Nightclub boss has fond memories of the Carleton

DJ Pep from Morecambe worked with Michael O'Brien at the Carleton for years.
DJ Pep from Morecambe worked with Michael O'Brien at the Carleton for years.
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This weekend the Carleton will have its final farewell. MICHAEL O’BRIEN – whose family ran the Morecambe club for more than 30 years – shares some memories and stories of its halcyon days.

What I remember most about the Carleton was when people were in having their nights out, there were always things going on behind the scenes that the punters didn’t see. We were always laughing and joking.

Photo Neil Cross: The Carleton nightclub before it closes to be converted into flats

Photo Neil Cross: The Carleton nightclub before it closes to be converted into flats

We had a laugh with DJ Pep. When he first passed his driving test he left his keys on the DJ stand. We took them, moved his car, then put the keys back and he came running in thinking his car had been stolen. We’d change his music when was DJing and put inappropriate records on like The Birdie Song. We used to do things like that with Pep because he was funny, such a joker himself.

We’d do it with other acts too. We switched Jim Bowen’s quiz questions once when he brought his Bullseye show. We’d aso play tricks on the magician Martin Scott Price. We’d do mischievous things like that. It was our way of getting through the night.

There are lots of very good memories. It was a fine place to work. We had a lot of families work for our family, generations of staff over years and years. And there were so many great acts and DJs.

There were more serious times too, highs and lows.

George Best wasn't on top form when he visited the Carleton.

George Best wasn't on top form when he visited the Carleton.

When George Best came, he didn’t give much of a show. Rodney Marsh was with him, he’d answer a question, and then George would be asked how he felt about it, and he’d stand up and say: “the same as him” then sit back down. It was disappointing. He just wanted to know where the nearest nightclub was that was open late, so we sent him to Crystal Ts.

Bernard Manning wanted his money before he went on stage, did a quick show and was out the door. We never used him again.

But there were some fabulous people. Jeff Banks from The Clothes Show and Trevor Brooking stand out. Emlyn Hughes was really nice to deal with.

The Carleton had so many different kinds of music, from Steve Middlesbrough to Northern Soul, rave and punk. It really was a fantastic era to work through.

Now all the clubs have gone. It’s concerts and festivals that people save up for. Everybody used to go to the club once a week for a treat. John Travolta and the Bee Gees got people going out again and having fun.

But now, because of pubs opening later, alcohol sales in supermarkets being so competitive, it has changed drinking habits.

I’ve lived through an era that was strong for nightclubs. Now it’s all changed.