The 49 Club (later the Top Deck)

20 Christmas Steps, central Bristol, BS1.  c.1977 – c. 1996/7.

A small upstairs bar on the east side at the bottom of Christmas Steps, just behind the well-known fish and chip shop at the corner of Narrow Lewin’s Mead.

It began as the 49 Club and operated over two or three floors of the building, and was run by Wilf, formerly of the Ship Inn at Lower Park Row. Later the top floor re-opened as the Top Deck Club. There was a narrow staircase leading up to a small bar with bench seating, and at the back a record deck near a tiny square of parquet, known optimistically as the dance floor. More than six people trying to dance at once was inviting injury or death.

I went here for the first time around the end of 1982 with Gaysoc. Unusually for those days it was up a flight of stairs.  It was bigger than Chantelle’s but much scruffier . I remember seeing cockroaches in there the first time I went and that the carpet was sticky. However it was the one place you could take your heterosexual workmates/friends.   (Jane)

  4 Responses to “49 Club (Top Deck)”

  1. I liked the 49, it was the only place I could take my female friends. I have got some smoke filled pictures of the inside of this place, taken on my mates 18th. It shows the now retro “Copper beaten” tables. The stairs could be a nightmare when you had, had a few …

    • The ’49’ just got a mention on BBC Radio London, gone but not forgotten ! The till at the top of the stairs, that sticky carpet… the illuminated duck in the window… the tiniest of dance floors, I remember being up against ‘Chinese Pete’ in a disco dance off in around 1982. Michael would make the occasional appearance with his little dog ! Happy Days !

      • Remember the club so well…the d.j. alice and always really tacky frag queens! the good ol days!

        • Tony Costello is a name I believe I know from the Bristol of the 70’s. I used to be Manager of Kings Club then latterly Club 49.
          Just been browsing on the web and came across this site albeit the posting is a while ago. If you remember and want to drop me a line would like to hear from you. Been living in Thailand for the last 16 years and still in the gay bar business.

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