PHOTOS AND VIDEO: When Whitehaven's Park nightclub was the place to go

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19 July 2017 11:50AM

As the news breaks that parts of Whitehaven's Park nightclub will be demolished next week, we take a look back at the days when it was an integral part of a night out in the town.

Here are some photos from the abandoned nightclub, taken by local photographer Dave Wilson.

Dave says: "This was once the premiere nightspot in Whitehaven. It was open for around 16 years and saw many changes in music and provided entertainment for tens of thousands of people during this time.

“I don't exaggerate when I say that this building was part of people’s lives. I know part of what I am today was shaped in this place.

I don't exaggerate when I say that this building was part of people’s lives

“With so many memories it was quite disturbing to go back one last time.

"Taking a look now, it’s obvious that a lot of time, thought and money went into this place. It’s a crying shame that it ultimately closed.”

Here's a feature we ran in 2012 when planning permission was granted to demolish the building.

That planning permission has since lapsed and new permission has been granted to knock down the building.

ANDREW CLARKE says.....

Between its grand opening in 1989 and its last hurrah on New Year’s Eve 2005, The Park was the place to be on a Saturday night.

Mark McLaughlin, Chris Pool and Paul Johnston, all popular DJs at The Park for much of its run, raise a glass to their former residency.

“I worked in there from January 1998 until the day it closed,” said Mark.

He has also created a tribute video to The Park.

“I started my Park ‘career’ as a glass collector, and within 12 months of working there I’d been sacked three times for not turning up for work because I wanted to go see Judge Jules and Pete Tong DJ at Cream in Liverpool.

“My big break came as I became The Park’s resident DJ in the spring of 1999 and the downstairs dancefloor was mine!

“The best memory I have is of my trademark song. It’s a tune known locally as Up Banana by Afrika Bambaataa, and the good folk of Whitehaven still ask me to play it now. It’s stood the test of time and, 14 years later, it still fills the dancefloor today.

“I can remember playing it at The Park and watching a sea of people flood the dancefloor. All the folks who were enjoying the dance music upstairs would come downstairs and the feeling you would get at more than 300 people bouncing up and down to a song you’ve put on is immense.

“Usually within a minute of my playing the song, the DJs from upstairs would rush downstairs and give me a right earbashing because I’d managed to clear their dancefloor!

“The Park holds a very treasured place in my heart because it’s where I got my first big break and I’ve since worked all over the world.”

Paul Johnston was DJ at The Park and The Whitehouse, on and off, from 1990 to 2002.

“When I first started,” he recalls, “it was open seven nights. In fact my first night there was a Tuesday. I made some great friends and have some great memories of my time in both establishments.

“One of the funniest things I remember was from Christmas Eve in 1990, when I was DJing alongside my good friend, Kevin Thirlwell.

“Kevin had a great idea that at midnight he would abseil from the balcony onto the dancefloor, dressed as Santa and distribute gifts to the revellers.

“Before we opened, the door staff spent ages setting up the rope that ‘Santa’ would slide down.

Kevin had even invested in a pair of thick rubber gloves so that the rope wouldn’t burn his hands on the way down.

"At midnight, as planned, Santa appeared on the balcony, he waved and threw a few gifts out to the crowd.

Then it was time for the main event. Santa started a countdown before he launched himself onto the rope.

It was at this point he regretted the rubber gloves, as instead of sliding down, he just hung there from the rope, dangling above the dancefloor.

"As he hung, his Santa robe opened up and left him with no choice but to let go of the rope, and he landed on his bottom in the middle of the dancefloor!

“For those of us that grew up in the 80s and 90s, we were lucky.

"There was an abundance of great venues, and alcohol was cheap enough that you could afford to go out two or three times a week, if not more.”

Chris Pool was at The Park for its opening night in 1989 as an electrician working on the lights system, and as DJ for its last night in 2005.

“It was the place to be,” says Chris. “The first song ever played there was A Walk in the Park by The Nick Straker Band, and we managed to find it again and it was one of the last songs to be played on the last night.”

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