Iconic Smackwater Jacks turns 40

The Drunken Dragons are sure to be flowing when Smackwater Jacks celebrates turning 40 years young this weekend .

Thursday, 22nd June 2017, 11:44 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:45 am
Manager Paul Bentley with the original poster from Smackwater Jacks' opening night

The iconic Burnley bar has been the place to go for thousands of revellers from across the North-West for a memory-filled four decades.

Launched by Graham Harker and Tommy Hawke on June 24th, 1977, as a ‘Wine Bar and Restaurant’, the venue was originally based on the Hard Rock Cafe in London.

Andrew Kay, the first DJ to play there, said the atmosphere was very different then to how it is now.

Smackwater Jacks' food and drink menu in 1977

“It was just a bar that served food, there was no music. The first time music was played there was for Valentine’s night the following year. There was no music again for a few months and then it was introduced on the top floor, then the middle floor and before you knew it, it was a music bar.

“It was always busy on a Sunday night, packed, shoulder to shoulder. That was the busiest night but it was always busy to be honest.”

The cellar bar was originally a restaurant where you could pick up a burger for £1.65, apple pie for 80p and a pint of Stella for 60p.

While the burgers may be a thing of the past, the building has rarely changed during its 40 years. And manager Paul Bentley said that was part of its charm.

Smackwater Jacks' food and drink menu in 1977

“I’ve been working on and off here for nearly 20 years and the building hasn’t really changed at all.

“We’re adding more drinks to the bar and giving customers more choice but the vibe and the atmosphere of the place will never change.”

A £2 door charge was recently introduced from 11pm on Saturdays and Sundays and despite a few early grumbles, Paul said the decision had benefited the bar.

“We’ve found that on the whole, customers have been fine with it. The Saturday nights are just as busy as ever. Our plan is now to work on building up the Friday nights. We’ve got a few things we’re working on and we’re looking forward to implementing them.”

To celebrate the bar’s birthday, they are giving away a free bottle of fizz on Saturday to anybody who is 40 this year or who celebrates their birthday this weekend (Friday, Saturday or Sunday).

Contact the bar through its Facebook page for details on how to claim.

If you have any photos from over the years or memories you would like to share please email them to [email protected]