The Welly goes back to rock roots to celebrate 100th year

Dave Mayes, owner of Hull's Welly Club
Dave Mayes, owner of Hull's Welly Club
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A HULL music venue that has hosted some of the biggest acts in the world is celebrating its 100th birthday with the relaunch of a cult album named after one of its most influential figures.

In 1981, during the heady days of punk, 12 bands that often played at The Welly released an album called Mrs Wilson’s Children in honour of its no-nonsense secretary Doreen Wilson.

Some – including Z-Men, My Silent War, and Sons of the Pope – are reforming to play a one-off gig at the Beverley Road club on Sunday night, when the album will be re-released.

The “Welly 100” version will be available on CD for £5 – much less than the £85 vinyl hunters are paying on eBay for the original.

Mrs Wilson’s reign began in the early 1960s with partner Harry Shaw, and it was the first club in the city to have a 2am “supper licence” and the first to have a gambling licence.

But it was Mrs Wilson’s empathy with the underdog that set the club on course for its role as a centre for musical counter-culture, which it has maintained ever since.

Mrs Wilson’s daughter, Patricia Gray, 68, said: “If my mum was alive today she would tell you herself she was eccentric and liked things to be done her way.

“It was good in a way that was different – you couldn’t possibly get that atmosphere today.

“The club downstairs was strictly conventional – on a Friday night it was darts – but upstairs it was totally different, and somehow they seemed able to marry the two.

“She realised from a particular act that appeared at the club there was no venue for people who liked their entertainment that way.

“They used to come to her and say ‘Mrs Wilson, we’ve got nowhere else to go’...”

Other groups to have appeared at The Welly include U2, The Specials, The Fall, Pulp, and Hull bands The Red Guitars and The Housemartins.

Current owner Dave Mays said: “I doubt if you’d find anywhere else quite like The Welly – we’ve heard so many great stories about the place while researching its 100-year history.

“It’s going to be a top night and a fantastic way to celebrate what can only be described as a true institution.”