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Facelift for a famous Nairn 60s music venue that is now a boxing club

By Donald Wilson

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Photographer Ian MacRae with Bob Ferenth and Lucy Harding of Nairn BID.
Photographer Ian MacRae with Bob Ferenth and Lucy Harding of Nairn BID.

A PROMINENT building which was once the heart of the music scene in Nairn is the latest property to get a spruce up in a campaign by Nairn Connects Bid.

The 150-year-old Public Hall, which later became known as the Ballerina Ballroom, has been brought back to life as a Boxing Club run by former soldier Kevin Brooks.

Based on the ground floor in the old hall the club provides a gym for young boxers and people with special needs.

Nairn BID has enhanced the rest of the property frontage with a montage of posters and tickets from when it was a rock venue in the Swinging Sixties and in 2008 when Oscar winner Tilda Swinton used the hall for her Cinema of Dreams.

It’s one of four properties in the town centre which have been brightened up with giant window vinyls. The main collages were compiled by BID board member Bob Ferenth.

For older Nairnites the Ballerina will best be remembered in the ‘60s when it was a dance venue for many of rising UK bands.

Ian MacRae, a local photographer and avid follower of music said: “It was an unbelievable period to be in Nairn for music. My generation were all regulars at the Ballerina. I was too young to remember Johnny Gentle who had the Silver Beatles (later The Beatles) as his backing band in 1960 when they played at the Regal in Nairn which was another popular venue.

“But there was an incredible array of bands who played the Ballerina including Pickety Witch, Slade, Marmalade, Fleetwood Mac and Status Quo. It was a memorable period.”

Ian added: “That’s how groups made their money. The Hollies and the Searchers were playing 300 gigs in a year, they were on the road all the time. It all came to an end when discos began to flood the market.

"The Royal Hotel helped plug the gap after that as a great venue for live music.”

Lucy Harding, Nairn Connects BID manager, said: “It’s great to capture some of the town’s history with these vinyls, which were done by Fraser Signs of Inverness.

"We received £28,000 from the Nairn Town Centre Improvement Fund and it’s been invested in improving the frontages of shops, new signage and benches.

"The mum of one of the boxers, Steph McGlennon, did a lot of work on the frontage of the hall which has been developed by the boxing club.

“What we have done, we recognise as simply temporary fixes. These are properties which sorely need investment. But it’s nice to hear so many favourable comments about the work.”

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