Freight Train

By Antony Clayton

The Freight Train was opened on the corner of Berwick Street and Noel Street by skiffle player Chas McDevitt early in 1958, following the success of his record of the same name.  Initially it hosted impromptu sessions, where musicians such as Diz Disley and Les Bennetts would jam into the night.  It was also the venue for an early performance by Cliff Richard and the Drifters in June 1958.  Unlike many other local establishments, however, the coffee bar’s basement was not transformed into a music club.  Instead the Freight Train served as, “a rendezvous for many of the London-based groups, a point where they could assemble to leave for a gig or unwind in the early hours returning from work.”  McDevitt claims that it was on one such occasion, in the Freight Train’s derelict basement, “surrounded by empty Coca-Cola crates and broken furniture”, that Brian Gregg, formerly in Les Hobeaux Skiffle Group composed ‘Shakin’ All Over’ in collaboration with Fred Heath of the Nutters.  Heath would make the song another seminal British rock ‘n’ roll number when he took it into the charts with his group The Pirates, under his alter-ego Johnny Kidd.

This page was added by Tim Devitt on 29/03/2010.
Comments about this page

The June Bastable comment is incorrect Sam Widges existed at the same time as The Freight Train sited diagonally across Berwick Street opposite another Coffee Bar, The Coffee Pot. Under Widges was The Top Ten a R&R club frequented by Vince Taylor etc. The Freight Train was on the site of an ordinary café. After the FT closed it became a book shop then a record store, Reg Dwight (Elton John) was reputed to have served behind the counter.




On 23/01/2016
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By Sameer
On 23/01/2016

Before it became The Freight Train, it was a snack bar called "Sam Widge's".

By June Bastable
On 20/03/2014

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