It’s a fifty-year milestone for town Folk Club

Founder members of Whitby Folk Club in 1968 - from left, Graham Filburn, Jim Wilkinson and Mu Wilkinson.
Founder members of Whitby Folk Club in 1968 - from left, Graham Filburn, Jim Wilkinson and Mu Wilkinson.

Whitby Folk Club is set to chalk up its 50th anniversary this weekend.

The club was founded on Monday September 9, 1968, by Graham Filburn with the inaugural meeting being held at The Plough Inn, Baxtergate.

The first meeting attracted about 50 folk followers, packed into a downstairs snug bar. The guest singer to launch the club was Mick Fitton, a friend of the founder, who was supported by local singers Bill Nesbit, Jim and Mu Wilkinson, Tony Collier and Ged Pinder, Louis Johns and compere, host and performer Graham Filburn.

Mr Filburn said: “In the beginning, the landlord of The Plough Inn, Frank Fitton was sceptical about the whole project, convinced Whitby had no need for any such thing as a Folk Club.

“But after another two oversubscribed, overpacked Mondays, he gave in and agreed that we could have more space in his upstairs function room, and meet on a Wednesday night rather than Monday.

“The first Wednesday folk club took place on October 2, attracting about 80 the first week, then between 80 and 100 fans week in and week out.”

Guest artists have included such great performers as Tim Hart & Maddy Prior (Steeleye Span), Mike Harding, Mike Absalom, Rosemary Hardman, Tony Capstick, Derek & Dorothy Elliott still singing in Whitby), Dave Burland, Peter Bellamy, Cyril Tawney, Vin Garbutt and more.

On leaving Whitby in 1972, Graham Filburn handed over the running of the club to Jim & Mu Wilkinson, assisted by Peter Glover.

But the club had to leave The Plough Inn when the brewery Sam Smiths ruled that all establishments were to be music-free.

The club, run by Mike Haywood, meets weekly at the Friendship Rowing Club.