Cyril Davies... British Blues Harp Pioneer

The Railway Tavern, Railway Hotel, Wealdstone, London.

Where did musicians play and develop.
The background to the development of the London blues scene.
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Cyril decided to open his own club in our area at the Railway Hotel, Harrow, Wealdstone. The tiny stage was three-quarters filled with a grand piano, which delighted Nick Hopkins of course. I had an old de-commissioned taxi-cab. To start the club off Cyril, Carlo and I went out at the dead of one foggy night with a bucket of paste in my taxi, sticking up posters all over Harrow. Carlo and I recruited a couple of groupies to look after the door and coats. The club quickly became quite the place to go, and remained well established for a long time after Cyril had moved on, I think - Rick Brown

The Railway Hotel, High Street, Wealdstone became The Railway Tavern which later burnt down. A large white building by the tube station, the Railway played host to an R&B club run by Richard Barnes. It was there that Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp first saw The Who. It was also there that Pete cracked his guitar neck on the low ceiling and so began The Who's auto-destruction. A picture of The Railway Tavern (now demolished) is on the inside sleeve of the Who's album, 'Meaty, Beaty, Big & Bouncy'.

This photo of Pete Townsend is from 1964, at the Railway Tavern Š

The following comments by Richard Barnes are from the book,
Mod: A Very British Phenomenon by Terry Rawlings
Omnibus Press, January 1, 2001

Richard Barnes: The first time I'd seen the Cyril Davies All Stars was when Baldry was singing with them at The Railway Hotel in Richmond. Just before the crowds got really huge and the club moved to the football ground. It was the first R&B club I ever went to. I later ran the club and put The High Numbers in as the resident band. It was the most important club for the Mods outside the West End.

Baldry was this unbelievably clean-cut Mod, six foot seven inches tall in a suit, with an elephant collar shirt. He had all the gear from playing in Europe. He would hang about with Rod Stewart who was a real show-off Mod, but he also got a lot from Baldry.

I remember seeing Rod and he had the first backcombed bouffant haircut I'd ever seen. It must of stood up six inches at the back. Baldry was gay and Rod used to camp it up very convincingly. I was sure he was gay in those days. I know he turned out to be the real geezer with birds on both arms but back then I wasn't convinced.

Anyway, Baldry, I remember absolutely detested Davies, they were poles apart. Davies was this old balding guy (Davies was only in his early thirties) who worked on the railways during the day. Scruffy old trousers and always drunk. One night Cyril had got blind drunk and had fallen down asleep at the side of the stage, and Baldry was kicking him saying 'you old cunt.' I went off Baldry after that but it worked for a little while and seeing Cyril Davies was a turning point for me. He got me interested in R&B and from his audience at the Crawdaddy! Richmond Club, I became aware of Mods.

See also the Bo-Street Runners at the Railway Hotel.

Where did musicians play and develop.
The background to the development of the London blues scene.
Back To Home Page

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