It's been one of Bradford's hottest nightspots for nearly half a century.

And now the famous venue on Manningham Lane - once the Mecca Locarno and now known as Pennington's - will undergo another big change.

John Pennington today revealed he has sold the nightclub and live entertainment venue to three businessmen headed by Paul Sewell, owner of Bradford rock venue Rios.

It is likely to become known as the Town and Country Club, formerly the name of a popular Leeds club, and will be aiming to attract major rock and pop bands.

Mr Sewell said he was delighted to secure the deal and claimed it was "great news" for Bradford nightlife.

"We are going to target big- name international bands," he said. "These will be bands who might be too big to play at St George's Hall but not big enough for the arena circuit."

He said Leeds University was the only venue in West Yorkshire capable of attracting such artists, but Pennington's 3,000 capacity made it an ideal alternative.

He added: "People will come here because of the bands that we put on.

"It is not going to be easy to attract the big names but if we offer everything that they need and want, then we can bring them here.

"This is very good news. This is going to be my third venue in Bradford (along with the Market Tavern and Rios) and it means that we can cater for local bands with a small following, rock bands at Rios and now big name international artists.

"I have got great confidence in Bradford."

He said all the events booked for the venue until around March, including a boxing event due to feature on BBC TV's Grandstand, would go ahead as planned.

Mr Pennington bought the former Maestros nightclub four years ago - on the same day that he sold the Midland Hotel in Forster Square.

Under its new ownership, the venue rekindled some of the magic of its golden era of the 1960s when it attracted some of the biggest bands in Britain.

Among the artists to appear were Bill Wyman, the Fun Loving Criminals, the Human League, Saw Doctors, Terrorvision and stars from The Temptations and even the Sex Pistols.

It also hosted a Top of the Pops 1980s celebration programme and an edition of Later ... With Jools Holland featuring Toploader, Catatonia and Faithless.

Mr Pennington said: "We have really brought the glory days back and we have also been turning over more than £1 million per year, which is quite remarkable from a standing start.

"When I first took it over there were just 35 people in a place that holds 3,500."

The old Mecca Locarno cost £550,000 when it opened on Manningham Lane in the early 1960s on the site of a former roller skating arena which was burned to the ground in 1955.

It later became known as Dollars and Dimes and the Palace before the venue was bought by Javed Majid in 1990 and became known as The Maestro. At the time it was thought to be the biggest nightclub in the UK.