Eddie Morris
Folk

Eddie’s Story

I actually got into singing at an early age. My home was in Liverpool and I was in both the local church and school choirs. At school (Liverpool Collegiate) we did a concert with some of the Philharmonic Orchestra and some of the teachers. Have you ever tried singing the Hallelujah Chorus? Wow – what a night.

AUG 1954 – After leaving school I worked for a subsidiary of a national newspaper (possibly the Daily Mirror) checking the layout and printing of adverts in a West African magazine. After 12 months I got the job I wanted with Post Office Telephones.

Aug 1957 – I got called up to do my National Service – being a telephone engineer I was placed in the Royal Signals – after a training period I was posted to SHAPE HQ in France (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers of Europe) and worked on the NATO networks. On my last leave at home I bought a guitar from a neighbour – back in France I started learning to play – got together with a few others and made up a small skiffle group. By request we actually entertained our officers one night.I was an apprentice in the PO Telephones (eventually British Telecom) and, after doing my 2 years National Service, I was out fixing phones in the local area for some enjoyable years, then got promoted to Technical Officer in Lancaster House working on the national trunk networks – and that’s where I met BILLY MAHER. We found that we got on fine together. Billy played guitar and banjo and we started playing every Saturday night in the NEPTUNE pub in Old Hall Street, Liverpool. After a few years Billy left to sing with his wife Phil and his friend Billy Jackson. The trio was called The Jacksons. (This was before the American Jacksons). He also then went on to run a programme of chat and music on Radio Merseyside and I had the pleasure of being his guest on several occasions. I particularly remember the Christmas show when we sang some medleys of chorus songs, with guitar and banjo, for the listeners at home to join in with.

During this time I’d met my wife-to-be JOYCE who took me to my first folk club. It was in London Road in Liverpool and called The Wash-house and was run by PETE McGOVERN, the writer of “IN MY LIVERPOOL HOME”. We went there on most Saturday nights.

When Billy left the Neptune I carried on playing there and was joined by Joyce and HARRY BRAME, another workmate. Eventually we moved up the road to the CROSS KEYS pub who had a fine upstairs room and we set up as an actual folk club on a Tuesday night. We called it the POTS’0 FOLK club. (POTSSA was the Post Office Telephone Sports and Social Association which Harry and I were members of.) There was a black lad called Lenny Cruikshank who used to come and sing. He lived not far away and used to walk home with his guitar. One night he was stopped by the police who wanted to know where he got the guitar. He told them it was his own and he’d been to the POTS O’ FOLK club. As soon as he mentioned POT they took him to the station thinking there was something going on with drugs

Eventually Harry went into a band called The Liverpool Fishermen of which BRIAN JACQUES (Jakesy} was a member. Brian ran a club and then went on to have his own show on Radio Merseyside and also became world-famous for his Redwall children’s books. We became good friends and got together quite often for a do at Brian’s place along with Pete McGovern. I also went on Brian’s radio show a few times, and Pete and I went on Alan Jackson’s show together.

I was then asked by Bill Jones (another PO engineer) to become the resident singer for the WEDNESDAY FOLK CLUB at the Parkgate Hotel. This ran for some years until we got a new hotel manager who wanted to keep the room for weddings etc so both us and the Jazz club had to go.

From then on the Club went through a phase of moving to several new venues. They were Birkenhead Rugby Club, Hoylake Conservative Club, and the Eagle & Crown pub in Upton. All this didn’t go quite as well as we hoped so I decided, as Joyce and I now had 2 young boys, to take a break and we closed.

PARKGATE FOLK CLUB: About 2 years into the break, I was asked to become a resident singer at the Black Horse club run by TOM TOPPING who, in turn, was taking a break. BRIAN JONES and COLIN HENDERSON, (the other members of the Tom Topping Band (TTB)) stayed on and we sang as a trio or doing our own thing. Brian was no longer happy with the Black Horse set-up and suggested a move and had the Parkgate Hotel in mind. It now had different management. We moved there but with a BIG CHANGE – WE WOULD ONLY RUN ONCE A MONTH. It was a good move and really took off. After some time Brian aNd Colin left, Brian to play with his family band and Colin to go solo.

As the club was ticking over nicely I just had to carry on. I continued for 12 months or more and I knew of a local trio called Brass Tacks (Buddy & Mike Woods and John Owen) who I thought could perhaps help me by becoming a resident group. That was in 1996. (After some years together John moved on and opened his own club called the Hungry Horse Folk down Ellesmere Port way). After a little while the Parkgate Hotel wanted the concert room area to convert to guest rooms, so we moved just down the road to THE BOATHOUSE pub.

Parkgate Folk ran there until November 2017. In March the Fire Service closed the upstairs room we used because the staircase did not meet safety requirements. We moved to another local residence , temporarily we hoped, and didn’t get the same number of people coming and lost money on five of the six concerts already booked, and as the Boathouse was still unavailable, we closed the club in November…..The memorable thing was the last concert. We had a sizeable audience as it featured VIN GARBUTT, one of my favourite artistes, and had a great night. Sadly Vin passed on 6 months later.

One thing that I am very proud of is that during this period at Parkgate we were nominated 3 times for Folk Club of the Year in the BBBc Folk Awards.

Just some of the guests at Parkgate: Allan Taylor, Chris While & Julie Matthews, Colcannon, Cosmotheka, Dave Mallett, Eric Bogle, Gary & Vera Aspey, Harvey Andrews, Houghton Weavers, Jake Thackray, Jasper Carrot, Jeremy Taylor, Jez Lowe, Johnny Silvo, The McCalmans, North Sea Gas, Oldhan Tinkers, Sean Keane, Tom Topping Band, Tanglefoot, Vin Garbutt, A Special Monday: The Animals. and many more.

OTHER THINGS…

DURING THE SIXTIES: Things really got moving. Televsion and cars were starting to be a part of paople’s lives. Cars didn’t have radios in nor heating. This is how the song Red Velvet Steering Wheel Cover Driver by Jeremy Taylor came about. Incidentally my father-in-law was a RVSWCD. The song captures exactly how things were then. I know. I was there.

PANTOMIME: One year we put on a ‘panto’ which Joyce and I put together and it went down well, so next year we wrote another. With the help of Graham Constable, a local folk fan, we also added good lighting and background scenery involving a large white canvas, and somehow or other we also had a door and window. The pantos continued for some years and people came especially to see them. Tom Topping and Brian lupton each appeared in one and the Houghton Weavers did it one year and then asked if they could take it ‘on the road’. Joyce and I went to see them do it in Lancashire – and I was asked to play the part I played in Parkgate.

VIVA ESPANIA: Chris Rhoman from USA appeared a few timed at the club and one time he sang a parody of the song Viva Espania He’d written it for Jasper Carrott but Jasper wasn’t allowed to record it because of tune copyright. So Chris said I could have it. It was mine. I owned it, so I sang it a lot.

OUTSIDE BROADCASTS: During my time working on the phones I managed to get on to a special team called the TEO group (Transmission Efficieny Office). There was just three of us initially and one of the things we did was provide high grade lines for Outside Broadcasts commentators from Everton and Liverpool matches. I sat in the commentary boxes with them during the game just to be on hand if anything went wrong with the sound link. I remember getting a drink from the commentater Stuart Hall. Just berfore kick-off I had to go and fetch him from the bar as his Control in Manchester needed to speak to him. Hw was already on his way back when I told him, he hesitated then suddenly gave me his drink, which he’d already had a go at, and dashed back to the bar to get himself a full one.

1966 WORLD CUP semi-final at Goodisod Park (West Germany v Argentina). We provided the Sound lines for this and sweated a bit. It was going round the world. (England beat Germany in the Final).
It was also the year when Everton won the FA Cup and Liverpol won the League.
Oh – and Jooyce and I got married. Phew! What a year.

CANADA TRANSATLANTIC TELEPHONE CABLE: This submarine cable went under tha Atlantic Ocean from Bristol area to Canada. It was arranged that our Prime Ministers would make the initial call over it. Our Prime Minister Harold Wilson insisted that he would be at his constituency in Huyton, Liverpool. You never take chances on these sort of occassions. In order to avoid the chance of the dialled call getting possibly misrouted along the way, we provided a designated link on trunk cables down to Bristol to connect to the sub/cable.
I still have the local PO magazine somewhere that has a picture of me on the front wearing headphones, monitoring Harold Wilson in the next room talking to Pierre Trudeau.

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