Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bradford Locarno Ballroom Colour Bar 1960-1962

Pickets for colour bar ballroom

Bradford's colour bar ballroom, the mecca owned Locarno, will be the scene of a mass protest picket on Saturday night ( 11th November 1961) by young trade unionists and students.

Protests by local clergymen and councillors have failed to get the management to withdraw its ban on coloured men not accompanied by a partner from entering the dance hall.
Mr Alan Boyce, the ballroom manager has confirmed that the ruling applied only to coloured people and power to drop it was at his discretion.

Boyce also stated that he was only concerned with "protecting our womenfolk"

Leeds University students representating Labour, communist, liberal, baptist Methodist and African societies are supporting the picket, which starts at 7:30pm. Leeds participants are urged to catch the 6.36 pm Bradford train from Central station

12th November 500 strong picket by students, trade unionists, Labour party, socialists and Young Communists of the Locarno with posters stating "Beat racialism now" and "Outlaw the colour bar"

According to the Daily Worker the local Pakistani community joined the picket to express support. Mr M. Hussain a clerk in a textile mill said "unless the colour bar is stopped here it will spread"

Daily worker 8 November 1961

The Musicians Union stated 17th November 1961 that the policy of Mecca owned Locarno was "one of which Dr Verwoerd (South Africa apartheid President) and the late Adolf Hitler would be proud"

Bradford Trades Council Secretary Councillor Jim Backhouse stated " We are calling upon the ballroom management to treat all its clients alike"

In reply to the local Students Union Mr C. L. Heimann of Mecca stated "nature has made us different"

Students voted 230 - 4 to reaffirm their opposition to racial discrimination and condemning the Mecca colour bar

Bradford and Leeds Students (Leeds University Anti Racialist Committee) were at the forefront of the campaign against the Colour bar.

A planned student march in Bradford against the Colour bar was banned by the Police Chief Constable as was demonstrations close to the Locarno. The Police also issued an order restricting city centre processions to 20 people. Students were threatened by the police with £50 fines or three months in prison if their was a breach in the order by Police Supt P E Keep.

Keith Jones Press Secretary of Students Anti Racialist Committee " This is a complete infringement of our democratic right to demonstrate against the evils of the colour bar"

The first meeting of West Riding Co-ordinating Committee against racial discrimination was held on 22nd November 1961 at 40 St Paul's Road, Bradford


On the 13th January 1962 The Musicians Union introduced a boycott and "Blacked" the Locarno.

By the 30th January 1962 the Colour Bar at Bradford's Locarno had been reversed.

The "Mecca" Locarno at Bradford had been built in 1960 on Manningham Lane, Bradford
. Built at a cost £500,000 to build opened September 1961 and held 2,500 dancers.