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MUSIC & THE ARTS

Farewell, the Cornwall Coliseum

By chief hack Ignatius Rake

Posted April 16, 2015
the cornwall coliseum just outside st austell
A shadow of its former self: The Cornwall Coliseum, near St Austell. (Check bottom for credit)

Work has begun on the demolition of the Cornwall Coliseum, a once great gig venue reduced to a stomach-turning eyesore.


So, farewell then, the Cornwall Coliseum.

Once the venue for gigs by such greats as the Damned, the Clash and the Jam and such not-so-greats as T'Pau, Freddie Star and Cliff 'Don't Mention the Elm Guest House (Allegedly)' Richard, the structure had lain dormant, a rotting eyesore on St Austell Bay's Crinnis Beach, since 2003.

Now it's about to be bulldozed for ever.

Another good bit of the town gone the way of the dodo.


the clash played the cornwall coliseum
The Clash: They played St Austell, be. (Check bottom for credit)


GLASSES
According to that bastion of unadulterated facts they call Wikipedia, the structure began life in the 1930s as a sports and leisure centre for the well-to-do, although this particular hack was always told it was originally some kind of airship hangar.

Either way, the fact remains that for generations of locals it was the only place to see any half-decent bands without having to traipse across the Tamar into deepest, darkest Pow Sows.

In fact, I once broke my glasses there after winning a free ticket to see the Charlatans back in the days of Madchester flares and the like.



quasars and the ocean suite
Not just gigs: Quasars (blue hand) and the Ocean Suite (red hand). (Check bottom for credit)


Q-Q-Q-QUASARS. BE SEEN THERE
More than just a gig venue, though, it was also home to the Ocean Suite, where many an 18th birthday party or Sixth Form Social descended into drunken fumblings, pissed-up shenanigans and the involuntary emptying of stomachs "to make room for more beer", as Stevie Mosh used to put it.

It also boasted the Quasars (latterly Gossips) night club, a cheesy tacky pit of sticky carpets and crap tunes where the old 11pm licensing laws could be kept at bay for a few extra hours every Thursday and Saturday night through the copious downing of Mad Dog 20/20s, watered-down lager and pints of barley wine split with Special Brew.

And all the while the boy racers pulled handbrake turns and did doughnuts in the vast car park outside.

Yep, provided you could get past Murray the bouncer, it was a classy place, a local institution and a definite boon to the town and surrounding area.

Even if that long walk back up the hill was a killer after 16 pints of fizz.



RIP Joey Ramone: He played St Austell too. Twice. (Check bottom for credit)


GOD BLESS YOU, JOEY!
Then someone had the bright idea to turn it into a multi-million-pound resort for the wealthy.

The Coliseum closed.

The planning process stalled and for the past 12 years, one of the finest beaches on the Cornish South Coast became a post-apocalyptic wasteland where you might expect a load of Mad Maxes to live, except Tina Turner would be playing there no more.

Like so many locals of my generation, the Coliseum was an integral part of my youth, the setting for everything, from the heights of teenage 'romance' to soggy chips, a split eyebrow and even a broken ankle.

Then yesterday (15/4/15), the heavy plant moved in to finally put this once-proud hound out of its misery.

Or as Rake & Herald executive editor Wolfgang Bang puts it: "On the 14th anniversary of Joey Ramone's death, St Austell Council gave tribute to him by demolishing the only venue in Cornwall the Ramones had played twice."

"The luxury apartments and private beach will be a fitting monument to this band's upstart, misfit, every-kid punk rock ethos."

Quite.

RIP the Coliseum.

They should've just kept it as it was.

A big-name gig venue with the longest bar in Europe.

Twats.


Eternal editor's note: According to the West Briton, demolition will take about a month to complete, with work on the new 'development' slated to start in the autumn. Once finished, it will "include 500 new homes, retail outlets and leisure facilities, such as a spa, gym, swimming pool, sports hall, restaurants and cafes", and "encompass the Crinnis, Shorthorn and Polgaver beaches". Whether it will be a much-loved finishing point for bands on their national and worldwide tours seems highly unlikely. However, more info on the £250m ($373.4m) 'project' can be found here if you're interested.

From what I gather, Bang and Rakey actually heard them blowing out the supports of the main structure while tramping across the cliffs a few months back but it wasn't until yesterday that the demolition got underway proper, as captured by this footage from Ben Power's
YouTube channel, which you can check out here.




And if you think it's just Herr Bang, Rakey and yours truly that remember the Coliseum in its former glory, think again because here's Cornish comedian Kernow King with his own trip down memory lane, embedded here on the Cornwall-tastic
Rake & Herald from his YouTube channel that's well worth a gander here.




See also It's all kicking off in St Austell, posted 12/8/13; Charlestown bogs sell for £115k, posted 30/3/15; and Cornish planning corruption exposed, posted 21/3/15, among many others.


Ignatius Rake
is a freelance journalist, geographer and world traveller who has visited more than 70 countries on six continents. In 2013, he represented the UK at the Fourth Annual Smoke's Poutinerie World Poutine Eating Championship in Toronto, coming an abysmal last and getting his arse royally whipped by Rake & Herald reader and Major League Eating speedscarfing supremo Joey 'Jaws' Chestnut. He has been known to like a pint.


Picture credits

Top and thumb: The derelict Cornwall Coliseum by roger geach.

Second: The Clash by Helge Øverås.

Third: Quasars and the Ocean Suite using an original image by Brian.

Fourth: Joey Ramone by Yves Lorson.

For licensing information click the above links.



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