The Merritt Family

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      Award presented 2008  

Carlyle Street - The Christchurch Teenagers Club
Max Merritt's Dad - Jimmy Merritt at the door of The Christchurch Teenagers Club which was run by the Merritt Family.

In 1957 Christchurch authorities were alarmed about a growing number of incidents associated with Rock 'n' Roll.  A particular worry was the hundreds of teens who congregated every Sunday afternoon in Christchurch's Square.  A meeting of concerned citizens was arranged by theatre manager Trevor King, which was attended by Jim and Ilene Merritt and their 15-year old son Max.  The result was The Christchurch Teenagers Club, held 2:00pm to 6:00pm every Sunday and managed by Trevor King and The Merritts, which is where Max Merritt and the Meteors were born.  The Christchurch Teenagers Club was Christchurch's first rock and roll venue and Max Merritt and The Meteors were the city's first Rock 'n' Roll band.  Starting off at the Winton Street Hall, Max Merritt remembers being evicted after complaints about noise and kids hanging around outside.  The England Street Hall was next and the same thing happened there.  Going through five or six venues before settling at The Railway Hall in Carlyle Street, Sydenham.  A bit like Footloose - all the elders and church folk were against the club!  Despite strong opposition, the club flourished - at its peak, it boasted 1,200 members - and by the end of 1957 it was attracting weekly crowds of 800 jiving teenagers.  Max Merritt became a local legend and a reluctant spokesperson for the Rock 'n' Roll generation.  To accommodate demand, the Merritts added Wednesday and Saturday night dances at other Christchurch halls, notably The Hibernian, which was also a well-known trouble spot.



Trevor King (left) with members of The Christchurch Teenagers Club



Max's sister Pam (left), seen here at a recent acknowledgement for Max, by Christchurch Musicians after Max's death.  Midge Marsden is to the right.