The Tunnel Club: The movie

I was too young to have ever visited Malcolm Hardee‘s Tunnel Club, sadly. A generation of comics honed their acts in front of “lively” crowds at the venue, in the old Mitre pub by the Blackwall Tunnel entrance. You can trace a whole gang of entertainers through their links with this place, from Jools Holland and Squeeze through to the likes Vic Reeves and Jo Brand. Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer stayed in the area through their early days of success, working out of Jools Holland’s Helicon Mountain “railway station” studio above the platforms at Westcombe Park station – I remember bumping into them waiting for an afternoon train into town.

This could be my faulty memory playing up, but for some reason I’m sure I remember a night the police raided The Tunnel Club (around 1988?), possibly leading to its closure. It wasn’t exactly a softly-softly operation, from what I can remember, with sirens wailing everywhere. Malcolm moved on to Up The Creek, which continues to this day. The Mitre building remains, still as isolated as it always was, and is now a house music venue called That Club.

Brought up in Lewisham, Malcolm was a true south-east London legend – a frequent sight around Greenwich and Blackheath with his son, and a regular at the quiz night at Hardys Free House. Sadly, he died in 2005, drowning while trying to get to the houseboat he lived in at Greenland Dock, Rotherhithe. Without him, Greenwich would have been a far duller place.

So I’m indebted to Deptford’s Crosswhatfields for bringing news of a film that’s been made about the Tunnel Club, by Jody VandenBurg. The Tunnel is a 30-minute-long pilot for a new feature film to be made about Malcolm. It’s been nominated for Film London’s ‘best of borough’ awards (for Lambeth, mind), and you can watch it on the Film London website.

5 comments

  1. I was there the night it got raided police helicopters riot police jumping over the Walls it was freaky especially after taking a California sunrise an hour earlier! We got stuck in the car 4 of us buzzing our tits off while it was all going off including one of the twin bouncers face being squashed against the car window as four coppers tried to cuff him.. ! Any one need research for that film please contact me was up there every week fir months wicked place !

  2. i was also there almost every week not the night of the raid thankfully, but still have fond memories of the tunnle club if you need any more feedback feel free to contact me !

  3. I was there the night it got raided and remember clearly the north to south car tunnel being closed and no one new why……….The police made a humungous balls-up with their operation, which the true extent of was never reported in the press following the rave. The car tunnel had actually been closed because there were four coach loads of Police hiding in there, waiting to pounce and catch all the ‘druggies’ . They had been drafted in from all over South East England for a supposedly meticulously planned raid on The Tunnel club, which would soon reveal to be anything but a success.
    For once , I was early getting to the venue, walked in at around 10.10pm, shortly after that, around 11pm, with the club populated by scarcely 50 spotty, skinny ravers like me, a dozen coppers come bursting into the room. I was told that two of them had plastic bags full of amyl nitrate that they were emptying all over the floor, to be then picked up and placed in clear bags by the same coppers??? . I was in the loo at the time and heard a bit of a commotion, Police then came crashing in, trying to kick the door down…. “Open the door! open the door!!!” They kicked the door in,thinking i was flushing, most likely, a huge supply of class A’s down the pan, but i was actually having a poo. the door fell right in, almost smashing me on the face whilst I was still sitting on the bog, dungarees round my ankles……….They allowed me to finish my business then searched me. I had nothing on me, but was taken outside, where there was a helicopter hovering 30 foot above our heads. Two old pals of mine informed me that 4 police had assailed down to the garden, but they were tripping their tits off , so I just laughed my head off (other people later corroborated their story as fact!)
    Whilst we were held outside, the Police, who must’ve sensed the absolute disaster unfolding of not getting a result started searching upstairs, where they discovered a small amount of cocaine in the landlord Joe’s bedroom. This was subsequently blown up out of all proportion, although Joe did lose his license as a result.
    The raid cost nearly £750,000, the police arrested 3 people with a total haul of 4 ecstasy pills, 4 grams of hash, 59 bottles of poppers and a few pro plus. It was a total and utter disaster .
    when the Police let us go, I mentioned that if they’d come a bit later , i.e. when the club was full, they may’ve had a more productive time. Twats

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