Fire at the Lakeside Club

1970s, late: Lakeside Club fire: Mo Clark: There I was about 2 am into a night shift with PC 1120 Paul Webb driving. The call came in that staff at the Lakeside Club wanted to ... more report damage to some of their vehicles. No problem; wander over there and have a look see.

The Lakeside was, and still is, owned by Bob Potter. It is where they now hold the Darts Championship. In those days it was a large wooden flat roof building. Various UK and international stars appeared there probably a bit more so than they do now. Anyway off we went.

As we drove round the Lakeside Road adjacent to the place I remarked to Paul, 'That's unusual, fog at this time of the year'. The fog was drifting across the lake and onto the road we were approaching on. Then we drove down the access road to find pandemonium. Of course it wasn't fog; it was smoke from the club on fire.

Fortunately all the punters had gone home leaving just the staff and they were in a panic running from the club with wire paper trays full of cash blowing away in the wind. Some came up to us and screamed, 'Where's the (expletive deleted) Fire Brigade'. I understood their concern because there were flames about fifty feet in height coming from the flat roof of the main club building. But no fire brigade!

Without hesitation but in a high toned voice I called up on HJ1 asking for said Fire Brigade. The often heard reply came back, ' Last unit, you are broken. Change location and try again'. Personal radios faired no better. So we drove round the empty car park searching for that elusive 'better location'.

After a few minutes we got through. What must those people thought we were doing! Driving round an empty car park when there club and livelihood was going up in flames? Anyway, the reply came back that indeed the fire brigade were on their way and they arrived a few minutes later.

Now those fifty foot flames were in an isolated point on the roof when we arrived. But in a few minutes they had spread across the whole wooden roof. There was no way anyone was going to put that fire out. A short while later a large Jaguar came roaring into the car park and screeched to a halt with smoke from the tyres.

A guy got out and started running towards the front entrance doors of the club. I got in front of him and grabbed him to stop him entering the inferno but he was having none of it. He was big and I lost the grapple and he ran on up to the doors. He opened the doors and suddenly stood very still before turning round and running back again. Someone said it was Bob Potter's brother but I'm not sure. He must have been a bit singed. If it was his brother I would have thought he knew Bob was not there that night, at least we did not see him.

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