Were you a jazzer or a folkie at this Portsmouth club?

The boarded up Hornpipe Arts Centre in the Oddfellows Hall building
The boarded up Hornpipe Arts Centre in the Oddfellows Hall building
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Hands up who recognises the dilapidated entrance on the right? The feet of the columns at the top might give you a clue.

It’s the Oddfellows Hall on the west side of Kingston Road, Portsmouth, and the picture has turned up on the Portsmouth Nostalgia: Pictures from the Past Facebook page from Shane Michael Barker.

The Oddfellows Hall, Kingston Road, Portsmouth

The Oddfellows Hall, Kingston Road, Portsmouth

Paul Whiteaway remembers it well and recalls seeing bands Inspiral Carpets and Mild Mannered Janitors there as well as comedians Jeremy hardy, Jo Brand and Julian Clary.

It was a post which inspired Remember When regular and Portsmouth music historian Mick Cooper to ask if anyone could come up with exact dates for all of those. No joy so far, but if any of you still have those ticket stubs, please let me know.

Meanwhile, Mick’s history of the hall at michaelcooper.org.uk makes fascinating reading.

The building was paid for by the Portsmouth District of the Independent Order of Oddfellows and opened on July 17, 1926.

How the Evening News reported the 1926 opening of the Oddfellows Hall

How the Evening News reported the 1926 opening of the Oddfellows Hall

Mick recalls the cavernous space upstairs in which gigs were held with Reg Calvert promoting rock ’n’ roll dances there on Saturday nights at the end of the 1950s.

Then one of the city’s most vibrant jazz clubs, The Rendezvous relocated to the hall, run by Ernie Sears.

Mick says: ‘Towards the end of 1963, audiences were dwindling. In October, the Jazzmen’s column in The News suggested jazz in Portsmouth had been “eclipsed by folk” but in truth the real attraction was the new sound of British Beat and rhythm and blues.

‘From February 1964, Ernie Sears re-opened the Rendezvous at the Oddfellows and featured new-style R&B acts like The Animals, Long John Baldry, the Graham Bond Organisation and local favourites Manfred Mann.’

He says the Rendezvous was eventually eclipsed by the Birdcage when it moved to Eastney after the summer of 1965. At this point the Rendezvous closed for the last time.

There were a few folk concerts there in the mid-1960s usually involving local favourites Jon Isherwood, Pat Nelson and the Loft Folk Four. Topping the bill were visiting Americans like Bob Dylan’s pal Carolyn Hester, the New Lost City Ramblers and Paul Simon or British artists Sandy Denny and the Strawberry Hill Boys (later the Strawbs).

Mick adds: ‘In the 1980s the venue had a few years of success as the Hornpipe Arts Centre with cinema, theatre and live gigs. After that closed about 1990 there was a brief spell as the Regal Palace night club. Then it was boarded up.’