Scarlet Coat

 

The Scarlet Coat

19a Union Street (basement exit in Fiennes Court off Fairfax Street), BS1. c. 1984-90.

The earliest known reference is in Bristol Gay Switchboard day book; in January 1984 the Scarlet Coat was being run as a restaurant by two gay women, with women-only discos every Thursday and Saturday night. The transformation from restaurant to full-time club must have happened shortly afterwards.

The owners were a couple called Jane and Bernie. Jane was said to have previously served in the Hong Kong Police. You generally entered it from a doorway in Union Street and went downstairs. The exit was at the back into a courtyard off Fairfax Street. It was one room with about four rectangular tables with benches on one side, one or two round tables and chairs on the other side with the dance floor in the middle. In 1994 the same premises were occupied by a gay club called Just.

Jane M:

Unfortunately it was next door to a straight strip club (the She Club) and one night in 1989 some of the male customers from the strip club began an unprovoked physical attack on lesbians leaving the club via the Fairfax Street exit. Jane and some other women went to defend the women who were being attacked but were overwhelmed by the men and some of them, Jane included, ended up in hospital. I think it closed shortly after the attack.

  3 Responses to “Scarlet Coat”

  1. Jane Hopewell sadly passed away tonight 27th Feb 2012. she will be sadly missed.

  2. I recently came across some minutes from an ‘Open Lesbian Meeting’ held on 18th May 1989. These were meetings at which the Lesbian Rep on the city council’s Women’s Committee met with any Lesbians who wanted to go along. From this one I found that the attack on women leaving The Scarlet Coat happened on Saturday 13th May 1989. I have reproduced the report of this from the minutes in full below.
    “Trouble Outside Scarlet Coat
    A couple of women reported to the meeting that on Saturday 13th May about 15-20 lesbians were beaten up outside the Scarlet Coat, three women ended up in hospital. The Police were informed about men hanging around outside the Coat by two women who left early but they didn’t do anything. At the end of the night when the majority of women were leaving they were set upon by about 15 men from Chaplins next door, women were badly injured. The police were again called, they arrived late and behaved badly. This is being looked into by (name of Lesbian Rep) and other women at the meeting.”

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