There I was.
In my late teens, with hair like Bonnie Tyler and wearing a pair of leather look trousers that were probably at least two sizes too small.
A slick of red lippy and a pair of spike heeled, tasssled boots I could barely walk in.
Preparation was everything.
After all I was going to what was heralded as the ‘best biker bar ever’, so I had to look the part.
Think Olivia Newton John in Grease. Just fatter.
Stood outside the cherry red painted double doors of Scally’s on that warm summer evening, the thud of the rock band on stage resonated through the concrete frontage covered in a plethora of impressive motorcycles.
I knew then, this place – think Coyote Ugly meets The Double Deuce/Bourbon Room – was something special.
A place where I would spend much of my late teens and early twenties which would lead to a lifelong love of motorbikes and rock music.
I’d visited Scally’s before it became Scally’s.
As an original 1980’s wild child (think Amanda de Cadenet but worse) my nights out in sunny Weston-super-Mare started at a young age.
My first visit to this Carlton Street boozer was when it was the Prince of Wales, a proper spit and sawdust pub run by a landlord called Dave.
After he left, the bar became Scally’s and was a gay bar for several months before it was left boarded up, unloved and empty.
Dawn Coupe was running Chasers biker pub in Hereford and, after she was gazumped on a deal to buy it, was told of a number of pubs in Weston-super-Mare which had come available.
Initially she came to view The Ashcombe and the Roaring Forties in the seaside town – and didn’t like either of them.
- Police have charged a Hells Angels outlaw motorcycle gang (OMCG) member following ongoing investigations into alleged criminal activity
- Hells Angel member charged with fleeing from police
- A biker gang member injured during a double shooting at a property in Kaiapoi has pleaded not guilty to firearm charges.
- Stafford County Sheriff’s deputies Shoot man at Tuckahoe Motorcycle Club
- Police operatives have charged a Hells Angels outlaw motorcycle gang (OMCG) member following a vehicle and foot pursuit
But after becoming lost trying to find her way around the resort, she stumbled across Scally’s.
“I literally just drove past it and it was all boarded up,” she said.
Coming across the pub, was in Dawn’s words an ‘omen.’
“One of the reasons I was interested in the pub was because it was called Scally’s,” she said.
“The bike club which used my pub in Hereford were called The Scallywags’ – it was an omen.”
Dawn then got the keys to take her first peek inside what would become her home – and her life – for the next 27 years.
“It looked like a good pub,” she said.
“It had a small corner stage and room for a pool table.
“All that was in it was a few tables and chairs.
“It was pretty much a blank canvas to work with”
Dawn agreed a six month rent free period to see if she could “turn Scally’s around.” It was a challenge the formidable – sometimes fearsome landlady – most definitely rose to.
She made the stage bigger and started putting on live music on Saturday nights with the help of local Weston-super-Mare musician Cliff Moore.
“No one else was doing live music in Weston at that time and I wanted to get a feel for the town and it really started to take off.”
Dawn’s biker community in Hereford continued to support her, with many of the ‘Scallywags’ – who renamed themselves The Scallys in tribute to Dawn’s venture – travelling down each weekend to enjoy the music.
“They came down, with sleeping bags,” she laughed. “Many would end up sleeping in the bar.
“They said they just couldn’t find another pub like it.”
Scally’s quickly became known as a biker friendly pub.
All bikers were welcome – regardless of the patch or colours they wore.
It was also a favoured haunt of many of the OAP’s who lived in the neighbouring retirement flats.
“Everyone just joined in together,” said Dawn, “ and we started to build a real Scally’s community.”
Live music sessions at the pub became more frequent with a jam night on a Thursday night with the likes of Cliff Moore, Alan Dexter, Steve Kearns, Matt from the Back Bar and Jarod leading the stage.
Friday nights were tribute band nights while Saturday was the ‘big night’ of the weekend with a live band.
Anyone who was a regular visitor to jam night would remember the many characters that took a slot in the Scally’s limelight.
One of those was Jenny – famous for her weekly rendition of the Bryan Adams classic ‘Summer of 69’.
“Everyone remembers Jenny and she would turn up each Thursday without fail to sing,” said Dawn.
“But after three years of hearing the same song every week I told the band not to play it any more,” she laughed.
“Three years of hearing it was definitely enough.”
I’d been known myself to take to the stage to belt out a classic or two on jam night.
“Every time Dead Man’s Handle was up there playing you got up to sing with them Hev,” Dawn reminded me.
In 1998 Dawn decided she wanted to buy rather than lease the pub and cement her role as the town’s most formidable landlady.
Not only did Scally’s showcase the best in local musicians over the years it also welcomed some huge names in the rock world.
Gary Moore – famed for his hits Still Got The Blues, Parisienne Walkways and Empty Rooms – came into the pub with his brother Cliff on a Monday afternoon, with Dawn having no idea who he was.
“It was a quiet Monday afternoon and this chap walked in wearing a long checked coat,” said Dawn.
“And in behind him walked Cliff who introduced him as his brother Gary.
“He had a few drinks and we had a nice chat and he left.”
When the pub closed Dawn mentioned that Cliff had brought his brother Gary in.
“People couldn’t believe it when I told them,” she said.
“They were like Gary Moore was in here and you didn’t even know it.”
Other big names to appear in Scally’s included Phil Hilbourne – of the Queen Musical ‘We Will Rock You’ – who regularly performed with his band.
However at one gig he had to get an emergency stand in on drums after he was let down at the last minute.
But the replacement drummer was a real surprise – in the form of Iron Maiden drummer Nico McBrain, who Phil still tours with.
The Kaiser Chiefs also made a stop off in Scally’s after performing at T4 on the Beach.
“They came in after their gig and drank us out of Guinness,” said Dawn.