Remembering the 1980s when Wendover was the hotbed of indie music at The Wellhead’s Division One club

Pop Will Eat Itself played at Division One
Pop Will Eat Itself played at Division One

When Aylesbury’s Friars club closed down in 1985 an unlikely solution, at the foot of the Wendover Woods was found to fill the void.

And Division One at Wendover’s The Wellhead, run by Friars founder Robin Pike would soon be a legendary place to go to see cutting edge bands of the time such as My Bloody Valentine, Primal Scream and The Housemartins.

The Proclaimers played at the world renowned Wendover club

The Proclaimers played at the world renowned Wendover club

The Wellhead became the site of Division One because the owners had decided to convert their adjoining barn into a function room. Some of the regulars at the pub saw the possibility for using the new space as a place to put on gigs.

Robin said: “A couple of guys approached me with the idea of starting a club.

“I had been involved with Friars since the very beginning and so I knew how great a small club could be. From the start, I had very definite ideas about Division One.

“Basically, these were: no support acts, no local bands and minimal guest lists but to have a top class London DJ. The bands were to be niche indie so as to give the club an identity. That upset quite a few people!”

Indie heroes The Pastels brought in the crowds at Wendover's Division One at The Wellhead

Indie heroes The Pastels brought in the crowds at Wendover's Division One at The Wellhead

Division One started as a sell out in September 1985 with The Thrashing Doves.

Record company executives attended the secluded show, and the band received a record deal.

Robin said: “In total Division One presented 78 shows between September 1985 and December 1987 during which time the pub changed ownership.
“The Housemartins (with Paul Heaton and Fatboy Slim Norman Cook) loved the club and so that they insisted that the final date on their sold out Sheep tour should be at Division One.

“The demand for tickets was such that the show had to be held in the Victoria Hall in Tring! Other indie bands to play included Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine (Kevin Shields), Stars of Heaven (from Dublin), The La’s, The Proclaimers (a very rare support band), Chiefs of Relief (Paul Cook ex Sex Pistols, and Matthew Ashman ex Bow Wow Wow), The Wedding Present and the Wonderstuff.

A cutting from The Bucks Herald about The Housemartins' Wellhead show

A cutting from The Bucks Herald about The Housemartins' Wellhead show

“Some of these bands had a devoted following with their fans travelling out from London to Wendover by train. To get home they had to catch the last train from Wendover to Rickmansworth from where they walked to Watford Junction and caught a night train back to Town. Wendover had arrived on the indie circuit!”

While the club didn’t make a lot of money it certainly was popular, and was publicised each time in The Bucks Herald, Bucks Advertiser and occasionally the NME.

But all good things come to an end. When Division One stopped, friends of Robin’s began Reaction Club which also promoted indie gigs. But when The Wellhead was forced to close the club folded and Wendover lost its link with cutting edge indie music.

Do you remember nights at The Wellhead? Get in touch by emailing hayley.okeeffe@jpimedia.co.uk

The Supernaturals (featuring Pauline Black of The Selecter) played at Division One

The Supernaturals (featuring Pauline Black of The Selecter) played at Division One

A cutting from an article about The Housemartin's Division One performance

A cutting from an article about The Housemartin's Division One performance