The West End Centre (aka Westy or WEC) is still up and running and has been the creative heart of Aldershot for more than 45 years. The converted Victorian school, on Queens Road, which has played host to Primal Scream and Blur, continues to host world-class touring bands whilst developing the grass-roots local music scene and supporting upcoming talent.

When the popular Crookham Arts Centre outgrew their premises, founder Julian Sluggett succeeded in obtaining Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman CBE’s support in his fight to retain and develop the recently closed 100 year old West End Junior School, once attended by comedian Arthur English, in Aldershot. It was Betjeman, who when the Westy faced closure in its early years, had the building listed discouraging developer interest. Opening in ’75 the ‘Westy’ was originally run by volunteers with Sluggett as the founder and first director of West End Centre, one of eight drama based arts centres in Hampshire. With the other directors he formed CHASTE – the Combined Hampshire and Small Scale Touring Theatre circuit, bringing in innovative touring groups like Hull Truck, Tricycle and Knee High widening audience access and supporting small scale theatre companies.

When Slugget moved to South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell in 1980 to become founder director of the Wilde Theatre there; Westy’s new director looked at avenues to boost the venue’s usage. It was late ’81 that Richard Thompson kicked off a series of live music concerts at the venue. In the early 80’s, The Plague, an Aldershot based punk band, organized ‘The Sty’ rock / punk club nights at the Westy, booking the likes of The Contaminated, and Maxi Puch and The Macho Moped Men. By March ’82, The Plague’s The Sty was firmly established; featuring Black Easter supporting Exit for example. Then in ’83 the West End Centre received a £110,000 facelift with an official reopening on 13 January ’84. The 12 January ’84’s Soundscene column asked if anyone remember a band called Fairport Convention; as the founder and aforementioned Richard Thompson was to kick off the live music at the revamped venue. Future attractions were to include Station 360, The Dansette, Restriction and The Oyster Band.

18 March 1988: Poster for Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band, supported by West One at the West End Centre, Aldershot. Source: West One

The late ’80s to mid ’90s saw the Buzz Club take up residency, a period when you could have found Robb Williamson and Stuart Edward Vessey Grant running the lights or the sound desk or as stage roadies. The Buzz Club night of 15 November ’86 was a local band extravaganza with Steel Bill and The Buffaloes headlining, supported by West One, FRA, and Second Balcony Jump. Sonny Black’s Blues Band headlined WEC on 27 November ’87, with T Model Slim and Sammy Rats Big Big Blues Band in support. The Westy hosted the legendary soul band, Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band on 18 March ’88, supported by West One. May ’88 saw the Sammy Rat boys back to support The Rhythm Sisters, and then on 16 July that year, the band also secured a supporting slot for Desmond Dekker at The Westy. 18 June ’88 saw the Buzz Club put on six bands: The Jeremiahs, the promoters own band Bluetrain, Crimplene Explosion, The Aubisons, Sugar Mountain and The Splendids. The F1 11s also appeared at the West End Centre, on 2 September ’88, supporting West One, along with Rising Signs.

Mega City Four at the West End Centre, Aldershot in 1989. Source: Photographer Stuart Edward Vessey Grant via Mega City Four

Mega City Four‘s (MC4) Tranzophobia Tour included a booking at the Buzz Club, at the venue, on 24 June ’89 supported by The Senseless Things, and The Eclairs. A soundboard captured recording of “Miles Apart” from this gig was later distributed with an issue of the German Pogo Post Fanzine. In November ’89 Frantic, with Blue Velvet, supported Morrisey’s ‘favorite band’ band Bradford at The West End Centre.

13 January 1990 and Vinegar Blossom play The West End Centre. Source:

As far as we can tell, 1990 kicked off with Vinegar Blossom on 13 January. MC4 returned to the West End Centre on 2 March ’90 with Ned’s Atomic Dustbin and supported by Blue Velvet. Later that month Frantic were back at The Westy supporting Who Moved The Ground?, with Fear and The Sack. The Ha Ha Men supported Blur at the Buzz Club in October ’90 and based on the success of that event were invited to support again in November at the University of London.

Across the 12 to 15 June ’91 the West End Centre hosted 18 bands for the first rounds of the Buzz Club’s MidSummer Madness Local Indie/Rock Band Competition. The first night saw Hung Inverted, Big Wednesday, My Blue Heaven, Not Just a Pretty Face, and Something Religious battled it out. Frayed Edge, Parma Violet, Sliver, Who Moved The Ground?, and The Cesspit Rebels sparred against each other on Thursday, 13 June. The penultimate night of the first rounds had Red in Bed, Close Quarters, Giant Arc, and Lou Sends clashing on stage. The final and smallest round, on the 15 June, pitted Scorpio Rising, Peachrazor, and Trousershock BC against each other. The final took place on 22 June with the winner walking off with £300 in cash and a gig at London’s Rock Garden, for whom Buzz Club promoter Jo Bartlett was the booker.

June 1991: Scorpio Rising,Trousershock B.C. and Peachrazor were competing in the Buzz Clubs band “Shoot Out”.

In April ’92 Slug appeared at The WEC with Trousershock BC and Faceache. This was recorded and released as “Live 25.4.92” in September. Later that year they were back for The Buzz Club’s local bands night on 21 November featuring Trousershock B.C., Sunriser and Who Moved The Ground?

In January ’93 Paul Talling organized a launch party for Snakebite City at the venue featuring: Peachrazor, Pretty Green, Pomeroy, Backlash, Phobia and Big Boy Tomato. In May ’93 Peachrazor played the supporting role for Creaming Jesus, with Swayed at Club Critical; accidentally breaking Creaming Jesus’ bass guitar in half during set change. Creaming Jesus bassist Tally ended up borrowing Peachrazor Porter’s bass. The West End Centre was the venue for Farnborough Groove Vol. 7’s Launch Night on 20 September ’97, which featured Kilter on stage. October ’97 was a typically busy month. On 4 October China Drum were supported by Cable, and Carrie; the 10 October saw local bands Twister and JC Regulator supporting Animals That Swim; Kilter returned on the 11 October to support Dream City Film Club; Prolapse appeared on 17 October; and Floor were supported by Under Zero, and Dent on 24 October. On 31 December ’97 Snakebite City rented the venue and held a New Years Eve Party, with Ex Boyfriends, Inter, Cornered, J.C. Regulator, and Breaker.

West End Centre gig list for October 1997. Picture courtesy of Pete Cole

Every year since 2006 the Westy has held the Summer Westival which creates an indoor music festival complete with grass throughout the venue. In 2007, when managed by Hampshire County Council the centre faced closure again. Public outcry saw the decision reversed. Inter reformed a second time in 2009, playing a brief set at the manager Pete Cole’s wedding reception held at the West End Centre, Aldershot.

In addition to Blur and Primal Scream and all those mentioned above; the Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, Spiritualized, Manic Street Preachers, Peter Green, Chas & Dave, Foals, The 1975, Biffy Clyro, The Temperance Movement, Nine Below Zero, Funeral for a Friend, PJ Harvey, The Xcerts, McCarthy, We Are the Ocean, and The Albion Band (20 Jan ’90) have all appeared at the venue.

Today, WEC is managed by Hampshire Cultural Trust and between 2001 and 2019 the arts centre director was Barney Jeavons, former manager of Reuben, a member of a number of local bands himself, and promoter of Spaltch and other events.


Backlash’s ‘Don’t Touch Me’ live at West End Centre, Aldershot ’93


Live soundboard recording of “Miles Apart”, Mega City Four’s first single, at the West End Centre, Aldershot on 24th June 1989