Share your memories of the Golden Garter
Below are some of the memories of all the many people who have been to the Golden Garter.
JEFF COTTAM'S MEMORIES (FROM CANADA):
I have lived in Canada since 1972 and saw your web site. I worked fulltime at the Golden Garter when it first opened. I was ‘Maitre D’ and it was my job to take reservations and put their names on the floor plan so that the greeters could seat them as they came in. It was all reserved seating. That was a money-maker I tell ya! Guys would give you a fiver or a tenner and ask you to get them a table down at the front. I always had a bunch of house tables for the Directors from Belle Vue available but if they did not come to the show that night they were mine. The best tables would always go to the highest tip. I made sure I gave them a little story to tell their girlfriends or wife (or to her bloke's wife as the case may be).
I would say things like the Moody Blues manager is stuck in the fog in Birmingham and just called to cancel - you can have his table if you want it (sometimes another fiver came out and I would give them the full treatment and would make a big show of taking them to their table personally). You might think that is wrong but it is just part of the 'business' you know. I met the Bee Gees when they came to see Lulu - one of them took a real liking to her and they got married shortly afterwards. They would stand at the back with me and have a drink every night.
Met Sandie Shaw and Dusty Springfield many times. My girlfriend at the time babysat for Eartha Kitt at the Excelsior Hotel (at the airport) as she told me she needed a babysitter while she was on stage. I remember she said that working for Fortes (who owned the Garter and Belle Vue back then) was like "camping out". I asked her what she meant and she said that she was used to working Vegas where you come out of your room and just take the elevator down to the show but here, she said, she has to get a cab from the hotel. I remember going back to the hotel with her to pick up my girlfriend after the show one night and us sitting on the bed having a laugh and a drink together. Not too many guys can say they were on a bed with Eartha Kitt, plus their girlfriend as well!
I remember a night when a bunch of thugs who were bouncers at hotels around Manchester wanted a piece of the action at the Garter just after we opened. They announced they were coming to take over the door for the club. All the guys (the bouncers) were scared stiff but still ready to take them on if need be. They came and it all fizzled out though but there was tension that night. Lots of memories I could talk to you about but not enough space here. I could write you a book about what happened back stage.
Many years ago we went to the Golden Garter very often. We saw Cannon & Ball when they were just starting out. We went with friends one time to see Wilma Reading. She sang one of her songs sat on our friend's knee. I do not think he ever recovered from that. If only cameras had been as freely available in those days. One time we went to see Ronnie Corbett. He was good but he made himself a bit unpopular because he would not let the waiters take drinks round or food when he was on stage. I saw the Four Tops a couple of times, they were awesome. There was one American singer who invited a group of us (male & female) back to his hotel room after the show. Some of our party went with him but my husband did not want to go so we went home. I cannot remember who it was but I will let you know if I remember. One year we decided to hold our Christmas lunch (we worked just down the road from there) there. The food was appalling with roast potatoes that were so hard they flew off the plates when we tried to cut them. We never went back for Christmas lunch.
I worked as a waitress at the Golden Garter when it first started. I'd only been working there for a couple of nights and no-one had told me that you weren't supposed to be serving while the main act was on. I was carrying a tray full of cutlery and plates to customers at one of the tables at the front of the stage when I tripped and dropped the tray and all its contents onto the floor with a loud crash and clatter - right in front of the Main Act, who happened to be Bruce Forsyth! He was NOT amused and looked daggers at me - that was the last time that I worked there!
SUE J's MEMORIES:
I was about 14 when I used to catch the bus from Baguley to meet friends at the 'Bowling Alley'. We didn't go to bowl...we went to see our favourite lads who were older than us and had money to go into the tiny 'disco' that was in a corner at the start of the lanes. The record I remember for the times is 'Friday on my Mind' by the Easybeats (I think we used to go on Fridays, too!). There was a drinks bar where we bought Coca-cola, probably for the first time, my tipple before then had always been Vimto! I remember missing the last bus home once, and had to catch the all-nighter (when that meant a late bus, not an all night rave) at 00.10 and arrived home breathless and expecting to be in trouble......my mum surprised me by just asking had I had a good time?!
Ahhh, 'the Garter'.......my mum, Sue Spratt, worked there from when it opened to at least 1976.....she started as the ladies rest-room attendant ....she washed glasses when they were short-staffed...and later worked regularly in the tobacco kiosk which sold cigs and cigars and mementos from the shows and the Garter itself. Her name was Sue. She liked to talk about the Celebs she knew! She did get a chance to chat to many of them, as after their performances they would come into the club and have a drink, usually sitting near the back. Barry Gibb & Lulu were amongst her favourites.
Around 1969 she got me a job there in the cloakroom, I was actually too young to work on licensed premises but the cloakroom was 'outside' the club, in the foyer, so that's how we worked around it! If I remember rightly, the cloakroom was free of charge but as the customers collected their coats they used to leave us 'tips'. We had to pin tickets to the coats and you were always glad when the last one was on & the last one was off! The last few coats on the rails at 1 o'clock in the morning were always the ones you hated the most! And if it was Ken Dodd you could be there 'til 1.45 'cause he was hard to get off stage! ‘cause the cloakroom was in the foyer, it was always cool. When you walked into the club later, the heat hit you. We had to use the ladies 'rest-room', no separate staff toilets and that was a good excuse to watch the show.
Obviously, we watched the show for free! Shep's Banjo Boys and the dancers always gave a great start to the show. Working there every week for 3 years, I saw loads of great performers and people who knew that Show Business is about hard work and not just 'celebrity' but my all-time favourite memory is of Neil Sedaka, who was just fabulous, great performer and came over as a really lovely man. Value for money, Ken Dodd and for Variety, Bruce Forsythe (who'd of thought he'd only have just been 'honoured' 30 years later - I thought he was old then!).
We paid to go and see some, Jack Jones with my sister and Jimmy Ruffin with my mates.
I remember only a few staff names, Pat F- cloakroom boss, Brian (?) and Dave (G?) the doormen.
When we were going through my mum's stuff after she died, there were many signed photos of the 'Stars' but I'm afraid we didn't keep them although I do have a great picture of her in the kiosk holding one of the teddy bears they used to sell. (see pic)
Just found your website - very interesting. I’m sending you a copy of a menu from November 1968 when I went to see Eartha Kitt and an advert for the Golden Garter from 1979 (see pics). I had to smile at the comments by Maria who dropped her tray! When I saw Eartha Kitt a waiter busied himself near the stage oblivious to the fact that she was on stage posing (as only she could) waiting for him to finish doing whatever, when he realised he was extremely embarrassed but there was no unpleasantness from Ms Kitt just playful amusement. I left Urmston Grammar in 1964 and eventually came south in 1970, now living in Bognor Regis but still a Mancunian!!! I found the Manchester Beat site whilst browsing as well (taking a trip down memory lane - an age thing no doubt!!!) and noticed there was no reference to the Golden Garter so have sent the menu to them as well. I used to go to the Twisted Wheel, Mr Smiths, the Oasis, Bodega, etc etc - ah! The good old days! Good luck with the site- amazing how the internet ‘connects’ people!
I remember that morning when the Golden Garter burnt down! I lived behind the Griffin in Heald-Green!! My sister and kids where staying on a three week visit! My nephew woke me at five am, as I gave him his bottle, I looked out at the side kitchen window and can now to this day recall what I saw the big black clouds, which later turned out to be the Golden Garter on fire!
I remember going in 1977, I was still a school kid at the time but got in no problem. We received free tickets to see Hot Gossip, of course we had to pay for the 'chicken in a basket'.
DAVE WILLIAM'S MEMORIES:
My missus, June Appleyard, used to work at the garter late sixties, early seventies. She said that they had an official photographer who used to take snaps of the staff when times were slack at the club. Does anyone have any of them at all? She reckons there must have been loads taken so someone must have some somewhere! Would be nice for her to see some of her old mates faces again and do a bit of reminiscing! Dave Williams (see pics)
ANDY WALKER'S MEMORIES:
Pete Smith was the Senior Bar Manager, Brenda, bar manager, Joan Pritchard, Barbara Haigh, barmaid on cellar bar. Opened by Bruce Forsyth. Mum (Barbara Walker) was also stewardess of Darrel's before the Garter. There was also Phil & Tom at Darrels, they also worked at Curry Queen in Gatley, got mum a job there, everyone thought she was an Indian waitress. Lulu was living with Morris Gibb before appearing at the Garter. John Bagnall was Head Waiter at the Garter and went on to manage the Plaza on Oxford Rd. John's brother was the DJ there, John's wife was a devoted Dionne Warwick fan, she had a daughter and called her Dionne.
TONY KENNEDY'S MEMORIES:
I think the official photographers in the GARTER, were part of the Shepherd family business, better known as The Banjo Boys in that establishment. Howerd is still about and still playing Banjo, and who knows may still have access to those photos. Look him up on the Sheps website and ask the question.
PHIL TRAVIS'S MEMORIES:
Just had a look at the Golden Garter memories website, a couple of names I went to see in the early-mid seventies - Dana & Jimmy Helms - his most famous hit was “Gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse” he also did the clip for a commercial “open a packet of Kelloggs Cornflakes, bring out the susnshine” which he performed that night, I also remember seeing The Grumbleweeds there.
PAUL MOORE'S MEMORIES:
I remember the story about Tommy Cooper getting a taxi to and from Manchester Airport to the Garter and handing the driver an envelope, Tommy said" have a drink on me". When the driver opened the envelope eagerly in front of other taxi drivers at the rank, it contained a tea-bag !!