hotel. But the best known venue was the dilapidated mansion at Clewer Mead, now demolished. The organisers rented it from the council for £16 a week. It had a style all of its own, with black walls and furniture made from packing cases.
Towards the end of its reign the Ricky Tick showcased American stars such as Stevie Wonder and Tina Turner, and this was a sign of the times. Disco sounds would rule much of the 1970s.
• A look back at 1967-1976 in Buckinghamshire - Jan Raycroft takes a look at a time when Cublington nearly became London’s third airport, the Sex Pistols stunned Wycombe and Dorney dug in to stay with Bucks