The Royal Hotel on Worplesdon Road, Stoughton once hosted gigs by Eric Clapton, U2 (1979), Queen (1973), and The Stranglers (1976). It closed in May 2009. The Strangler’s JJ Burnel told the Surrey Ad “We had a lunchtime residency at the Royal Hotel. It’s a shame to hear it’s closed down. I think the first time we ever played Peaches was there.”

1976 Flyer for Sunday night’s ‘Rock At The Royal’ organized and run by Ray “Bonza” Bradman.

In the 60’s it was run by the Swanborough’s. Then, in the 70’s, with Dave and Jenny Tomkins running the show; Ray “Bonza” Bradman put on ‘Rock At The Royal’ every Sunday while Stan Page was on the door. The Stranglers played ‘Rock At The Royal’ several times as well as a regular-ish Sunday lunch spot. Other bands to appear in the 70’s included The Flying Saucers and The Piranhas, who had a residency every Friday night, Golden Age of Metro, Jabber, Last Orders, House, Sad Sac, and Executives. The Vapors, as part of their Passport Tour, played The Royal on 18 May ’79.

17 November 1978: The Piranhas at The Royal, Guildford. Picture courtesy of Fred Pipes

The pub, which was a favorite haunt for soldiers from the nearby barracks and attracted a reputation for being ‘a little rowdy’, was owned in the early 1980s by the wrestler Mick McManus (he took over from Dave, Chris and Arthur Tomkins), who tried to improve its reputation by banning large groups of off-duty soldiers. McManus’ son Tony actually managed the pub on a day to day basis. McManus was one of the first Guildford landlords to be granted a license to have music and dancing until 1am on Saturdays.

Local band, UBz played The Royal many times, including on 29 November ’80, supported by The Rams and Zero Time. The likes of Eddie & The Hotrods played there in ’81; and Shoot! Dispute’s debut was there too. In 1983, late entertainment was banned following allegations from neighbours of foul language, glue sniffing, public fornication and drinkers urinating on nearby homes – but the show went on, with earlier closing times. Promoters, like Judith Sawyer, put on live nights there on a regular basis. Some recall Clapton joining local musicians – notably House along with Graham Cupcake Cooper on guitar, the late Kirk Riddle on bass and Alan Watkin on drums (who was later in Grapevine) – onstage for a charity gig (pre Live Aid by a few years), packing the venue with Bruce Foxton of The Jam in the audience; a busy night for Keith Pilgrim and Coco on the door.

Advert for The Royal from 1979. Picture courtesy of Ben Collectors Records

ust before they released “Somewhere in England” Dumpy’s Rusty Nuts, supported by Steamboat Willy, played the venue. The following night, 17 March ’84, two local bands: Station 360 and Kalibre, took to the stage. Bernie Torme, who’d played the 1900 Club at The Red Lion, Gravesend the night before as Bernie Torme’s Electric Gypsies, was supported by Jokers Wild on 19 March ’84. Three days later Jackie Lynton was on the stage supported by Capricorn. Capricorn were back on 10 May, supported by Black Tiger. The following night – Friday – it was Cardiacs, with Berlin and Blue Murder on the Saturday.

John and Moira Cooper bought the pub from McManus in ’84 with Andy Davis managing the music. Screaming Lullabies‘ vocalist Simon George and drummer Kirk Kelly started a new club night on Wednesdays at The Royal in March ’84. This may have been the famed alternative rock club / night called “Animal House” and there was Wednesday night punk club, too. Meanwhile promoter Judith Sawyer’s Sawyer’s Club controlled Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It was on a Saturday night, the 4 August ’84, that ADX (formerly The Adicts) played The Royal, supported by Capricorn; which reportedly left the pub smashed up by punters and police. A few months later, on 3 November The Trudy were supported by !Action Pact!. Christmas Eve ’84 was headlined by Longpig, supported by Funtime.

Sadly John Cooper died a short while after taking charge and Frank and Rene O’Malley took over from ’85 until it closed. Flow Motion, supported by new romantic Siere Novar, kicked off February ’85. Capricorn were back on 6 April and Jokers Wild, supported by Siere Novar (which included Toby Burtons) played on 25 April That Saturday – the 27 April, Peter Green played with his band Kolors. Midweek wasn’t that popular a slot, but Fungus took it on 1 May; with John Coghlan’s Diesel Band featuring Mick Moody (ex-Whitesnake), Johnny Gustafon (ex-Gillan), Mike Simmons (ex-Joan Armatrading Band), Bob Young who co-wrote “Down Down” with Francis Rossi as well as other hits, and of course Coghlan (ex-Status Quo). Five O’Clock High graced the stage on a Sunday afternoon in ’85 as well as on Tuesday 21 May. On 5 October ’85 Richie Blackmore joined Jackie Lynton at the Royal for a 30 minute jam session.

Some time after the venue closed in 2009, The Royal became and still is the Beijing restaurant.