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The editorial goes here
The club's history goes here
(February 17th 2003).
Thanks to Sheila at Verse and Worse for -
And a Good Time Was Had By All…
I started going to Wigan Folk Club probably in 1997 so my memories are of this time…a time when every week brought new surprises much wonderful music and laughter was guarantee often at the expense of others…
Once upon a time not so very long ago, Wigan Folk Club met each Tuesday
in Upper Morris Street Workingmen's Club, in Scholes, Wigan.
The club meeting room was a small room with high narrow windows. A
cosy place off the 'Sports room'. The club boasted a Sports room which
was nearly as big as the Concert Room, such was the need for the male
membership to have their own space…
Our little clubroom was stocked with the paraphernalia that required storage space; broken tables, ladders, tins of paint, empty barrels etc. and in case you got confused in this confined space a HUGE sign above the only door out of the room said 'EXIT' ! In summer you sweltered as the windows were painted shut and to open this one door would allow the excitable Eddie Waring or the more restrained tones of that 'St Helener ' to drown us out. The reference is to Ray French the Rugby commentator who replaced Eddie after his death. And accordingly, in winter, because the radiator didn't work, the early arrivals kept their coats on until at least ten o clock until the swell of latecomers warmed the room sufficiently! This was later remedied by Wigan Folk Club's very own plumber/heating engineer, Kevin Brady. Kevin handily brought his tools along with his guitar and fixed it! And were they grateful? Aye, well, uhm as Uncle Mort would say.
Yet, in the way of these things we were tolerated…we brought much needed income into the club and apart from going to the bar for drinks, we knew our place. On the other hand, 11.30pm finish meant that from 11.15 you would be interupted by hawkish barmaids - picture the Uncle Mort variety - whipping away glasses, finished or not…And if you weren't out by twenty to twelve it was a punishable offence.
Ah, the barmaids…If I wanted to be malevolent I'd say they were bitter and twisted. The truth was they were to bar management what King Herod was to childminding. They would burst into the room with no thought for the performer; no knocking or waiting…and shamelessly collect glasses and gripe about something and nothing. As the following incident which I committed to verse tells…
First off, I state this in my defence:
Anyway, on this particular night, Kevin Brady, he of the blowtorch and guitar, was in fine voice and the room was held captivated by his rendition of an Irish ballad when…
As we sit in the folking room the door was thrown open wide,
I said, "I'm a menopausal woman - don't you remember how it is?
The Lovely Rose of Clare once again faltered in her tracks
At least menopause women don't lose their sense of fun,
A hush had come over the room, poor Kevin was transfixed,
First barmaid: "Have you put that notice on the door - I bet you have - who do you lot think you are?"
Second barmaid: Artistes…they call themselves artistes - they think they're Johnny Meadows."
(For those not in the know, Johnny is local vocalist who 'did the club circuit' and was considered big in the 70's and 80's on the local club scene. He was like Marilyn Manson - NOT)
Joe, not being put down said, with some personal affront to his pride:
"Of course we're artists, there's a lot of talented folk in that
First barmaid - looking disdainfully at Joe:
Ah, happy days….
The nice thing about Wigan folk club is that every one is given a warm
welcome - even Johnny Meadows if he's happy to wait his turn. But some
folks must have strange ideas about what a singers night is. No names
no pack drill but an elderly person would turn up on folk night,
From across the room there was a sudden scraping of chair as Neil forced himself out of the room holding back his laughter with great difficulty. Now please understand, no one shows disrespect for any performer but this guy saw our club as his personal stage and was often quite hostile, specially in drink. It's very difficult to feel comfortable with people who create an atmosphere. Fortunately after some months his visits dwindled away. There are many more tales that other folks could tell I am sure given the long history of Wigan Folk Club, I for one, would love to hear them.
Sheila Mellor Barnes
(Jan 21st 2003)
Thanks to Sheila at Verse and Worse for -
"For the past three years one weekend in August, members of Wigan folk club head off for Wasdale in Cumbria to spend the weekend as the guests of Maureen and Vince, former members of the club who relocated to Cumbria about five years ago. Lucky things! They live in the beautiful Wasdale Lodge Cottage which is about one hundred yards from the three mile long lake known as Wastwater. The dale is a beautiful place; it is quite inaccessible compared to the other lakes and is therefore the quietest, even at the height of summer. Wastwater is the most foreboding of the lakes in Cumbria, it is the deepest lake in England, being over 250 feet in places. The great 2000 feet high screes dropping down into the south eastern shore can be a forbidding site, although the evening sunlight transforms them into a magical place. At the head of the valley the view is of Great Gable flanked by Kirkfell and Lingmell. This silhouette is the emblem used on the National Park Badge. Tourist bit over...
first campers to arrive get the best tent space; take note: best means
a slope of one in ten, then it really is downhill from there! One year
Martin Baker and Kevin Brady arrived late...so late that it was dark
and they had a drink as soon as they arrived...until they were too drunk
to put their own tent up and I reluctantly did it for them as best I
could - in a confined space at two in the morning! They finally retired
as dawn arrived... I got up soon after as I could hear strange noises.
The noise turned out to be poor Kevin sliding down the one in four slope
of the tent then drunkenly forcing himself back up the other end! Other
folks have the benefit of their own camper vans or caravans so their
accommodation is more luxurious - not that it matters as the focus of
the weekend is to go to bed happy but drunk enough to cope with 'roughing
it!' On the Saturday evening the craic is shared with any of Maureen
and Vince's musical friends as we fill each nook of their tiny living
room. The photo's I hope, show how fine a
time we all have! "
Monday 2003 - Day Of Folk at Wigan Folk Club.