MODERN NEWPORT PHILANTHROPISTS
Sometimes the things you do are not just about money they are about love
John Sicolo, TJs (pictured left) - Merchant seaman John Sicolo began the TJs club in 1971. It became legendary for its musical offer and its unique atmosphere, its founder, described by Melody Maker journalist once as a mix between the Incredible Hulk and Tom Jones, his partner Trilbey and its resident plastic tree. Originally it was a burger bar then a club called El Sieco's it transformed itself into a premier music venue. Legendary DJ John Peel dubbed it the 'legendary TJs' , FHM Selected it as one of the UK's 50 big nights out.
It changed in the mid-80s local promoters moved to bringing bands to TJs following the closure of the Stow Hill Labour Club. In 1991 Kurt Cobain is reputed to have proposed to Courtney Hole. In 2010 Sicolo died aged 66 and his family had no option but to sell the club and the flats upstairs
Nathan Jennings a film director is set to make film to commemorate the club "The social and cultural impact of the music scene in Newport in the last 25 years, with a particular focus on TJs and how “raw, loud music” changed the lives of thousands."
It's roll call of bands include Oasis, Ash and the Manic Street Preachers, the Stone Roses as well as more homegrown talent the Manic Street Preachers, Darling Buds and the Newport rap collective Goldie Lookin' Chain. Many new bands owed their first break to TJs and many well known bands would break their tours just to stop by. He welcomed them warmly and fed them too. His legacy to Newport was a thriving music scene, the new 'Seattle', we can only look back on now with awe and nostalgia.
Since then "A father and son from Cardiff now plan to keep the downstairs as a TJ's themed restaurant and turn the upstairs into apartments. They bought it at auction in September 2011 for £242,000." It now stands derelict with plans approved to turn it into an Easy Hotel.
Tim Stone Newport Speedway - Tim Stone resurrected speedway in Newport in 1997, by building a purpose built venue himself called Hayley Stadium on an open field adjoining an industrial site. He leased the site on a long lease from the Welsh Development Agency. Stone even had the foresight to ‘rescue’ the seating from the stands at Somerton Park Stadium before it, the original home of Newport speedway, was demolished.
The opening meeting was held on 4 May 1997 staging a Premier League match between the Newport team still called the Wasps and the team from Exeter, regrettably ‘rain stopped play’ after heat 7 with the home team in the lead.Newport had previously run a speedway team at Somerton Park from 1964 to 1976 when they were forced out by the town's football club. Stone was an ardent fan. To bring the sport was an incredible achievement and to begin with it was a great commercial success. Newport were in a small minority, owning their own facility and ran successful training schools through the winter, a Winter Classic festive meeting and even an open meeting to coincide with new venue (Cardiff) for the British Grand Prix. The new stadium and all that went with was Tim's gift to the people of Newport. Many young riders had their first outings at Newport and several Scandinavian and Australian riders were given their break by Stone.
Unfortunately he died at the age of 56 on the way to the Royal Gwent in 2008 to visit his beloved mum, seriously ill in hospital. She died shortly afterwards. A few years later his dream of speedway in Newport died with the Malletts in early 2012 and it has seemingly gone forever. The site is used for road haulage.