THE LANDFALL STORY - D-DAY LANDING CRAFT THAT BECAME A NIGHTCLUB CLUBSHIP (LCT 7074) - ATHENAEUM LIBRARY OF PHILOSOPHY

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1968


It is in Liverpool way back in the heady days of
the late sixties. The Beatles are at their height




The redistribution of wealth that has happened in Britain brings in its wake a substantial increase of disposable income in the pockets of the people of the city. To provide for this new market, leisure activities mushroom all over the city and these include nightclubs. In those days, I've a business partner called Ronnie Potter. We run an illuminated decorative sign business named Novo Art Ltd, which specialises in a process, which I've patented. We use fragments of broken glass to create colourful products.


I first set eyes on LCT 7074 in the winter of 1968 when a business friend of mine Mr. John Coulter who was a member of the The Merseyside Master Mariners  Club, invited my business partner Ronnie Potter and I to have lunch with him and we went aboard together.  During the meal John Coulter mentioned that the  committee intended to invite a firm of outside caterers to provide the lunch time meals, because the tasks involved were becoming too onerous for the aging members.  After a quick  discussion Ronnie and I immediately offered to provide such a service on a franchise basis.  It was agreed that if we produced   appropriate proposals including sample menus ,etc.  he would submit them to the committee for their consideration.

The redistribution of wealth that has happened in Britain brings in its wake a substantial increase of disposable income in the pockets of the people of the city. To provide for this new market, leisure activities mushroom all over the city and these include nightclubs. In those days, I've a business partner called Ronnie Potter. We run an illuminated decorative sign business named Novo Art Ltd, which specialises in a process, which I've patented. We use fragments of broken glass to create colourful products.

The Merseyside Master Mariners Club was located  aboard  a converted ex-wartime Tank Landing Craft LCT 7074 mark lll known as The Clubship Landfall.   The vessel had been give to them by the British Admiralty in grateful recognition for the help that the Mercantile Marine had provided during  the war.

Ronnie and I have recently expanded our activities to include the supply of club furniture and other clubland services. Our company specialises in illuminated murals, which lend themselves superbly to the dim interiors of clubs; consequently, we are interested in seeing inside the Landfall. Mr John Coulter, our business contact happens to be a member of The Merseyside Master Mariners Club, which owns the vessel.  

The atmosphere and general décor of the Landfall is very old fashioned. It is redolent of one of those posh London clubs, where old men in leather armchairs fall asleep behind copies of the Times. The food leaves much to be desired, bthough   the staff are very professional and eager to please. At the time of our visit in February 1969, Ronnie and I can see that the novelty value of a floating club has a tremendous commercial potential. If the Landfall is given a face-lift and made accessable to the public, it can be a real money-spinner. The ageing membership does not encourage new blood. The patrons of the establishment are mostly connected with the shipping industry in some way or other.

The certificated masters have dwindled to a small band that only occassionally and briefly visit the club to attend the Annual Dinner. In the main, the rest are a motley band of shipping agents, painting contractors, forwarding agents and the like. For the most part, they are all decent gentlemen of the older type. The club's slipping into a gentle decline. It doesn't open at all in the evenings. The Landfall has nestled quietly against the old quayside at Canning Dock for the last 21 years. At this stage nobody is aware of her detailed history, it isn't known that the ex-tank landing craft has seen active service in seaborne assaults  on enemy occupied territory during the last war.

I contact the Admiralty and get all the wartime history of the craft. It confirms that the cessation of hostilities it was presented as a gift by the Admiralty, to The Master Mariners of Liverpool who had performed such heroic deeds in the Battles of the Atlantic. The Mersey Docks and Harbour Board willingly provided a berth.

On September the 20 1948, Admiral Sir Max K. Horton, in the company of Admiral Sir Percy Noble, The Lord Mayor of Liverpool, The Earl of Derby and Viscount Leverhulme, re-launched the most exclusive club in Liverpool. After her extensive remodelling, the rather plain warship had lost her unromantic number and was renamed The Clubship Landfall. The Merseyside Master Mariners Club had a membership of some 100 active or retired ship's masters at the time. The venture had the full support of The Merseyside Ship Owners Association and The Landfall was installed as a landmark in Liverpool's maritime history.

Shortly after our visit, Ronnie and I started negotiations with Mr. Michael Coventry of the Merseyside Master Mariners Club, with the intention of obtaining the catering concession aboard the Clubship Landfall. The Master Mariners are fighting desperately to keep the club going, but are finding the increasing overheads and administrative load too much.

Following a complicated chain of circumstances Ronnie and I are introduced to a city centre businessman named Colin Peers. Colin is thirty-six years old, having been born in Isleworth, Middlesex in 1936. He's attended Acton Technical College where he passed his City & Guilds examination in catering. After completing a valuable year's tuition at the famous Ritz Hotel under its renowned chef Monsieur Avignon, he serves his country in the Royal Air Force, becoming personal chef to the base chief. After completing his military service, he returns to the Ritz Hotel for a further year. Then comes a period as chef in a smart country club in Buckinghamshire, followed by a two year stint as chef on an oil rig near Das Island, Trucial Oman States.

Returning to the U. K., he meets Mr Roberts of the successful north-west-catering group 'Robleys', eventually reaching the position of assistant manager at Liverpool's Airport Restaurant. I963 sees him with his own catering business and marries a pretty Liverpool-born wife Dianne.


Colin owns an all night sandwich-bar cum coffee stall known as The Hole in the Wall. in the downtown district of Liverpool His main clientele were taxi drivers and other denizens of the night, but more importantly, Colin had the catering concession at a well-known nightclub The Cabin.


He'd all the hallmarks of an excellenhird partner for the project, having the catering ability and the expertise. Would he be interested in joining as a third partner in the venture? Colin came and gave the place a look over, and said yes immediately.




I was was a partner with my partner Ronnie in a mural manufacturing company. I once introduced Ronnie to an important businessman as "Ronnie Partner my potter" which caused a lot of laughs at the time.

Behind me is my Novo Art illuminated glass mural of the world which was much admired by visiting seamen. It's construction, which was covered by my patent consisted of the fragments of shattered motor car windscreens. First we cleaned them, then we wrapped a blanket around them, and then we tapped an edge with a hammer. We had ladies employed *popping* the glass fragments onto a sheet of safety glass which had the outlineline of the subject painted on the back-face.
 Coloured shapes of acetate film allowed us to produces beautiful crystaline effects which in a suitable ambient light (such as that in a dimly-lit nightclub) was quite stunning.

Sadly Ronnie decided to leave the company and strike out on his own in the tarmac business - he later went to live in London and established a painting business.

Eventually agreement was reached between the Merseyside Master Mariners Club and our newly formed company Compass Catering [which we registered as a Limited Company on 15 July 1969], took over the running of the Clubship Landfall on the 1st of February 1968.

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