Listening to the radio as I travelled along the M6 years ago I heard one Don Bridgewood reciting the finer points of fishing for tench. This is, I think the same Don Bridgewood who used to provide a very reasonable impersonation of Baby Dodds at the Black Lion in Salford in the 1950s. Does anyone know what became of Don, or Roy Bower (trumpet) Ron Pratt (clarinet) John Featherstone (piano) Norman Dakers (banjo) or anyone else who used to spend their Saturday nights upstairs or downstairs at the Black Lion at that time (there was a school that thought that the pianist in the tap room was closer to the spirit of JRM than any of the more pious folk upstairs.)

John Turner

Dear Fred,

Don lives near the Lake District in Inglewood I think. Ron Pratt and John Featherstone are no longer with us. Roy Bowers lives on the south coast - might be Hastings.  Norman Dakers used to go to De La Salle Jazz Club when we played there a year or two ago. John Turner forgot to mention Ulysees on the double bass. The band was called the Southside Stompers. 

Mart Rodger


Black Lion membership card

Alan Hare relaxes with DJ Ed Stewart and Peter O'Neill in 1960:

and also
Don Bridgewood & Sheila Collier

Dear Fred, For those interested. Roy Bower (trumpet) is alive and well, and still playing trumpet down on the South Coast in and around the Brighton area.

from Pete Lay.

I last came across Don Bridgewood about 10 or 15 years ago, when his day job was that of a journalist in Yorkshire, and in the evenings he played Baby Dodds-type drums with anyone who was interested in that excellent mode of jazz. He struck me as a thoroughly good egg, and he played his chosen style of drumming very well. This was in the Ingleton/Settle area of West Yorkshire. I'm sure there will be much more recent sightings than this, and I do hope that Don is alive and well, and still blowing.

Les Bull.

Don and Ruth Bridgewood are well. 

Don and some other friends played at Jack Fisher’s (my husband) funeral some 6˝ years ago and that meant a lot to me and our son. Jack and Don used to argue that fishing was/was not a blood sport. I first met Jack in the Black Lion forty odd years ago when he was playing with Jack Palmer’s band. He used to catch the X43 back to Burnley. I drive past the Black Lion a lot, but never pass without noting the old flag holder on the windowsill over the door. That windowsill was a cooling place for beer when the place was heaving, as it often was. Anyone remember the horror of seeing a pint pot slip over the edge, the pause, the crash – the utter panic at seeing a policeman looking back up at us, and the amazing way a space appeared at that end of the bar? I remember meeting Spanish Fred there. We were there when Kid Sheik played – it was so packed the floor actually moved up and down. I still have the newspaper cutting showing them playing on the station platform. I remember so many people, Dave Ball on the door, Rose downstairs!! Who could forget Rose and her singing downstairs? Trish, Big I and Greta who showed me how to stomp, Gabe, Les Moore, Dave with his braces from New Orleans, Chris Lucas, Ian Rose, Dave Wright with the Sousaphone, Brian Morrison, John Brunton, a young Larry Hurst, Derek Galloway, Tony and Margaret Smith, the Pendlebury brothers and Marcia, Charlie Bentley, Steve Fagg. The number of bands that played in Manchester at that time was amazing. I’d never heard jazz till I came to Manchester. 

Happy days indeed and many good friends met.

Viv Fisher


Dear Fred

Thanks  to all those who contributed to your website. Don Bridgewood, Norman Dakers, Frank Cholerton (our one time manager) and I had a  couple of euphoric days in Lancaster and Wigan. I am not sure whether it is the air up there or the quality or volume of the alcohol but I had the sort of a good time I hadn't had since I last saw them nearly 50 years ago!

John Turner

Dear Fred

I have just remembered something very funny that Don Bridgewood told me on one night when he was on drums with us at a Jazz at the Riverside session at the Railway Hotel, Whaley Bridge (c. 1966). That was Keith Pendlebury's Sunday gig; with Keith (pno), Geoff Ford (bass), Don (depping for Derek Bush, or Moe Green) on drums, Marcia McConnell (vocals) and me.

Don and some keen fishermen pals were downing a few pots in some village pub that they'd never visited before, spitting feathers after a hard river-fishing session. One of Don's pals had some live crayfish in a large container. They spotted one of the regular lushes at the pub, who was guzzling down just about anything within reach . The crayfish chappie thought he would try an experiment. He took a live freshwater crayfish from the container and popped it into this poor drunk's pint. It was ripping his nose and lips to pieces with its sharp pincers, as the now quite merry fishermen looked on in amazement and in stitches, but he just carried on drinking and never noticed a thing. I suppose the crayfish won by a nose.

If you can use it for "Reminiscing", it s yours.

Very best wishes 

Joe Silmon

It is good to hear that Don Bridgewood is still alive and kicking. I used to play the clarinet with him in the Southside Stompers about 50 years ago when we started a Saturday night club at the Black Lion. Other members during my time in the band included Roy Bower, Roy Williams - (he was with us for 6 weeks until he joined the Eric Batty jazz Aces), Jack Palmer, Eric Brierley, Ulysses Newton, Norman Dakers, John Turner (and his father who played double bass), Joe Whitehead, and John Featherstone. Frank Cholerton was our manager.

We had many interesting experiences including a tour of the Midlands and South of England, and a memorable day when we visited Strangeways (as entertainers) during an afternoon and then were innocent victims in a police "sting operation" at Whitefield British Legion that evening when the organisers were charged with the heinous crime of allowing musicians and non-members to drink alcoholic refreshment without signing the visitors’ book. We never did get paid for that gig!

In addition to the Black Lion, we also were featured at the Thatched House, the Sportsman, Bury Co-Op Hall, The Free Trade Hall and Ardwick Hippodrome (as part of a Marching Band with members of the Jazz Aces) and the Cavern in Liverpool (long before the Beatles ever hit the scene.)

It is gratifying to hear that nearly all of us have survived – as far as I can tell only John Featherstone is no longer with us.

It is great to be able to read the reminiscences of many of the musicians who took part in the jazz scene in Manchester in the fifties and of which I was privileged to be able to play a small part.

Thank you very much Fred for keeping “The Flame” alive courtesy of your website – 

Best wishes, 

Alan Brown.


From: Stewart Allen Harare, 5th Feb 2009

I would like to thank you for the site. I taught in Bradford. Manchester and spent most Thursdays and Saturdays at the M. S, G., and Sundays at the Black Lion Salford and anywhere else where beer jazz and females were to be found!!

I found your site just after The Savannah jazz band site. I can do things on a computer that no one else can! (It usually only takes two or three days to get it going again!)

Through procrastination (I taught English) I did not get in touch with the late Gabe Essian but am now in touch with his daughter. It was through Ged Hone's Band that my love of N. O. jazz was consolidated and although in my CD collection Colyer comes between Coltrane and Condon, New Orleans Revival is where I am!

I remember Mart Rodgers and I having a long chat about hats over several Youngers No 3 (Is it true that they stopped brewing it when I left Manchester?) I can also remember playing crown bowls at The White Lion Withington with Eric Brierley and being asked to leave because we were crawling round the edge of the green trying to find the bowls! 

My finest hour was escorting George Lewis offstage at the M. S. G. and being allowed to spend 5 minutes with him by Jay Alison Stewart a Dragon if there ever was one! I am the "fan" with my arm round Henry Red Allen in the excellent M. S. G. History Jack put together.

So you have, through your hard work and interest, made one old codger much happier and better informed




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