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DREADHEADS

November 2008

Back in 2001 UKCIA first carried the story of the "Dutch Experience" Coffee shop project and as far as we were aware, this was the first ever such cannabis cafe in the UK. it seems we were wrong and so we're pleased to set the record straight!

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Britain's First 'Amsterdam Style' coffee shop actually existed in 1994-1996. This was way before anyone had heard of Colin Davies and Stockport tourist office ever had an inquiry about the location of Hooper Street, before the Dutch Experience cafe was even a pipe dream.

Back in 1994, eight years prior to the Stockport cafe, graduate Patrick Hollis was busy putting the pot into the Potteries as part of the management team at Dreadheads; Britain's first 'Amsterdam Style' coffee shop in Hanley, Hope Street, Stoke -On- Trent.

Infact the Dreadheads coffee shop used to bill itself as "The first and original Amsterdam Style coffee shop in Britain"

Patrick Hollis who lives in Chorlton, Manchester, is fed up that the true history of Britain's cannabis coffee shop culture is being forgotten and rewritten. In an attempt to set the record straight, Patrick Hollis aged thirty eight, has now written a film script about the years he spent as a Dreadhead coffee shop pioneer.

Dreadhead menu

Situated in Hanley's 'alternative' street; Hope Street, Dreadheads was also slap bang in the middle of Stoke-On-Trent's 'Red Light' district.Emerging at a time of Stoke-On-Trent's club scene prominence - Golden, Sin City,Club Kinetic.The Dreadheads coffee shop clientelle was to say the least an eclectic mix, providing material for Patrick to write a film script full of oddball characters and twisting plots. In the blink of an eye, nearby, a prostitute would be picking up a client, drug squad were ordering coffees and wide eyed post Sin City clubbers would be skinning up left right and centre, chilling with a cuppa to the Dreadhead in-house DJ's.Customers said that "You could get high just by licking the walls of Dreadheads".

"The Dreadhead experience surprised everyone who was involved with it" said Patrick.

"Everyday we expected to get busted and everyday we were amazed we didn't,"

"We began to think maybe our coffee shop was an experiment, that the Tory government wanted to see how it would work for us to run a cannabis coffee shop."

"Policemen would call in and tell us we needed to get a better lock on the back door, or that someone needed to move their car from outside.The coffee shop would be full of people smoking spliffs but they just never said or did anything."

 

The Dreadheads coffeeshop poster

Dreadheads poster

The Shop

"Come in for a crafty".

The cafes motto was "come in for a crafty", and within months of opening, up to 100 smokers at a time were cramming into the shop and openly smoking cannabis.
It even had its own "ganga garden".

"In Winter we would have the door open and it would look like a settee was on fire with all the smoke belching out of the shop" said Patrick.

"But it was never seedy, we had a theatre group, poetry reading nights and regular DJ's. It was just a happy, chilled-out place.

Deardheads whatson

Dreadheads was finally busted by police in July 1996, with quantities of cannabis seized and owner "Ragga" charged with allowing premises to be used for the supply of drugs. The coffee shop never reopened.
Patrick says that "It was incredibly difficult to encapsulate Dreadheads, and to put it down onto paper.At times I thought it an impossible task, but through it all was the desire to tell this true story, to capture something if this remarkable event; Britains first 'Amsterdam Style' coffee shop, 1994-1996".

 
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