Sketch at Pawlett Manor












Sketch at Pawlett Manor

Like most djs account for, there is probably one standout experience that you think back to as your main inspirational source for doing what you do.

Here's mine which I suspect I'm not alone with.

If you were around in the 1990’s and were from the West Country you probably spent many a Friday night at the now infamous Sketch at The Pawlett Manor.

Often smaller clubs that sprang up at this time get overlooked due to their remote locations, especially if they were not situated in one of the major cities or towns here in this country.

London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle, Reading, Cardiff all had notable nights as did Somerset thanks to Sketch.

The Criminal Justice Act (sections 63,64 and 65) that was introduced was a measure to curb the then flourishing free party scene in the UK, this meant that after
Castlemorten (the biggest free party in Britain) the DJ crews and party enthusiasts of Somerset were more or less stuck for anything remotely attainable, here entered Sketch to resolve the problem that was faced by the masses.

Started up by Jimmee, Neil, Glen, Dan Watts (Killerwatts) and soon after joined by Gary (Man Like GT) Sarah and Jeanie, Sketch was a hedonistic house night at The Manor which was situated on the side of the A38 between Burnham On Sea and Bridgwater.

Outside of the venue stood a Sherman tank in the car park which was later joined by a World War Two search light which would be permanently installed, so either way you couldn’t miss the place due to its somewhat unintentional memorabilia on display to all.

The beam shone across the North Somerset countryside every weekend enabling anyone within a 5 mile radius of the venue to clearly see where the party was definitely happening, if you've seen the film Batman you'll definitely get an idea of how this all looked.

This light acted as a homing beacon, bringing revellers in not for touch down but more for lift off whilst also proving helpful to people coming in from London, Cardiff, Bristol, Exeter and Plymouth as the word spread far beyond the locals that were originally in the know.

The intensity of the parties held by Sketch rivaled many of the country’s more commonly known nights at the time, so much so that the black painted walls always covered the party faithful in specs due to the sweat they gave off, not good if you were more inclined to frequent clubs at the time that were beginning to operate a more regimented door policy in relation to attire.

As such dress codes were abandoned which was all the more endearing as the super club/glam house era was just around the corner, so as you can gather Sketch was all about the music and the moment, something that all great underground club nights have adopted as a policy over the years.

Somerset licensing laws back then dictated a finish time of 1.30am on Friday's so the requirement to carry things on was always a priority at closing time for most people attending Sketch nights.

The countryside around this area lent itself nicely to after hours activity and as such locations such as farm houses, abattoirs, forests, valleys and the omnipresent coastal area around The Hinckley Point Power Station proved ideal environments to party well into Saturday and on most occasions Sunday if the police weren’t tipped off in advance.

Lazy House Circus Warp and many others were firm favorites on the Somerset Free Party Scene at the time and as such Sketch provided the focal point of early weekend activity for many a long weekend ahead.

Car loads of happy ravers would depart Sketch on time later assembling at the nearby petrol stations anywhere along the M5 motorway which still acts as the main trunk route through the region, a tradition started by Acid House revellers the previous decade.

Alas like all good clubs nights Sketch came to end, The Manor was sold off to developers and the spirit that was generated in that part of the world slowly burnt less brightly in the years after.

Fond memories of listening to Flying, Limbo and all manner of 90’s house music with the Somerset faithful either at The Manor or on a nearby Somerset hillside.


Many heartfelt thanks to all that made it happen.

Special thanks to Catherine, Guy, Denise, Vance and all The Sketch DJ Crew

Comments by Ali

10 comments:

  1. Nice post!

    Never went to Pawlett Manor myself but probably attended a few do's affiliated with this (Lazy House, Sketch etc) in that area. Wicked parties indeed...

    I'm going to stick a link to your site on my site to return the favour :)

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  2. You write very well.

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  3. kevin aka stumpi05:41

    Those happy, and many times delirious Fridays at the manor! Man, i miss those wild & intimate times! Respect to everyone involved from DJ"s to ravers! Love to you all!

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  4. Anonymous14:35

    Awesome write-up but one small error.. Pawlett Manor wasn't turned into an old-peoples home before being demolished. After Sketch left there were still many events being held there by GBH, Galactic, Revibalize, Chapter 33 & a few tours from the likes of AWOL, Eternity magazine & Big Love. The final night at the manor was a kinda reunion of all the previous hosts with DJ's from Sketch, GBH & Chapter 33 all playing. On that very night parts of walls were smashed down, ceilings were ripped down & general looting of everything occured encouraged by the club owner.. within a few weeks Pawlett Manor was no more!!

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    1. Anonymous17:09

      Hi there. the tank was not left by checkpoint charlie either but bought by the clubs owner Pete Thomas,(Legend) who had liking for firearms, legally held I may add,(you really would not have wanted to break in there!), although the tank would have run, it's weapons were deactivated before purchase, I used to look after the sound and light and his Coin op aracade machines too! still got a brick from the innner walls from the last night! strange momento but had to be grabbed. Many a top night had there. still miss it today. always look at the houses that now stand on it's site when I drive by! R-S-EDDY you

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  5. Thank you Anon

    It's interesting to hear that such emotion not just from the patrons but also the owner went into the final passing moments of The Manor.

    I was just passing the site last week which is now a housing development and was wondering if anyone knew about what was there before them.

    Thanks again for the update on how the last moments were acted out.

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  6. Dilligaf16:14

    What memories .... Ahhhh *sigh* oh to go back 20 years!!!

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  7. Anonymous14:21

    To each and everyone who ever had the pleasure of attending any events held here, i am sure you will all agree. there was no better venue. this was the peoples choice and what a blinder of a choice it was. loved it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  8. Anonymous02:16

    Pawlett manor has left a dent in my party head.wurzle gummagex

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  9. I used to live 200 yards from the club, many happy memories. I was trying to see if i could spot myself in the crowd. Sure I recognise some of the other faces but their names are long forgotten to me. I remember jumping too energetically off the stage one night, cut my head on a light and had glass falling down behind me. - good times.

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