The Sunderland club which Rank-ed among the best

The image of the Top Rank Suite which attracted so much interest from followers of Wearside Echoes.
The image of the Top Rank Suite which attracted so much interest from followers of Wearside Echoes.
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Top memories of a top club.

That’s what we got from Echo followers when we posted a 1971 photograph of the Top Rank club on social media.

The Beatles who made an appearance in Sunderland.

The Beatles who made an appearance in Sunderland.

It attracted the interest of more than 36,000 people and more than 130 of you shared your memories.

High up on that list was memories of the bands you saw for the first time and what a list that was.

Ron Donaldson remembered seeing ‘one of the first ever appearances of Electric Light Orchestra.” He also recalled the first tour of Eddie and the Hot Rods.

Michael Gourley said: “Deep Purple and Free on together, what a night.”

Used to love walking in then down the stairs and there it was ... the dance floor with the table and chairs and the two bars

Jennifer Daly

And what about that triple bill which was on in 1971. Peter Scott led the way and said: “Seen Thin Lizzy, Suzi Quatro and Slade for a £1 at the Rank” and Ian Beckford had similar memories.

So did Karen Brown who described them as ‘good memories’.

We loved Jennifer Daly’s recollections.

She said: “I used to put 50 pence away out of my wages every week for a Saturday night, 20 pence bus fare there and back ... money to get in and money for half a cider that would last all night lol. Great times and all for 50 pence.”

Another view of Park Lane in 1971.

Another view of Park Lane in 1971.

Jennifer added: “Used to love walking in then down the stairs and there it was ... the dance floor with the table and chairs and the two bars.”

Jean Hall remembered walking miles ‘round and round the dance floor’ while Edward Mercer had memories of seeing Free supported by Deep Purple ‘and no ear protectors’.

Another Wearside Echoes follower Pauline Gibson saw the Beatles there in the 60s.

Thanks also to Janice Bray who recalled: “There was a cloakroom where most people left their outdoor coats but then it took ages to retrieve your own coat when you wanted to leave. The ladies who staffed the cloakroom managed to remain calm!”

And William Tatters added: “Yeah wish we could have those days back again, still miss Sunderland.” He said he “had some great nights in the early sixties at the Rink, saw lots of good bands”.

Helen Robinson said: “Saw Love Affair here and fainted at Steve Ellie’s feet, ha ha!

Janice Bray commented: “I was at that concert and it was so good that I and my friend Carole missed the last bus home to Peterlee. Murton had a later bus so we went there and stayed with school friends there. My parents weren’t amused!”

John Murch recalled the ‘Saturday morning disco’ while Margaret Henderson said: “Loved this place dancing to the residential band, those were the days xx.”

Jan Mardghum also commented and said: “So many great memories of the Rink. The anticipation of a great night as you walked down those stairs. Was the place to go then.”

Mary Holt remembered that she spent “many happy days and nights there” while Lynne Mcfarlane said: “Saw Love Affair and Amen Corner there.”

Thanks also go to Norman Allan who reminisced: “On a Sunday night they gave you free tickets for Thursday night, which was a band, house band and disco. The band every other week was Mud until they had chart success but they did play there the week they had their first top 10 hit.”

Ben Bengochea said: “It used to be jumping that place every weekend great times, memories.”

Anita Laws commented: “I loved that place. I have some special memories with some very special friends, the only place to be on a Saturday night.”

Gwen Kay said she spent many Saturday nights there, and added: “Loved it.”

Tom Strong said: “And the hole in the wall, hot dogs just down the road.”

Trevor Jackson commented: “Saw my first live band there, Free, brilliant night.”

And thanks also to Iris McCabe who said: “Had our wedding reception there in 1970.”

We loved all of your memories about the Top Rank and would love to hear more.

Or perhaps there is another former Wearside club you would like to remember? Get in touch and tell us more.

We would also like to hear from people with other memories of Sunderland in times gone by, whether it is about a former club or perhaps a favourite shop, pub or restaurant from times gone by.

Get in touch by emailing chris.cordner@jpimedia.co.uk