Farewell to Morecambe nightclub is hottest ticket in town

Photo Neil Cross: Gavin Freeman, Rob Denwood, Tommy Walker and Wayne Gallagher, organisers of the last ever event at The Carleton nightclub before it closes to be converted into flats
Photo Neil Cross: Gavin Freeman, Rob Denwood, Tommy Walker and Wayne Gallagher, organisers of the last ever event at The Carleton nightclub before it closes to be converted into flats

An iconic Morecambe venue is going out with a bang.

The Carleton club will reopen for one night only before it closes forever to be converted into flats.

Photo Neil Cross: How the inside of the Carleton looks today.

Photo Neil Cross: How the inside of the Carleton looks today.

Lovers of the West End nightclub are putting on a farewell dance music night harking back to the Carleton’s glory years.

Promoter Rob Denwood says demand has been so high the event on Saturday, January 30 could be a 1300 sell-out.

Tickets have been flying out to people from Scotland, Ireland, Plymouth, even France and Germany.

1990s dance music legends K-Klass and local DJs and MCs who performed at the Carleton in its heyday will appear.

Photo Neil Cross: Getting the club ready for the one-night reopening.

Photo Neil Cross: Getting the club ready for the one-night reopening.

“I used to go to the Carleton and the Empire,” said Rob, who is from Morecambe.

“I loved that club. When the Empire closed the Carleton kept the dance nights going.

“It’s a shame and a sad day. I love this building. I’m privileged to do it.”

The Carleton was housed in the former Alhambra Theatre, built in 1901 and gutted by fire in 1970.

Ian Bond, developer of the former Battery Hotel and new owner of the Alhambra building.

Ian Bond, developer of the former Battery Hotel and new owner of the Alhambra building.

The theatre was then relaunched as the Inn on the Bay and then became the Carleton.

The venue was managed for many years by the O’Brien family and became famous not only for all-night ‘raves’ but also boxing, music festivals, functions and student nights.

Michael O’Brien continued to run the club until 2011 when it was taken over by Stewart Aimson.

The Carleton closed in March 2012 after Carleton Clubs Morecambe Ltd went bust.

Former world champion Steve Davis with youngsters at a snooker day at The Carleton in 2010. This was one of countless high profile events held at the venue over the years.

Former world champion Steve Davis with youngsters at a snooker day at The Carleton in 2010. This was one of countless high profile events held at the venue over the years.

It reopened in October 2013 under new management but shut again shortly afterwards.

New owner, developer Ian Bond, has bought the Alhambra building and plans to convert the ex-nightclub into quality apartments named after famous people who graced its stage.

He is also working on a flats redevelopment of the former Battery pub in Morecambe, due to finish in mid-2017.

“I was driving past the ‘for sale’ sign every day on the way to the Battery and it seemed a good deal,” he said.

“When I walked around with Michael O’Brien he had so many stories. He’d put his heart and soul into the place.

“When you think Morecambe used to have the Carleton, The Empire and Harveys, it’s a real shame what’s happened to the entertainment industry. I don’t think the Carleton could ever return as a long or even mid-term business.”

Ian said existing shops such as Gerry’s Fishing Tackle and William Hill bookmakers will continue to run in the Alhambra as the flats conversion will only affect the Carleton section of the building.

While carrying out the work, Ian wants to keep the character of the Carleton and Battery and restore original fixtures and fittings.

“The Battery has taken me a bit longer than I would have liked, I’m trying to put the building back to how it was. I want to do a similar thing with the Alhambra with really nice apartments. I’d like to name some of them after famous people who have been on the stage in that building.”

The Entertainer, a 1960 film starring Sir Laurence Olivier, was filmed at the Alhambra.

George Best, Jim Bowen and Tyson Fury are among the many other stars to visit the Carleton in its various guises over the years.

Ian was approached by Rob Denwood with the idea for the final farewell and thought it was a great idea.

“I thought, why not? One last night in The Carleton. Demand has been incredible.

“I’m going to be there myself!”

Rob said his team have worked hard to transform the empty nightclub ready for the ‘Last Chance to Dance’.

“When people walk in (on January 30) I want them to think it’s a different club but it will still have the Carleton feel. There will be posters for Shokk and Passion, the big nights of the past, and UV decorations.

“The amount of over 50s who have bought tickets is astonishing. They just want to get in that club one more time.”

The farewell night runs from 9pm to 3.30am. More details at the Facebook page ‘Carleton/Empire The Fond Farewell.’

The bill includes K-Klass featuring Bobby, The Massive, Dream Frequency and Dancin Divas, Rob Tissera, John J Jepson, Reece Knowles, Daz, Matt, MC Jester (Lee Watson), MC BMW, MC Irie, Vinyl Docter, Foxy, Huxley, Wayne Gal, Jay Woodrow, Brownie, Martin T and Speedy.