The Hellions

From left to right - Carole, Pete, Alan, Garth, Dawson

The Hellions were a group of enthusiastic Sedbergh and Kendal teenagers who got together to enjoy making music. We were all beginners and we all lived for our music. We were one of many such groups gripped in the early 1960s by the modern sounds that were happening on the music scene.

We were inspired originally by artists like Buddy Holly, The Shadows, Chuck Berry and many others in the early days. We practiced and strived to perfect new material every week. The Hellions members were Garth Steadman Lead Guitar, Alan Steadman Drums, Carole Haygarth Bass Guitar, Dawson Douglass Rhythm Guitar, and Peter Day Lead vocals and Harmonica. We all progressed together and were gradually influenced by the Blues, and groups like the Yardbirds, Rolling Stones and The Kinks were some of our favourites. Our first gigs were at Sedbergh and other local village halls. We practiced very hard and improved steadily. We then started to get bookings further a field and progressed to a regular Wednesday booking at the Pavilion at Keswick where we supported many of our heroes like the Paramounts, later to be known as Procol Harum, the Kinks, Shane Fenton (later to be Alvin Stardust) & the Fentones, the Settlers and many other famous bands at that time.

For transport we used to borrow dad's meat delivery van to carry all five of us and our equipment and I remember many Wednesday evenings loading up at Keswick after 1.00 am and travelling back to Sedbergh ( before the days of motorways) arriving home about 3.30 and having to unload all the equipment, as the van and I were needed at 06.30 to set off up the Dales delivering meat. We used to play all around south Cumbria and North Lancashire including Kendal, Ulverston, Millom, Barrow and for a quite a while alternate Saturdays at Appleby and Sedbergh and were one of the many Cumbrian bands playing at the many-packed Friday or Saturday village and town hall dances. At one Appleby Fair Dance our second set was hijacked for a while by Gypsies wanting to have a share of the action.

One very enjoyable gig was when we doubled up with our friends Wee Willie Henry and the Wanderers for a private function on the lake steamer, The Swan, on Windermere. We had never heard of Discos in those days and all musical entertainment was live. We also managed to get a regular booking on Friday nights at the Floral Hall at Morecambe and were fortunate to play alongside many different famous groups who appeared each week. One night, In December 1965, when we were playing with the Hollies we had a problem with some of our dated equipment and were surprised when the Hollies allowed us to use some of their "state of the art" gear. Our equipment at first was basic with home made column speakers, using old radio speakers and even one home made electric bass guitar (made from a butchers block). Alan's first set of drums, were old-fashioned, with a huge bass drum and in the early days, when he was only fourteen and not very tall, we could hardly see him behind the Bass drum.

November 25th 2006 - Reunion at The Peoples Hall at Sedbergh

As we started earning money from gigs we saved up for new equipment and on several occasions Dawson and I went to London to browse the many music shops. On these trips we never did any thing else but browse and try equipment from dawn to dusk.

We were getting better as we practised and we boasted that on a Friday gig, when we were the only group appearing, that we could play from 9.00 pm to 1.00 am without repeating one number. We would probably take a short beer break to be taken before the pubs closed so we were back on stage before the revellers rolled in. Pete was an ardent Rolling Stones fan and he had a pen pal in America from whom he managed to get a copy of the Stones latest release over there that was not yet on sale here. It was called Time is on my Side. We learned it and were playing it in our area when it was released in the UK.

Our practice room was behind my shop and every Monday evening we practiced together. There was always an audience of young locals who never missed our practice evening. During one practice there was a knock on the door and in walked Derek Quinn and Roy Crewsdon of Freddie and the Dreamers fame. They were staying at the White Hart Hotel and had heard us playing. They came regularly to Sedbergh, as they were friends of Pete, the son of the owner of the White Hart Hotel. Whenever they were in Sedbergh they always came to our practice nights and taught us some of their latest releases.

If we had a free night we tried to go and hear other groups, Wee Willie Henry and the Wanderers, The Rythmics, Ray and The Teenbeats and Marshall Scott and the Deputies were all very good Cumbrian groups at that time. The Yardbirds were one of our favourite groups. Eric Clapton was their lead guitarist at that time and we were bowled over by their talent. Chart topping groups like The Who and The Rolling Stones also used to come to Morecambe and we used to love to listen to them and learn of course.

Quite early on in the Hellions life we hired a recording studio at Hest Bank, near Morecambe, for part of an afternoon and recorded 9 of our songs. We did not have much money at the time so they all had to be “first take” and no messing around. we have now had them transferred to CD. I am glad we made the effort as we have lots of good memories from those times.
In the mid sixties Carole stood down to start a family and we took on bass player Mike Jones from Kendal who remained with us up to the end. Changes were coming however and we agreed to separate amicably in 1968.We all needed to move on. By then I had a business and a wife and son. Dawson 's job was now at Preston , Pete, Mike and Alan joined some Kendal musicians and became "Front Room Blues Band". Pete still plays occasionally with some Blues musicians in Kendal although he now lives in Newcastle . Alan has now been playing drums with various bands since he started with the Hellions at 14 years old in 1961. He has lost count of the number of bands that he has performed with but is now playing drums for "Moonlight Shadow" a Kendal based group who are worth hearing as they are very talented.

What of the Hellions now? I have my own butchers business in Sedbergh. I am chairman of the North West Guild of Q Butchers and chairman of Sedbergh Town Twinning Group. Alan has his own busy building business also in Sedbergh, Pete moved to Newcastle where he still lives and works as a conciliator for A C A S. Dawson moved to Preston where he has his own business in the textile machinery industry. Mike stayed with music he was a very talented bass guitarist. He soon moved down to London where he gigged and jammed with various bands and worked as a session musician. We understand that he was finally offered a permanent position with "John Mayall's Bluesbreakers", just in time for their first tour of America . He returned to Kendal before taking the job up, unfortunately he never went back and sadly he died shortly after this.

My father used to play an accordion in an old time dance band called "The Silver Star Band" and was fortunate to play at the Sedbergh Peoples Hall on the opening night.

On November 25th 2006 The Peoples Hall at Sedbergh celebrated its 50th Anniversary. The Committee invited people who had performed at The Peoples Hall in the past and are part of the halls history to entertain. What a surprise when the Hellions were invited. We got together about 16 years ago to play three numbers at Alan's 40th Birthday party along with a number of musicians that Alan had played with in the past. Apart from that one evening it will be 38 years since we performed together. It was no problem.We brought the house down!

Garth Steadman