How it all started…
Almost everyone familiar with St Albans will know Pioneer Club and Skate Park just off Harpenden Road. Now in its eightieth year, the Charity was originally founded by evacuee’s that were relocated from London to St Albans in WW2 and has since evolved to become a multi faceted centre that extends far beyond it humble origins as a simple youth club. Pioneer provides a home to a number of organisations, many focussing on support for those with special needs or the provision of facilities for youths, but it is also available for venue hire when not in use by others or when we are hosting our own live music shows, skate jams or a variety of other events that are run by the charity.
Pioneer shot to fame in the 1960’s when a new purpose built hall was constructed, using funds raised by the charity. The new hall provided a platform for young up and coming bands to showcase their talent and play to audiences that might not otherwise have been able to access their music. This started the legacy that lives to this day, Pioneer being home to a number of successful bands meaning it has without doubt secured its place in rock history, but more of this on the music page!
Some years later and with the increased interest in the sport, Pioneer became home to the oldest indoor skate park in the UK, this being converted from an old warehouse in 1991, added to which was an outdoor skate area some two years later. The skate park is known worldwide and often attracts visitors from overseas to its regular skate and scooter jams, in no small way down to the ongoing involvement of legendary skater Rod Clarke, who remains an active part of Pioneer and who is a Trustee of the charity. In 2014 the park was subject to a major overhaul with new ramps throughout that have proved immensely popular with all-comers. The park continues to be updated with improvements!
There can be no argument that Pioneer can justifiably claim to be an iconic venue that in the early days witnessed some of the biggest names of the era with bands such Wishbone Ash and Motorhead being regular visitors. It is widely known and the stuff of legend that The Zombies of “She’s Not There” fame were formed at Pioneer and to this day members of the band still maintain an active involvement as Friends of Pioneer. Some years later The Zombies morphed into Argent and many of the songs that have become worldwide best sellers were written at The Pioneer Club.
But that is only the start of it! Enter Shikari are another hugely successful St Albans band who owe their success in no small way to Pioneer which provided the platform for the band to hone its skills in a live environment before moving on to become one of the most successful bands currently on the circuit, playing to packed festival audiences all over the world and selling out Alexandra Palace twice.
And as we go to press, another homespun band, Trash Boat have been a rising band in the UK rock scene with multiple appearances at Download Festival, Reading Festival and supporting the likes of Skindred, AS IT IS and our very own Enter Shikari.
Other bands that have made appearances include Defences, Bring Me the Horizon, Architects, Redwood, Nervus, Gallows and Lizzy Farrall.