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Lost Tribes The People's Memories.

Byline: Memories with Ken Rogers

LIKE many people who sailed on the Royal Iris during its heyday on the Mersey, I was shocked recently to see her rotting away on the Thames.

Former Frankie Goes to Hollywood bass player Brian "Nasher" Nash, who lives in London these days, had photographed her in a very sorry state and shared his dismay with ECHO readers.

Of course, I remember the Royal Iris from those days in the 1950s and 1960s when it was the pride of the Mersey Ferry fleet, having been launched in December 1950. Whenever we visited New Brighton's seaside delights it was always extra special when we were transported "across the water" by the Iris with its distinctive green and cream livery.

With its dance floor and stage, tea room, buffet, cocktail bar, and even a fish and chip saloon, it was a sight to behold. It was also famous for its pop nights in the Sixties and at some stage every group in the city - including the Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers - appeared on its stage.

In 1968, I was the 19-year-old lead singer in a group called The Circulation which was playing at venues like the Mardi Gras, Victoriana, Blue Angel, Peppermint Lounge and all the other famous city centre venues, including the Cavern. The group included my school pals, Alan Simon, John Tetlow, a talented young bass player called Tom McDermott and various drummers including John Carney.

We played on the Iris one stormy night when the definition of rock and roll had a very different meaning. We survived and we were proud to have been one of the many groups who took to that stage.

It made it all the harder to hear Brian Nash describing how the famous dance floor had crumbled and collapsed because of neglect. It's inconceivable that we can't get Lottery funding to bring her home.

Talking about unusual venues, I smile every time I walk past New Brighton's Fort Perch Rock. As a kid, I was always reminded that, during WWII WW , uncle Tom Rogers - now in his 90s - manned an anti-aircraft gun on the battlements.

Less important but personal to me was the fact that Perch Rock was a well known 1960s and 70s venue for dances and around the time we played on the Royal Iris, The Circulation also appeared at the Fort alongside that more famous Liverpool group, The Undertakers.

It was high tide and waves were crashing over the narrow slipway. One wave nearly swept away our old Bedford van. Then someone tripped on an electric cable and plunged the venue into total darkness.

I'd be interested to hear from anyone with memories of those days and here's to common sense ruling in terms of a viable plan to recover the Iris.

Contact Ken: Write: PO Box 48, Old Hall Street, L69 3EB.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 31, 2015
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