GEOFF CRAMIE: The halcyon days of Nelson’s Imperial Ballroom
Our time-travelling adventure this week takes us back to the halcyon days of Nelson’s Imperial Ballroom, where this now legendary building truly lived up to its billing, “The Ballroom of the Stars”.
Our picture captured by the late photographer supreme and a wonderful character, Albert J. Morris, shows Carr Road during the 1950s with the now long gone Nelson Football Club’s Seedhill Stand, at the end of the home of the “Blues”. This mighty wooden structure saw many thousands of Nelsoners over the years as they cheered on Nelson FC during the club’s glory years. Look carefully on the right to the bottom of Carr Road to see how big the superb stand really was.
Now to the far left of our scene of bygone Nelson and here Albert has caught on camera a rare view of the actual front of the Imperial Ballroom, with its original Doric-style entrance, just above Norfolk Street. Later, during the 1960s, the entrance was modernised to cope with the huge crowds flocking to see the many pop stars of the era.
Yes indeed, here high above the Imp, we can see three of the greatest stars who bestrode the stage at the historic ballroom. Why, here on the left is the wondrous Billy Fury. Billy, an Imp favourite, gave us magical moments on his appearances in 1959, 1965 and 1966.
In the middle is the majestic Del Shannon; Del, a famed singer, was down the Imp on my 20th birthday, June 1st, 1963, and although quite ill, gave a show worthy of a true renowned artiste.
Now on the right is the transcendent Jimi Hendrix; Jimi, on his 1967 visit to us, made it a night of sheer virtuosity.
Now all three of these musical legends have gone to the great stage in the sky but their nights with us at the Imp, we’ll never ever forget.