Club legend death is a sad time for town

Chesterfield is now an emptier place after the loss of town legend and nightclub owner John Williamson.

Wednesday, 3rd August 2016, 9:47 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 5:17 pm

John - the former owner of the Aquarius nightspot - was in his early 70s and died at Ashgate Hospice on Saturday.

The Aquarius club dominated Chesterfield’s nightlife in the 70s and 80s, with its mix of disco and cabaret and pulled in punters from across the region.

Neil Anderson, author of the Dirty Stop Outs’ Guide to 1980s Chesterfield, said show business was in John’s blood.

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He added: “He loved the life and he had a very positive outlook.

“People just warmed to John - all his staff had such a love for him.

“To be in the entertainment business you have to be larger than life and John had all of that and much more.”

The Aquarius was one of the few clubs in the region which survived the arrival of punk in the late 1970s.

Neil said: “It was just amazing how busy it was - you had coaches coming form everywhere.

“It had such a loyal following and even now, years later, people still share posts about it on Facebook.”

Among memories of the club are those shared by Chesterfield comedian Bernie Clifton in Neil’s book.

The comic remembers booking Cannon and Ball, who were horrified to learn they were top of the bill and working man’s favourite Bernard Manning.

Gerry McDermott, another Chesterfield nightlife stalwart, was a good friend of John’s and said he was a true gentleman.

He added: “He was someone who helped Chesterfield and married a lot of couples. He should be recognised.”

A celebration of John’s life will be held at Real Time Live, Marsden Street, on Saturday August 13.

Tickets cost £8 with a donation going to Ashgate Hospice and are available from, Real Time Live or Tallbird Records.