During the 1980s, the landlord of The Shoulder of Mutton was John Overthrow. Steve Robinson and Steve Hartley, members of Packington Morris team, used to practise Morris dancing in the small outbuilding in the car park at the rear of the pub in the winter. This led to the formation of a regular folk session / singaround in the pub itself, instigated and run by Steve and Megan Robinson, (Morris dancers and folk musicians being of a similar ilk!)
When John, the landlord, left in late 1987 / early 1988, the pub was taken over by Julie Mole, and the folk sessions and Morris practices continued.
Eventually Steve and Megan moved down to the Forest of Dean. The folk sessions were so well attended by this time that Steve and Megan arranged for Dave Johns, a local and regular at the club, to take over the running of the club.
Dave hosted a singaround every Sunday evening, and several well-known folk artists attended the club singarounds during Dave’s reign. One person in particular that visited when he was in the area was Sean Cannon from The Dubliners.
The club was named as the result of a discussion in the pub one Sunday evening, involving Dave Johns, Julie, the landlady, and some of the folk club regulars. It was decided to call the club ‘The Scrag End Folk Club’ to link to the name of the pub, The Shoulder of Mutton. A website was set up by Frank Lane, one of Dave’s teaching colleagues, and a regular member at the sessions.
The club began to become more popular and Dave more ambitious. Dave began to put on the occasional guest night, which was held in the outbuilding. The frequency of the guest nights increased and, once the dining-room was built onto the rear of the pub, they were held in there.
Financially, the club was not profitable; ticket sales were not covering the cost of the guests. Although Dave sought advice on how to recoup some of his losses and put the club back in the black, he never managed to do so. Eventually it got too much for him and he looked to pass on the running of the club to Mick and Debbie Warren, who felt that the club would benefit from being run by a committee. Subsequently the Scrag End Folk Club Committee was set up consisting of Mick and Debbie Warren, Sandra and Dan McCarthy, Jan Tunnicliffe and John Hill, and Colin and Rosie Grantham. The club is still run by committee, although some of the committee members have changed.
The original committee started sending the pot around at sessions for a voluntary collection (the pot eventually became a sheep piggy-bank.) The accumulated funds went to cover losses at any guest nights, although there rarely were any. This practice still continues; ensuring that the club remains viable and moves forward, keeping music live - the original ethos of the committee.
The club continued in that format for some years, usually having a guest night every quarter and a singaround on the first and third Sunday evening, except during August when there was a break because the committee focused on the annual Moira Furnace Folk Festival. This festival is an offshoot of the folk club, Dave Johns persuaded some of the original folk club members to become involved in another of his bright ideas, but that is another story.
Each year, usually in October, the club holds a Song for Dave night; a charity evening in memory of Dave Johns who passed away on February 27th 2014, a few months before his 60th birthday, after a battle with The Big C. All monies raised on this night go to Macmillan Cancer Support.
When The Shoulder of Mutton closed, shortly before COVID 19 hit the country, the Scrag End Folk Club moved to The Mushroom Hall in Albert Village, where it currently runs a singaround on the first and third Tuesday of the month.