Jazz in Kendal started in 1968 in the Kendal Hotel (which no longer exists). It quickly outgrew that and moved to the County Hotel where the KayCee Jazzmen, led by Les Bull, were the resident band. The likes of Alex Welsh, Ken Colyer and even Nat Gonella were welcomed as visitors.
In 1973 the venue changed to the newly opened Malt Room in the Brewery Arts Centre. The bigger room meant that international stars could be accommodated, and Kendal listeners were able to enjoy Barney Kessel, Stephane Grapelli, Bud Freeman, and many more top performers. By the early 1980s concerts were arranged directly by the Arts Centre.
After a long fallow period the current incarnation of the Kendal Jazz Club came into being through the enthusiasm of Ted Richards, who began promoting weekly sessions in the Ivy Leaf Club. Under his aegis, local musicians were given an opportunity to shine and occasionally to support visiting luminaries, notably Alan Barnes.
In the mid 1990s efforts were made to revive jazz again in Kendal, and Ted arranged a meeting in the Brewery which was followed by a relaunch of the Kendal Jazz Club in the Malt Room in 1996.
Roy Cansdale became chairman and it was decided to move to monthly sessions in the Malt Room. Many concerts were staged and this arrangement continued until 2004. In 2006 the Club resumed in the Riverside Hotel and in March 2007 it had the opportunity to move to the acoustically much-superior Hawkshead Beer Hall in Staveley. It thrived there with Roy Cansdale continuing as chairman, with many memorable gigs. Others who were very much involved in running the club were Paul Harrop and Caroline Schwaller.
Bruce Carnaffin became chairman in 2009 and the monthly sessions have continued. In 2017, the Club moved to its present splendid venue in the new Kendal Rugby Club.