Birmingham Leisure

Edward’s No.8 Night Club – The Rock Complex Remembered

As was noted elsewhere in this section, my youthful pubbing and clubbing experiences were based around the ‘Rock’ scene of the mid-1980s, such as it was in those days. This consisted of shuffling from the Costermonger at the back of the Oasis Market to Mr Bill’s on Needless Alley on a Sunday and Wednesday night and 49’ers under the ‘bridge’ linking the Palisades shopping centre with the ‘old’ Bull Ring Shopping Centre on a weekend with the ‘club’ element being fulfilled in the less than salubrious surroundings of the top floor of the Grapes on the corner of Hill Street and Lower Severn Street. Whist much fun was to be had in the aforementioned venues, a truly dedicated rock nightclub was anathema to Birmingham at that time.

Fortunately, Birmingham DJ Dave Juste (Longmate in real money) – who was if I recall, DJ’ing at the Three Horse Shoes in Stirchley and was a singer in a ‘metal’ covers band that I saw play once at the Railway on Curzon Street – and was a regular at the Costermonger – noted the growing rock scene in the City and spotted the opportunity for a dedicated rock club. After hawking the idea around the City’s existing clubs to no avail, Dave pitched the idea to Edward Fewtrell – deserving of a website in his own right and of whom more will be written elsewhere – who owned a couple of clubs and bars on john Bright Street in the City Centre: it was agreed that a trial run would be given at Edward’s Number 8 night club in April 1987.

I still remember the buzz on the opening night in 49’ers as everyone drank, clock-watching for when they needed to leave to take the short walk up to Edward’s to experience the first night of the long-awaited rock club. Myself and a handful of friends queued early for the doors to open with about 20 other people – being mocked by the ‘trendy’ crowd who were attending Edward’s Number 7 – a bar beneath Number 8 – and Boogies Brasserie – another of the Fewtrell bars on John Bright Street. We felt a bit intimidated at that time and were rather hoping they’d hurry up and open the doors before the ‘banter’ descend into something more serious: the tribalism of youth can be a funny thing!

I think I was ticket number 17 when the doors opened and we entered the club through an internal metal fire escape up to the top floor where we found Dave Juste – and a few other rock scene notables (Steve Webb, Jon Nevin etc) excitedly sorting through records to play and getting everything setup. As an aside, as the Birmingham rock scene at that time was a farily modest size – or at least as we thought – consisting of the regulars at three or four City Centre pubs it was quite a close community where most people knew everyone else and it was very exciting to have ‘our’ club – and all credit to Dave Juste (with whom I had a rather odd relationship over the years – more of which later) and Eddie Fewtrell for getting things really moving just in time for the boom in what was then ‘heavy metal’ in the mid to late-1980s.

Within an hour or so of opening, the club was absolutely jam-packed with hundreds of people crammed in – you could hardly move – and it was all a done deal: within weeks both floors of Edward’s Number 8 were given over to rock, as was the top floor of Edward’s Number 7 bar and every weekend 1500+ people would cram in. Each floor had a different theme: the ‘bottom floor’ catered for 60’s and 70’s, the ‘middle floor’ catered for what was then contemporary rock and the ‘top floor’ the emerging thrash scene. In addition, each floor had a ‘back bar’ – a small bar with seating and quieter music – which had names: Harry’s Bar was one but I forget the other names – I think there was the ‘Keynote Bar’ at the back on the top floor which had a piano in it in the early days . . . and possibly Hazel’s Bar was the other.

In time, Richard Walker – the manager prior to Edward’s becoming a rock club and whose disdain for the rock crowd oozed from every pour – stepped aside and Dave Juste was appointed manager of the by-then phenomenally successful club which began to enjoy the unprecedented outside of London scenario of not only being crammed to the rafters every weekend but also attracting coachloads of rock fans from all over the country who would come to visit – such was the demand for rock venues at that time.

As I was there every minute I had to spare I became friendly with the staff – especially the newly appointed door staff (the previous doormen – Craig and Merryck having departed shortly after the opening night) and as a big chap – albeit only 17 – when one night one of the doormen failed to show, I spent the night on the door and received a pay packet for it at the end of the night and that was that, I was a doorman at Edward’s!

For two years I worked on the door at Edward’s and had the time of my life – I was there every night it was open – which was 7 a week – and getting paid for it.  My social life was booming, we started to attract some top band to play there (Faith No More, Ian Gillan, Dr Feelgood and many, many more) and I got to mingle with the Fewtrells who treated me amazingly considering I was basically a kid at the time but I felt a million dollars.  There I was mixing with Birmingham ‘legends’, sitting after hours in Goldwyn’s – another Fewtrell club just around the corner from Edward’s Number 8 – with Eddie Fewtrell and his brother Don and various close members of their team (Gigi, Gianni Paladini, Norman ‘Nobby’ Nobbs, Ricky etc) being regaled with incredible stories of their past escapades, meeting top bands and celebrities, never having to pay for a drink or to get into any club:  at 17-18 that’s about as good a life gets!

There was an interesting mix of clientele at the club with youthful newcomers to the scene mixing with more mature rock music fans in their 30s and 40s, bike clubs (the Cycle Tramps being one of the more notorious), Goths, Glammies (the more ‘hair-metal’ fans of the 80s American rock scene through such groups as Motley Crue, Cinderella, LA Guns etc), musicians and music industry people along with coaches of rock fans from other towns and cities throughout the UK.

However, the danger of combining work and social life came home finally to me in 1989 when Eddie Fewtrell sold his clubs to Ansells Leisure – an odd offshoot of Ansells brewery who instantly sapped the fun out of the clubs they purchased:  Edward’s Number 8, Edward’s Number 7, Boogies, Boogies Brasserie, Paramount and Goldwyn’s . . . and the old Skin Hospital adjoining Edward’s to which we had the keys and spent many a happy hour mooching around it’s time-capsule interior, but that’s another story.

As soon as Ansells came in the Fewtrell mantra – as I read it – of “as long as the money’s coming in and your not taking the Michael, enjoy yourselves” evaporated.  New computerised tills linked to new beer pumps were installed so they knew exactly what beer had been pumped and what money had been taken for it, the tills for the entrance were computerised and tallied against headcounts etc etc.  The days of Eddie coming in at 11pm, taking a wad out of a door till and proclaiming “I’m off to the Casino” had well and truly gone!  We were now part of Ansells, the managerial suits moved in and the informality of the Fewtrell era was replaced with corporate formality.  In actual fact, I don’t recall the Ansells’ management showing any interest in the club itself and only visiting it during its opening hours on a couple of occasions for a couple of minutes which was in stark contrast to Eddie Fewtrell who did ‘the rounds’ of his clubs at least a couple of times a night and always stopped for a joke and a chat.  Unfortunately for me, along with the new regime came Ansells Security who – some weeks after taking over – had observed me receiving a pint from a barmaid and no money being taken leading to my dismissal and barring form ‘ALL’ Ansells’ premises . . . the barmaid who had refused to take my money, however, was not disciplined!

Fortunately, the agency that were then managing the door at Edward’s took me into their employ – under Ansells I’d been taken on as permanent staff with a trumped-up title – and I worked at a few other places but, three months later, was back at Edward’s as they were a man down and I was off work that night.  I then had 5-6 months on the door there again before the doormen were employed directly – including me (short memories Ansells) and following a few weeks of direct employment, was sacked and banned once more, this time by Dave Juste, for the final time.

The club itself carried on for a few years and around 1992 Eddie Fewtrell bought XL’s Nightclub at Five Ways (an Ansells’ 3-year ‘Golden Handcuffs’ deal had previously prevented him from further club running until then) and Dave Juste moved to that venue and my ban thus lifted.  However, by this time Edward’s was on the decline and I visited a handful of times but it didn’t compare with its late-80s heyday.  The club rumbled on until 12 Nov 2006 when a fire completely gutted the building – when it was open for business – and that was that.

I could write a thousand pages about that club and my time in its employ but hopefully the above gives a flavour of a once great – and unique – night club venue in the heart of Birmingham.


8 comments for “Edward’s No.8 Night Club – The Rock Complex Remembered”

  1. very much as remembered, good days, good people, thoughts that will be carried for a life time.

    Posted by John Nevin | March 22, 2009, 8:15 am
  2. What memories that brought back. I too was there the first night. Still have my membership card number 321. Some great nights in there which will stay with me forever!

    Posted by Gez Mulvey | April 10, 2009, 7:41 pm
  3. I really enjoyed reading your memories its a shame none of us took photos. Myself and my best mate have fond memories of costers and mr bills too.. the atmosphere at edwards for a short time was great..i remeber being carried down the stairs leg and a wing fashion by a load of helpful skinheads, dancin with cycle tramps and punks it was great then goin to navigation fish bar with that weird bloke then catch night bus or kip on gravestone in st phillips?! happy days i really miss them

    Posted by Lindsey Turner | May 31, 2009, 10:39 pm
  4. Glad you found them of interest Lindsey, I really miss them too – definitely halcyon days in the late 80s. As it transpires, I did come across some photos of me during that period a week or so ago: can’t believe I used to look like that!! I remember a Lindsey from when I was on the door there, I wonder . . . .

    Posted by Andy Doherty | June 2, 2009, 7:40 pm
  5. The first time i went to edwards was on sat 28th may 1988 on a date with my first love at the age of 16 so i tryed not to make eyecontact with door staff however he was noticiable as he was 6ft 4 long dark hair skinny black jeans!however if medium/long red hair, a black velvet jacket or belstaff,hippy tops with jeans with flower embroidery down one of the legs rings a bell??

    Posted by Lindsey Turner | June 3, 2009, 5:24 am
  6. I played there twice in 1988 when I was the guitarist in power pop trio ‘Glass On Ice’ (Long forgotten now unfortunately). We were a 3 piece with a girl drummer and the gigs there were great, it was a very big deal for us to play there as we’d only been around for a couple of months. I am putting a myspacepage for ‘Glass on Ice’ up shortly.
    Good days 🙂

    Posted by Steve Kavanagh | September 11, 2009, 2:48 am
  7. ah the memories…
    used to work front bar at Eddies; dark hair, shades, hat, couldn’t see a thing>

    Half pint of JD topped up with coke and ice each night, ratted by mid-evening, waiting for Paul to put on a fave tune so I could leap over the bar and have a dance… and hearing Paul shouting “Kev – you’re sacked” each time..

    Until eventually I was: it was one of the first nights after the Ansell’s take over> Dave Juste had the plan of having me run a cocktail bar out the back “Krazy Kev’s Cocktail Bar” with such great cocktails as the Motorhead (half pint of cider and three shots of JD anyone).But I kind got a bit carried away, by midnight the bar had taken only a tenner as there’d been a few freebies too many, I was howling and sick out the back and the night culminated after some spliffs, JD, poppers and everything else with me be snogging the barmaid who’d only started that night, and explaining to the man from Ansells why the takings were so low!

    Dave and Paul kindly suggested I went home for the night…and that was the end of my fab time at Edwards.

    Fabulous place. Really life changing!!!!

    Posted by kevin | October 23, 2009, 8:56 pm
  8. Hi Kev, yes I remember the night you overdid it! Cracking club in its day and we have in common the very exclusive ‘sacked from Edwards’ membership.

    Posted by Andy Doherty | November 9, 2009, 4:49 pm

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