There are two schools of thought as to the beginnings of the Folk Club in Newcastle.
One is that the club began as a result of some bush walkers who were also musicians and singers, wanting to have a place where they could get together and learn from each other. The details of how that developed into the Folk Club of today, to date, has not officially been made known.
The second school of thought is detailed below.
The Folk Sanctum opened on December 1964, a commercial ‘coffee house’ entrepreneured by Claude Moore and run by Gil Teague. This was followed by a New Sanctum in a former Greek Club in Newcastle in 1965, run by a group of enthusiasts including Brad Tate. It lost money and closed in late 1965. Around this time a club was running at the Newcastle University (the current Tighes Hill TAFE college) with some Communist influence.
Warren Fahey started a folk club at the YMCA in King Street Newcastle in 1967, and later that year, as Activities Officer at Newcastle Technical College Union, opened the Purple Parrot Folk Club in the basement of the W E Clegg Building, which became known as ‘The Cage’. With the change of name to the Newcastle Folk Club (sometime during 1968/1969 ) the basement then became known as ‘The Dungeon’.
During the early 1980’s due to a change to the Newcastle City Council’s fire regulations, it was considered too dangerous to allow the Folk Club to remain in the ‘Dungeon’, and as there was no suitable alternative accommodation at that time, the Club moved initially to various members homes, then to the S E S buildings at Newcastle East. In the mid to late 1980’s the Folk Club returned to Newcastle Technical College until the earthquake in 1989 when the Club once again left the Tech. During the year 1990 it was decided that the Club was to become incorporated, and this was achieved on 27 September, with the Club’s name being changed to The Newcastle Folk Club Inc. In August 1991 The Newcastle Folk Club Inc. became the Newcastle and Hunter Valley Folk Club Inc. After brief stays at a number of venues including The Masonic Hall at Hanbury Street Mayfield and the Broadmeadow Tennis Club, the Newcastle and Hunter Valley Folk Club Inc. finally settled at the Wesley Senior Citizens Hall in April 1995 and then moved to the Wesley Fellowship House in April 2006.
This history was compiled by Trevor McIlveen from Club records, with the assistance of Brad Tate, and other past and present members of the Newcastle & Hunter Valley Folk Inc. whose contributions have made this historical account possible.