Newcastle and the north east had changed dramatically in the last few years transforming itself from it’s dark, industrial past into an area famed for it’s nightlife and entertainment industry – arguably the largest outside of London.
Yes, the heavy industry was still there. It bred hard men, but where just a few months previously all that was on offer was bingo down the club, those men could now could head out on a Saturday night in Newcastle and see world class stars like Billy Daniels, Mel Torme, Adam Faith, Diana Dors and Dusty Springfield.
The La Dolce Vita was the most famous and successful and towards the end of his short life it became Angus Sibbet’s favourite haunt and the last place he was officially seen alive.
As he had been throughout his life, Vince Landa was in the right place at the right time.
Already successfully running a business with brother Michael
Luvaglio in London supplying pin tables, juke boxes, records, radios and gambling machines they had been tempted up north when Vince
visited Newcastle with Angus to see Angus’ sick father and found that it was awash with social clubs without any of these machines
Another deciding factor was perhaps that the brothers had also been separately warned off by the Kray twins.
Unknown to Michael, Vince, who had worked for them in the 50s looking after their gaming machines in the Soho area of London had fallen foul of Reggie Kray, receiving ‘a right hander’ according to one witness, after being accused of putting his own machines into Kray premises.
And Michael also received a visit from two well dressed men one morning on his doorstep, who threatened him with a cutthroat razor.
So, almost overnight Michael, Vince and Angus (who had by now
begun working with the brothers) moved their entire operation north.
Social Club Services was born, along with several other businesses that tapped into an untouched market of working men’s clubs and other venues.
Soon, the business was the ‘go to’ place for not only one-armed
bandits and other coin operated entertainment machines, but for all
aspects of running a social club.
If you needed beermats, the Luvaglio’s would supply it.
A new carpet? No problem.
The Luvaglio’s had hit the big time.
In 1965 Michael decided he wanted to open his own club, which he did – The Piccadilly.
When a year later the existing manager became ill, they needed to find another.
This also coincided with the floatation of the business, which Vince was masterminding. Because of this he was spending a lot of time in London and it was on one of these visits he was introduced to Dennis Stafford.
So, in June 1966 Dennis arrived to manage the Piccadilly Club.
He and Michael soon struck up a friendship, although Michael knew him as Dennis Fielding and was unaware of his criminal past.
Soon after, the Kray twins paid the club a visit.
Learning in advance of this visit Vince went straight to Jack Vinton of Newcastle Police to warn him and they were tailed throughout their visit.
Having already encountered the strong armed tactics of the Krays Michael Luvaglio made himself unavailable and avoided their visit.
In September 1966 the Piccadilly mysteriously burnt to the ground and Dennis was given other duties within the company, booking acts for clubs on their books.
Christmas 1966 was a good one. The business had now been
valued at £8million and Vince was on the verge of completing it’s floatation.
Vince and his family, Michael and his girlfriend and Dennis all went off to Majorca for the break, returning on January 3rd.
Vince’s son had become ill so Vince concluded the meeting he had scheduled with the accountant in London and headed straight back to Majorca, whereas Dennis and Michael headed back to Newcastle, arriving late in the evening.
The following day they headed to the Social Club Services office, where Michael had an appointment with Angus to discuss a deal he had been working on while Michael had been away. Dennis also had some business to attend to but he was without a vehicle, having had an accident in his own car shortly before departing for Majorca.
So, it was agreed Dennis would borrow Vince’s E-Type Jaguar that was in storage at a garage owned by the company.
Having not concluded his meeting with Angus by the time they had to leave to pick up the E-type, Michael made arrangements to meet him later that evening at the Birdcage Club in Newcastle.
A meeting that would never happen.