Save our Northern Soul’s soul before it’s too late

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Unless The Manager has done what she did with my Marvelettes, Miracles, Four Top and Supremes autographs (ie sold them on e-Bay) then somewhere in the depths of Duke Mansions there’s my temporary membership card to the Blackpool outlet of the Twisted Wheel club.

I can’t for the life of me remember where the club was – though something in the back of my mind directs me to Coronation Street?

Bear in mind I was only a teenager and I was only here for a few days holiday from Leeds with a few school friends.

Obviously we were way too young to be clubbing and drinking and generally having fun but this was a long time ago when as long as you weren’t too out of your head on anything when you arrived and you had enough money to pay the entrance fee then not a lot of questions were asked.

A couple of years ago I found a couple of grainy photographs from the same holiday. We (that, to the best of my recollection would be me, my annoyingly good looking best friend “handsome” John, “chubby” Roy and “little” Brian) looked incredibly young and even more naive – and we were all trying desperately hard to appear confident and, dare I say it, trendily dressed in what appears to be an upstairs bar at The Manchester Hotel on the Promenade.

I only mention this because until recently I thought all traces of any Twisted Wheel were long gone. But not so. Not just yet at least.

All this time after the Wheel was born it appears to be more popular than ever in its native Manchester. On Friday nights and Sunday afternoons up to 700 soul music devotees still cram into subterranean premises on Manchester’s Whitworth Street.

The original Twisted Wheel started life as a beatnik coffee bar on Brazennose Street moving to its current location in the mid 1960s where it became synonymous with the burgeoning Mod movement. Having survived one closure by police in 1971 (concern over links to drug crime) a greater threat now hangs over the venue. Next month Manchester City Council are to consider plans to demolish the site, replacing it with a 330 room budget hotel.

Fans liken the decision to the much regretted one taken in Liverpool when the original Cavern Cub was demolished only to be resurrected elsewhere. That matters little to the London based developer (what does he know about Northern Soul?) who has bought the Whitworth Street plot and favours leasing it on to a German motel chain.

Soul fans are outraged. Online campaigns have been launched. The Wheel is the last survivor of the network of clubs which once included Wigan Casino, Stoke-on-Trent’s Golden Torch and, of course, Blackpool’s Mecca and Highland Room. All now demolished.

Are we going to lose this one too? I’d put money on it.