FRIENDS and relatives of a late Oxford nightclub boss paid tribute to the ‘big hearted’ character, by installing a sign at his old venue.

Harry Brittain was the general manager of The Dolly, in Frewen Court, which later became The Cellar.

Harry, from Botley, died last month of a short illness.

The club, the city’s last independent live music venue, was forced to close last year despite a spirited campaign to save it. But those who worked with Harry, a native Bristolian, were keen to toast his memory, and, before the second lockdown was declared, gathered at the closed club with a sign carrying his smiling face.

They were joined by his daughter Sharry Puttock, who said: “He was a proud man with a huge heart, and a legend to many.”

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Club manager Tim Hopkins said: “Harry and I ran The Cellar together for nearly 20 years. He had already been running the venue as The Dolly for 20 years before that, so he was very experienced.

“I was only 19, so I had a lot to learn from Harry. He was savvy and didn’t suffer fools, and these were useful qualities for a nightclub manager.

“He was loyal and fair, but it helped that people were also a bit scared of him. We all grew to love and respect his gruff but kind personality.

“Harry didn’t take life too seriously and we thought he would like this memorial. If you work in an office, you might get a gold watch in retirement, but if you work in an independent music venue you get your face plastered on a pub billboard!

“Harry was a key part of the success of The Cellar. I enjoyed working with him and I will miss him.”

Tim’s father, Adrian, former owner of The Dolly and The Cellar, paid tribute to his old general manager.

He said: “I first met Harry when he came to Oxford in 1979 to work for Steve Winstone at Bogarts Night Club which, along with Steve, I owned.

“Harry had been working with Steve at a nightclub Steve was running in Chatham, so when we were offered the-then named Dolly pub off Cornmarket, Harry went in as manager.

“I took over sole ownership of the Dolly and Harry remained as manager. With several name changes and many staff changes Harry was the remaining linchpin and when my son Tim joined him it really put the, by-then named, Cellar on the map as a well organised but independent venue.

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“He helped people by giving them responsibilities and trust that few others would have. It nearly always paid off.

“I never had a cross word with Harry, having worked with him for 40 years. This was mainly due to his dry sense of humour and maybe that I sometimes could not understand him as he never lost his Bristol accent. He will be really missed.”

Harry leaves three daughters, Rachel, Sharry and Megan; four grandchildren, Kai, Shinaide, Tanya and Olivia; and four great grandchildren, Davotae, Dakarai, Javarii and Cameron.

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Sharry added: “Our dad has left so many precious memories for us and so many people. His humour and laugh were infectious, and his accent definitely hard to understand at times.

“He would do whatever he could to help anyone, and loved his family dearly, he spoilt us all.

“He never had a day off sick in his life. He believed in working hard and never giving up. He was a proud man with a huge heart, and a legend to many.”