Bentley’s, Canning Town
All Roads Lead to Bentley's
- Canning Town
About the project
About the project
All Roads Lead to Bentley’s is a project by Rendezvous Projects as part of Newham Heritage Month 2023.
Bentley’s a renowned soul club on the Barking Road, Canning Town East London operated from 1982 to 1986 before it was closed by the largest police raid in Newham’s history at the time and which was accused of being racially motivated.
The club played a pivotal role in opening up a platform for Black culture in the racially tense 1980s, challenging the prevailing industry practices that marginalised Black club goers and promoters, and offering prime weekend nights with an often all-Black line-up of DJs to a diverse crowd in an area that had the highest number of National Front voters in the country.
The clubs success and impact was due to a combination of forces and personalities. The club opened with legendary soul DJ, Froggy being the headline act. He was soon superseded by a young Derek Boland, who later went on to find fame as the UK’s first rapper to achieve commercial success. Boland built the underground reputation of the club, with his Sunday nights becoming well respected. When radio station LWR came into the mix and began broadcasting live shows from the venue across the south east, this brought in the masses.
Prior to the venue being Bentley's, it was The Bridge House, a revered rock pub which featured bands such as Depeche Mode and Iron Maiden. The history of The Bridge House is well documented, but the five year period when it was Bentley's has previously been undocumented. This project seeks to rectify that.
As part of the research, oral history interviews have been conducted with:
Cleveland Anderson, Roy Balfourth, Jerry Butler, Linden C, Neil Charles, Duke, Freddie Green, Mark Homer, Dennis Lewis, Debbie Mills, Carmella Obinyan, Kelvin Page, Nigel Power, Elayne Smith, Tim Strudwick and Dave VJ. Additional input from Dezzi D, Tosca Jackson, Trevor Nelson, Ron Tom and Zak.
Limited edition booklet available
We’ve gathered our research into a limited edition booklet, designed by Sandra Zellmer, it’s A6 which folds out into an A2 double sided poster. Available from our online shop for only £2.
Mix by Linden C
Linden played at Bentleys during the 80s with Froggy, Derek Boland and Neil Charles and put together this mix specially for the project.
Schools Project: Collaboration with Newham Music
The funding from Newham Heritage Month allowed us to partner with Newham Music who went into two schools in the borough to work with them on Bentley's era inspired tracks.
Working with teacher, Emma Scarr, 22 students 11 and 12 year olds from Eastlea Community School and 60 10 and 11 year olds from St Helen's Catholic Primary School, wrote lyrics and created tracks using instruments and Beats respectively.
- New research
- 16 oral history interviews, transcribed and available from Newham Archives
- A limited edition publication
- A podcast episode
- A mix of tracks from Bentley's from one of the original DJs
- Newspapers and reports related to the raid on Bentley's
- A collaboration with Newham Music and two tracks produced by local schools
- An event at Arch1, Canning Town, with Q&A and DJs
Funders, partners and credits
This project was part of Newham Heritage Month 2023. It was led and managed by Katherine Green with Lucy Harrison of Rendezvous Projects. It was in collaboration with Newham Music, who led music workshops at Eastlea Community School, Canning Town and St Helen’s Catholic Primary School, Plaistow. The following people generously volunteered their time to assist in research, oral history interviews and transcribing: Van Biu, Charlie Brown, Fabiola Giaccherini, Ria Hylton, Natalie Keymist, Lisa McQuillan, Elisa Miglionico, Charlotte Pannell, Josie Roberts, Jennifer Sutherland, Samantha Veal and Aaron Williams.
Thanks, in particular, go to Mark Homer, owner of Bentley’s; Jenny Boland for generous access to images; and Linden C, who was the inspiration for this project and has been instrumental in making it happen as well as visiting the schools as part of the Newham Music workshops. To Jan Cullen, Faizan Fiaz and James King of Newham Heritage Month. To Emma Scarr and Nicola Williams of Newham Music, Allison Venn of St Helen’s Catholic Primary School and Rosie Brown of Eastlea Community School.