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The Christchurch Teenagers Club

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The Christchurch Teenagers Club - a typical Sunday crowd at The Railway Hall, Carlyle Street, Christchurch

 
 

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.  Beginning 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, QSM


Max Merritt and The Christchurch Teenagers Club group


Max's Dad, Jimmy Merritt

 
 

After Max Merritt and The Meteors headed north to Auckland and beyond, their void at The Christchurch Teenagers Club was filled by a local groups, who were always willing to offer their services without cost in support of the Merritt Family's ongoing management of the Club.

 
 

The Satellites at The Christchurch Teenagers Club


Johnny Campbell + The Detours at The Christchurch Teenagers Club


The Downbeats at The Christchurch Teenagers Club