When you know the internet is wrong: Led Zeppelin's first gig

I'm at that age when you question your own memory of things, but some things I do remember well. Whilst browsing the Guildford page of Wikipedia last night  (to check that The Hospital of the Holy Trinity in the above postcard was also known as Abbot's Hospital), I came across this old chestnut:
The University Hall on the campus of the University of Surrey was the site of the first ever Led Zeppelin gig on 25 October 1968.[147]
Now, it's an easy assumption to make. Led Zep's first gig (and even this is disputed as they were originally billed as the New Yardbirds) took place on 25 October 1968 at the University of Surrey, and Surrey Uni is in Guildford, so… the gig must have been in Guildford, right? It's even repeated on the UoS wiki page.
Early visitors to the new campus were Led Zeppelin, who performed their very first gig at the university on 15 October 1968.[11]
Wrong! The University in 1968 was on split sites: Battersea (Battersea College of Advanced Technology became the University of Surrey in 1966), and Guildford, which was pretty much a building site with the hall not yet built. The first gig I remember attending in the new Guildford hall was The Who (with John Sebastion on harmonica) in 1971. Adrian Boot of Boogle Enterprises used to put on gigs in the basement of the Chemical Engineering building, mainly featuring Blackhill bands.

The Guildford wiki page cites Led Zep's own website, which clearly says Battersea in the heading, and there is even a poster (which I don't remember) which gives the address as Battersea Park Road - and they are billed as 'New Yardbirds featuring Jimmy Page' - but the comments below it still argue it happened in Guildford!

On 20 December 2003 a plaque commemorating the event was unveiled in Guildford, outside the hall. However when they discovered it had the wrong date (15 October 1968 - see above) and site, it was removed. On 20 June 2008 the University awarded an honorary Doctorate to Jimmy Page in a ceremony at the Cathedral.

There is another website that clears up this muddle, saying in a footnote:
*Note that this first Led Zeppelin gig was in Battersea. Although the University had substantially moved out to Guildford from Battersea by this time, this gig was at the ORIGINAL university site, in Battersea Park Road.
The original Battersea building that contained the Great Hall (where I did see the Animals, Steam Packet with Rod Stewart and Long John Baldry, and the Bonzos - I was on the stage crew) is now yuppy apartments.

There is also some slight confusion about when David Bowie played in Guildford, with John 'Hutch' Hutchinson, as part of the duo Feathers, on 11 March 1969. The gig was part of the Guildford Arts Festival late night club, held each night in the upstairs theatre club at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. The arts festival was organised by the University of Surrey Students Union and directed by Rick Welton. It was not held up at the Stag Hill campus, and the website of Bowie's gigs has been amended partially!

I was at both these historic gigs (I think!). The question I can't answer however is did I or did I not see Joy Division at Guildford Civic Hall on 1 November 1979, supporting Buzzcocks? I was a big fan of Buzzcocks so I would have been there, but was I in the bar? To my shame, watching support bands was not a thing we did back then!


Barbed Wire on the web


Thanks to the Facebook group Soundscene does Facebook, I discovered that someone (Jake) had scanned the whole of issue 5 of Barbed Wire, the fanzine Gus and I did at the turn of 1978/80.


I've been scanning them myself, and they are now all online!

Issue 0 Jan 1979 https://flic.kr/s/aHskhEQxLJ
Vol2 No1 Feb/March 1979 https://flic.kr/s/aHskh999qu
Vol2 No2 May 1979  https://flic.kr/s/aHskrMWHcz
Vol2 No3 Sept 1979 https://flic.kr/s/aHskpfg3aw
Vol3 No1 Jan/Feb 1980 https://flic.kr/s/aHskCKq8MK
Vol3 No2 May/June 1980  https://flic.kr/s/aHskzrcBjZ

and there's an album on Flickr of photos and ephemera from the mag at


You can find out more on the history of Barbed Wire in this post. It says Part 1 but I'm not sure there ever was a Part 2!


Frankfurt and Meiningen: Part 3

Bad Nauheim - Münzenburg railway

Day 4 Sunday 6 September
A more leisurely 9am start today, retracing our steps north, this time by train to Bad Nauheim (via Friedberg) to ride the heritage line to Müzenburg, pulled by a Henschel 0-4-0. The young guards were well turned out, one with retro glasses, smoking a pipe. They walked through the carriages calling out the station names as we approached them.

  Guards, Bad Nauheim - Münzenburg railway

Then it was back to Frankfurt, on a 46 bus for a trip round Frankfurt and then another short hop to the Frankfurter Feldbahnmuseum. I didn't know what to expect, we'd been told this was something to do with the temporary railways they built during the First World War. They certainly had plenty of locos, four of which were in steam. After a wander around, a piece of apple cake and a listen to the hurdy gurdy man, we set off through the allotments and into a big field, the site of the former airport, where a classic car rally was taking place.


We even saw a three-engined Junkers 52 fly over! The engine changed ends twice and we arrived back at the museum for a barbecue of meat and sausages, accompanied by a tub of potato salad and sauerkraut.

Beer plumbing, Feldbahnmuseum

Martin handed out tiddly winks for the drinks (2) and food (2), unfortunately not valid for beer, which we had to pay for! The food token did allow another slice of cake from the two severe looking serving ladies, however.


Then it was bus and U-bahn back to Frankfurt for a couple of beers at  O'Reilly's Oirish pub next door to the hotel - Neil had a welcome veggie burger, I was full up with potato salad!

Frankfurt station

Day 5 Monday 7 September
After breakfast we ambled over to Frankfurt station for the 10.16 ICE to Brussels Midi, only we had to change trains at Düren, at the border! So I managed a window seat only part of the journey (Neil and Angela got off at Cologne, en route to Prague). So, back in Blighty I got the train from St Pancras to Brighton and one to London Road and home.


Frankfurt and Meiningen: Part 2

Meiningen works

Day 3 Saturday 5 September
A 6am start and after I'd made a couple of crafty sandwiches in the breakfast room, we caught the S-bahn to Frankfurt Süd to stand on a cold platform with other enthusiasts waiting to catch the steam charter to Meiningen. We were hauled by Class 52 4867, a huge 2-10-0 beast. We were in corridor compartments and there was a buffet on board, but we had time for a coffee at Schweinfurt, while the engine took on water.

Meiningen works

Meiningen works exists because the poorer DDR (East Germany) were slow in replacing steam and today mends locos for all over - 60163 Tornado's boiler was made here. After a '15 minute walk' alongside the track and over a level crossing, we arrived at the works and a guided tour, but as it was so noisy and I couldn't quite hear the guide, I bunked off in the direction of live steam outside. The inside of the works resembled a cross between a car boot fair and a beer garden, with sausage barbecues everywhere and stalls selling railway memorabilia. Outside were dozens of huge locos, steaming up and down and twirling round on the turntable.

Meiningen works

My favourites were the two semi-streamlined pacifics 01 1553-7 and 01 519 - there were no streamliners on show, but I managed to buy a postcard of one. Other Class 01 pacifics included 01 0509-8 and 01 118.

  Meiningen works

There were a couple of Class 44s.

Meiningen works

and lots of little 'uns, including a blue tank Aquarius C which was giving footplate rides. Germans don't seem to go in for naming the big locos.

Meiningen works

 Even our loco had a go round the high speed turntable.

  Meiningen works

After a quick look round the works, where the new boilers were made, I had a sit down and glass of schwarzbier with Angela and Neil (no photo!).

Meiningen works

The workers still had their own ciggy machine!

Cigarette machine at Meiningen works

We left at 4pm for the walk back to the station and a long ride back to Frankfurt, arriving some 70 minutes late! At the main station we saw people with banners welcoming refugees, and distributing clothes and food, but didn't realise what the commotion was about until the next morning on the BBC news.

More photos on Flickr.


Frankfurt and Meiningen: Part 1

There is nothing like a bit of jeopardy at the start of a journey to get the adrenaline flowing. I'd caught the 7.48 train from Brighton that should have got me in to St Pancras at 9.20, plenty of time to have complimentary coffee and pastries with the Railtrail tour manger Martin. But the train broke down just before Tulse Hill - something to do with the brakes and an alarm going off in the driver's cab - so we limped into the station and the entire train decanted and moved to platform 1. There was some confusion but eventually I caught a slow train to Kentish Town that got me to St Pancras about 10 past 10, to find Martin in the departure queue with my ticket. The day before, Railtrail had sent us a letter with change of phone for Martin, for situations like this, but it was his old one, now in the hands of his daughter!

Anyway, I made it, phew. I bought a vegan falafel sandwich, we caught the Eurostar to Brussels and then the ICE to Frankfurt, checked in to the Leonardo hotel across the way and, after a pint at the irish pub next door, we all went out for a meal at the nearby Messina Italian restaurant. I couldn't finish my huge plate of veggie pasta. The veggies, gluten-intolerants and just plain fussy eaters were put on a table of their own.

Veggie pasta at Messina, Frankfurt

Day 2 Friday 4 September 2015
The breakfast at the Leonardo was better than expected with scrambled egg and tortilla along with muesli and fruit - I'd brought my own tea bags. We got the train to Wetzlar and a bus to the Grube Fortuna mine and field museum, where the 600mm gauge locos were lined up outside the shed, accompanied by a traction engine. We had a look round the sheds, one of which contained loads of mine diesel locos, and the big black loco No. 6616 built 1912,  took us round the loop in the woods a few times with several stops for photo opportunities.

Grube Fortuna mine museum and railway, Solms.

Then it was the turn of the little green 0-4-0 Monika, built 1913.

Grübe Fortuna mine museum and railway, Solms.

We then went to the smart restaurant on site for a lovely meal (I thought we'd be at the tressle tables set out in the shed): the veggies (me and Neil) had a gorgeous salad with cheesy croquet things - and a glass of the wonderful schwarzbier (black beer)! The germans seem to miss a trick in the gift shop department!

Schwarzbier at lunch

After lunch, we headed back to Frankfurt and then on to Darmstadt Eberstadt where we took a bus to Frankenstein station and the steam tram. Of course it was another steam loco - a Henschel built 1919 -pulling some coaches to Alsbach and back alongside a road. Lots of cyclists rode alongside too.

Steam Tram, Darmstadt.

We had to stop on the way back while they took on coal in buckets from the back of a car and attached a hose to a hydrant for water - all the stopping and starting had used up the fuel! Back at Frankenstein, we transferred to the Tram Museum (with a tantalising glimpse of the railway museum on the way) where after a quick look round (there were some very saucy goings on in the model tramway on display) we were taken on a tour of Darmstadt by vintage electric tram 57, which dropped us off at the main station.

Vintage Tram, Darmstadt.

That evening Neil (the husband of Angela who I met on the Polish trip) and I looked for a decent bar for more schwarzbier but settled on a rough looking sports bar we'd seen on the way to the Messina.

More photos on Flickr.