Folk Club
Club History
if "tradition" means anything it means continuity

Initial Club History
as remembered by John Heydon


John Heydon at Herga's 40th birthday
The club was started by Bunny and Sorrel Nunn who lived in Oxhey and their resident group was The Overlanders who later became the Herga Singers. The members of this group were Bob & Mary Wood, Bob Wakeling and Ron Nunn. Bunny and the Herga Singers ran the club from March 1963 until July 1966. Bunny, Sorrel and the Herga Singers were great supporters of the Woodcraft Folk and all profits derived from the club during that early period were donated to that source and there were even Woodcraft/Herga Club folk weekends, which were very successful.
In 1966 they felt that they had done their stint - 3 years was a big enough commitment and they put in place 2 people on the door, namely myself and Max Sewell-Rutter. We were asked to organise the club and the Dipper family, Colin, Andrew, Barry with Jackie Hersey and the Jug Trust were the residents. The Jug Trust and Max soon gave up their commitment and by December 1966 I was running the club with the Dipper family as residents.
Life was a little bit hairy at the time - in 1966 I was earning the princely sum of 6 per week and running a folk club with guest commitments of 8-20 per week. For some reason this did not seem to worry me even though initially, after taking over the money left to us by the old club, this had virtually gone by Christmas 1966. We had a make or break evening with Steve Benbow on the first Monday in December 1966 -it was a disaster and I thought that this was the end of the club, but what I had overlooked, was that the majority of the club members during the Autumn of 1966 had gone to University and the following Monday for an open evening the club was absolutely heaving with the return perforers such as Kitty Green (Vernon), Mack, Cat & Dai etc etc.
In February 1967 I had another make or break evening. I booked the New Lost City members (Mike Seeger, Tracy Schwartz & Tom Paley) and I increased the admission charge from half a crown to 7/6 - a massive jump in those days. 197 people filled the room, I took 73.17/6 i.e. I was 1.2s.6d short and from then on the club went from strength to strength.
I can only think of a few key members at the present time - Colin & Andrew Dipper, the Jug Trust, Bob Williams, Nick Robertshaw, Sue & Dave Tippen, Geoff and Joy Lakeman, Paddy McEvoy, Hugh Rippon and for a short period of time, Paul Brady. In later years also Jim Mageean, Ani Fentiman, Dave Webber, Johnny Collins, Kevin Shiels & Tim Edwards.
The club was popular, and in fact we took over 100 people to Sidmouth for the next 2 or 3 years. It was in 1969 or 1970 that we all went to a morris practice and from this the Herga Morris was formed. From Herga Morris came Flowers of May, came White Thorn Morris, came Benskins Morris, came Chiltern Hundreds. From club members we managed to produce artists of the calibre of Sam, Seth and Sean Lakeman, Saul Rose and Andy Cutting.
The club had always held quarterly ceilidhs, usually at Oxhey Pavilion and I started the monthly cilidhs at the Whittington in Pinner probably in 1968/1969. From then on the monthly Pinner ceilidhs prospered until about 1975. At one stage, having started Haddenham in 1972, I was involved in running a Friday night ceilidh in Pinner and a Saturday night ceilidh in Haddenham and often had the same bands.

Dave Puplett took over the Pinner ceilidhs and these came to an end 2 or 3 years later - but the Haddenham ceilidhs continued. The funds of the folk club were able to support Haddenham in its early days and once Haddenham was well established, then funds from Haddenham were able to support Herga for many years. This enabled us to book guests far more expensive than the club could really afford, and enabled the club to retain its guest/open evenings on a regular basis.
I ceased to be involved in the club in 1989 - a total of 23 years, rarely missing out Monday evening at Wealdstone, even though from December 31st 1971 I was living in Haddenham.
John Heydon

Members' Memories
I remenber the Kipper Family being booked early on in their existence; most people hadn't heard of them so John (Heydon) billed them as traditional singers and it was quite a few songs before the penny started to drop around the room.
I think a fine achievement was putting on the Transports at the club. So many members contributed to the production which was with a full backdrop and costumes, and the music reqritten by Mick Pearce to accomodate the instruments the club played. The BBC turned up to record the event and it was so welcomed, we then went on to put it on at the National, which was then being held at Loughborough University.
We had some wonderful Herga Hikes, May Mornings and Carol singing and some great times when the club turned up en masse at Berkshire Midsummer, Bromyard and Sidmouth.
Anni Fentiman
There was an occasion (the only one of its type I remember) when as we wre all sat around waiting for a singers' night to start in walked Peter Bellamy. He was the guest for the following week and we asked him if he'd had a night off and decided to come and do a little promo. He was horrified to discover that he'd written it down wrongly in his diary and had come to do the gig!
On another occasion, we had Louis Killen booked on a tour from the States, which had been organised by Peter Bellamy. During the tour Louis lost his voice and couldn't do the gig and Peter came along to do it in his place. Barry "The Fairly Accurate Trucker" arrived to see Louis and was heard (by all - including Peter) from the door loudly claiming "I came to see Louis Killen - I'm not paying 6 f***ing quid to see Peter f***ing Bellamy". Peter was doing a lot of Kipling in those days and after he did The Land, Barry - a Kipling fan with a copy in his truck - was won over. They spent the interval talking Kipling and Barry enjoyed a great 2nd half.
Mick Pearce
Memories of Herga come flooding back - the queue up the stairs on a Monday night, John Heydon's glowing smile and enthusiasm that greeted each and every member of the audience, pretty, blond Sue Nardechia singing like an angel, hairy-assed Herga Morris men taking up far too much room around the bar......putting up unforgettable guests like the marvellous Scottish singer, Jeannie Robertson, now sadly passed on; making tea for Peggy Seeger in our little flat in Harrow Wealdstone; listening to the squeaky but captivating tones of Bert Lloyd singing his whaling and sheep-shearing songs; falling about laughing at (then) schoolteacher Mike Harding playing his duet concertina, singing the odd song (very odd sometimes) and developing his comic act to the point where he gave up the day job and became a national TV celeb; singing along to Bernard Wrigley's Nelly the Elephant as he farted his way through the song on his rude bass concertina; being dazzled by the sheer dexterity of squeezebox virtuosos Ali Anderson and John Kirkpatrick; listening in wonder to the sheer talent of then "new" singers, like Chris Foster...
But one enduring memory stands out - if only because it somehow encapsulates everything the Herga Folk Club - and folk music - is all about:
Picture a cold winter's night at the Royal Oak, room packed, sweat dripping off the walls. The High Level Ranters are clinging precariously to Herga's miniature stage and giving it welly. In the front row a very nine-month-pregnant Joy (with Sean) with a distended belly that made her look like a beached whale. Sean (although we didn't know it was male at the time) decides to have a little dance inside the womb to the High level Hornpipe; and the sight of Joy's contorting body reduces the entire band to hysterical laughter and they "collapse" mid-tune.
You don't have to look any further for musical inspiration, do you? So, is it any wonder, that as Herga celebrated its 40th birthday that baby, Sean, was playing a duo gig with his partner Kathryn Roberts, and preparing for their eighth extended tour of the USA with their band Equation.
On the same evening our middle son Sam and his new bride Cara Dillon, and our youngest son Set, were boarding a plane at Heathrow to fly off to perform at Peter Gabriel's Womad festivals in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. (Very early in their careers, incidentally, the boys were booked as the Lakeman Brothers at herga and at the National Festival by John). Seth and Sam have both performed this year with benji Kirkpatrick - son of John - and of course Eliza Carthy, hence the musical baton is handed on.
Never mind your Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Globe Theatre, the National, the South Bank....the not-so-humble Herga Folk Club is up there with the best of them.
Geoff and Joy Lakeman
For bookings email Mike Sparks at mike(at)mjsparks(dot)(co)(dot)(uk)or phone 0.7.9.7.3-3.4.3.0.2.7
For info email George Papavgeris at
george(at)folk4all(dot)(net)or phone 0.7.7.4.7-7.6.8.8.6.8