In around 1977-8 Broomhill was the centre of a new youth movement sweeping the UK called Punk Rock. Grovepark Youth Club during it’s Friday night disco was the place to see weird and wonderful punk clothing, safety pinned ears, spikey dayglo hairstyles and new dances called ‘the pogo’ and the ‘dying fly’. From here local punks organised trips to watch bands like the Clash and the Damned at the Apollo in Glasgow and many would go on to form their own New Wave bands. In around 1981 the Grovepark committee developed the idea for a Cafe Info Centre in Greenock town centre which would become a hub for emerging local bands throughout the 80’s.
In the late 70’s the former Mearns Street School opened an ‘unemployed club’ where young people from Broomhill could meet and play pool. Discos were also held in the school and punks used the facilities for band practice. I remember our punk band were given permission to clear the basement so that it could be used for rehearsals but the discovery of asbestos ended that venture. Before the building was demolished I noticed that punk graffitti could still be found above the old unemployed club doorway.
One of Broomhill’s 70’s punk bands, ‘The Stormtrooperz’ – members of the band came from Broomhill Court, Prospecthill Court and Broomhill Way. This was taken by the Telegraph at the recording studio on Mearns Street.
Probably the best pic of Broomhill’s Punk era, The band ‘Distemper’ ran electric cables from their homes to play an open air gig on Mill Street. Distemper went on to record several demo tapes and featured on a compilation single on Treblinka records.
Another band with Broomhill connections were ‘Persons Unknown’ whose keyboard player, Joe McFarlane, was from Prospecthill Street. Possibly one of the first local new wave bands to use synthesisers, the band supported 80’s chart band H20 at the Vic Carraige.
Another band with Broomhill connections were ‘Carnival Tears’ whose lead singer, Willie Wallace, lived on Prospecthill Street. The band members met at the Grovepark Youth Club in the late 70’s and are best remembered for supporting ’80’s chart band ‘King Kurt’ during their “Destination Zululand” food fight gig at Janeys.
Another punk rock band with a Broomhill connection were ‘The Cuban Heels’ with bassist Paul Armour who lived in the area. The Heels were the first new wave band with local connections to release a punk single, ‘Downtown’, in 1978. Two members of the band had formally played in the Glasgow band ‘Johnny & The Self Abusers’, the split resulted in the creation of two new bands – Simple Minds and The Cuban Heels.
Louie Pastore and his mates playing a cover of David Bowie’s ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ back in 1984/5 at the Cafe Info Centre, an offshoot of the Broomhill’s Grovepark Youth Club.
Another Greenock Punk Band were ‘Nobody’s Heroes’
– words, Louie Pastore