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CYA Youth Club

Dinner Dance
This dinner-dance is titled as a 'Grand Re-union'.

It followed a service in the Vestry Hall, and was
held at the Waverley Hotel.

Dancing followed and the music was provided
by the Allan Bathurst Band.


The Rushden Echo and Argus, 25th April 1958, transcribed by Gill Hollis

‘Spasm’- peculiarity to oust skiffle

Its music with a difference you hear at the CYA Youth Club in North Street, Rushden, when the “Spatters” are in session. The “Spatters” have deviated from the Donegan – Duncan style of music and have formed themselves into the county’s first “spasm” band.

The Spatters
A distinguished pose for the photographer, please gentlemen. The members of the ‘Spatters’ Spasm Group, are (l-r) William Dickens, John Kitchener, David Johnson, Patrick Teat and Russell Rose (sitting, centre)

What is spasm? That is a question many people may ask and they may be forgiven for not having become familiar with it. “Spasm” is a new word for music played on improvised instruments, but whereas the hundreds of local skiffle groups throughout the country improvise with tea-chest bass and washboard, “spasm” goes much further.

Tunes of Twenties

Playing mainly tunes of the Twenties, the “Spatters” produce their unusual music from an amazing assortment of instruments which would more easily be found in the home than in a music shop.

The tea-chest bass, with its old broom handle and length of string is included, and the washboard is featured too. The washboard, played with thimbles on all fingers, has a number of attachments, including half a cycle rear-lamp holder.

A kitchen funnel – such a utilitarian object – contributes to the musical art when a trumpet mouthpiece is added. A stone ginger-beer jug is another instrument, and added rhythmic noises issue from such articles as bottles, spoons, combs and paper. Anything is acceptable, in fact, the more unusual the object the greater the temptation is to include it in the band.

The performances by the “Spatters,” who are 19 or 20 years old are quite remarkable, if unorthodox. Few people would ever expect to hear music produced from the instruments used, but the effect is easy on the ear for those who like a tune with a beat. Most surprising is the tone which comes from the kitchen funnel.

So far the news of the group has not spread far and wide but there are already a few girl “spasm” fans, who enter fully into the spirit of the sessions.

Girls’ Dress

As in a few London jazz clubs where “spasm” shows have taken pride of place the “uniform” for the girls includes “Little Nell” stockings in scarlet, black or bottle-green, loose sweaters and striped jeans, not forgetting long cigarette holders for the smokers.

The “Spatters” also dress in a manner of slight eccentricity to fit in with the type of instruments they play.

When the group was in session at the weekend, William “Avery” Dickens stepped forward to play his kitchen-funnel solos with a black waistcoat, but without a jacket, and sporting a bow tie and pince-nez. His sandy hair was parted in the middle and combed forward, giving him a music hall professor appearance.

Russell Rose, playing a more orthodox guitar – with a “kazoo” or “bazooka” fixed on with a wire, so it could be played at the same time – was also more orthodox in dress, with bow tie and a trilby hat shoved back on his wavy hair.

Checked Cap

David “George” Johnson, who played a clarinet and was the only one without an improvised gadget, wound a long coloured scarf around his neck and under his bearded chin.

Patrick Tear, on the washboard, also had a scarf and achieved a “zany” look by wearing a gay checked cap – back to front.

But it was the tea-chest bass player, John “Harris” Kitchener who attracted the eye of the onlooker with his corduroy trousers tucked into thick striped football socks, a thick crew-neck sweater revealing at the top the collar of a tartan shirt, and with a Davy Crockett hat rested squarely over his eyes and ears.

At that time the group was not up to full strength other players being out of town. When the others join in with their own peculiar instruments and ideas on dress for the occasion the effect is really worthwhile seeing and hearing.

Will the “spasm” craze grow? The “Spatters” don’t know – but one thing is sure. They personally get a big kick out of it.

The Rushden Echo, 21st September 1962, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Six Rushden boys have torn their youth club apart

Six youths have been tearing their youth club apart, but it’s not an outbreak of vandalism – they are preparing the Rock Foundation Hall, Rushden, for extensive alterations which will begin shortly, writes BILL McKEOWN.

The boys, who belong to the Christian Youth Association which uses this former Baptist Chapel in Little Street as headquarters, have been indulging in a little “do-it-yourself.” Only, instead of building something, they set out to take down the hall’s first floor.

Now that it has been reduced to a pile of rubble, a local builder can start work on improving the club’s amenities. The money for this comes from the Ministry of Education, which has announced a £765 grant.

Own Efforts

In addition, the club management committee has received £300 from the Carnegie Trust for the work. A further grant under negotiation has now been confirmed. It is for £440 from the County Council and will be added to the sums in hand, including nearly £200 raised by the club’s own efforts.

When the work on the Rock Foundation Hall is completed – by Christmas, it is hoped – there will be a new first floor to replace the shaky one now removed, kitchen facilities and, possibly, a television room later.

The first floor will be used for drama productions and will incorporate a stage, behind which there will be changing rooms and cloa

Moving rubble Taking away a beam
Moving rubble
Taking away a beam

krooms. The ground floor will also be rebuilt, and will be used for indoor games such as table tennis.

At present the club headquarters are virtually unusable – although the accommodation at the back of the hall is still open to the boys and girls of the CYA and the Cosmopolitans, their older counterparts – and consequently activities have been reduced to the minimum.

The club – it has about 200 members – has been negotiating the various grants for almost three years.

When the grant from the Ministry was confirmed a committee meeting was immediately called to announce the good news.

The hall, built at the end of the last century, has had a lot of work done on it by the youth club organisers and the boys and girls themselves. Over the years they have all lent a willing hand to improve their headquarters gradually – as time and money permitted.


This final piece of news about the grant – with possibly another to come – has given the club an extra determination in their do-it-yourself endeavours. When the alterations are finished they will start on outside improvements.

They want to make sure that this is one youth club which, as well as helping others, can readily and uncomplainingly help itself.

The Rushden Echo, 17th January 1964, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Rushden CYA stops its activities - Hooligans Hit Club
Damage to hall must be repaired before re-opening

Rushden’s Christian Youth Association, the teenagers’ club which meets at the Rock Foundation Hall, has stopped its activities until the end of the month, following a second outbreak of hooliganism. In December a number of chairs were broken after plaster from the ceiling mysteriously fell.

Club organiser Mr. Peter Neville said this week that in a more recent incident further damage had been done. The hall, in Little Street, is now being repaired before it opens again. He said the club had been temporarily closed “because of the activities of one or two hooligans”. It will be repainted, rewired, redecorated, in addition to having several new fittings installed.

The work is being done on two nights of the week by young volunteers.

When the club reopens it is hoped that there will be more adult supervisors, and the CYA is appealing for interested adults to help out.

Mr. Neville said: “We have put up posters asking for people to volunteer for this work – helping with the tea bar and other duties. We don’t necessarily need youth leaders, merely responsible adults.”

He explained that, starting in February, the club would have an age limit of 17 – at present there is none, although older members join the Cosmopolitan club, which shares the hall – in an attempt to stamp out recent incidents.

“We just didn’t realise what was going on,” Mr. Neville, owner of the Westward Hotel, Rushden, went on. “The young people chose their own committee and ran the place themselves, but they were not running it efficiently.

A Phase

“We should have stopped this about six months ago. The incidents were just a phase; I hope we’ll get over it.”

He added that the last incident – on Christmas Eve – had not resulted in a considerable amount of damage, but just enough to finish the meetings of the club, which was then trying to repair the first lot of damage.

“This finally scuttled the already sinking ship,” he said.

The two incidents have completely wrecked the club room at the back of the hall.


He said that most people did not realise that the Cosmopolitan Club, with a membership of forty seniors, was very successful and had no trouble. “They are very happy, but the youth club has got right out of hand,” he said.

Following an appeal for chairs about twenty, and a number of divans, were donated to the CYA to help refurnish the room after the ceiling collapsed. This happened on a night when no organisers were present.

Now the club, which holds dances in the upstairs room, jointly with the Cosmopolitans, is looking for an old fire escape to comply with regulations.

If you have any more photographs at this youth club, we'd be pleased to take a copy

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