Celebrating Birmingham's Popular Music History
Curzon Street 1960s-1990s pub/venue associated with rock bands. Turned into O’Neills (1998-2011)
Ah the RAILWAY if only there were more places like this now
I used to go to the Railway in about 81/82. I think.
Reason for going was to see two bands on Residency, Jameson Raid and Money.
I was a scary place to get to from the town centre on foot in the winter months of Jan/Feb, but we never came to any harm.
Always glad to get inside.
Wondered down that a few years back and it was all boarded up, a sad sight. Went past on the train last week and I couldn’t spot it so believe it is now demolished.
Would love to relive one or two of those nights.
Iza my friend two top bands there mate. Also used to go to The Railway in early 80’s. Saw some great acts there including QUARTZ and then after Taffy split group went to see him perform with his outfit Taffy Taylor’s Big Roll Band….Heavy Rock and Blues with a “horn brass section”??. I think Bev Bevan guested on drums and I have a two track demo they laid down at The Barn Studio!!!
Used to go down there 79/80 with my gilfiend Kim (pretty girl, big music fan) & s remember seeing a band The Dealers quite regularly. Good atmosphere there in a dodgy Birmingham backwater, stiil go past quite regularly (its next to the Thinktank where they had the abandoned open air freebie gig outside recently) but the Railway has long since gone.
Regular at the Railway from around 73-4 when the Steve Gibbons band were a hot live act. Favorite act from that period was a band fronted by guitarist Roger Hill. I’m pretty sure they were called Spitfire at the time. I think the line included drummer Tom Farnell and bass player Bob Griffin ,though don’t ask me why those names spring to mind, and later Nick Pentelow on sax. Roger was a class act on guitar and vocal. One number I recall particularly was called Evenin’ possibly and old Ray Charles song a great slow building blues .
Also remember a good band called Resurrection playing for a while around then,good rock band with a Hammond organ to the fore I think.
I used to get to the railway about the same time Martin & thought Spitfire were great, as well as Roger, other members included Trev Burton, Bob Brady, Kex Gorin, & i suspect many more, i think it was one of those nites where, if you were in town & could play, you were welcome, were you there the night John Bonham played? AWESOME.
l was in the thick of spitfire period with many photos
I too started going to the Railway in 1974 to see the Steve Gibbons Band, they had a regular night on a Wednesday (I think it was), this was the original band with Bob Griffin on bass (before Trevor Burton joined them).
Re Roger Hill playing at the Railway – am hoping this info is correct as my memory isn’t quite what it was! Roger originally played there on a Sunday night with Trevor Burton and Harry Rix, (they were all in Raymond Froggatt’s backing band at the time. At some point Roger moved to the Friday night slot with Bob Griffin, Nick Pentelow, Bob Brady and Charlie Grima (the latter three were also members of Wizzard at the time) This was in 75 I think. That band went through a few member changes and finally became Spitfire and yes Martin, you are right with the names!
I had forgotten about the Evening blues song that Roger used to do! It did sound a bit like a Ray Charles number but I checked on the internet (our friend Google) and it was actually a T Bone Walker song.
I remember seeing the band Resurrection as well – the lead singer and organist was Terry Guy, he was really good and had a unusual voice.
THE TRACK ‘EVENIN’ WAS BY ‘JIMMY WEATHERSPOON’, WHO ROGER HAD PLAYED WITH, CHEERS CHRIS
The Railway was a great place, I remember going with friends from around 1977 to 1983.. In fact i worked right behind the place! at E.G.S Electrical.. How weird is that! 🙂 We’d often go down & have a few on our lunchbreak!..
I remember going every thursday night to watch “MAGNUM” They were awesome!.. And it was packed to the raftors! Also Jameson Raid” were another of our favorites + Spitfire and many more.. A golden era..
A late reply but do you know the exact date that Magnum played their last gig at The Railway by any chance.
Played at the Railway many times in the Dealers, and Mean Street Dealers in the late 70’s /early 80’s fantastic venue – really sad its no longer there. But its great that people remember those steamy nights
Saw Mean Street Dealers at the Railway many times. Did they ever play as Hooker there? They surely must have done as School Sports.Great memories and the Bent Needles LP is one of my prized items – lovingly cut now to CD so I can listen to it in the car.
Does anyone recall seeing Zeth – seem to recall this great hulk of a lead singer with wild hair looking not unlike Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria. Also I seem to recall seeing a band called Red – I have their EP – b***** superb rock. Try searching the ‘net for any meaningful info on these is hopeless.
As for the venue – small, confined, beer stained carpets, smoky with other various smells around. Sonically sound though – listen to the live Magnum album recorded there. A brilliant place to attend when you’re 18. At a tender 52 and if I had a time machine would I go again? You bet!!!Agree with izabelgoudie though that it could be scary to get down to from the city centre – unless you were the lead singer of Zeth!
Hi mate, great that you remember us (Red), I loved the Railway, there were so many great times. We got the Friday night residency at the Marquee club in London and had to swap our nights at the Railway with Magnum. As we didn’t get on it was a bit problematical, I think the manager stepped in to help. We also played regularly at The Barrel Organ, Rebecca’s, Barbarellas, JBs at Dudley and the Hare and Hounds Kings Heath. Our home was the Golden Lion in Solihull where I remember seeing Iron Maiden. We were doing well, toured the UK and recorded an album but split after my I’ll health on the road in 1977 I think. Farewell gig was at Cannon Hill Park coliseum which was packed, very sad. Still vaguely in touch with Mark Robbins, vocals, Pete Briggs-Fish drums and Steve Flood guitar. Played my first gig for 41 years in October last and thoroughly enjoyed. As I said, great memories. It would be lovely to help keep the old place, maybe a reunion? Red, Magnum, Jameson Raid, Steve Gibbons, Spitfire (Steve Ajao). Ha ha……would be great……richard.
Went to the railway at least twice a week in the mid-late seventies. Magnum were and still are amongst my favorites along with The Dealers, ( who can forget Nice Boys and White Light), Orphan were a really good watch, Sticky.. very tight and a marvelous lead guitar, Gordon Bennett. I still have many live tapes i recorded on-site with my old hand-held machine. I still pine it’s loss who would of thought that lots of years later I would be dropping off my eldest girl on the old site to go to Glastonbury!!
The memories will never go away.
A late reply but do you by any chance know the exact last date that Magnum played at The Railway and the date of the first Orphan gig which was the following week
I used to play with a band called The Colts at the Railway. We once supported a reggae band (one of Fred Waite’s bands, I think) who had an argument during their set. The bassist and the drummer exchanged (many) words on stage, resulting in the bassist slinging his instrument down and storming off. Sean and I then got trapped in the very small dressing room when we went to get our kit while a huge row took place between their band members and managers between us and the door. Finally ended up in smiles, laughs and embraces between them! Great place, great times, sad to hear it’s gone.
Ooh,I’m glad I’m not the only one who used to take a cassette recorder to The Railway,like Sean O’Donnell did! I used to love going to see The Dealer’s & had a fab tape from one of their gig’s there,but what a bummer..only a part of it remains,I hadn’t broken off the tag to secure the recording and someone used my prized cassette to tape Roger Whittaker!!Would really love to get a copy of another full recording 🙁 So many brilliant gigs there..esp the ones around Christmas/New Year,when there would be an extra-special line-up.I used to go every time The Dealers were on,often on my own if no one else from my crowd was going…I must have been crazy getting off the bus by The Barrel Organ & walking from Digbeth up New Canal Street,under the creepy railway bridges & past the even scarier old Curzon Street Station building! It was ok once I was inside though..I’m only small, so I’d push my way to the front,knowing I wouldn’t block anyone’s view & buy some Dutch courage for the return journey in the shape of 3 glasses of Olde English Cider! The last time I visited The Railway was for a charity event in the early 90’s,I think there were about 5 bands playing with The Steve Gibbons Band headlining…as always it was a brilliant night… & we still stuck to the carpet!!
A big Hello to John Wilson! Many thanks for all those fabulous Dealers gigs,the highlight of my week by far at that time! I still have copies of the 7″ singles you released & I’m sure we all really thought you guys were well on your way to breaking through & getting the recognition you deserved. I think it was not long after the single releases & talk of an album that the drummer left,(Jim?)I was at The Railway for that last gig when you all played together..how gutted you all were,I know we were! I’ve just remembered & found out my signed copy of The Drummers Hobby!!Awww,the cover is a bit grubby! I know I have a couple of photos too…great memories!! Thankyou 🙂
I was a regular at the Railway for a couple of years or so from 1974 when the original Steve Gibbons Band were resident on a Wednesday night and then on Friday night’s when Roger Hill’s various bands played.
It was a great little venue of the time, it got really rammed some nights and had a great atmosphere with people like Robert Plant or Roy Wood occasionally tuming up. Had some really good nights there!
It was origially run by a guy called Albert, who I think ran a club before (Rum Rumnner?) and then by a couple called Tom and Betty. If you knew the band you were able to stay after hours if they had a lock in. Everyone used to go into the other front bar and play Pool.
E>AHi Annie are you the same Annie that came to the Railway every Friday with Rogers girlfriend? I,m Betty wife of the late Tom we ran the pub for 3 -4 years up to 77-78. i,m still in touch with Bob Hill and the Magnum band.I have a great photo of us all when we saw Bruce Forsyth at the Cresta Club Sheldon,with Bob Brady,Bob Griffin,Charlie Grima Nick Pentalow ,Megan Davies from Applejacks great days and nights. Would be pleased to contact you again? Betty Hoban.
A late reply but I am trying to find out the exact date that Magnum played their last gig at the Railway and the date that Orphan played their first I think it was the following week. Can you help.
I was a Regular down the Railway great venue brilliant bands. I remember Albert he was a little guy but stood no nonsense.Steve Gibbons band one of my favorites along with Ressurection who were around at the same time but not sure they played the Railway.Great times.
Remember seeing Briar and No Faith there, late 70s early 80s. (You did well Mo B:) ) Seem to remember there was an Alsation dog on the canopy over the entrance on a few occasions. Frightened the life out of me one night!
Ive posted this on another site after searching the Railway so ive copied it here too! So fantastic reading the comments here! I went there for the first time in the early 1980’s by a friend Jimmy Barratt who was a guitarist once with Handsome Beasts and Jameson Raid. I became a sort of roadie with The Raid for some time when they played at The Railway and when they parted in about 1982 I think I was roadie with Bandanna who played in Saturdays! I remember the rhythm guitarist and keyboard player, Kevin Hunt was very popular with the ladies and I used to go on the bus to his flat in Gossey Lane Kitts Green way where we would load all the bands gear on a Saturday morning stored in his shed into a beaten up G reg transit van! Man those times where madness! We would arrive at the Railway midday and meet the band and get the gear set up! Then sound checks, a beer and then the regulars would arrive and we would have the best night ever every Saturday! I remember the other roadies and who did the sound too was Ben (smallish chap with moustache and a gorgeous wife) and the other chap was Tony, taller with a beard and long hair! Both GREAT BLOKES! They liked to play Grece Slick welcome to the wrecking ball over the pa before the band came on! There were Dave was vocals, Phil was Lead I remember! There were some FANTASTIC people those nights! I had long hair, probably wore a leather with a denin cut off and was about 17 I think?
The place would be packed! After the gig getting everything into that Transit was a really horrid job! Everyone would help to load but Kevin and I would have to unload back at his flat! So after a curry we would brave whatever elements and haul it all from the road across the garden around the side of the flat into the garage! Halcyon days for sure! I can still see so many faces from those days! Especially the girls 😉
Eventually Fred Waite took over the Railway! He was Father to two of the boys in Musical Youth! I remember one saturday a decision was made to have him as the new manager! A meeting was called
by him and he said to the band “What do you need?” Bearing in mind, he was (or Musical Youth) a bit of a name and Fred wasnt short in putting his money around like rockafella, so as he asked this question, no one really said anything, then Kevin piped up and said “We need new mics” so he said “OK” So then Kevin, on a roll said “I need a new guitar” Hows that for taking the mick! So Fred said quote: “Get your ass down to Muzzos and pick one” So Kevin grinned at me and off we went in the Transit! That afternoon he picked himself a brand new Gibson JD explorer worth £700! Fred came down and the 3 of us stood by the till and they had a small notebook with Fred written on it! They put in the Gibson and off we went! AWESOME DAYS!
Kevin went to Oz and now has probably the largest Pink floyd tribute band in the World with full size shows! He sings and plays lead as Dave Gilmour would!
Anyone remembers me, please get in touch! There was a young blonde lad that wasnt very tall who was a real fan and I recall he set up some mics once and recorded one of the gigs!
Saturday nights in the Railway – awesome !
I also roadied for Bandanna, in 80/81, with Ben – and I drove that bloody van !
Blue twin-wheel 3.5 if I remember right – went to quite a few places with it loaded up, as well as the Railway, and used to park it up outside my gaff in Small Heath.
I think I remember doing the Solihull gig organised by a local bike gang ? and going to somewhere in Wolverhampton in snow – loads of it, so much you couln’t see the lane markings on the M6, only to get to a locked-up empty venue – no f****r told us the gig had been cancelled !
When I left Brum in early 82 the sods got me on stage to say goodbye and give me a bottle !
Great times, great band, great people ! 🙂
Hi Gnome !!, saw your post about Bandanna and Solihull gig,, the bike club was sixty nine mc, been around Birmingham a long time, they organised the Trevor Burton Band to do a outdoor gig on 9th Nov 1985 in a field, and I remember it snowing and TB wrapped himself up in a fur jacket, saw the mean street dealers too and others but I’m 62 now and my memories fading away, like they say old rockers never die we jus fade away…I still have photos from those days might share.
i remember the old Railway with plenty of love.me and my sisiter used to go on a saturday to see a group called BANDANA a bit of a metal group, but they were brilliant.there was dave who was the singer i think,and mick who was the drummer and the other couple i csant rememeber.we went there just as Fred Waire took over but it was never the same again. such a shame…… fond memories for me and my baby sis……
Hi all, I used to run the Railway with my late husband Tom Hoban,from l973 to 77)78\we had great bands there seven nights a week. Magnum left us to go professional l976 after making “Kingdom of Madness” Sadly Roger Hill has died earlier this year,I keep in touch with his family and the Magnum families. It is so sad to see the demise of the Railway, but it can never be replaced in our memories Happy times Bet Hoban
I saw Debbie Bonham (sister of John) supported by In The Pink at the Railway on 5th June 1986. I seem to remember that it was quite sparsely populated and still daylight when they started playing.
I remember Assassin playing there on a few Friday nights, the lead singer was called Mouse and his girlfriend was Geraldine (jellybean) , I carried in a couple of amps, as roadies got in for free
Hi paul john&geraldine still alive long story Google a band called restless dog still playing but for medical reasons I’m looking after my wife hope you get this message rock on!!!!
We,re still around more info will send ok
I used to play guitar and alto sax in a fusion band called “OUT” and we had a residency at the Railway between 1979 and 1980. We also played at the Barrel Organ and around the University and College circuit during this period. The Railway was a brilliant venue for live music and I’ve also seen many great bands there during the 70’s. Stand out Railway bands for me were The Steve Gibbons Band, Spitfire, Rainmaker, Magnum and Jameson Raid. I’ve got a couple of old photos of our band playing at the Railway circa 1979, they are pretty faded, but you can clearly see all the band’s posters on the wall behind us, including ours.
Used to go to The Railway between 78 and 79 to watch a band called “Cold Comfort”, fronted by a female singer who had a great range. And I remember the guitarist was a cousin of my schoolmate Ade Coleman. Quite a group of us from BYV used to go there. Happy days!
Brother sneaked me in when I was 15 to as Steve Gibbons band, totally amazing. Saw Magnum, Sorahan, Rainmaker, Dealers, Beau Flyer, and Orphan, plus many more back in late 70,s.
My Brother witnessed John Bonham playing there jamming after 5 nights at Wembley with Zep…
Played there myself with Snakeshead, Good Grief. Also managed bands for Emergenza. Also promoted a few gigs there just before it was closed the demolished.
Great room, happy memories
My girlfriends uncle was the lead singer in ‘rainmaker’, Bill Burkett. He talks fondly of his memories of playing in this era. Hes 80 the end of the year and still loves his music..
Rob SMITH! Hello
Derek Eynon here, you used to borrow my Marshall Super Bass 100 (which are f-ing worth £1400 now!!!)
I replaced drummer Kex Gorin in Spitfire, initially just covering while he was away with Magnum, but eventually full time. I was the drummer the night that John Bonham got up in the second half and played a few songs. He played my drums! I remember that he was physically huge and he really was a hard hitter – but he could really play, no doubt.
Prior to Spitfire, I was the final drummer in Sorahan, replacing Les Fortnum. Sorahan was killed by the punk tsunami, although Tom Sorahan got himself a deal with Pye Records and recorded a single album, “I’ve Seen The View, You Can Take Me Back Now”, copies of which can still be found (eBay, rare record shops, etc).
After Spitfire I replaced Phil Vickers as the drummer with Orphan. We made one album, Phobias, and were in the process of making a second when the record company had some financial issues and so those recorded tracks remain unreleased. One of our final live gigs was at The Railway in 1984 to promote “phobias” and the line up included fabulous sax player, the late Billy Paul who I had played with in Sorahan. The Railway was a terrific place.
HI EVERYBODY, ANYONE GOT ANY LIVE RECORDING OF ‘RESSURECTION’, I’D BE INTERESTED IN TRADING FOR THEM, CHEERS CHRIS
I was a regular at The Railway for Orphan and many bands after them. Does anyone know the exact date that Magnum played their last gig at The Railway and the date that Orphan played their first which I think was the following week.
I worked at the railway in the days of Tom and bet Hoban they were magic times and because I was 18. I usually went in the lounge saw some amazing bands, a couple of not so good I would not have missed it for the world, I even had my wedding reception done in the lounge by Tom and bet, wonderful times and amazing bands, heart broken that it went
I was in the thick of it at the railway in the days of spitfire and all knew most of the muso’s who performed their with many recordings and pics from that time.
It was a brilliant time and place that to be part of it was truly unbelievable
Tulsa, would love to get some of those pictures on here! And love to embed the recordings as well! Let me know if you are up for that
Great venue, saw most of the bands mentioned during the late 70’s. Remember a guy working the bar who stacked the pints on top of each other and left you to take them away! Let’s see some of the photos and links to the recordings. Really.
To the person above who commented about seeing Assassin, and anyone else who remembers them :
Does anyone remember the bass player Brett? He was my dad and he died a few years ago, he was only 50. I’d love to hear memories people have of him in the band, he was really proud of the time he spent with them. It makes me happy to think of him happy and other people enjoying his music
Hi Rebecca, I remember Brett and Assassin – the lad singer was a guy called Paul was it? Looked like Mungo Jerry?
Sorry to hear about Brett, very nice guy, always used to talk to him at gigs, and I used to met him in music shops.
I remember Steve Gibbons playing there in 76/77 but the band I loved was Rainmaker they were brilliant and had a great bass player. Does anyone remember his name?
Rainmakers bassist was Brian Badhams. He sang most of the lead vocals too. He could sing and play very tough bass lines at the same time. I was in the band briefly.
Does anyone remember Trouble?
They used to play at the railway and, I think, supported Magnum nationwide.
I played keyboards briefly at the Railway with “Rainmaker”circa 1979. They were a great jazz funk band that attracted a lot of musicians as audience members. I remember Brian Badhams(bass) and Keith Randall (guitar) The other guitar player’s name I can’t recall (Roger something?) nor the drummer, a brilliant funkster. I was only a sideman with them but I loved the music. I had to leave eventually to earn some money!
The other guitar player in Rainmaker was Roger Heath, a schoolfriend of mind in the late 60’s. He was a very classy player who unfortunately died of a brain tumour at least 12 years ago. He could listen to a guitar solo a few times and then perform it note perfect without any sheet music.
Does anyone have any recordings from the band or know where they could be obtained?
Do you remember a guy names Bill Burkett associated with Rainmmaker?
Sorry Andrew, I remember the name but no details unfortunately. Rainmaker were a great band, sadly missed. Pity they had to get “proper” jobs because they made little money in the music business. I think of the Dire Straits track “Money for Nothing” – they never got past moving the colour TV’s! Still sad about the Railway’s demise.
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