The Pantiles nightclub and restaurant closed in 2007 and the site razed. A retirement home has now been built on the site. I don't feature current businesses on this website - but now that Pantiles has gone I will be pleased to receive contributions of memories about the place.
John has written "I don't suppose you know where I could get any photos or pictures from, of the Pantiles. Any year from 1940? when it was a tea room establishment would be great.I am interested in this site, where, as you probably know Sir Douglas Bader met his future wife Thema.". [Aug09] One partial answer is that I understand that the relevant tea-room scenes in the Bader film "Reach for the Sky" were filmed on location at Pantiles.
From Duncan Mirylees at the Surrey History Centre: "Several of your enquirers have asked about illustrations of 'The Pantiles Tea Barn'. They may be interested to know that I have just bought a wonderful set of hand coloured postcards, in the form of a 'Duplex Album' (i.e. they are bound into a little booklet with a miniature view and a postcard which you could tear out and send) of the establishment. They were published by 'The Proprietors' of The Pantiles and printed by 'R. A. P. Co. Ltd. of London'. There are ten views of the exterior and interior of 'The Pantiles' as it would have been in its heyday, I would guess c.1925. For all I know, this item may well be unique. I suspect that it will be rare, because many people would have used them for the purpose for which they were intended. This item will be added to the collections of the Surrey History Centre at Woking, where they will be available for all to see. [Nov 13]
From Roger Craven "I joined as a member of the Night Club in the inaugural year. Saw groups such as Fleetwood Mack, Herbie Goins and the Night-timers, Chicken Shack etc. Alan Price was recording Chicken Shack side stage. Also spoke to Long John Baldry, having a steak meal in the restaurant. "Mexico" was in the charts at the time in October 1968. Jan10
From Steve Parker :
"I lived in Cedar Close from about 1957 (when the houses were built) until going off to uni in 1971. Yes I recall the Pantiles Swimming Pool. I had a season ticket during the early 1960s. I remember the things your correspondents mention. Bagshot Junior / Infants School went there, it was open air, unheated, with a row of primitive changing rooms along the right side (as you entered from the A30), a strip of grass along the left, and diving boards, including a springboard (very dangerous!) at the far deep end. As mentioned, there was a flagged patio-like area behind the deep end which was relatively secluded and got quite hot in good weather. I would guess the pool closed in the mid 1960s? Then I used to go to the Blue Pool on the A30 towards Camberley, alas that has also closed. Jun10
"At the Pantiles Pool, the Pantiles Cafe next door is famed as the place where Douglas Bader met his wife Thelma, as chronicled in his book Reach for the Sky and portrayed in the film of the same name. Does anyone know if they used the real Pantiles in the film? Or was it a 'cafe double' somewhere else, or a studio set? Jun10
"I have many other great memories of Bagshot including the quarry-like wasteland called The Copse between the Junior School playing field, Cedar Close, Waverley Road and the railway line, which is now St Mary's Gardens. Also Burfields Newsagents in the High Street from where I used to do a paper round covering Church Road, Higgs Lane and College Ride, all the way to Pennyhill Park which at the time was a little-used big, dusty old house, semi-deserted. Not so today." Jul10
From Mary "I used to work at the Pantiles as a teenager prior to my nursing training. I had my wedding reception there." Jul09
From Jayne : I worked at Pantiles for many years and I know Pantiles was used in the film "Reach for the Sky". I lived in Bagshot from 1962-1996 and still think of it as home. I used to ride my bike past Pantiles when young but I never thought I'd end up working there. [Sep 11]
From Paul Montgomery : I use to visit the Pantiles night club nearly every week in the early 70s. It had a great feel about it - some of the best music played by the some of the best known artists around: Georgie Fame, Geno Washington and the Ram Jam band, Gonzalez were brilliant and many more. I was very lucky to meet my future wife Helen there (on my brother's stag night - he also met his wife there). We got married in 1975 but sadly she passed away in 2012. Pantiles will always remain a lovely memory for me. Great times. Thank you Pantiles.[Nov 13 X]
From Michael James : My wife Angela and I held our wedding reception at The Pantiles in 1972. It was chosen as the venue for this partly because of its association with Sir Douglas Bader meeting his wife Thelma there and of its featuring in "Reach for the Sky", but also for its location and facilities near to my wife's then home in Windlesham. It was a lovely occasion, the management and staff were superb and we are sad to learn that its small part in our, and the life of one of our Britain's greatest heroes, has been razed to the ground in the interests of somebody's profit and so called progress. [Mar 14]From Ian Deverall : Just googled Pantiles to see if still existed so I could meet up with some old pals from the Dorking area for a possible lunch. Sorry to see it closed 8 years ago. I joined as a Life Member as soon as it opened in the 60s, after frequenting the Riky Tik in Windsor. I think it was bought by the same people when the Riky Tik closed. As previous contributors said it was of the best night clubs in the 60s and 70s with many of the top soul, R&B and jazz groups performing there. Like Paul Montgomery, I met my wife there on the 6th January 1973 and we married in 1975. We've just celebrated 40 years of marriage with a trip on the Venice Simplon Orient Express down to Venice! Happy memories. Thank you Pantiles. [Aug 15]
From Jim : I used to go there in the late 1960,s saw all the acts including Bill Bailey and the Comets, got life time membership through its sister club The Cromwellian in Kensington from the owners (now theres a story and a half about the twins and all the tv stars and boxers and wrestlers and gambling? I had a great time, met Lindsey de Paul had a couple of dates many good memories. [Oct 15]
Pepa Terol from Valencia : I was a Spanish Au-pair for various families in Surrey-Berkshire middle 80's, and met another Spanish girl at Camberley college who was the Haywards' au-pair at their home in Virginia Waters. Her boss, Mr Philip Hayward - prematureley deceased in the late 90's - and lovely wife Micky were then the tennants of Pantiles Night Club & Restaurant in the A30, but could not remember the Pantiles Club was. So by means of updating my CV, I'm surfing the web and found this page: Nostalgia obligues. I ended up working there myself in the bar above the disco. Wish I could load fotos here... I also worked at his other business Chertsey Lock Night Club ... Philips' partner and right hand was a lovely man called Collin ... the two of them had owned, for years in the 60-70's, another Night Club in Kensington London were it is said the Rollings played for the first time in London, also the Beatles and others...
Philip Heyward also bought an incredible rustic old orange farm in Marbella's outskirts Nueva Andalucia, 500m from Puerto Banús and the Seashore, and turned it into a restaurant and Piano Bar where luckily he employed me again as a live-in-the-premises cashier and admin secretary, guess what it was called .. Pantiles! Our guests were people like Sean Connery and all the celebs of the 80-90's - world round JetSet, Gulf oil tycoons/princes & golfers as well as European aristocrats and yatch travellers. I recall Mr Heyward funding a Limited Society named "LOS BANDIDOS" whose members were celebs involved in generating Golf Tournaments, Kaluky (card table game) sessions at Pantiles-Marbella, and promoting Golf, Social and Benefic Events all over Costa del Sol.
Anyway, sad to hear about the disappearance of such a legendary nightclub.
Thank you so much. And Philip Heyward, Collin .. wherever you are Saludos, Bandidos! [Mar 16 xx]
Chris wrote to the Bagshot web site:
We have just moved into Pantiles House in Bagshot and have been told it was a tennis club once upon a time. Does anyone have any details or photos?
The location is on the A30, just south of Pantiles restaurant and night club. The 1934 Ordnance Survey map clearly shows a building (the present house) adjacent to the footpath to Windlesham and tennis courts behind.
Christine and Michael have written from Pennsylvania, USA.
We purchased Pantiles House for 6,800 pounds and moved there in April 1968. We lived there until September, 1972 when Michael's job transferred to the US. When we moved to Pantiles House our next door neighbours were Sydney and Meg Lowry, who had been there since 1937 and who were regular members of St. Anne's and it was from them that we learned virtually everything we know of the history of the house. The Lowry's moved to Yorkshire in the late 1970's, from whence they had originally come, and have both since passed away.
On one occasion they introduced us to a gentleman, then about 90 years old, who had retired as head gardener at Bagshot Park. As a junior gardener in 1898, just after Pantiles House had been built, he had the job of planting the rhododendrons fronting the London Road. He had also assisted in laying out the original gardens of Pantiles House, which extended down to the railway line. When we moved to Pantiles most of this garden had been separated from the property with the intent of building more homes on it.
Pantiles House was originally built for a/the personal secretary of the Duke of Connaught living at the park. Some time in the 1920's it was purchased by the owner/manager of the Pantiles Club, which seems to have been mainly an athletic/tennis club rather than the social club which it later became. Maybe this was the tennis club that John Betjeman had in mind when he wrote his poem "A subaltern's Love Song" which otherwise refers to Camberley.
The owner/manager who lived in the house himself, but also apparently let rooms to other members of the staff, built the tennis courts around this time. There were several of them, terraced, going down towards the railway. They do not only seem to have been used by the club members themselves but tennis exhibitions were given there. In one of the downstairs rooms at Pantiles House there was a small newspaper cutting which we left there when we departed recording that the Duke himself had visited Pantiles House in 1938 to view one of these exhibition matches.
At this time there was a viewing balcony on the roof of what we called the sun lounge. It was accessed by double doors from the upstairs landing. The wooden balustrade which was there when we moved in was thoroughly rotted and I removed it.
Mr. Lowrey said that the tennis courts fell into disuse during World War II and never restored. The Pantiles Club, however, continued to function throughout the war and subsequently and can be seen in the movie about the life of Douglas Bader "Reach for the Sky".
The houses that Michael & Christine refer to as being planned were eventually built in the 1990's, a developer had for decades been accumulating land from houses as they came onto the market and this, together with the former railway goods yard, provided the land for development. Accessed from Station Road, the bulk of the estate is called Lory Ridge, presumably named after Bagshot's first vicar, Rev Pendarves Lory.
John, an ex-pat now living in Australia, saw this article and wrote:
I used to live next door to the Lowrey's from 1959 to 1965 before moving to Australia. I remember them as being wonderful neighbours. I was interested to see that Pantiles House is still there. London Road was a very busy road as you would know and if there was going to be an accident it would happen outside our house.
I was able to tell John that the house he lived in is still there.
An ugly box shaped building on the south of Pantiles' car park had been adapted in the 1980's to provide accommodation units on its upper storey and an anteques sales business started on its ground floor. Several people have wondered what its history is. I had understood that it was built as a Masonic Hall, then used as a squash court. It appeared to be unused (or perhaps used for storage) when we moved here 30 years ago. 7017.207
Tim Wild writes "My Dad always said it was built during the war as a food storage warehouse, its utility look would bear this out I think, perhaps other readers may be able to put in more detail on this." 7079.708
Then Stefan brought to my attention the website of the local Masonic Lodge from which it is clear that the building was built as a badminton hall, the Masons purchasing it in 1953 and renaming it The Masonic Hall. By the early 1980's repair costs had became too high and they relinquished it and relocated to Camberley. Dec10
Do you know any more about it?
If you have any further knowledge about the tennis club or its club house, I would love to hear from you. Please use the message pad below
Ron wrote: I have no knowledge of the tennis club or Pantiles House, but the Pantiles known to all local children and most adults in the late 1940's was the Swimming Pool. I believe it was privately owned. Bagshot school used it for their 11 year old pupils and at other times was open to the general public. ref 612.0206
The pool was on the other side of Pantiles to the tennis courts. It is no longer there.
John Draper : I used the Pantiles Swimming Pool in the mid 1930's and learned to swim there. It was very high class at the time and the cream teas in the upmarket tea house were delicious! Small lilos were provided in the pool and one could splash about in the shallow end. I was allowed in as I had mates who were the sons of the Chef of the Pantiles Restaurant. The local schools did not use the pool in those days and I recall the admission charge was quite high. [Dec 17]
Frank Papworth adds : In the late 1950's and 60's the swimming pool was open to the public and as a boy I had a season ticket each year. The pool had a large parking area between it and the A30. The pool area itself had a lawn on one side and individual changing rooms on the other. There were diving boards at the deep end. 650.0306
Alan J, writing from the USA, says : I think the Pantiles Swimming Pool closed sometime in the late 1960's. I had a part-time job at the Heron Petrol (Gas to us Yanks) Station about 1970 and the pool was behind the Station. 672.506
Marilyn Hills (nee Kircher) recalls : Around 1955 to 58, Cliff Richard and his family came to swim here. Word soon got around. I was in the middle of drying the dishes for my Mum when a girlfriend arrived with the news, Mum let me off the chores and we sped up to the pool. As I recall, in the time he was there he changed his swimming trunks several times. We waited patiently for an autograph, and he signed one for me on an old Weights cigarette packet that I picked up off the ground. I believe his mother and sister was also there and I think it was as he was just getting famous. Does anyone else recall that time I wonder. 1624.1006
Lionel Parr recalls that the pool was built about 1934-5, and remembers swimming there between 1938 and the war. 118.1207
From Ken Wells: I remember swimming at the Pantiles, Kenneth Moore shot a film in the restaurant next door, this was in 1958/9 and I remember the changing rooms were wood and the shallow end had little steps you could sit on. I learnt to dive off those boards. 231.407
From Chris Salt : At the deep end of the swimming pool, there were some steps down to a circular flagstone area, surrounded by tall trees, very peaceful and the haunt of many exotic butterflies. I spent most days of many summer holidays between 1943 and 1951 at the pool. I am sorry it has gone, I will never forget it. iv9
From Margaret : The Pantiles Swimming
pool was located behind the petrol station that when I was a child was
run by a Mr. Jack Steer who lived I think in Ascot or Bracknell (this
was late 40's thru to the 50's then he must have retired) I assume he
must have owned the filling station and the swimming pool was at the
rear of the filling station. This is now the site of the Camper van
sales site and next door to the retirement home development recently
opened. I also remember going with the school to learn to swim there.
Camberley also used to have the Blue Pool alongside of the A30 - those were the days. v9
From Steve Parker: Yes I recall the Pantiles Swimming Pool. I had a season ticket during the early 1960s. I remember the things your correspondents mention. Bagshot Junior / Infants School went there. It was open-air and unheated. The entry kiosk and turnstile were at the front (nearest the A30), leading to the shallow end with steps, a row of primitive wooden changing rooms along the right side of the pool, a strip of grass along the left, and diving boards, including one medium and one high board on a tower, and a springboard (very dangerous!), at the deep end. As mentioned, there was a low-set flagged area beyond the deep end which was relatively secluded. This became very hot in sunny weather and it was also where girls and boys "liaised". I would guess it closed in the mid 1960s? As others mention, the Pantiles Cafe next door was where RAF war hero Douglas Bader met his wife Thelma. It's chronicled in his book Reach for the Sky and is portrayed in the film. [Dec 12]
From Bob Back in 1979 we moved to Bagshot. Reading here about the swimming pool at the back of Pantiles and its history reminded me of a story told to me around 1983 by an elderly gentleman, possibly in his late 70's or mid 80's, about when he was a child. He told me that he used to go to Bagshot junior/infants school and they used to walk from Bagshot, across the fields to swim in a pool that had changing huts which was situated in what is now Lightwater Country park. I believe he said it was a lake but not the large pools that are now there. I guess then that it predates the time in 1934 when the children walked to the Pantiles one. [Dec 16]
Bob's information places the date as circa 1910 - 20. The 1915 OS maps only shows two ponds in what is now the Country Park and its surrounds - these are Black Pond (now no more than a muddy patch and no longer mentioned on maps) and Hammond's Pond. The latter is still there but is not the shallow ponds you pass if you drive into the Country Park (and which are not shown on the 1915 map). I think Hammond's Pond is actually outside of the Country Park boundary and I do not know whether it is accessible to the public - it is not an area I frequent very often. If it was Hammond's Pond that the children walked to then it really was across fields.
Peter Summerton replies to Bob : My siblings and many of my peers spent hours, day after day, in the summers of the 40's and 50's, swimming and fishing in what we knew then as Lightwater Lake. It was almost exactly the same size and shape then as it it now, but there weren't any changing huts and it is so much easier to walk round than it was then. What is now the lower pond was then a morass of weed, very congested, not the pleasant pool it is today. I think the location of Black Pond is now some where under the M3, and recent information had persuaded me, wrongly now I believe, that the large lake in the Country park is now known as Hammond's pond, supposedly named after a Rev. Hammond of Windlesham. Can anybody clarify this? [Dec 17]
I did not come to Bagshot until the 1970s so I can't add any personal recollections, but my review of old maps leads me to think that Black Pond is not under the M3, and that the lakes now seen as you drive into the Country Park are not Hammond's Pond. I will wait to see if any more comments are made and then try to correlate all the descriptions we have with the maps.
Adrian wrote about another pool used for swimming : There was a time when people swam in Rapley Lake. This may have been as long ago as before WWII. As a young boy in the 1970s I walked round Rapley Lake several times with my father (who had grown-up in the Head Gardener's house at Bagshot Park). On one side of the lake, on the far side of the footpath, was a culvert, stream or small waterfall which flowed into or out of the lake. (Hopefully someone will recognise this description). Here was a tree trunk, which Dad said those long-ago swimmers had played with in the lake. I am fairly certain he said that someone had drowned. Doubtless this awful news would have been reported in the local press; researching the archives will thus give a date and more details. [Dec 17]
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