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La Strada brought the swinging ‘60s to South Shields

HOT STUFF ... part of the new grill room at La Strada in 1967.
HOT STUFF ... part of the new grill room at La Strada in 1967.

LA Strada – oh how that name takes so many of us of a certain age back through what was, at the time, an era of sophistication and glamour.

The South Shields club was the first of its kind in the north of England when it opened in 1961 and over subsequent decades, it seduced many of us with its blend of high-class music and dancing, and top entertainment.

Now you can enjoy a glimpse into those wonderful years when Sandford Goudie shares his Magical Memories of La Strada at the Wednesday Heritage Club at South Shields Library on March 11.

The ‘Swinging Sixties’ were just getting under way when Sandford borrowed £5,000 from his newsagent father, to convert the old Smith’s furnishers’ upholstery premises in Commercial Road into what would become one of the region’s top nightspots.

The demise of theatres etc had left a gap in live entertainment in the town, which the club filled with wining, dining and some of the best cabaret acts of the day, such as Engelbert Humperdinck, Lonnie Donegan, Bob Monkhouse and Roger Whitaker.

It was also the first club in the town to house a Monte Carlo-style casino, with roulette and the ‘jet set’ card game, chemin de fer.

Sandford, who owned and ran the club until the late 1960s, has many fond memories of his time there.

Most of the big names in entertainment in the 1960s and 1970s appeared at La Strada, and he came to regard many of them as personal friends.

He later went on to form the Be Modern Group and is well known for his work for charitable concerns, being the driving force behind the seafarers’ memorial at the Mill Dam and a keen supporter of the campaign to secure the future of the Mission to Seafarers.

He also sponsored a gallery in his name at the Customs House.

Sandford’s talk will begin at 2pm. Tickets are £1 from the reference department at the Central Library, or people can telephone 424 7864 to reserve.