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Cat Trap club memories of a legend of rock ‘n’ roll

PUBLISHED: 12:21 02 June 2014 | UPDATED: 12:21 02 June 2014

Billy Fury at the Cat Trap Club in Bedford Street, Norwich, in the early 1960s.

Billy Fury at the Cat Trap Club in Bedford Street, Norwich, in the early 1960s.

Archant

It was one of those more intimate clubs which sprung up in Norwich during the late 1950s and the 1960s and this picture captures the time the much-loved Billy Fury was in full flow at the wonderfully named Cat Trap.

JT and Accent 3: From left, left to right, Roger Woodrow, Gary Dungar, Paul Pryde and Jason Tyrrell.JT and Accent 3: From left, left to right, Roger Woodrow, Gary Dungar, Paul Pryde and Jason Tyrrell.

Remember that club? It was based at the trendy old Bedford Arms in Bedford Street which was packed in the days when most places closed before midnight and the streets were deserted by the early hours.

Thank you for all your memories of Billy Fury when he played his last concert in Norwich, a charity gig for the Evening News, at the old Norwood Rooms in 1982 – just a few months before he died.

His music still lives on in various tribute shows doing the rounds in Norfolk but this picture was taken when Billy was in his prime – putting on a great show for his loyal fans.

Billy – dubbed the British Elvis at the height of the rock ‘n’ roll explosion in the late 1950s – was a great performer and a regular visitor to Norfolk, making films in the county and appearing at Great Yarmouth shows.

Despite a weak heart he was a hard worker and after his last show in Norwich he said: “I was drained. It took me fully five minutes to recover. I guess Johnny B Goode really finished me. It was always a toughie.”

In the early days of rock ‘n’ roll Billy, along with another favourite with Norfolk crowds, Marty Wilde, and many others, were “looked after” by the legendary Larry Parnes who sent his stable of performers all over the country.

This photograph was taken by the Evening News/Eastern Daily Press. It comes from former journalist Colin Bevan who helped to write the popular Here and Now page which covered the music and entertainment scene in the city and county.

The Bedford Arms played a leading role in the entertainment scene – not only attracting big names but giving local groups a chance to play – the likes of Mervyn & The Starbeats, Eyes of Blonde, Malcolm & The Jet Blacks and so many more.

“The pub was run by Gerry Welsh who, I believe, was one of the first Norwich publicans to hold more than one pub licence, Douro Potter, was another,” said Colin.

“He also fancied himself as a singer and I still remember his rendition of Velvet Tears,” he added.

Great days... at the Cat Trap.

Which was your favourite club in 1960s Norwich? Drop me a line at derek.james2013@gmail.com or write to me at Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.

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