Talk stirs memories of 1960s nights at La Strada

CLUB NIGHT .... The Strangers pictured at La Strada in 1963.
CLUB NIGHT .... The Strangers pictured at La Strada in 1963.

NIGHTCLUB entrepreneur Sandford Goudie’s forthcoming talk this week, recalling the heyday of the popular South Shields nightspot La Strada, has stirred memories among two former leading members of the local 1960s music scene.

David Ellison and Barry Thompson played in local group The Strangers, who appeared at the club for four consecutive Sunday lunchtime performances in March 1963.

I didn’t want it to be a boy-meets-girl type of place.

Sandford Goudie, entrepreneur

During the 1960s the band regularly shared the bill with top acts such as The Merseybeats and Sounds Incorporated when they played at various venues in the North East.

Fifty years on David and Barry are still making music together as members of the South Shields ukulele band Customs Ukes, whose concerts help to raise cash for local charities.

Based at the Customs House, the group has now decided to mark its fifth anniversary with a change of name to Big River Ukes.

David said the uke band’s popularity has now spread beyond South Tyneside and having been together for five years, it was felt the time was right for a new name.

In the picture here of The Strangers at La Strada in March 1963, from the left is Bill Mounsey (keyboard/vocals), David Ellison (guitar, sax /vocals), John Haynes (drums), John Elliott (guitar, harmonica/vocals), Bill Bell (bass guitar/vocals) and Barry Thompson (lead guitar/vocals).

Sandford’s talk at the Wednesday Heritage Club at South Shields is sold out.

But I’ve been pleased to hear from the man himself after an on-line reader said that La Strada had been associated in his mind, back in the 1960s, with the kind of club that only married people went to.

I concurred that the club did seem to have a more mature vibe than, say, The Tavern.

Sandford says he’s actually pleased to hear that because, when he started the club, patrons had to be over 21 to get in and he deliberately aimed it at married or already-courting couples.

“I didn’t want it to be a boy-meets-girl type of place,” he said.

There has also been a debate among readers about what brought about the demise of clubs of that generation – how much of it could be attributed to changes in the gambling laws, for instance, but that’s a topic for another day.