A Brief History of The Cambridge Folk Club


From its inauspicious beginnings, back in 1964, when The Cambridge Folk Club opened briefly, lost £10.00, and shut down again, its reputation has steadily grown to the point where it's now a recognised and respected fixture in Cambridge's varied musical landscape. Following on the tradition established from its early days of being a venue which supports local grass roots talent, it also promotes a variety of acts from further afield, and reflects this in its annual club tent programme at The Cambridge Folk Festival.


Over the years, the Club has seen some pretty amazing musical events, not least the chance to book the young Paul Simon for the princely sum of £10.00 back in 1965, just after CBS released his first single, I am a Rock. Nic Jones, Diz Disley and Martin Carthy are just some of the now legendary figures to have played at the Club in the1980s.


More recently, John Kirkpatrick and Roy Bailey, Christine Collister, Julie Felix, Show of Hands, Ralph McTell, Dick Gaughan and John Renbourn have been just some of the folk luminaries to have performed there. The Club has consistently sought to support up and coming young acts, both local and national, such as The Willows, Uiscedwr, Sam Carter and Luke Jackson. American Blues guitarist Brooks Williams, now living in Cambridgeshire, refers to the Club as his 'home' club.

It may come as no surprise, then, that some of those associated with The Club locally have become almost household names in the music business: its President, Ken Woollard, who from 1965 until his death in 1993, was the great mind behind the Cambridge Folk Festival, and musician and broadcaster Nick Barraclough, who first came along to the Club at the tender age of 14 in the late '60s.

The Club has met at a number of different venues in the city, including The George and Dragon (later The now lost Spade and Beket), the old YMCA, the Red Cow, the Lion Bar, The Portland Arms, the Golden Hind (its present home), The Man on the Moon and The Unicorn in Trumpington (now The Lord Byron). So there's something quite satisfying about where its fiftieth anniversary celebrations are taking place - at The Golden Hind on Milton Road, the Club's home for the last ten years.