The Pump House, Newport

 

Advert in 1982 Spartacus International Gay Guide

1 Pump Street, Newport, Gwent.  Approx: 1977 to 1982.

A popular sauna in the late 1970s for gay men from Bristol and futher afield.  It closed around 1982 after a police raid and the prosecution and jailing of the owners.

 

Last edited: 25/8/2020

 

  One Response to “The Pump House, Newport”

  1. The apt name in fact derived from Pump Street. This was a very popular venue with an attractive young crowd, so drew people from all over. One lost lamb from Bristol asked for directions from a policeman who obliged with the comment: “Have a good time.”

    But Gwent police were not prepared to put up with this den of iniquity in their manor. One Sunday the sauna was raided: dozens of police piled in and, after being told to dress, everyone was each handcuffed to one officer and led out to Black Marias. Imagine it!

    Down at the station they were given an ultimatum: make a statement saying they went there for sex, or face prosecution themselves. The police were only after the two owners. A Bristol gay solicitor told me his phone rang off the hook that day. The police duly got their evidence and the owners were prosecuted and jailed. They probably didn’t have enough to prosecute the punters to carry through their threat, but they could have lied I suppose.

    Thank goodness I wasn’t there that day. I’ve often wondered what I would have done in that situation: save my own skin and land the owners in it or tell the police to do their damnedest.

    An interesting postscript: a report of the court case appeared in the South Wales Argus, which listed the many professions (but not the names) of those who were there; the court had been told that someone had even flown in from the United States especially (people did that when word got out about a ‘hot’ venue). As mine was one of those professions, a colleague at work (where I was not ‘out’), thinking it was me, carefully placed the paper open at that page on my desk in an attempt to embarrass me: just an example of the snide homophobia one had to put up with in those days.

    Somewhere else popular with Bristolians was the nudist/gay area of Studland beach in Dorset, which in those days of fewer commercial venues attracted a younger crowd than you find today. Eventually the owner, the National Trust, responding to locals’ concern, urged the police to crack down on the sexual activity. Male pairs of “undercover” police (if you can be undercover in a nudist area) patrolled the area (they did wear trunks), and were so obvious I once considered asking them for the time. When they spotted anyone having sex they blew a good old-fashioned police whistle and their colleagues came swarming. Where they hid the whistle one can only speculate, but brave was the officer who blew it.

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