Grand Ceilidh Club Southend's barn dance club

Grand Ceilidh Club

Club History
How did the club get its name?

Ceilidh is pronounced kayley and is a Scottish word meaning a social event with music, dancing and song. The Grand Ceilidh Club is in no way Scottish but there doesn't seem to be a suitable English word, so the Scottish word has been adopted in England for this kind of event where the dancing is in barn dance style. The club first met at the Grand Hotel in Leigh, hence the rest of the name.


What does the logo mean?

As the club started in Leigh-on-Sea the logo illustrates some symbols of Leigh. In the background are Leigh church and Hadleigh castle and in front are a Thames barge and a copy of the only known illustration of the Essex bagpipes.

How did the club start?

The club opened in January 1978.
On the club's first anniversary the secretary wrote this account of the opening night

The club was formed after the end of an era, namely the closing down of Southend Folk Club, and the existing members (few but enthusiastic) decided to reform but as a ceilidh club.  Why a ceilidh club?  Mainly because it was felt that a demand for one existed following the support that ceilidhs in general had and also, the committee needed something to organise! 

After a great deal of searching an ideal venue was found at The Grand Hotel in Leigh Broadway, which had a room with a specially sprung floor suitable for dancing (as some call it), reasonable acoustics, and an understanding landlord!

Grand Hotel

The opening night arrived and the committee, together with a few loyal friends and relatives (there for moral support) waited with a mixture of pessimism and optimism to see if anyone, apart from ourselves, would turn up. - Then the stampede started, and 130 people of assorted shapes and sizes all squeezed in and the club was born.

We have been successful so far mainly thanks to the excellence of our resident ceilidh band Jig & A Half, Reg & Pam Smith & Paul Butcher, and Barrells Bottom Ceilidh Band, together with our resident singers John Coppins, Roy Brown and Kiti & Derek Theobald and others too numerous to mention.

If you fancy a good time at a friendly and very informal club, why not come along on a Wednesday night at 8 p.m.

Then what?

In 1984 the ballroom at the Grand Hotel was converted to a function room with most of the floor carpeted. The club moved to the Half Way House. Within a short time the dance floor there suffered the same fate and another move became necessary.

Halfway House

And again

We moved to new premises at Southend Rugby Football Club. We now start a little later in the evening but we have kept the tradition of having a live band every week and we believe that, in this respect, our club is unique.

Rugby Club

In 1999 The Generation Game with Jim Davidson featured barn dancing. The Famous Potatoes went to the BBC Television Centre to provide the music and people from the Grand Ceilidh Club went with them to demonstrate the dances. They all had to wear hillbilly costumes for the show but they have hopefully all recovered from that experience now.

Generation Game

In March 2005 the club celebrated 20 years meeting at the same venue. This was celebrated by a donation to the SRFC and a plaque on the clubhouse wall will remember this occasion along with the others recording donations by friends of SRFC. The cheque was presented to SRFC secretary Neil Harding who reciprocated the good will by offering all Ceilidh Club members a drink from the bar. The Grand Celidh Club thanks the Southend Rugby Club for twenty years of hospitality and friendship.


After 26 years

In 2011, after 26 years at the Rugby Football Club we moved again, this time to the Riga Music Bar in Milton Road, Westcliff.


Soon after

The dance floor at the Riga proved to be too small and so, in 2012 after about 18 months, we moved again to the Royal Naval Association.


If anyone would like to provide a paragraph on any aspect of the club's history we would be very pleased to receive it.


Here we list all the bands, callers and guests who have appeared at the club in order of appearance. Information from the early days was a little incomplete so some names may be missing, particularly those of the early callers. Let us know if you know of anyone who has been missed.

Jig & a Half
The Redmans
Paddy Beadle & friends
Reg & Pam Smith & Paul Butcher
Lumps of Plum Pudding
Barrels Bottom Ceilidh Band
Mick & Sarah Graves
The Wimarcs
Juggernaut String Band
The Folk Pistols
Paddywack Scratch Band
Jack Tapp
Blue Jays
Grand Ceilidh Band
Roy, Charlie & Mary
Denis Sharp
Bushes & Briars
Truss & Bucket
Barn Owls
Famous Potatoes
John & Roy
Musicians Workshop
Crab & Winkle
Proud Aardvark
Humble Hedgehogs
The Jam Band
Albert Redman's Band
Saturday Night
English Country Dance Band
Golden Bough
Holes in Soles
Dennis & Paul
Cliff & Co
Roy & friends
Dennis & friends
Metric Foot
Leigh Community Fiddlers
Albert Redman's Allstars
Oscar Foxtrot
The Exiles
World Famous Jig & Die Band
Garlic Spread
Rose & Thistles
Range Rovers
The Allstars
Diabolical Liberty
The Stocktakers
Three's a Crowd
The Tyros
The Teviots
Iceni Folk
Rat on a Stick
Old Nic
Slow Loris
Lost & Found
Cockleshell Heroes
Jim's Band
Burton's Smart English Gents
Take Two
Withdrawn by Popular Demand
Back by Popular Demand
Steve Morris & friends
Hands Around Ceilidh Band
Celtic Mix
Missing Strings
Bushes & Briars New Sound
Dennis & Christine
The Wiccamen Ceilidh Band
Glenside Ceilidh Band
Liz & Friends
Rowans Scottish Dance Band
The Hosepipe Band
The Usual Suspects
Woods and Company
Bucket Band
Oh No! It's Them Again
Music Makers
The Jimmy Alan Band
Jim and Joan English
The Most Unexpected Folk Dance Band
Tailors Twist
Jim, Joe and Doug
The Parlour Band
Creekside Ceilidh Band
Bits 'n' Pieces
The Tonic
Boarding Party
Jacobs Creek
Yardarm Ceilidh Band
Three's a Crowd (new version)
Pam Smith
Arthur Stevenson
Colin Cater
Dave Bennett
Jill Saunders
Keith Baxter
Mike Taylor
Eric Manning
Albert Redman
Trevor Moore
Margaret Caton
Chris Wheeler
Elaine Barker
Ed Caines
Walt Tingle
Barry White
Stewart Webster
Bill Delderfield
Simon Thorndycraft
Hilary Vare
Martin Long
Dave Record
John Smart
John Searle
Eric Probert
Dean Taylor
Steve Southgate
Brian Russel
Sarah Graves
Greg Borgartz
John Morgan
Joy Worsfold
Joy & Frances
Brian Carney
Alex Parker
Jim & Brian
Reg Goldsmith
Kathy Naunton
Frances Coombs
Glen Holman
Max Blake
Mary Bryan
John Kennett
Les Barclay
Richard Epps
Janet Barclay
Jeff Goodman
John Burton
Nell Edwards
Chris Pitt
Jack Forbes
Rayleigh Dance Team
Jill Vaughan
Kitty & Derek Theobald
Alan Lake
Thameside Mummers
Turn of the Tide
Malcolm McKeagh
Three Ring Circus
John Coppins
Colin Cater
Martin Daniell
Basildon Caledonian Society
Roger Pugh
Mick & Sarah Graves
Thameside Irish Circle
Charlie & Mary Scott
Mill Folk
Roger Johnson
Seven Straw Braid
Lady of Lourdes Group
Sharon & Dean
Dave Strytt
Gas Light & Coke Company
An Tuath
Dean Hobbs
Countryman's Flavour
Penny Huffers
Roy Brown
Dave Roberts
Don Waugh
Hands Around
Mick Daly
Adrian May
Peter Dunhill
St. Barnard's Drama Group
Oyster Girls of Leigh
Footloose Family
Benfleet Hoymen
Ginger & Steve
Terry Gill
Jack & Chris
The Stocktakers
Cockleshell Clog Morris
Pier Talk
Peter Monk
Great Oaks Morris
Jeannette & Nicola
Mark Lammas
Marianne Kiff
Jeannette & Steve
Eileen Moore
Oyster Singers
Five Bells Morris
Bullnose Morris
Ian Watson
Derek Oliver
Take Two
Morrispotamus & Hippomusician
Mike Davidson
Olive & Meg
Leigh Flute Choir
Caledonian Dancers
Scrambled Leggs
Isis Dancers
Sean Wyer
The Greensward Juggling Troupe
Frances & her Little People
Pip & Pam
The Maureen Corr Irish Dancers
Bill & Meg
Helen White
Bullnose Morris Tappets
John Smith
Mike Chapman
Joe Migdal
Sandra and Les
Ernie and Neil
Bill & Kitty
Chrissy King
Steve Hurrell
Graham Harrison
Maypole Dancers
Recorder Ensemble
Chrissy & Steve
Whatever Next
Alison & Claire
Noah Cockett
John New
Yael Bebb

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