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History of Colchester Jazz Club

Colchester Jazz Club meet every Sunday evening to celebrate New Orleans and Traditional Jazz, and has done since the club was formed in 1956.   It's home for 26 years, until 17th March 2013, was the Hawthorne Suite at Stanway Rovers Football Club.   Since then it has been  Marks Tey Parish Hall, Old London Road, Marks Tey, Colchester, CO6 1EJ.   Just off the A12 at junction 25.

Before 1987 the Club had had several different homes.  It all began in 1956 in the Plough P.H. at St. Botolphs.  After a short time it moved across the the road to the beer cellar of the Fountain P.H. where, on police advice, it became a properly set-up club with a committee. A move to the celebrated Cups Hotel in 1957 saw the crowds increase substantially, but it had to move after a few months to W.O.s and Sergeants Club in the Garrison.  Unfortunately, on the first night the committee arrived to find half the place burnt down and the fire brigade in attendance.  We had a contract for 3 months occupancy and were able to use the remaining half.  After that, the only available location was the Corn Exchange, totally unsuitable, as big as an aircraft hanger and no bar, the crowds dropped by three quarters, and we faced closure.  Luckily we were able to move to the Albert Hotel in April 1958 and had a successful 8 years there.  It was here that Tom Collins Jazz Band became our resident band for the next 16 years.  A move to Langenhoe Lion in 1966 saw some of the club's most successful years.  The large number of cars parked in a small village caused problems with the locals so, in 1971, we moved to, and became affiliated to, Colchester Youth House, later to become the Town House, much to the relief of the council as the building was underused.  After 16 years there we were invited to Stanway Rovers F.C.  

In our long history CJC has played host to countless bands from all parts of the country and the globe, some as far as Australia, Canada, Holland, Sweden and America, with guest musicians from New Orleans.  Notable British bands such as Chris Barber, Acker Bilk, Kenny Ball, Humphrey Lyttleton, Monty Sunshine, Max Collie have all appeared.   Bands such as New Orleans Heat, Sussex Jazz Kings, George Tidiman's New Orleans All Stars. Downhome Jazz Band, Brian White's  French Quarter All Stars and his Ragtimer's, Hugh Rainey Jazz Band and many more well known British bands have appeared on a regular basis.   CJC has always been a club where dancing is the norm and the bands appreciate this. 

CJC are very proud to have been involved in many carnival processions held in the town.  The carnival was often led with a full New Orleans Marching Jazz Band, led in some style, by the distinctive figure of the late George Allen, elegantly clad with his top hat, tails and sash of office.

During the  years the Jazz Club have enjoyed many parties to celebrate Christmases, Club Birthdays, New Years Eve and any other excuse for a party:  Trips on the Norfolk Broads aboard a paddle steamer, taken members to cruise on the Thames, visited other Jazz Clubs.  Our members are now actively looking forward to the next 50 years.

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