A LAUNDERETTE boss is switching to a new programme following the success of concerts staged in front of his washing machines.
The Old Cinema Launderette, in Durham, hosts after-hours gigs, following on from the building’s long history as an entertainment venue.
Now Richard Turner, who runs the venture with wife Kathy, is taking performances to village halls.
Mark Geary, an Irish singer-songwriter now based in New York, launched the New Venture, with Mercury-nominated Kathryn Williams and bluegrass group Coal Porters and Sid Griffin also set to play.
The Jubilee Hall in West Rainton and Shadforth Village Hall are among those working alongside Richard to host the shows so far.
Richard, who is a child and adolescence mental health nurse in East Durham in addition to working at the launderette, and Kathy have nicknamed themselves Mr and Mrs Wishy Washy thanks to their shop’s trade, also host vintage tea parties and run a cafe at their business base.
He said: “The launderette is doing really well and I’ve got about 20 or 25 gigs in for the rest of the year already.
“We’ve had some good acts on in our little wash house and I’d been asked a couple of people from the halls if I would put something on there. They’re going to be bigger concerts, good for the villages, because it’s something different, and give the people there a good night out.
“The Shadforth Village Hall holds about 100, the Jubilee Hall around 200, so we will see how these go and evolve, but they will be a bit more mainstream because they’re bigger places.”
Acts to have played at the launderette, in Marshall Terrace, Gilesgate, have included Bridie Jackson and the Arbour, who played the Glastonbury Festival after beating 8,000 others to win a spot on the bill, and Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo, who collected a Bafta for their theme music for the series of Wallander which starred Sir Kenneth Branagh.
Local acts The Lake Poets, By Toutasis and Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra have also appeared. The launderette was known as The Crescent and The Rex during its cinema days and has also been used as a bingo hall and the base for a tiling business. Mark Geary kicked off the hall shows when he played the Jubilee Hall on Friday.
The Coal Porters featuring Sid Griffin will play at the same venue on September 26, then Shadforth Village hall the next evening.
Kathryn Williams will play Shadforth Village Hall on May 3.
l For details, go to the Village Hall Sessions page on Facebook or www.oldcinemalaunderette.com.