The first official London Shoes trek out for this year, was conducted in full compliance of the current Covid restrictions – as the subject matter is a ‘local’ topic which I was able to walk too, as part of my daily exercise routine – and what a nostalgic & beautifully sunny day it was.
I doubt whether the topic in question will mean anything to anyone reading this – but, this place meant a lot to me at a particular period of my life.
I have such happy memories of the times I spent at this place, and so I felt compelled to capture my recollections and memories – and publish them onto the London Shoes website, while I’m still about – so that my ‘story’ about this place, will remain forever.
This blog fits nicely into the existing ‘Shoes’ category, and thus forms Part 6 – of “London’s Lost Music Venues” and is all about my association and memories of a now abandoned pub…..the “Hinds Head” – in Chadwell Heath.
This old pub, or – to be more specific, its old function hall – holds memories of a very happy carefree time of my youth – and this is my ‘story’ about the place.
The old “Hinds Head” pub is situated on the borders of the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham and the London Borough of Redbridge – and on the corner of Burnside Road & Vallance Avenue, just a few yards down from Chadwell Heath overground rail station.
The building had originally been a Social Club for the local community, but the Whitbread Brewery bought it in the 1950’s and converted it into a pub.
At the back of the actual pub part of the building, there was a large function type ‘hall’ that at one time had been a warehouse used for storing animal hides/furs etc. (hence the pub name Hinds Head I suppose).
Anyway – throughout the late 1960’s and into the 1970’s, the Hinds Head hall became a local ‘live’ music venue.
Its fair to say that, as a music venue – the Hinds Head wasn’t in the same league at the nearby Dagenham Roundhouse or the Wykeham Hall in nearby Romford – where all the big bands of the day, such as your Led Zeppelin – Deep Purple – Status Quo – Pink Floyd – Tyrannosaurus Rex – Procul Harem – Atomic Rooster – Rory Gallagher – Uriah Heep, plus many many more, all played in the early 1970’s just prior to the introduction of bigger venues when rock music morphed in to a much bigger corporate business.
However, although the Hinds Head did now and again, attract one or two of the bigger ‘A-League’ type acts such as Chicken Shack and the likes of Dr. Feelgood – the entertainment in the hall was mainly provided by ‘local’ semi-pro bands, the type that would more than likely be a support band to the bigger acts. It also had a sort of ‘resident’ band by the name of ‘Dragonmilk’, a prog-rock band who were a class act, very much in demand at local music venues – and a band who had a large local following.
So – my ‘story’ involving the Hinds Head, began 50 years ago around late 1971/1972 when I would have been about 14/15 years old.
Now I don’t recall exactly how it came about, but I remember a gang of us at school agreeing to pay a visit to this Hinds Head ‘club’ as it had been said that we could get served a beer there without too many questions asked.
I can distinctly remember a crowd of us from the nearby Seven Kings & Goodmayes & Chadwell Heath areas, all meeting up outside Chadwell Heath station and making our way down the hill towards this Hinds Head pub.
We decided, as you do at that age – that it might be best to split up into pairs, and enter the Club separately at different intervals, so as not to draw attention to ourselves.
When we reached the actual pub part of the Hinds Head, there was a clearing between some bushes and a gate to a short pathway that led to an iron staircase that descended down to the club entrance doors.
Again – it’s funny how somethings/occurrences in life stick in your mind, because to this day, some 50 years later, I can still recall the music that was banging out from inside the club as I descended down those iron steps – it was the track ‘Burlesque’ by the band ‘Family’ – and when I think about it I can clearly hear the bands vocalist Roger Chapman singing ‘Oh but you in that dress – destination Burlesque – I got all my cards in one shoe’!!
So – having reached the entrance door to the Hinds Head club venue, well below street level – we entered in 2 by 2 like animals boarding Noah’s Ark.
But – we needn’t have worried about looking/acting conspicuous, because the minute we got inside the venue we were hit with a wall of darkness – it was pitch black, and you couldn’t see much in front of you, only the beer lights up at the bar, over the other side of the hall – and the smell of stale beer and the waft of ‘weed/blow’.
Having got inside successfully, without any aggravation, me & my mates felt our way around the club’s darkened perimeter in search of some empty tables, and then nominated a couple of the taller lads in our group to up to the bar to get the ‘light & bitters’ & the ‘larger & limes’ in.
There was a small stage at the other end of the hall, and to one side of it there was a sort of mobile record deck consul. I can’t remember the name of the resident DJ but I do recall quite clearly that he wore a big rounded collared shirt with images of Mickey Mouse printed on it – and he had long hair and wore sunglasses – and looked very much like Joey Ramone of the late 70’s punk band The Ramones.
However – the music he played that night, and all future times that I frequented the Hinds Head, really resonated with me, because the clubs and pubs at that particular times, very much catered to the masses in terms of popular music – but the Hinds Head turntable was constantly knocking out rock & prog rock tracks that you would only hear on specialist late night radio programmes, or The Old Grey Whistle Test on late night tv.
The other thing that I found unique to the Hinds Head, was that all different types of people frequented the place. The place was full of Heads (hippie types), Teds (Teddy Boys), a few Skins (Skinheads), Bikers (Greasers) – and the many times that I was there, I cannot recall there being any serious trouble – everybody seemed to get along (or maybe it was just too dark inside to be able to clearly see who else was in there).
The Hinds Head soon became ‘our’ regular go-to place – and on a Friday and especially Saturday nights, there would be a ‘live’ band up on stage rockin the place – or the resident band ‘Dragonmilk’ who always brought a loyal following with them.
One night in particular totally epitomises what the Hinds Head venue meant to me – leaving me with such wonderful memories.
Leading up to my mid-teens and final years at senior school, I played rhythm guitar and sang backing vocals, in a rock band called ‘Magnum Opus’.
The band was a 5 piece and we used to knock out the more popular material of bands such as Led Zeppelin – Deep Purple – Black Sabbath etc – plus some of our own composed material.
We were certainly not the biggest rock music entertainment draw locally, but we did play local youth clubs, church halls, the Ilford Labour Hall a couple of times, plus some private parties.
Anyway – now being regulars down at the old Hinds Head, we got to hear that a forthcoming ‘Battle of the Bands’ event was scheduled to be held at the venue – and so me, and my fellow band members of Magnum Opus put our name forward to enter – we certainly had nothing to lose.
We were required to play 4 numbers – and we chose ‘Paranoid’ (Black Sabbath) – ‘Space Trucking’ (Deep Purple) – ‘The Sun Lit Silvery Sea Bed’ (one of our own compositions) & to finish ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ (Led Zeppelin).
Come the evening of the competition event, you really couldn’t have written better comedy.
All the 5 other bands in the competition that night, turned up in Transit vans – and had roadies who unloaded and set-up their 100w Marshal Amps & Olympic drum kits on the stage.
But our little Mangum Opus band, arrived in a fleet of cars such as a Hillman Imp – an old Ford Anglia – a Hillman Hunter – & a Mini Clubman Estate – all driven by our parents, with all our equipment including the drummer’s full kit – 2 guitars – a bass guitar – our 50w Marshal Combo amp – a 25w Orange Combo amp for the bass – 3 microphone stands, (made by my dad from electrical conduit tubes) – plus a couple of dodgy old microphones we have nicked from some other gig – all tied precariously on specially purchased roof racks!!!
I remember so well to this very day – the howls of derision we faced as we (and our parents) unloaded all our gear and stacked it up inside the club, awaiting our turn to be called on to the stage to perform our numbers.
However – we had one mighty big trick up our sleeves, which no one in the Hinds Head club that night, could have ever envisaged, and it soon wiped the smugness off the faces of the other competitors and punters.
Obviously, word of us entering this Battle of the Bands completion at the Hinds Head, had got around my school ‘Mayfield Boys’ in Goodmayes – similarly, word had also got around ‘Mayfield Girls’ school, in neighbouring Chadwell Heath.
So – when it my band Magnum Opus eventually took the stage to play our 4 numbers, the very last act on the bill – the very second that we struck the opening chord to our opening number, Black Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid’ – out from the darkness of the perimeter walls of the venue, emerged a massive swarm of 14 & 15 year olds, who converged around the front of the stage, leaping and dancing around all over the place – (it was like Beatlemania revisited). :-))
All the punters in the venue, and the other bands involved in the evenings completion – stood there, open mouthed – wondering how a shit amateurish band, could have so many fanatical followers.
Suffice to say – we came last in that evening’s competition, but – what a great memory – one I shall always treasure.
But – nothing good lasts forever – and within a year or so, I had started work full-time – and then at the age of 17, my parents moved from the east of London, and bought a house over in Pinner, right over in the far north-west of London – and as a result, the much loved Hinds Head, no longer featured in my life.
The pub closed down back in 2009 – but the building and its function hall is still in situ, but is now totally abandoned and fenced off.
The current word on the street is that it is going to be sold off to developers – and is just awaiting that big ball & chain, so it can no doubt be eventually converted in residential flats – and so I thought that I would trek over to the site for one last time.
So – that’s the story of my association with the ‘lost music venue’ that was once the memorable ‘Hinds Head’.
Hope you enjoyed the tale.
See below – for the entire gallery of photos taken to accompany this blog