The Mecca Locarno – Manningham
When the Mecca Locarno when opened in Manningham Lane in the early 1960s it was reputed to have cost over half a million to build. The now disused music and dance venue was built on the site of a former roller skating arena which was burned to the ground in 1955. Over the years this huge ballroom has changed hands many times, as a teenager I knew it as Dollars and Dimes and my mother went there when it was the Mecca. In more modern times the venue was Maestros before being turned into Penningtons by Bradford businessman John Pennington who sold it in 2003 when it became the Town and Country Club. In past few years the venue has been the target of arsonists yet to this day still remains looking dishevelled however it is unlikely that it will ever operate as a night club again. This piece of land it stands on is within a Council community priority area in the Unitary Development Plan This means it need to serve the local community as a community facility, housing for local needs or something which generates employment.
New day dawns at Pennington’s
It’s been one of Bradford’s hottest nightspots for nearly half a century.
And now the famous venue on Manningham Lane – once the Mecca Locarno and now known as Pennington’s – will undergo another big change.
John Pennington today revealed he has sold the nightclub and live entertainment venue to three businessmen headed by Paul Sewell, owner of Bradford rock venue Rios.
It is likely to become known as the Town and Country Club, formerly the name of a popular Leeds club, and will be aiming to attract major rock and pop bands.
Mr Sewell said he was delighted to secure the deal and claimed it was “great news” for Bradford nightlife.
“We are going to target big- name international bands,” he said. “These will be bands who might be too big to play at St George’s Hall but not big enough for the arena circuit.”
He said Leeds University was the only venue in West Yorkshire capable of attracting such artists, but Pennington’s 3,000 capacity made it an ideal alternative.
He added: “People will come here because of the bands that we put on.
“It is not going to be easy to attract the big names but if we offer everything that they need and want, then we can bring them here.
“This is very good news. This is going to be my third venue in Bradford (along with the Market Tavern and Rios) and it means that we can cater for local bands with a small following, rock bands at Rios and now big name international artists.
“I have got great confidence in Bradford.”
He said all the events booked for the venue until around March, including a boxing event due to feature on BBC TV’s Grandstand, would go ahead as planned.
Mr Pennington bought the former Maestros nightclub four years ago – on the same day that he sold the Midland Hotel in Forster Square.
Under its new ownership, the venue rekindled some of the magic of its golden era of the 1960s when it attracted some of the biggest bands in Britain.
Among the artists to appear were Bill Wyman, the Fun Loving Criminals, the Human League, Saw Doctors, Terrorvision and stars from The Temptations and even the Sex Pistols.
It also hosted a Top of the Pops 1980s celebration programme and an edition of Later … With Jools Holland featuring Toploader, Catatonia and Faithless.
Mr Pennington said: “We have really brought the glory days back and we have also been turning over more than £1 million per year, which is quite remarkable from a standing start.
“When I first took it over there were just 35 people in a place that holds 3,500.”
The old Mecca Locarno cost £550,000 when it opened on Manningham Lane in the early 1960s on the site of a former roller skating arena which was burned to the ground in 1955.
It later became known as Dollars and Dimes and the Palace before the venue was bought by Javed Majid in 1990 and became known as The Maestro. At the time it was thought to be the biggest nightclub in the UK.
9 Aug 2010
Javed Ahmed Majid wants to convert building into Asian bazaar
of a derelict music and dance venue in Bradford has criticised planners for blocking his efforts to regenerate the eyesore site.
Javed Ahmed Majid claims the district could be about to miss out on a multi-million-pound investment because Bradford Council’s planning department “point blank refused” his latest plan for the former Town and Country club in Manningham Lane.
Mr Majid, owner of Cleveland-based Maher Entertainments Ltd, wanted to demolish the club – which suffered an arson attack last week – and replace it with a £9 million Asian bazaar, which would have included specialist shops and restaurants spread over five floors.
But the Council said the scheme was unacceptable, as was Mr Majid’s previous proposal to build apartments on the site. Mr Majid said that plan became unviable because of demands of Section 106 agreements where developers are asked to pay for improvements in the area to allow their schemes to go ahead.
Mr Majid said: “This has been going on for five years and I’m at the end of my tether. First of all, I wanted to build beautiful apartments there. I put this scheme together four years ago, but they put so many hurdles in the way that it made it non-viable.
“The Section 106 was going to cost me a couple of million to satisfy that.
“Then, on July 20, I went to the planning office again. I sat there and told them I had been approached by a Middle Eastern company that wants to finance the building of a top-class Asian bazaar.”
Mr Majid said the building would have included ten restaurants in a central eating area, furniture shops on the first floor, food and drink on the second floor, clothing on the third floor and jewellery and cabaret on the fourth.
Mr Majid said: “It would have been a tourist attraction for Bradford, creating at least 250 jobs. If you include the building work, it would be 400 jobs.
“It was going to be absolutely fitting for the area. But they point blank refused it. They said they want something like this in the city centre.”
John Eyles, manager of Bradford Council’s Major Development Team, said: “This piece of land is within a community priority area in our Unitary Development Plan. This means it needs to serve the local community as a community facility, housing for local needs or something which generates employment.
“His first proposal in 2006 for apartments needed a number of changes, but we could not make any progress with him in negotiations over this.
“His more recent proposal for an Asian retail market was not acceptable either.”