A YEAR on from a fateful night which saw the death of Michael Riddiough-Allen after a night out, it is very much the case of ‘new beginnings and a new name’ for a Bodmin nightclub which has begun to thrive under new management.

It was just over six months ago that Phil Turner, a local businessman who had worked at the Eclipse Nightclub before the pandemic as a bouncer took the biggest risk of his career, taking over a club which some thought was consigned to a future as flats.

At the time of his taking over of the venue, Mr Turner had admitted that the risk versus reward was very real.

After its sale by previous owners Roger and Colette Wilson amid losses incurred due to its elongated closure during the coronavirus pandemic, attendances at the nightclub had begun to improve, but had fallen significantly compared to pre-2020.

Upon its reopening after the pandemic, Mr Turner said records which had shown an average attendance of 160 in a venue which had previously seen 450 was already proving troublesome for the business under its previous management.

However, the events of April 30, 2023, spelled what was thought to be the final call for the venue, when the death of Mr Riddiough-Allen down the road from the venue, combined with a public response from the previous management which was widely criticised by residents saw the figures attending the club collapsing to 60.

The venue was merely weeks from permanent closure and facing a future converted to flats when Mr Turner persuaded the building’s owner to give it one last chance as a nightclub. At the time of taking it over, Mr Turner emphasised that under his leadership, the venue would be secure, safe and welcoming for all to enjoy a night out in a venue which, in time, would offer something different for revellers to enjoy.

Six months later, a dramatic turnaround of the once seemingly beaten business has not only seen the gradual return of club goers, but it also heralded in a central tenet of Mr Turner’s plan – a new identity to mark new beginnings.

Gone is the name of the Eclipse Nightclub which had launched upon the tenure of the Wilsons in the late 1990’s, and incoming was its new identity of ‘Neon’, with an interior to match implemented with the assistance of known local mural artist Harry Maddox.

Alongside the striking new murals — one of which pays homage to the venue’s former history as the Eclipse — is an array of new visuals, including the obligatory neon sign, the introduction of ultra-violet lighting and a revamp of the bars.

One of the murals inside the Neon Bodmin nightclub, designed by local artist Harry Maddox.
One of the murals inside the Neon Bodmin nightclub, designed by local artist Harry Maddox. (Picture: Aaron Greenaway) (Aaron Greenaway)

Even the notorious nightclub carpet, which has adorned the venue’s floors since 1999 has been put on notice, with a replacement imminent.

Mr Turner said of the club six months on: “We’ve invested a lot to improve and modernise the club, and changing the identity to Neon reflects that. I had always intended to rename the club and Neon was a company name I registered shortly before taking over as it was always the plan for it to become that.

“The most important thing is the venue is safe, secure and fun. We’ve got very experienced door staff, 16 CCTV cameras and have invested in the experience of those who come to us, ranging from a wide range of DJs who rotate their nights to installing two arcade boxing machines.

“As well as that, we also host a disco event for adults with disabilities five times a year in partnership with a local group and we’ve introduced bands on selected nights, the first time that’s happened at this venue since the 1980s.”

When taking over the club, Mr Turner had said that it was initially open only on a Saturday, owing to the financial risk to the business of making losses on other nights. However, with the increase in revellers, it has returned to twice-weekly openings on Friday and Saturday nights.

Upon entering the nightclub, revellers immediately are greeted with a colourful new identity - with the UV lights and a new carpet to follow (Picture: Aaron Greenaway)
Upon entering the nightclub, revellers immediately are greeted with a colourful new identity - with the UV lights and a new carpet to follow (Picture: Aaron Greenaway) (Aaron Greenaway)

Mr Turner continued: “The feedback we’ve received from customers has been terrific, and we have sought to engage and involve them by inviting suggestions and ideas. There’s been a huge reduction in poor behaviour, combined with an improvement in security and I believe people feel safe. Older members of the public have begun to return, which for me is the biggest sign they feel safe coming here again.

“Business is running currently at around fifty percent of what it was prior to the pandemic so there’s still room to improve but we’ve come a long way in six months. Once the carpet is gone and the UV is fully installed, it’ll look even more different to now.”

It seems the big risk of six months ago is slowly becoming a success with a new beginning heralding a promising future.