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The Venue

The Venue

'The Last Bastion' club.

History recalled... The Roxy and Vortex clubs had both closed their doors by early '78  and the London Punk scene was without a regular venue so quite by chance, my housemate at the time, Imperial College student Mark Leedham on one of his real ale drinking sessions, stumbled (literally) across an amazing, barely used small (200 capacity) ballroom attached to The White Hart pub in Acton High St. W3.

Disconcertingly for some perhaps it was adjacent to the local Police station, with seperate entrance,  great acoustics,  large stage (albeit low,  hence frequently  accommodating numerous crowd invasions) and even a dressing room for the bands!
(It transpired occasional punk events had previously taken place there organised by West London band, The Satellites.)

My conversation with landlord Ted O'Riorden quickly stuck a deal.The opening line of negotiations being 'what's your quietest night Ted ?' and thus launched every Wednesday night under 'The Last Bastion' banner.

Early support from newly established Beggars  Banquet Record label lead to their 1st signing, The Lurkers on the opening night on 14th June, 1978 supported by The Satellites. 

A sellout crowd necessited better door control and was introduced by former Vortex promoter Ian St John to 'Black Billy' a character in every sense of the word who had kept door at The Vortex, as wide as tall, with his trademark rude boy trilby he  commanded respect from all in the punk fraternity. Reknown for drinking copious amounts of lemonade and blackcurrant, of seemingly no known address or contactable he religiously appeared every Wednesday at 7pm unless detained at Her Majesties pleasure ! And so the team was born. Denise (later Mrs Bellwood) taking the door money and Billy at her side ensuring security and an  orderly queue.

Then added to the mix was Marquee (and Glastonbury)  Dj Jerry Floyd with his punk /reggae specialism,   incredible knowledge and record collection.

Memorable sellout gigs from the ever popular The Ruts, a raucous pre commercial Adam & The Ants (in stark contrast to Stuart Goddard aka Adam Ant studiously reading the works of Jean-Paul Sartre prior to going on stage), The Slits (debuting 'I heard it through the grapevine' with Sid & Nancy  in attendance and dependant on Mark re stringing and tuning their guitars for the sound check), the final Tubeway Army gig (before Gary Numan going solo) supported by The Skids with Richard Branson in the audience.  (The Skids signed to Virgin Records a day later and there's even a T shirt to commorate https://images.app.goo.gl/hJd7f7P5pLSrxbKd6 ).

The venue quickly became an established multi racial melting pot for West London music culture with emerging New Wave, Reggae and Rockabily with Misty in Roots and The Tribesmen in particular being embraced by the punk regulars and a more diverse Ladbrook Grove audience.

With the exception of an isolated grudge incident involving two individuals at the Tubeway Army/Skids night, it was week after week of raw, exciting adrenaline fueled nights with a large harmonised nucleus of regulars though we were constantly having to re imburse Ted O'Riorden for the damage caused by our over enthusiastic punters to the lighting, decorations and gents toilets. Importantly the bands got paid and numbers attended remained a 150- 200 which was remarkable for mid week, despite being ignored by the music press.

Other standout highlights were CGAS5 ('couldn't give a shit five'?) -  surely destined for greatness if they hadn't have disappeared as quick as they appeared with no known recordings despite studio time and 'Punishment of Luxury' who 'live' embodied punk/new wave/art and of course 'The UK Subs'. Interesting, 'The Reds' don't get a mention in any of the gig listing. From what I recall they were a last minute replacement for a band (Cyanide ?) who cancelled. We had tried unsuccessfully to book 'Subway Sect' but The Clash & Subway Sect  manager Bernie Rhodes sent along  this truly exceptional innovative New Wave/white reggae band. Again, what ever happened to them ?

Moving to Peterbrough in September 78 and getting married resulted in Mark promoting The Last Bastion alone.

Sadly after a night of violence on 22nd Nov. attributed to an infiltration of NF members who had previously never attended. Despite unheeded warnings should violence by this small minority  persist, The Last Bastion then came to an untimely end with the final night on 29th Nov. 1978.

In 1979 an occasional mod night was promoted by fanzine 'Maximum Speed'.

By 1980 it had ceased to be an occasional music venue and The White Hart, after a few re namings,  is now no more having burnt to the ground on 1 January 2017.

The venue, the single storey 'ballroom' attached to right hand side of the White Hart .
https://images.app.goo.gl/U9J3sdBan9KEzZ3P7

https://images.app.goo.gl/xeS8J4tQbxedDr249

http://punk77.co.uk/graphics_3/rottin_klitz/white_hart.jpg

https://www.boredteenagers.co.uk/LAST_BASTION.htm

Rat Scabies ex The Dammed (The White Cats) set list (and music clips)
August 2, 1978 https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/rat-scabies/1978/white-hart-hotel-london-england-53e06b49.html

The Slits set list (and music clips) June 21, 1978 https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/the-slits/1978/last-bastion-acton-london-england-73d3ca89.html


It's from those embers and memories that Last Bastion Records has come to fruition 43 years later with the same ethos, 'making music matter', capturing the soul of a diverse underground music culture, via ltd. edition 45 releases.

ANDY BELLWOOD. LAST BASTION RECORDS.