The club has been meeting in various watering holes around the Failsworth area for over twenty years - or maybe you know differently?!
So far, enquiries lead us to believe that the early beginnings of the club were at the Crime View (later re-named the 'Medlock Tavern'); George and Janet Saunders suggest that the club was started in 1980, or thereabouts, run by Allan and Kath Mayall.
However, one of our regulars, Maggie, thinks that the club could have started at the Irish Club in Ashton, and that three clubs joined together. She writes:
My first memories of the Open Door were at the Irish Club, Ashton, possibly in 1985.
The Open Door worked on the horse-drawn trip-boats from Portland Basin by the Ashton Packet Boat Company, and went on day long musical trips on the canal from Guide Bridge to Marple. Who remembers Jack Worrall swimming a fair distance back?
The Open Door has also spent two long sessions at the Bricklayers Arms, Failsworth - one of them financed a trip to Italy for the long lingering few, organised by Bill Williamson.
Archie Tawney has spoken to Bill Williamson, and writes:
Bill Williamson says that the Open Door was started in June or July of 1985 at the Crime View pub, by himself, Mike Riley and Stuart Thompson, in conjunction with the club at the Acres Inn at Denton on Wednesdays.
Later, Dave Ritchie and Michael O'Brien joined in with numerous others. Archie Tawney was just a visitor at first, but was soon a regular performer (under pressure!).
M.C.s were, in chronological order: Mike Riley, Allan Mayall, Aaron Aldred, Mike Riley (for a few weeks), and Sharon and Andy Broadbent at the Crime View (later renamed the Medlock Tavern). George and Janet Saunders took the club to the Star Inn and the Bricklayers Arms, bringing us to the present venue of the Bull's Head with Pauline and John.
The real roots of the club are not yet clear... we really need some written evidence of the name 'Open Door' being applied to a given venue at a particular time; until we have such evidence, the above accounts of those who were in the thick of it may serve to jog some memories...
As far as we know, Aaron and Dave ran the club from about 1993, and in 1994 Sharon and Andy Broadbent took over. The Medlock closed temporarily in 1995 whilst awaiting a change of landlords, but Janet and George got fed up with waiting for the Medlock to re-open, and moved the club to the Star in 1996. This proved to be a wise move, because the new landlord at the Medlock made it plain that he didn't want the club! The landlord of the Star at this time was Alan Tapper, who used to run the Unicorn when the late Harry Boardman had his club there.
Since the move to the Star, the club has been to the Bricklayers Arms, back to the Star, on to the White Hart on Hollins Lane, and back to the Star. Maybe the name should be changed from the 'Open Door' to the 'Yoyo Star'!?
In April 2001 the club briefly moved to Pauline's front room for two weeks, until coming to rest in the Bull's Head... back to the Star, anyone?! Phil firmly believes that this would not be a good idea...!! He commented "No way, Josť"!
The Open Door Folk Club hosted the first Failsworth Folk Festival in 1997, and the second in 1998. In 1999 this was replaced by Kevin's Music Day; October 2001 saw the first Open Door Extravaganza.
Sunday July 13th 2003 saw the last guest at the Bull's Head - Roy Clinging - as we relocated to the Railway and Linnet at Chadderton on July 20th. The Bull's Head on Oldham Road had been the venue since April 2001; the pub has an auspicious past... Harry Boardman once had his club in an upstairs room here before moving to the Unicorn in the centre of Manchester.
Sadly, the stay at the Railway and Linnet proved to be temporary... during the beer break of our Stuart Thompson and Friends Guest Night on Sunday November 30th 2003, the Landlady took exception to a suggestion that she helped the overworked barmaid serve beer...! At this point her husband quite rudely told us to leave with immediate effect!
SO! On Sunday December 7th 2003, we returned once again to the Star Inn on Church Street, Failsworth!!
Sadly, we had a few problems with noise from the main lounge bar, and sometimes we were closed because the club room was needed for other bookings... so the last meeting at the Star Inn was on Sunday August 21st. We thank Paul and his staff for their hospitality during our stay.
From Sunday September 11th, the club will meet in the Roayl Oak, opposite Werneth Park on the A62 - which is called 'Manchester Road' at that point.
Sadly, because of declining numbers and the retirement of our very supportive landlord and his wife, we decided in March 2009 to put the club 'on hold' for a while... and in June 2009 the Star Inn was demolished... so we definitely cannot go back there!!