Barron Knights set to stir memories of Mansfield’s Granada venue

Comedy-pop band the Barron Knights, who are returning to Mansfield 52 years on from their show at the former Granada.
Comedy-pop band the Barron Knights, who are returning to Mansfield 52 years on from their show at the former Granada.

Do you remember the Granada, Mansfield’s first luxury cinema? And what about the Barron Knights, the famous comedy-pop group who played there way back in 1965?

If the answer to both questions is yes, then the Palace Theatre would like to hear from you in time for a special night of nostalgia next month.

The Barron Knights are still going strong, albeit with a largely different line-up to that which took the 60s, 70s and 80s by storm. And they’re heading back to Mansfield on Thursday, March 16 for a gig at the Palace.

“Therefore, to celebrate this, we’d like to track down people who attended the original show at the Granada 52 years ago on Saturday, March 13 1965,” said the theatre’s marketing assistant, Nicola Walters.

“The Barron Knights were the support act for entertainment provided by top stars Sandie Shaw and Adam Faith. If you were there that night, please contact us by e-mailing nwalters@mansfield.gov.uk”

Shaw, who was 70 on Sunday, went on to win the Eurovision Song Contest for Britain two years later with ‘Puppet On A String’, while Faith, who died in 2003, was the first UK artiste to have top-five hits with his first seven records.

As for the Barron Knights, they also supported the Beatles and the Rolling Stones no less in their initial guise as a straight pop group in the 1960s. But they went on to become household names when changing their image to a fun band, releasing parody songs.

They had five top-ten hits and, in the 1980s, they even produced many TV specials, which were a mix of songs and sketches. In their prime, they performed more than 300 shows at the London Palladium and even one at Buckingham Palace.

The Barron Knights’ show at the Palace Theatre in three weeks’ time promises a combination of new material and old favourites. They will play their version of the ‘William Tell Overture’ and their flamenco party-piece, ‘Malaguana’. Add a parody of ‘Killer Queen’ and their hilarious take on ‘The Windmills Of Your Mind’ and you have a rocking and rolling show not to be missed.

Many other famous bands of the 60s and 70s graced the stage of the Granada in its heyday, including The Kinks and The Tremeloes. And similar ‘reunions’ are to be held at the Palace later in the year, with Brian Poole and The Tremeloes booked in for Wednesday, May 17 and The Last Off Kinks earmarked for Thursday, November 16.

The Granada, on Westgate, and initially known as the Plaza, opened as an independently-operated cinema on August 4, 1930 when welcoming more than 5,000 visitors. It quickly became a huge success, intalling a Wurlitzer organ in 1936 when it was taken over by the Granada Theatres chain.

It was re-named the Granada in 1942, and continuous improvements included the ground-breaking installation of a wide screen and surround-sound.

As well as showing films, the venue was home to the award-winning Harvey Smith Dance Orchestra. But it really came into its own in the Swinging Sixties when it staged many a rock and pop concert. Superstars such as the Beatles, Cliff Richard, Billy Fury, Tommy Steele, Gene Vincent, Helen Shapiro and Joe Brown all appeared at the Granada. Even Screaming Lord Sutch shared one bill in 1961!

Sadly, the stardust faded and the venue closed on May 26, 1973 when the final film was ‘Young Winston’, starring Simon Ward. The Wurlitzer was removed and sold, and the Granada was eventually demolished in August of that year. Later the building was transformed into a large store, occupied by Littlewoods and later Primark, within the Four Seasons Shopping Centre.

The memories live on, however, and the Palace Theatre is determined to ensure that the Granada is never forgotten.

“Nobody will ever be able to take away the memories created by the bands who played on that stage,” added Nicola. “Their fans still remain loyal to those bands today.”