At The Oxford (A Tribute to Don Smith)

CHORUS;
At The Oxford in Newcastle, that’s where we used to meet
There were plenty’ lasses on the floor dancing to the beat
And if you got to take one home, your night would be complete
There was many a match made at The Oxford

On Mondays and on Thursdays there were teenybobber nights
All the dolled up school girls wearing mini-skirts and tights
All the lads walked ’round the floor and some got into fights
There was a many a black eye at The Oxford

CHORUS

And on the other ev’nings you had to be eighteen
On Tuesdays and on Fridays the lads were always keen
To join the lasses on the floor and some would cause a scene
There was many a face slapped at The Oxford

CHORUS

On Sat’days pops and oldies, were played by Don Smith’s Band
You could tell the courting couples, they were always holding hands
And on Sundays formal dancing, that I could never stand
That’s when I propped the bar up at The Oxford

CHORUS

Words & Music by Wilf Mitford

Credits : Recorded at Project Studios, Newcastle Upon Tyne 1st August 1989.  Guitar & vocals, Wilf Mitford.

This song is a wonderful snapshot of the music and dance hall scene in the 1960s.  Wilf has many recollections of this period of time in Newcastle, particularly venues such as La Dolce Vita & The Cavendish as well as The Oxford Galleries which this song was written about.  It was an absolute hay day of live music and dancing in Newcastle.   He went there from about the age of 15 and well into his twenties when it became Tiffany’s.  He has particularly strong memories of Don Smith & His Orchestra, hence this song being a tribute to the popular big band leader of the time.

The song also resonates with me, as the venue became a regular haunt of mine in my late teens / early twenties when it was called The Ritzy (with Central Park connected next door).  Whilst the 60s & 70s saw wonderful live bands, including big bands like Don Smith’s, the 90s was all about the rave scene.  In my day at the club, as our budgets were limited would drink a few treble vodkas (!) at Dobsons along the road before we headed either to Central Park (in the days when they then would open the doors internally into the Ritzy) or we’d join the huge queue outside in the cold.  Nothing much had changed when it came to the mini skirts & the lads getting into fights. 

Another memory from Wilf is taking the parents there when he and his wife Maggie bought their first house.  He treated them to a slap up meal in the restaurant in what was at that time Tiffany’s.   

The Oxford Galleries building is 94 this month with the official opening having happened in June 1925.  It underwent some serious renovations in recent years and now provides the frontage for much needed student accommodation in the ever expanding University city which boasts the University of Northumbria and Newcastle University.

If you’re keen to know more about 1960s nightlife in Newcastle then there’s a great blog called Ready Steady Gone by a musician from that era called Roger Smith.  You can also view a photo of Don Smith & His Orchestra at The Oxford on Flickr

Creative Commons License
At The Oxford by Wilf Mitford is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://mitfordmusic.wordpress.com/.

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