When the music’s over…

By Jamie White

Friday, November 2, 2012

 

When the music’s over…

Colonel Bogeys.

WIGHT LIVING IT HAS played host to music groups, including Take That and Atomic Kitten, actors such as Martin Kemp and Steve McFadden and has been the instigator for countless relationships and even marriages.

But on Sunday, it will be the end of an era when Colonel Bogey’s — the Island’s longest-running nightclub — shuts its doors for the last time after 40 years.

When you speak to someone on the Island about Bogey’s, you can almost guarantee they have been there — myself included — and it was probably their first experience of a nightclub.

Despite gallant efforts to keep the club open during very tough economic times in recent years, owner Wayne Peak and his wife, Elizabeth, have reluctantly accepted defeat.

The club will close, along with the adjacent Jolly Sailor pub, Wight City holiday flats and the Wight City arcade — and it is not a decision Wayne has taken lightly.

"We’ve tried just about everything we can to keep the club open but sadly it is no longer viable. Over the past four or five years, it’s simply been a case of 'use it or lose it’ and unfortunately we cannot afford to keep it going any longer.

"The trend of people going out to a club seems to have changed. People are staying in and buying cheap alcohol from the supermarket. The smoking ban has also had a big effect.

"There have been some really depressing times when it has been so quiet. It’s been soul destroying.

"The recession and a lack of summer visitors, combined with the increase in government duties and licence fees, has all played its part.

"We are not in what I would call a 'bar street’. We are an isolated venue, which people have to travel to and Sandown has changed a great deal over the years.

"Later licences for pubs mean people now tend to stay there longer. Fewer people will come to a nightclub," he said.

Wayne and Elizabeth took charge in April 1982, ten years after Bogey’s first opened, when it was open six nights a week.

In 1997, the club had to be completely refurbished following a fire and a new theme of Heaven and Earth was adopted.

Atomic Kitten

Atomic Kitten at Bogeys in 2001.

Wayne continued: "When we bought the club, it only had a capacity of 250 people. But we did a lot of building work and extended it several times to create a capacity of 700 in the club, with a further 300 in the Jolly Sailor.

"The work was done because the demand was there at that time.

"There have been some fantastic nights over the years — we even had a young Take That perform.

"Our best years were probably in the early to mid-90s, but in the early 2000s we had quite a few of the EastEnders cast making appearances and it was a huge draw.

"We’ve also had top DJs, including Tony Blackburn, Trevor Nelson and DJ Spoony."

Sandown Pier, which is also owned by Wayne and Elizabeth, will not be affected by the closures.

"The pier has been propping up Wight City because we have been losing substantial amounts of money. This has been our worst ever year.

"We plan to refurbish the pier over the winter months and we are always looking for exciting new attractions," he said.

General manager Dave Hollidge, who started as a DJ, has worked at the site for 22 years and he admits Sunday will be a sad day.

"Personally, I have some fantastic memories and I know many others have too. Bogey’s has been a big part of the Island community.

"Tonight (Friday) we have seven DJs from days gone by and then tomorrow (Saturday) it’s the last ever 80s night and we want to go out with a bang.

"We will be moving all our live football coverage from the Jolly Sailor to Scruffy Jack’s bar on the pier," said Dave.

As a result of the site closure, around 30 staff members will be made redundant, most of whom have worked at the Wight City site for many years.

"We have some fantastic loyal staff, most of whom have been with us for a long time, a lot longer than they probably planned," said Dave.

"People have made lifelong friends and we've always tried to keep staff happy." 

New Years Eve at Bogeys

New Year's Eve at Bogeys in 2006.

A planning application by Wight City Leisure to convert the site, based on the corner of Fort Street and Culver Parade, into a mixture of apartments with commercial and retail units, and a bar and restaurant, was refused by the IW Council’s planning committee in 2010.

A revised application was again refused earlier this year but a new application will be submitted.

Wayne added: "Although we are shutting the club, we will be proceeding with a planning application to restore a landmark site.

"Modifying this building isn’t an option. We want to make the site a focal point for the town and lead a regeneration in Sandown, which it really needs.

"An application won’t be submitted this year but only when we are ready. We will be working very closely with the planners to get it right. We’ve had good support from Sandown Town Council, in particular Cllr Heather Humby and clerk Val Taylor.

"We are closing one chapter but opening another one."

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