Interviewer: Veer Richards
Organisation: Ebony Youth Club
VEER: Right, the time now is err, 14:43 on Thursday the 8th of December and this is Veer Richards. Errol introduce yourself there for me please.
ERROL: My name is Errol Patterson, I’m a community member. (Laughter) I don’t know what other introduction you would like me to say Veer?
VEER: That’s fine, that’s fine. Now were gonna talk about the Ebony Youth Club in Gloucester.
VEER: Let me just turn this up a little bit actually.
ERROL: It must be because I was sitting closer to the mic.
VEER: Ok, good. Give me a level there Errol please.
ERROL: 1, 2
VEER: There, that’s fine. Where ever you’re comfortable.
ERROL: 1, 2, 3, 4
VEER: That’s fine, that’s fine, that’s fine. Were gonna talk about the Ebony Youth Club…
VEER: In Gloucester. Tell me about the start Errol, when did it, when did it first start?
ERROL: Well, um, I haven’t got a precise date on me?
VEER: No that’s…
VEER: What I want to talk about here.
ERROL: Err, yeah um, it was in was the early, early 80’s I would say, just after the riots came right across the UK, so…
ERROL: I would say 1980, beginning.
VEER: So that was I suppose the catalyst for things moving. Were there, were there Youth Clubs before because there always been Coney Hill Youth Club…
ERROL: Yes, there has always been, there was always Youth Clubs for um, other parts of the community but not a um, can I say a Black Youth Club. The majority of the youth what went there were um, first generation youth in Gloucester, African, Caribbean, young people then. Um…
VEER: When you say first generation, you mean first born here?
ERROL: Yeah. My parents came from Jamaica um, so I’m the first generation what was born in the UK, went to school in the UK, where as my brothers, you know, were born in Jamaica and they came here, um, I’m a lot of things are parents weren’t intending to stay for such a long time. They was attending to stay for maybe, you know, for 5, 6 years, earn enough money then go back to the Caribbean.
VEER: So who was in involved with the Youth Club apart from you Errol?
ERROL: Um, I wasn’t the main instigator; I was just one of many young people. Um, there was Rupert, there was um, Michael Cunningham, Errol Johnson, um, there was a number of other people who was involved. Um, Lacel Anderson, these are the people what, um, I worked together with so, you know, there was, there was a group of us, there was a group of us. I wouldn’t say I was the main instigator it’s just that um, I have kept all the information when it was actually um, closed down. So you know and I felt a need to keep that information, to keep it alive you know, and, and one of the other reasons it because what I’m doing now has generated from that.
VEER: So where was the actual meeting building?
ERROL: Um, the, the Ebony Youth Club or the Hampdem Centre is now a parking lot next to what was known as Winne Mandela House or Mandela House, you know, so it’s um, round the back of Hampdem Way or round the back, if you know Gloucester, it’s the back of the Bingo Hall, so there’s loads and loads of car parks round there at the moment in time.
VEER: And you had to do quite a lot of the work on the building…
VEER: to build up to…
ERROL: Yeah, yeah…
VEER: the state?
ERROL: Yeah, the building was left derelict or you know, after a number of years when everything was closed down we, we started to delve and then find out loads of information. The building was given to us because it was just used as a um, store room or a dumping ground because it was initially the old Crypt School so it was the Crypt um, or the headmasters um, house was next door.
VEER: Sorry was it Crypt or Tommie’s?
ERROL: Um, it might, I’m sure, I’m not, um I’m sure it’s Crypt’s. Yeah…
ERROL: Yeah, it’s the old Crypt School. You see now you’re making me start to think. Was it Tommie’s? I know it was a, it was a High School…
ERROL: And it is the old Crypt boy’s School, Yeah, the old Crypt School.
VEER: Ok, ok. So yeah, sorry you had to; you had to bring the building up to scratch?
ERROL: Yeah, well the, the, we, yeah, the amount of um, what can I, furniture what was left in the building um, the amount of paint which was peeling off the wall, um the colours were not viable at that time. Um, so yeah, we had a lot of work to do um, back in the day um, when we as young men were together, you know, we came together, we worked together, we helped one another.
VEER: But what about the financing of the project because that must have taken money to buy the materials?
ERROL: Um, well, thinking about it now no, um, well yes, there was money involved but what we did do, we did a lot of um, writing to organisations, a lot of begging, a lot of asking to, and there was a lot of businesses what actually did give us material, donated paints um. At that time ICI, the paint distributes what made paint was actually based in Gloucester um, we wrote to ICI, we went to B&Q. There was a number of businesses what we went, you know, to in Gloucester. Um, what donated equipment, paint, um, a lot of it was donations rather than hard cash.
VEER: So right, you got the Youth Club Building, you got the, the, you got the building up to scratch…
ERROL: Um, um
VEER: What sort of activities took place in the building? You know, it, what sort of active, activities did the club run?
ERROL: Um, in the initial um, years, months, days, we did the basics, which was table tennis, we opened it up, um, so we had dominos, um, bar football, if you know what bar football is? It’s um, table football, um, so the basics we did and then we started to run, you know, workshops. We had our um, wood work shop, carpentry, um, and we also um, has, um, sound systems in there. Um, so sound systems was…
VEER: Sorry, say that again for me Errol please.
ERROL: Um, we also took part in um, carpentry and wood work and through that we actually, there was several of the members of the club, which were involved in sound systems, err, um, so the sounds systems were um, repaired, based, played, um, you know, in Cowart, in Ebony sorry.
VEER: Ok. So name some of the sounds that, was challenger there, would he have been there at that time?
ERROL: Um, Challenger was there, Emperor was there, Roots man was there, um, um, oh, gosh, um, there was, um, oh gosh, um, I can’t remember their names now. Um, there was about 2 or 3 other sounds there. Um, Ricky Rose and Frankie Rose, um, there, there, sound was there as well. There was, yeah, there was, there was about 5 to 6 sound systems, which actually used the building in someway or the other when we were there, so, yeah.
VEER: You obviously did other things like, um, do you do typing skills…
VEER: Because you often wood work?
ERROL: But what happened was um, after a couple, near enough a couple of years, um, the youths themselves started to say that we need to do more than just play dominoes, um, play table tennis, bar football and the rest of that. Because we saw a need for our young people to be skilled up, we then said to ourselves, what would we want to do. Where we would we get work from, um, and one of the ideas was actually to start a typing course. So we started a typing, the typing course started there, the painting and decorators course started there and wood working stated there as well, so we trained, there was training courses what was actually happening there as well. And then after the training courses started we devised arts and community workshops, sewing classes started there as well. Pardon me, um, yeah, a number of different workshops started there.
VEER: What about cultural activities?
ERROL: Um, cultural activities came in the vise of our sports what we played. So we would have inter-county um, sports tournaments where during the summer or day, during the winter months we would organise sports tournaments with um, um, other youth clubs, other Black youth clubs around the country, which was um, Bristol, Bath, Birmingham and they was four areas, and Swindon, those were the four. But it didn’t mean we couldn’t invite um, youth clubs from other areas. Um, youth clubs came as far as Manchester and London and then we would have either um, a day or a weekend of tournaments. So we had sports tournaments during that time.
VEER: Woah, is there anything is Errol, I’m looking back at those times and obviously there was difficulties for youngsters growing up. I’m a bit younger than you, so I wasn’t in that sort of age group to be going to youth clubs and things. But also within that there does seem to be a lot more, ah, co, community cohesion in those days…
VEER: Then, now.
ERROL: Yeah, yeah. Um, we were speaking, myself and my colleague, Julie McCuller, and, and a guy called Lloyd Williams, who we called Karoosh and we were talking about um, our young people now have lost that, um, togetherness, community sprit, um, what we found enriching at that time, together as soundmen, you would um, you would die for one of your own soundman, you know, um. You did so much together and then when a sound was playing, you felt a self, a self pride with actually, “oh we built these sound boxes” We together learnt how to wire up, um, solv, um, not solving, um, fact finding for instance because usually 9 times out of 10 somewhere along the line the sound would break down. So we would have to um, send different people to fact find what was wrong with the sound at that time, report back and try and fix the problem. So yeah, um, back in the day sound systems were, yeah, definitely a good part to helping you grow up.
VEER: So what sort of legacy has, um, have Ebony left?
ERROL: Um, what legacy? I think the legacy is, is what’s passed on because I started out at Ebony as a volunteer, um, I wasn’t paid but I was always encouraged to get the qualifications as a youth worker and I, at that time, I didn’t feel confident enough to go onto collage or university. But at least I can say now that, um, or later in life I did go to university and I did qualify as a, qualify, I am now a qualified youth worker and as I said I’m out in the community doing different things. And I have been able to encourage other young people who has been able; you know, do youth work and start their own youth clubs. Um, so my legacy is passing on the skills what I have been, um, given and encouraged and motivate other young people to say that they can achieve other things and whatever they want to achieve, that’s um, that’s part of my legacy.
VEER: Um, um, um. What, what else? Anything, anything else you need to, you want to talk about Errol?
ERROL: Um, part of the legacy what I’ve also passed on was um, what I grew up with. I grew up with, within the sound system, um, my son and my children are involved in music and education or passing on education in, in some way. And it’s nice to see that, not only my children, but, you know, um, some of my bredrin; um, I like to call them that, or friends what um, went to Cowart, went to Ebony at that time. Their children, I’ve seen then grow up, and I’ve be able to um, what’s the word, um, pass on, encourage, you know, um, cas I do mentoring now where I try and mentor young people, who may not feel they fit in, in the community. But each and ever young person fits in a community, it’s just for them to find out, where do I fit in. What can I offer, you know, um, and it’s not nice to see, when, you know, adults say that you people are of no worth, they don’t belong, they shouldn’t be here, they shouldn’t do this and they shouldn’t do that. Um, there always saying that um, I was young once. So ever older person came from a younger person so they should be giving that opportunity to express themselves and offer something, um, you know.
VEER: Um, um. Thank you. Um.