Memories of Blackpool’s biggest club

The Syndicate Nightclub
The Syndicate Nightclub
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‘Queues round the block, bars running out of drinks and mayhem in the foyer...’

That was the scene in Blackpool 14 years ago this week, as Britain’s biggest superclub – with a capacity of more than 4,000 – opened in the heart of Blackpool.

Opening of The Syndicate nightclub

Opening of The Syndicate nightclub

The silver-clad Syndicate Superclub’s first night took place on December 12, 2002.

And the opening night proved very popular – according to The Gazette, “It was full from the word go and there were still people clamouring to get in at midnight and beyond.”

Club supremo Peter Stringfellow cut the metaphorical ribbon and played the ceremonial first record – Danni Minogue’s Put A Needle On It – and was thanked by Syndicate director Mike Nordwind as “the man who started clubbing in the UK.”

A year after opening, the Syndicate was declared UK Club Of The Year 2003.

Peter Stringfellow at the opening of The Syndicate nightclub

Peter Stringfellow at the opening of The Syndicate nightclub

And a live broadcast took place from the Church Street venue, around the world on BBC Radio One’s Essential Mix, in February 2004.

Its legacy in Blackpool clubland is now folklore as most of the world’s biggest DJs played there over a nine year period – including Eric Morillo, Boy George, Dave Pearce and Paul Oakenfold. It hosted parties such as MTV Dance, Retro and Hed Kandi.

The venue had first opened in 1898, as the Empire Theatre of Varieties, before changing its name to the Hippodrome in 1900. In 1963, it was largely demolished and rebuilt before opening as the ABC Theatre which could hold nearly 2,000 people and boasted a revolving stage.

The Beatles played at the ABC in 1963 and returned in 1965 for the Blackpool Night Out, which was the first time they had played the song Yesterday on television.

The demolished Syndicate nightclub, in December 2015

The demolished Syndicate nightclub, in December 2015

The ABC closed in 2000 and two years later reopened as The Syndicate, but after the recession hit, its decline began, sales dipped and it shut its doors in 2011.

The building remained empty until Blackpool Council bought it in April 2013 for £635,000.

After announcing its intentions to bulldoze the venue, a campaign was launched to save it.

But despite attracting around 1,500 supporters, no viable business plan was forthcoming.

Two years since demolition began, work started in February this year on creating a car park on the site after the bulldozers finally completed their job.

It was completed razed to the ground, radically changing the landscape on the corner of Church Street and King Street.

The reunion event at Home & HQ Blackpool, on December 23 will feature original Syndicate DJ and talent booker Jason Fubar, with support from final Syndicate resident Nick Coulson and offer Blackpool clubbers a chance to step back in time.