Dukes: Chelmsford’s legendary nightclub that was once Essex’s nightlife hub

Essex has some of the best nightclubs in the UK. The Chelmsford Dukes were a favorite of many clubbers across the county.

Dukes had been Chelmsford’s most famous nightclub for nearly 40 years with many revelers flocking to the Essex County town to experience the thrill. In its early days, Dukes was famous for its party nights and themed events known for their innovation and ingenuity, no two nights were alike.

Open five nights a week, there was rarely a time when there wasn’t a line around the block to get into the club, with people flocking from all over the county to attend. The nightclub was definitely the place to be in the 80s and 90s.

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Dukes opened in 1983 and that was the year the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher was re-elected with a 144-seat majority, Neil Kinnock replaced Michael Foot as Labor leader and £26million from gold bars were stolen from Heathrow. the airport in the infamous Brinks MAT flight. Soon after, it became so popular that it also became a magnet for high-profile celebrities.

Rock star Suzi Quatro and Chelmsford’s own Penny Lancaster were among the patrons, while musicians like Edwin Starr and La Toya Jackson played at the club. Even former boxing champion Frank Bruno, who lived in South Woodham Ferrers, came.

The club permanently closed its doors to the public in 2012, leaving only good memories for many nightclubs. And despite a reunion party at MIYA in 2015, the Duke Street site has since been demolished in 2018 to make way for housing estates.

To take a look inside this Dukes before it was torn down, click here.

Jerry C. Greiner