Account by a member, Jon Robinson: typed from Jon’s manuscript by Janet Gyford. See also photos M2134 and M2135.
The Balladeers – Folk Rock and Cabaret Band
Formed in approx 1962-63.
Original members: Jonathan L Robinson (lead singer), Patrick Elligott (rhythm guitar), Alan Battley (lead guitar), Trevor Rudkin (drums). We were all members of 1st Witham Scout Troop.
The band started practising in the ‘Scout Hut’ at the bottom of Newland Street. Entrance opposite the Crotchet Inn.
The Balladeers were formed in preparation for a reception at Witham Public Hall in honour of a Scout Troop from Essen in Germany.
We had camped with this troop in 1962 at a site near Venho in the Netherlands, and the Germans were always marching into camp playing their guitars.
We rather envied this so when the 1st Witham Troop returned hospitality after the 1964 Essex Jamboree we wanted to prove we could put on a show as good as them.
The Civic Reception was held in 1964. We had a good response from the public.
By this time Alan Battley and Trevor Rudkin had left and they were replaced by David Ainsworth and Trevor Gilbert (both 1st Witham Scouts).
Trevor Gilbert (son of Ted the Bread) became lead guitar and mandolin, and David Ainsworth became bass guitar. Bob Ashcroft (one of our Scout leaders) became our manager.
We then started to practise behind Gilbert’s bakery (in between the dough machines).
From then on we had lots of local bookings, e.g. Constitutional Club, Red Lion, The George Folk Club and British Legion Hall.
At the British Legion Club we used to hold Social and Theme nights. One such night was a ‘St Trinians’ evening. All the band members and party goers dressed as ‘School children’.
All these socials were compered by Bob Ashcroft. Bob was a very good compere and we had full houses every time.
The troup played Gigs in London and Home Counties and Francis Golightly’s week-long revue at Braintree Institute.
Whilst on holiday at Caistor on Sea we entered a talent competition. This we won and for our hard work we won a torch/screwdriver.
In approx 1966-67 we recorded an EP at studios in Luton. We were transported there by Trevor’s uncle in his Dormobile.
One number, ‘Kinky Creature’, was written by ourselves. Word and music by Robinson / Elligott.
I think it as in 1968 we were voted the most talented and up and coming band by the ‘Stage’ newspaper – the next ‘Seekers’.
We started to take on bookings – i.e. Hartlepool Football Club and Sunderland Working Men’s clubs.
At Sunderland on the Sunday lunchtime we were on the same bill as female strippers. We shared just one changing room, much to the dismay of our girl friends.
We also played clubs in the Rhonda Valley, South Wales, e.g. Treorchy, Mountain Ash, Tony pandy, etc.
In fact in one club we were ‘Top of the Bill’ in Tom Jones’ club, before he became famous.
We also played the ‘First Club’ in Ipswich, where we supported Diana Dors – a very kind and lovely lady.
The Balladeers performed at several showcases and were asked to play at the opening of the new Civic Centre in Gravesend. We topped the bill and there is a plaque on the wall at the Centre which mentions all the entertainers on the bill. I think it is still there.
Dave left the group sometime later as he had other commitments, and we engaged Richard Gowers from Chelmsford. He fitted in very well.
In the mid-seventies, the band, because of work commitments, was unfortunately disbanded.
The Balladeers were temporarily re-formed in the 1980s in honour of Trevor who was leaving the area. The gig was held in Marks Tey Village Hall and a great success it was.
David and Jonathan joined different bands, Trevor moved away and Patrick concentrated on his career.
Jon L Robinson, 14/01/05
From: “Bedenham, Dot” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: The Balladeers
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2005 13:01:56 -0000
Just going through my sent mails to delete them and came across your email. I have found a reference to a folk group called the Balladeers – it was an advert in the Essex Chronicle for 8th October 1971. The Balladeers Folk Group were to play at The Beehive Great Waltham.
Hope this is useful
Best wishes, Dot.