Friday, May 21, 2010

George Robey: a lost London venue

At 240 Seven Sisters Road, Finsbury Park in North London there is currently a semi derelict pub. Before it closed it was known as the George Robey (and before that The Clarence Tavern) and was for many years an important music venue, particularly known for punk gigs. You can even download a 1983 set recorded a the pub by anarcho-punk band Omega Tribe at the excellent Kill Your Puppy.


Club wise it was probably best known for Club Dog, which brought the free festival/squatter spirit indoors from the mid-1980s and became one of the first places where that scene, with its psychedelic and world music vibe, began to cross over with the emerging rave scene. In 1996 the pub briefly became the Powerhaus, part of the Mean Fiddler group, and then closed down.

My main memories of the place are of a club called The Far Side, which I went to a few times in 1994/5. It was one of those places where DJs and sound systems from the squat/free party scene played, like the Liberator DJs . I've just scanned in a couple of spacey flyers which give a feel for it -'Get over to the Far Side - revel without a pause - spinning trippy trancey techno, delightfully deep house and pleasurable progressive for your entertainment'. The flyer for September 1994 (below) also has the topical Fight the Criminal Justice Bill slogan at the bottom.


September 1994 flyer

Frankly my memories of all the places I went to at that time tend to blur a little, but I do recall some great music and searching for a bagel round Finsbury Park before getting the first train back to Brixton the next morning.


January 1995 flyer

See also London RIP (picture of Robey today from Ewan-M at Flickr)

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice post; do you have many flyers from your club days? I was in a well known bookshop recently and came across a large coffee table book devoted to the club flyer. remarkable.

Lolly Doyle said...

Hi! I'm writing a feature on The George Robey & wondered if you (or anyone you know) would be interested in discussing their memories with me! I'd like to get an old regular's opinion on the place! if so, please e-mail lolly.doyle21@googlemail.com

Anonymous said...

Yeahhhh was the first place where i felt a real sound system, reggae, dub, jungle... wow i been on summer 1994,its very nice for me found this info, respect!!

biskeybee said...

I use to go to the far side in 95, it was the best! had so many great nights there

Steve McLean said...

Vic Valium was the DJ at the Sir George Robey when I lived in the neighbourhood during the summer of 1987 and make it my local. He spun some great stuff.
I saw some memorable live shows there that summer as well, including Desmond Dekker, Jayne County, John Cooper Clarke, Hank Wangford Band, Buckwheat Zydeco, Lick The Tins and others.
It was also a good place to keep the party going after festivals at Finsbury Park.
I was sad to see it gone when I returned for a visit in 2004.

Transpontine said...

Steve, once I was on the tube from Brixton and John Cooper Clarke sat down opposite me, turned out he was on his way to perform at the Robey (think this was a bit later than 1987 though, probably early 90s)

Paul Smith said...

Used to love the George Robey in the mid-eighties. Most memorable gig was Wilko Johnson in about 1986. Very Poignant considering the news on Wilko recently :(

C said...

Just found your blog - brilliant stuff and I'll be spending a good few hours going through your archives! (Hope you don't mind but as I found this because I was looking for something about the George Robey I've included a link to this post on my own blog...)

Transpontine said...

Thanks C, enjoyed your post about travelling in the back of a van to the Robey with a band (read it here people):

http://sundriedsparrows.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/im-with-band.html

Of course it got me guessing who the band was - I reckon Flux of Pink Indians?

Anonymous said...

I was working in London , though supposedly based in the West Country at the Weekends. I lost a few of those to popping in to the Far Side on a late Friday evening. I still remember with passion the good laughs in that fine place , the chance to talk to anyone and everyone and the confusion about how many rooms there were in the venue whilst circulating around it. Let's hope people continue to want to entertain others and don't become obsessed too much about how much profit they will grab.

Anonymous said...

Quite a line up!

Choci ran Choci's Chewns off Wardour Street, the place for trance n' techno in London.

The Liberators also ran a night with the Zero Gravity crew at around the same time.

Boney Slackburn on the flyer was the guy who ran the Far Side nights - along with Dj Stab.

Went there once but i was way too young for that scene, although I did cram in a memorably lashed night at a Far Side event they hosted at the Labyrinth in Dalston... that was a good un' :)

They were really the legal side of techno and trance events in the East End, and by the far the most drug fuelled psychedelic nights in London at the time - hand in hand with the booming free party scene.

Transpontine said...

Yes remember Choci's Chewns and also went to some of those Zero Gravity nights at Club414 in Brixton.

Abbfinoosty said...

I played here in Abbfinoosty. Late 80's. It was a brilliant gig and a great packed crowd that just turned up to see music. Awesome.

Anonymous said...

so proud to of played there

Eleanor! 1989

Anonymous said...

Nice article. I found it whilst searching for the George Robey - very sad to see it gone, I didn't know. I played there twice in the early-mid 1990s, with a folk-punk (ish) band called Ye Fungus. Back to the Planet played the first time as well - a brilliant evening in a great venue.

Unknown said...

@Anonymous Although Bony & DJ Stab could be described as part of the Far Side crew, the guy who ran it went by the moniker of Farmer. I'm still in contact with Bony & Farmer.

#54 said...

We used to play pool in there after Arsenal games in the 90's, always a bit sketchy and on the edge, full of smoke, but safer than the Silver Bullet. Great tunes too.

Anonymous said...

Saw some cracking bands including That Petrol Emotion (O'Neal brothers) and Mark Perry's ATV - early to mid 80s. I came across your blog searching for the Robey. Sad to see it gone