Remember the Moonrakers?

The Moonrakers performing at the old Corn Exchange in Spalding.
The Moonrakers performing at the old Corn Exchange in Spalding.
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The local music scene of the 1950s was a lively one, according to the memories of bands who played at the time.

At the beginning of the year, we carried a special feature about the reminiscences of musician David Greensmith, and his time in local skiffle group Johnny Morris and his King Pins.

He wrote about playing at various venues in and around Spalding, such as the Ship Albion and Mail Cart.

David explained that most popular groups from the middle to late ’50s started off as skiffle groups, eventually upgrading to rock ‘n’ roll with electric guitars.

He mentioned a rival group in Spalding at the time, the Moonrakers, which caught the attention of the group’s guitarist, Reg Ellarby.

Reg, who lives in Rembrandt Way in Spalding, now shares his memories of the music scene of the 1950s and says he will “try and enlighten the present electronic generation” about the skiffle bands that were playing in the early years of the music revolution.

He says: “Five of us local lads who could not read a note of music decided to form a group.”

They were the late Pete Johnson (lead); Keith Dales (guitar and vocals); Barry Southgate (washboard); Barry Nichols (tea chest bass, who later progressed to a two-string bass made by Barry and Reg). Lastly there was Reg, on guitar.

He says: “After a lot of practice in the front bar of the Crane Inn in Double Street – now the Lincolnshire Poacher – we were ready to meet our adoring fans!

“We played a lot of local pubs, include the Bridge Inn which was once on Commercial Road in Spalding.

“In 1958 we also played in the old Corn Exchange. We think it was a chamber of trade or commerce affair.

“We also spread our wings and played at the Kit Kat Club at Hunstanton on a Sunday night. I recall one evening when we had finished our spot we had to vacate the stage from the side and carry our kit through the kitchen. Unfortunately, everywhere was in darkness this particular night and one of us bumped into a table stacked with crockery... need I say more.

“Another time we won the Isle of Ely skiffle championship played in a cold store at Wisbech.

“On our travels in the Bourne-Grantham area we became acquainted with Vince Eager (Roy Taylor) who had formed a group in Grantham. Two of his group, Vince and another, went on to better things and he ended up a star of TV.

“He sang with all the big names in America and now lives in Nottinghamshire and is still singing.

“We had some great times playing all the skiffle numbers from Lonnie Donegan, Nancy Whisky, Johnny Duncan etc.”