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Coda, The Venue and more: Looking back at what the Frog and Bucket venue used to be

Posted on - 21st August, 2014 - 8:00pm | Author - | Posted in - News, Nostalgia, Observations, Preston City Centre
Coda was the previous name for the venue before the Frog and Bucket took over

Coda was the previous name for the venue before the Frog and Bucket took over Pic: Tony Worrall

The building which houses the soon to close Frog and Bucket has been an entertainment venue for decades.

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As The Frog and Bucket, it hosted shows by stars from John Bishop to The Boy With Tape on his Face to radio and TV presenter Terry Christian.

In particular, Sarah Millican seemed to love the place and it became her favourite venue to host hush-hush tryout gigs, testing new material on a live audience as she geared up to launch her prime time TV chat show.

But many older Prestonians will remember the Lord’s Walk site as Moonraker’s, a lively music pub which hosted live bands as far back as the 1960s.

Over the years, it bore many other names, becoming The Amsterdam Bar and also The Blue Moon for many years.

There was also a stint as a fun pub called Pacha’s, under the ownership of Colin Durnan, the founder of Preston’s Hollywood Bar which once dominated Deepdale Road’s nightlife. Sadly Colin passed away in July this year.

The building was even once a mecca for local football fans when it became the PNE themed Townend Bar.

As the Blue Moon, it once attracted this somewhat harsh review. “Could be described as a pub or club, however it is the worst dive in Preston and should be avoided at all costs.”

However, other reviewers described it as a good pre-club venue.

Around 2004, the building was taken over by another local promoter, John Bates, who ran the 12 Bar music venue on Church Street.

John moved the 12 Bar to this new home, reviving the glory days of the Moonraker by making it a key place for live music.

After John, who also sadly died a few years ago, sold up, it was taken over by Des McIlroy, who previously ran another live music club, The Mill, in Preston.

He transferred operations to Lords Walk and changed the name to The Venue. It remained as The Venue even after he sold up but was then taken over by a group of local club promoters, who ran a night called Beats of Rage.

By this time, the building had fallen within the zone intended for eventual demolition due to the illfated Tithebarn Project and the Beats of Rage boys believed they would be its final tenants.

So they renamed it Coda – the name signifying the final bars of a piece of music – and it became a dance club.

Quickly attracting a strong following, they were even named by club bible, Mixmag, as one of the top clubnights in the North West.

Beats of Rage founder Matt Fawbert said: “It was a great little club which felt like a proper old-school music venue, something that Preston is a little short of these days.

“We took on the club as young men with big ideas and little know-how and actually managed to make something of the place and were building towards potential further success.”

But their efforts ended suddenly when The Frog and Bucket bought out the building as part of their plans for a new dedicated comedy club, their first outside Manchester.

Beats of Rage has continued as a club night and, five years on, Matt is philosophical about it.

He says: “In the end, this was probably for the best as we really didn’t have the experience between us to keep it going long-term. But, who knows what would have happened really? Bigger club success stories have been built on less.”

And, as The Frog and Bucket moves on after five laughter filled years, who knows what the future has in store for the place now?

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