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Quay Clubs - Commercial Road

Tiffany's and Mambo

Page updated 10th January 2018

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Quay Club signsThese buildings were two clubs and a restaurant on the quay, called Tiffany's and Mambo - in January 2009, the operating company Lifestyle Enterprises announced that they were not able to extend their lease with Enterprise Inns, the owners. St Austell Brewery have taken them over and opened The Samuel Jones.

They had a reputation as having a lively atmosphere and were better left to the young! Tiffany's gained some publicity for being Exeter's first 'pole dancing' club, although it was described as adult entertainment, with many writing to the local paper in protest.

The first clubs

John Portley, an Exeter born accountant, was responsible for opening the derelict warehouse as clubs. He acquired the lease of the empty premises in Commercial Road, and opened the Quay Club Disco in one half of the building, with the intention of sub-letting the other half to subsidise the rent, In December 1965. Unfortunately, he couldn't find a suitable tenant so he turned it into the more upmarket, Tiffany's. The dress code prohibited jeans, t-shirts and long hair – some girls would carry scissors to trim their boyfriends hair at the entrance, if they were refused entry.

Boxes and Boogies on the quay

The two clubs were so successful that he opened branches of Tiffany's in Torquay and Plymouth. Tiffany's was the top nightspot in Exeter in the late 1960's and 70's and was voted the second best nightclub in Britain for good behaviour. The clubs had several names over the years including in the left half, the Quay Rock Cafe, Tiffanys, and Boxes, and on the right, Tiffany's, Mambo's and Boogies.

David Bowie performed there on 17th October, 1969 while during the 70's, Mud performed their hits Dyna-Mite, Tiger Feet, Lonely This Christmas and KC and the Sunshine Band performed That's The Way I like It and Please Don't Go. Top DJs like Dave Lee Travis also appeared alongside the Tiffany's in-house band, Big T with local, Tony Osborne on vocals.

In June 1978, police were called to the Quay Club when someone let off a CS canister, at 11.30pm, causing chaos. Scores of young people ran in panic, trampling over each other, to escape the fumes. Many ended up outside the club retching and crying. Ambulances and the fire brigade were called, but no one was taken to hospital. It was estimated that there were 200 people in the club at the time, including a group of Marines.

The building and Samuel Jones

The corner-stone of the warehouse was laid by Emily Jones, the wife of Samuel Jones on 4th February 1878. Mrs Jones was handed a silver trowel, which she used to tap the stone into place. On the trowel was engraved "Presented to Emily, wife of Samuel Jones, on the occasion of her laying the corner stone of his bonded stores on the Exeter Quay, 4th February, 1878. John Henry Foaden, builder." After the various speeches, and toasts, to Jones and his venture, the event was closed at 4pm as Customs regulations dictated that bonded warehouses had to close at that hour.

The site chosen had belonged to the Devonshire Cider Company, then a marine store and finally a rag store. Jones leased the site from the City Council on a 31 year lease, and spent £2,000 in constructing the building. Constructed of limestone from Berry Head and dressed in white brick, it had 18,000 sq ft of storage. The ceiling of the lower floor is constructed of concrete, designed to maintain an equitable temperature for the storage of wines and spirits. A hoist was installed to haul goods between the floors. A 'legal quay' allowed wines and spirits to be landed directly from the river, under the supervision of the Customs authorities.

After learning the wine trade in London and Bristol, Samuel Jones joined his father's business in Longbrook Street in 1857. Jones became a Conservative councillor for St David's Ward, using his influence to have the transit shed built to store cargo from ships docked at the quay. In 1881 he was elected an Alderman and became Mayor in 1883. Jones was the Installing Master of the Freemason's Unity lodge of Crediton, for 25 years. He died on 10th January 1904, aged 70, and was buried in Exwick Cemetery. His estate was valued at £949 3s 9d at probate.

The foundation stone of the warehouse reads:


Samuel Jones, MayorSamuel Jones

In 1897 the buildings housed the following businesses from the left:

Jones W. L. & Son, bonded stores
James (Edward), Rowe & Co. lead merchants
Kennaway & Co. Limited, bonded stores (the red brick building)

Kennaway's were still listed at the warehouse in 1919. In 1975 they sold off their main building in Palace Gate and seemed to have ceased trading. In the late 1990's, the redbrick warehouse was used as a restaurant and bar, called Mud Dock, then Henry's Bar and now the Latino influenced Havana which offers jazz and comedy nights.

In August 2013, St Austell Brewery announced that it was to take on the empty building and spend £1.5 million to convert it into a 'gastro pub' with a micro brewery attached. The upper floor was be converted into five flats. The Samuel Jones, as the new smoke and alehouse is known, opened for business in November 2014.

Quay clubs The Quay Club in the 1960s. Photo Alan H Mazonowicz. Click photo to enlarge.
Tiffany's and Mambo, Commercial RoadTiffany's and Mambo are now closed.

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