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Save the Salford Lads Club

by Rich Morris Rating: Release Date:

Salford Lads Club's place in music history was assured the moment four likely lads posed in front of its entrance. Snapped in 1986, the picture which graced the inside cover of The Smiths' classic album The Queen is Deadhas gone down as one of the all time iconic pictures in rock. Grainy and monochrome, it placed the band squarely within the context of the culture which had nurtured them.

Morrissey used the club as a symbolic totem for a culture he saw as crumbling and faded, as having fallen into disrepair thanks to the uncaring nature of 80s consumerism. Now, sadly, the club has literally fallen into disrepair and faces closure. In 2007, an appeal was launched to raise £1m to save the club, with Morrissey chipping in £20,000. This appeal continues to this day.

Salford Lads Club has a rich musical and cultural legacy. In the 60s, The Hollies used it as rehearsal space, Allan Clarke and Graham Nash both being members. As well as featuring in video for The Smiths' single 'Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before', the club can also be glimpsed in the video for The Dream Academy's 'Life in a Northern Town'. In 2003, Joy Division and New Order bassist Peter Hook introduced a documentary on the club to mark its centenary. On TV, the club has provided locations for Shamelessand the BBC's modern day remake of cult 70s apocalyptic drama series Survivors.

However, all this is secondary to the place the club has inhabited for generations of Salford children and teenagers. Founded in 1903 by brothers James and William Groves, the club was part of a drive in wider society to keep working class children off the streets and away from mischief. Instead, establishments such as Salford Lads Club gave them the chance to discover and develop a passion for gymnastics, boxing, swimming and outdoor games. It was the decline of this philanthropic sensibility which Morrissey no doubt sought to evoke as he took his place in front of Salford lads Club with his fellow Smiths that day in 1986.

Now a Grade II listed building, the club continues to provide exactly the same facilities and opportunities for young boys and girls which it did in the early years of the 20th century. For this reason, as well as its incalculable symbolic value to Salford and Manchester's cultural heritage, its doors should stay open for another hundred years.

If you'd like to help secure the long term future of this unique building and continue to provide activities for local young people and the community, click here

On Wednesday 20th October, Topman CTRL organised an event at the Ruby Lounge in Manchester to help raise funds. With a stellar line-up featuring The Heartbreaks, Hatcham Social, Factory Floor and The Charlatans, plus New Order's Stephen Morris on the decks, read all about it here.

All photos kindly supplied by Stephen Wright. Click here view his gallery and purchase prints,

Or connect with him on Soundblab

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