ON THIS DAY    23 November      Graphics version >>   BBC News >>
Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
1978: Nightclub ordered to lift race ban

A Birmingham nightclub has been ordered to open its doors to black and Chinese people.

The year-long investigation into popular nightspot Pollyanna's was held after two separate complaints alleging the club had a racist entry policy.

It is the first non-discrimination notice issued by the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) since the non-governmental body was formed to tackle racial discrimination by the 1976 Race Relations Act.

The owners, Genture Restaurants, now have to provide evidence they are complying with the order over the next two years, or face prosecution.

The first complaint was from the sales manager of a local cosmetics company who tried to book Pollyanna's for a Christmas party.

But the reservation was refused by Genture Chairman John Weston-Edwards when he discovered a large proportion of the group were black.


"I think we have to limit all sorts of people, and coloured people fit into that category"

Nightclub manager John Weston-Edwards

In the second case, the nighclub owner told a university lecturer she could not bring a group of students to Pollyanna's because they were Chinese.

The club's management said they barred both white and black people if it disapproved of their attitude or the way they were dressed.

But Mr Weston-Edwards said he would ignore the CRE notice.

He told the BBC he had to limit the numbers of ethnic minorities in his nightclub to preserve a "happy situation" and avoid aggressive confrontations.

"We'll operate as we have done for the last 10 years - I think we have to limit all sorts of people and coloured people fit into that category," he said.

CRE director Dr Peter Sanders said if Pollyanna's did not observe the law the commission would pursue a prosecution of the club.

In Context
After monitoring the club's race equality record for another year, the CRE finally took the owners of Pollyanna's to court in 1979.

The court imposed injunctions stopping them from practising discrimination, and also ordered them to produce information to the CRE proving they had complied.

After the judgement, it emerged that there was also a no-headgear rule at the restaurant which effectively excluded Sikhs as well.

This was not covered by the original non-discrimination notice, so the CRE had to go back to court to get the notice re-worded.

An injunction was finally issued against this rule too.

Pollyanna's closed in 1987 when the company which owned it, Genture Restaurants Ltd, was dissolved.


Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
^^ Back to top |