The Trent House takes off
We've now reached October 1989 & with it's lease bought out, the Trent House was effectively ours now & properly established. We still played in Clubs each night as well, but we pretty much threw our whole lives into that little Bar & became totally & utterly obsessed, with every inch of it.
It was where we grew up & we loved it with all our hearts. It now began to get national & international recognition for its overall groove & especially its far out jukebox.
The multiracial, all inclusive ethos, really started to get across to people & the Bar slowly grew & moved forward.
As attitudes began to change, people started to take notice & it became very well known for all the right reasons.
People started to love it & friendliness in Newcastle seemed to us to be moving forward too. Our tagline was…
‘Trent House, For Health & Beauty All Seasons of the Year’.
Upstairs behind the Trent ladies toilets there was a hidden little room. According to legend, this had been used by strippers way back in the 70s, so they could get changed, back when the Bar had been prehistoric & done stuff like that. Entering the 90s, nipple tassels & crotch pie for Sunday dinner, were not the vibe, but evidently the 70s had welcomed an altogether different kind of caper.
We actually found loads of mad old porn mags in there, proper fuzzy bush, sat on a hay bale, 70s stylee, so there was some element of truth in the legend, as that hidden room had deffo been a porno zone of some sort prior to us taking over.
We wanted to improve the toilets, so we got Grieg, an art student who was working with us at the time, to paint loads of angels, cherubs & toilet rolls up there, to try & create a heavenly, 'Sistine Chapel' type-vibe - just in an ex-strippers, pub toilet.
It actually turned out pretty well in the end as you can see - tres classical...
Yes it was a bit bizarre, but totally a Trent House type of groove. It's a prime example of early wall art from our gang, hinting towards the extensive mural culture we have evolved to create in the Club today.
Unfortunately, not all the young ladies who frequented our fine establishment appreciated this attempt to raise the level of culture & the Trent ladies toilet cubicles became a radically different artistic 'gallery.'
A contrasting, notorious & consistent, graffiti wonderland.
No one was safe & we'd have to constantly check them, to ensure our glowing reputations were not being besmirched, by the visceral & often hilarious humour & repeated character assassinations, that staff were subjected to on a daily basis.
As you can see, young Floyd (on the left), always did well, whist other staff members (stage right) were not always quite so lucky...
It's a Family Affair
Most people who knew the Bar would probably say that Family Affair by Sly Stone was our biggest Trent House ever tune. Nailed the vibe & became totally synonymous with us, but in truth there were hundreds.
Eventually technology moved forward. Computers arrived (that ordinary people like us could afford) & we burnt loads of our rare vinyl to CD, to improve the sound quality in the bar & save our best records from getting mashed up on the box.
This also meant that (once we'd spent forever burning it all), sat alongside all the Trent's beautiful Soul, Northern & Studio #1 Reggae etc., we could now expand to far-out album tracks & mad 8 minute Disco 12's, that we didn’t have on 7″ vinyl.
This opened up the floodgates & it was total, utter, jukebox hyperspace time...
We went completely nuts & the music just got better & better - It was bananas..!
The Original iPod
Living with that mind-blowing Jukebox on a daily basis in the Trent, it was honestly as if we owned the only i-pod there had ever been in the world. It was magical.
Just imagine if no one else had ever had, heard or seen one & couldn't ever believe that a phone could play music as they do now - These were the times & this was the magical Jukebox that soundtracked them
Only we had it & other people couldn't even begin to understand how it was possible anything could be so musically diverse & great. It was all the best music we knew all in one place, our culture from a lifetime of mad collecting. It was like utter magic & it was the very heart of the Bar.
So that's how it was, a time when the Trent House in it's Jukie, effectively had the only i-pod in existence, packed tight with the greatest, rarest music known to man.
No wonder everyone was stunned in wonder at it's total musical magnificence, so were we..!
It’s also no wonder we were way more than just the city’s top cool Bar. We raised it higher then anyone could have ever dreamed.
The Trent Jukebox was able to work as a prototype i pod, as we simply constructed it from a world of vinyl. No getting regularly updated chart hits from the Jukebox supplier, like other places did. No boring Phil Collins filler tracks from some knobs CD 'collection'.
None of that waffle everywhere else did. Trent House - All killers no fillers. Choice cuts, selected with the real love that comes from having & living as, a musical encyclopedia.
Musically, back then it simply didn’t seem possible. As this was years before i-pods were ever invented, years before digital radio stations (that don’t just play chart shite all day), or the downloads of today were even a thing & we properly blew people’s minds…
The Trent back then with all the work we put into the music there, was now racing off so way ahead of the curve, that we had no idea of all the wonderful places it was going to take us.
As the selection was ever changing & ever expanding, we were always light years ahead of anywhere else & people came to the Bar specifically to play the jukebox.
It’s 100% correct to surmise that the real diverse musical roots of WHQ today, grew out of that jukebox.
We knew we were onto something special that really meant a lot to loads of people.
It had taken a long time, lots of hard work & cuts & bruises, but knowing both cities as well as we did, we knew that The Trent House Soul Bar in Newcastle, was now equal to, if not better than, the majority of cool Bars in Amsterdam.
Once again we had the city’s Underground scene locked… Totally.
The Fabulous Barker Boys
We ‘inherited’ Mr. Alan Barker when we took over the Bar. Alan was a great friend (& at times guide) to us, did all our decorating & was a mad NUFC fan, he never missed a game. He was like the ‘Mayor’ of the Bar’s football crowd & when the Bar would heave every match day, Alan was always in there & his warm personality absolutely filled the place.
Alan had three sons, there was 'Young' Alan, who was like the straight guy, Davey who was the handy man & Gary who was one of the finest hustlers we have ever met...
Need a car..? See Gary. New Trainers..? See Gary. Need a pet giraffe..? Gary's the man.
All really great lads & especially Davey went on to become invaluable, in helping us to fit out the original WHQ & do what seemed like a never ending list of jobs, as we sanded, tweaked & crafted the Trent & WHQ to utter perfection over many years.
So many daft laughs & yarns were had together, that we wouldn’t even know where to begin telling them, but without Davey’s help, much of what we dreamed up & then set out to achieve look wise, for both the Bar & the Club would never have been possible.
Time Marches On
As time marched on & years turned into decades we kept it tight. The Trent was the first ever Observer bar of the week, was then featured in GQ Golden Bar Guide & really started to reach people, becoming known all over the country & beyond for it’s music & diversity…
Whilst it was a nice surprise, it was water off a duck’s back really, as we were so deep into it we didn’t care what people looking in might have thought.
We ran it because we just always had. It had been the start of good things for us & we were properly, totally, in love with it.