Flashback to 1985: Nights to remember at Cascades in Telford

This was not just any nightclub. This was a nightclub in Telford town centre. And back in 1985, that was a big deal.

Top model Linda Lusardi at Cascades signing autographs and selling balloons towards the Telethon 88 appeal in May 1988.
Top model Linda Lusardi at Cascades signing autographs and selling balloons towards the Telethon 88 appeal in May 1988.

The advent of Cascades heralded moves to give the town centre a bit of nightlife, which at the time was lacking because it was simply a shopping centre which became deserted when the shops closed.

On its opening evening, Friday, February 22, 1985, it was filled almost to capacity with revellers queueing to get in. Hundreds waited outside but some of them never made it inside the plush new discotheque, described as a "twin scene" disco next to a new pub in the shopping centre.

There was a big name star on the opening evening in the form of Radio One DJ Bruno Brookes.

Cascades manager Mike Massey said at the time: "There were two huge queues about 200 yards long going both ways outside. We had to turn quite a few people away because of age, dress, or because they had had too much to drink."

The cocktail bar at Cascades.

Coincidentally or not, the Park Lane nightspot in Shrewsbury also had a big name star on Cascades' opening night – another Radio One DJ, Gary Davies. For Shropshire clubbers willing to travel, there was also a big nightclub in Wolverhampton in those days called Eve's in Showell Road.

Although the Friday night was when the fun really began, the official opening ceremony had been the previous day, attended by the Wrekin MP Warren Hawksley.

"Instead of people going out of Telford for their entertainment, we are going to have people coming in," he said, adding that it filled a gap in the facilities people wanted in the town.

And the managing director of brewers Ansells, Philip Darnton, said the firm had invested over £1 million in the new venture, which spoke for its commitment to Telford and to the new town's accelerating growth.

"We are pretty confident it will be one of the hottest spots for miles around," he added.

Cheers... some of the clubbers at the Telford venue.

Cascades took the inspiration for its name from a nearby waterfall feature and was billed as "Shropshire's most sophisticated nightclub."

During the 1980s and 1990s it created fond memories for many people in Telford, who typically would have a drink in the adjoining Quenchers pub before going to the nightclub for dancing and revelry, as well as special themed nights and things like Miss Wet T Shirt competitions.

It attracted various star guests, such as the chart-topping Danish singer Whigfield, former Page Three model Linda Lusardi, and Shadow from the Gladiators television show.

But the nightspot also had its troubles, which included a gunpoint robbery of staff in 1991, and there were incidents of violence both within the club and outside.

Despite a refurbishment and the efforts of management, its image became tarnished and with dwindling customers it closed in 1997, or thereabouts.

Cascades was hailed as Telford centre's first nightclub.

Recalling the club in 2000, on the eve of the opening of a new nightspot called Athena on the same site, Paul Shirley of Trench, who had inadvertently featured in one of the early Cascades brochures (he was one of those on the dance floor in the picture used), said: "We went to Cascades for several reasons. At the time it was the best place to go nightclubbing and it was always busy.

"It was easy travelling distance, most of our friends went there, it was a good night out, drink prices were reasonable and it played good music with several dance floors. I always had a good night out."

Athena, which had a Greek fantasy theme of classical columns, marble and fresco-style artwork, aimed to be upmarket and stylish with tight security and state-of-the-art lighting.

It was officially opened in December 2000 by EastEnders heart-throb Michael Greco, who was greeted by screaming fans.

Like Cascades, Athena attracted some big names, but it also proved not to be immune from similar troubles, with the upshot that in 2004 police objected to the renewal of its public entertainment licence because of fights taking place outside the club.

However councillors renewed the licence for six months, after which police said there had been a drop in crime and disorder.

In January 2005 it closed for a £3 million makeover with a reopening due in June that year, but the revamp never started as the company behind the nightclub went into receivership and the venue was put up for sale.

Later it became a clubbing venue called Vox & Club Crush.

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