My Royal Flower

SHORTLY after Batley Variety Club's 10th anniversary, it got a royal seal of approval with a visit from the Duchess of Kent.

The Duchess visited the club on May 17, 1977, for a Royal Gala Evening in aid of the Queen's Silver Jubilee Appeal.

Batley Variety Club regular, comedian Charlie Williams, was the hit of the night along with the Bachelors, the first artists to appear at the club.

The show was compered by Emmerdale actor Frazer Hines, and other celebrities attending included Jackie Trent and Tony Hatch, Derek Hobson, Shirley Wilson, Mighty Atom and Roy, January, Noel Talbot and Pat O'Hare and the Ken Newton Variety Showband.


Guests included the Mayor and Mayoress of Kirklees, Coun and Mrs Alistair Mason and the chairman of West Yorkshire County Council, Coun H Sheldon and Mrs Sheldon.

The Duchess, who Charlie Williams called 'my royal flower' told a happy audience: "It doesn't take much to persuade me back to my native county and particularly to Batley."

Club owner Betty Corrigan presented a cheque for 3,300 on the night to the Duchess towards the appeal. Husband James did not attend.

The Duchess said it was the first cheque she had received for the appeal and she was glad it came from Batley.

Sadly this was to be one of the last major events at Batley Variety Club as the following year it closed.

Allan Clegg, general manager at the club, said he knew the end was coming.

"Betty and James were getting divorced and we couldn't get the stars to come any more," he said.

"They realised they could get the same money playing for two nights at Wembley as they could for doing a week at Batley. It just started petering out and I knew it was coming to an end."


Allan had started up an agency, MAP, looking after some of the acts he had met at Batley Variety Club and booking them at working men's clubs.

But around 18 months after the club closed he went back into the building trade and started his own business.

"Towards the end it just got harder to try and keep it going," said Allan.

"I think variety will come back again in a big way, but probably not for around 50 years."