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Central Club - 1999-2005

Central Club was home to RASPO in the early days when Mangrove led the workshops for participants of all ages and RASPO hosted the Annual Celebration of Youth Arts Music and Dance.

Central Club was a well known centre for cultural events used mainly by the African Caribbean community. The venue attracted a wider audience at weekend reggae events featuring a range of top quality artists including Freddie McGregor, Sugar Minott, Marcia Griffiths, Beres Hammond and Twinkle Brothers. Sound system DJs Coxsone, Mikey Dread and Jah Shaka played regularly at the Reading based venue.

During the day Central Youth Provision offered cultural activities for young people including computer studies, spelling bees and workshops. With Perry's Caribbean Cuisine providing hot food, a domino club for the elders and RASPO's PanYard upstairs, Central was the place to be for Black culture and music.

The building is well known for it's colourful mural depicting local and global aspects of Black History. Commissioned in 1988 by Reading Borough Council, artist Alan Howard embarked on creating images of Reading based people involved in founding Central Club alongside positive historical Black role models including Harriet Tubman, Olaudah Equiano, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, Toussaint L'Ouverture and Bob Marley. The final panel of the mural and the various symbols look to the future and depicts a number of tools - positive and negative - that people use to shape the future.

The building, owned by Reading Borough Council, was closed down in December 2005 and fell into disrepair. In 2014 RBC called in Reading Voluntary Action to lead an independent review to look at ways to bring the building, which is of great significance to the Black community, back into use.
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Poster for Steel Pan Music Workshop at Central Club

Poster for Steel Pan Music Workshop at Central Club

Central Club Mural

Central Club mural detail

Central Club is known for its large colourful mural by artist Alan Howard. The mural tells the story of Black History with images of key figures including Harriet Tubman, Bob Marley and Martin Luther King.

RASPO at Central

RASPO Steel Band at Central Club Reading Berkshire 2000

An early photo of RASPO at the Central Youth Club in Reading.

The PanYard upstairs provided space for steel pan music workshops with tutors from Notting Hill based Mangrove Steel Band, and events to showcase steel pan music to the community.