Cosmo Club (Harraby, Carlisle)

Huge club that I believe was converted into a furniture warehouse but has now been torn down.

In the late sixties the club was a regular gig for Manchester bands - making their way through the Lake District towns in the days before the M6. Dodging the caravan set in the summer and battling the snow over the Shap in the winter.

CARLISLE’S old Cosmo club in Harraby will host one last event before it is demolished on December 8, 2003.

An auction of old hotel and bar equipment will take place there next Saturday. It will include a full-size snooker table, a carpet bowls mat, lights, bed settees and more than 50 drums of fluid to make nightclub smoke. They have been collected by Carlisle entrepreneur Ron Wood, who used to own the site on Central Avenue, but he is having a clear-out.

The former club is being knocked down to make way for a new development of 39 low-cost houses and flats by Carlisle-based Northern Developments Ltd.

It will be the end of an era for many Cumbrian couples as it was the place to meet future husbands and wives in the Sixties and Seventies. Chart-toppers The Who, Pink Floyd and The Moody Blues were among the famous acts who packed the club in its heyday. Mr Wood said: “It was one of the North’s busiest and best nightclubs in its day and it’s never been replicated.

“You could go to the Cosmo on a Saturday night and listen to a band that had been on Top Of The Pops the previous Thursday. You don’t get that kind of thing now.”

John Taylor & Co in Carlisle is holding the sale. Auctioneer Mr Taylor said: “Someone’s already asked me if I find an engagement ring that they threw back at so-and-so in 1972, could they have it back, please.”

The building started out as the Argyll Cinema in the mid-1950s and became a dance hall in the Sixties. In later years the site became a furniture business, bingo hall and roller-skating rink, though the pub always remained.

It has stood empty for at least 10 years. Ron Wood, who owns Le Gall and the Border Rambler, bought the whole site two years ago. He transferred The Avenue to the nearby Inglewood, which he also owns. He collects hotel and bar equipment from sales for possible use in his own businesses but now wants to have a clearout.

They include a sunbed, exercise equipment, bed settees, easy chairs, cast iron-based tables, a dozen toilets, bar fittings from The Avenue, and even church pews from a former chapel.

The Cosmo’s fittings were ripped out years ago but the layout of the old club is still detectable such as the cloakroom, foyer, bandstand and toilets.

Mr Taylor said he has already had interest from owners of B&Bs, beauty salons and bars, but the general public have also been inquiring. “We’re expecting a lot of people to just turn up to have a wander round and see the old place,” he added.

“I can remember going to the Cosmo. It was the main nightclub in Carlisle. It was also known throughout the rural areas because young farmers had their dances there. It’s a little part of history going. I mentioned it recently to someone in their 20s and they didn’t know about it, which made me feel a lot older.”

The sale is at the Cosmo from 10am on Saturday. Viewing takes place the afternoon before.

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Cosmo Memories:

Two of the guys in the band were too broke to spend the night in digs and had to spend the night in the van. It gets mighty cold in Carlisle and the van loses its heat in a very short time. Poor buggers had to get up and play football to keep warm. It must have been cold - the Hammond froze up in the van overnight and we couldn't get it started at the gig.

The club had a large stage with a seating area behind it. I split my stage pants and wasn't wearing underpants. I had my bum showing for the rest of the spot.

At the time, the club was still very much into live music. On one gig, the support band - also from Manchester - hadn't made it so the manager immediately got in a local band - he felt he would have been lynched if he had used a dj.

Paul Mlynarz - Phoenix City Smash

Just to say that we did the gig advertised in the image gallery for "Mud" on the Sunday night, it was just before we went on tour with them.  They had this huge pa system that the had just bought off The Nice - which looked like two blocks of flats either side of the stage.

They had just gone to number one with Tiger Feet. What a fantastic night, for they were great entertainers, great memories and nice people to be around, thanks again for all your work Paul, its greatly appreciated.

Mick - Pepper Tree

I was the managing director, and did most of the running of the club, including booking all the groups and making them comfortable when they arrived to do their 2x1 or 2x45 spots. We had great times, we got most groups thu' the Derek Mack Agency in Warrington + Stuart Littlewood - where are those guys now?

I moved to Spain for 10 years and spent acres of time in the States. My body is well retired now, but my mind is still alive with the great sounds of the Cosmo era. Hoping that some of the boys will touch base with me.

Les Leighton

Derek Mack was actually Derek McCulloch and the agency in Warrington was SLA Enterprises which he ran with Tony Hayes. Derek now has a bar on Feurto Ventura called "The Rogues Gallery" (there is a website for the bar and a contact email for Derek) Tony is still booking acts from his home in Rochdale.

Alan Mills (Pepper Tree) - 18/3/09

I remember the first time we played at the Cosmo ... there was this big handsome guy getting out of a Lotus Europa. I thought this guy is going to be hard work but Les was exactly the opposite. He was the most amiable character you could wish to meet. He would bend over backwards to help you out - so long as you didn't take the Mick.

And his Club was quite simply the best venue in the North West. We played on the same stage with some great names - Jnr Walker and the All Stars, Sweet Marriage and even Mud before we started a Nationwide tour with them.

What made it more unique was that part of the audience was behind you and me playing drums, had some quite interesting conversations with the local and sometimes well travelled girls. And also a bar underneath the stage.

I really hope Les is keeping well and would just like to thank him for some really great times. Les, go to Pepper Tree on Manchester Beat also catch us on Youtube - Pepper Tree AKA Ferret". Best Wishes

Baz Duckworth - Drums, Pepper Tree - 19/3/09

I remember going to the Cosmo Club in 1967 when learning to fly at Carlisle Airport. I was the first club I had ever been to - I was 18 at the time and still at school. On Sunday 2nd April '67 the Moody Blues were on the bill - a great night.

Robert Fisher - 28/11/11

Worked behind the bar, behind the stage in 74/75. Saw Smokie, The Drifters & The Bay City Rollers. But the Young Farmers 'Do s' were by far the best!

Maurice Begg - 23/3/12

This nightclub will stay in my memories for the rest of my life. I grew up on the estate and I remember selling my dads ties to people who could not get in, those days you had to wear a tie and the door staff would direct anyone who never had a tie to me. I used to listen outside thinking one day I will be in there.

One of my favourite nights was when the american funk band Crown Heights Affair played it was full to the rafters with about 1000 people outside wanting to get in. Good nights were had at the young farmers dances and the soul all nighters were introduced late on towards the end. I was in on the infamous night when the police raided the club for underage drinkers and shorly after the club was shut. It was unoccupied for quite awhile laying there like a scraped war ship. Simply the best nightclub ever.

Sadly Missed.

Stuart Styth - 27/5/12

This was a fantastic place in the sixties, the number of top acts who performed there is beyond belief, e.g. The Moody Blues, Gerry and The Pacemakers, The Troggs, The Pretty Things, The Yardbirds and many, many more. To be able to either just stand and watch or dance to the top liners of the day, will live in the memory of all who visited the venue in their younger years. Les Leighton ran the venue superbly. Sadly, The Cosmo will never be replicated.

Alan Gardiner - 1/6/12

The Cosmo opened in 1962. Before that before it was a dance hall, a roller skating arena and before that, the Argyll cinema. 

Baz Kelton - 1/6/13

I was around in those days - a teenager living in Harraby, and I was one of the schoolboys who booked Sabbath to play at the Cosmo. Other big names that I saw there were The Groundhogs, Ten Years After and East of Eden. Aynsley Dunbar's Retaliation and Victor Brox Blues Band also did the Cosmo, to my knowledge. These events were put on by either the local art college, or by us schoolboys. I remember Les Leighton fondly, a larger than life character. I don't know how he felt about being invaded by long hairs. The Cosmo was a very snart club, though. I went there quite a lot. I lived in Meadow View, pretty close by, at the time when there was open countryside behind it. Great times.

Phil Oswald - 12/6/13

In the seventies I was a roadie for a couple of great Carlisle bands at the time Trend, Gatsby, and Tambourine, and whenever we supported the big bands we had to set the gear up down the side of the dance floor as we were not allowed to share the stage with the big acts, that meant that we were close and cosy with the dancers.

I'll always remember a roadie coming over to us who was with the Bay City Rollers after hearing our sound check he said you lot sound far better than these load of w!^*+%s, and we were, we tore the place up with encore's galore.

The Bay City Rollers were at the end of their careers and had been fighting in the dressing room and it showed on stage, still it was a memorable gig and a treasured memory.

I eventually met my future wife of 33yrs thanks to the Cosmo.

Monty the Roadie - Martin Brown - 13/10/13

I recall the Cosmo fondly. I ended up helping out the DJ there for a while - 18 months, I think. He was a top lad, called Feds, who just loved his soul and particularly the Four Tops. We used to get a couple of quid a night and a little more if a band didn't show. We had record decks high up on the right as you walked in, looking out over the main dance floor and the stage. We took our own records, bought our own beer (jumped the queue at the back entrance of the top bar) and had a ball. We had a large spotlight that shone on the stage but was also used to pinpoint any rowdiness for the door staff. A great guy called Ronnie Leighton ran the front of house. Good memories...

John Nicholson - 14/11/13
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