The Wigan Casino and Scooter Info – Episode 79


SHOW NOTES: I don’t know how you organize yourself, but for years I have relied making lists. Right now I am walking around with a pocket full of paper, mostly illegible chicken scratch. I started using my iPhone to keep track of my thoughts and the combined list of my electronic and paper resources has grown so much I thought I had better bring some of them to you before I get lost in all my ramblings.

My first note is almost three months old. It is a follow-up to an email from a listener in England who asked about the Wigan Casino in the midlands. Looking at the club’s history is like jumping into a time-warp. The Wigan was the place to go for a dance club in the 70s. The doors first opened at 2am on September 23, 1973. While we in the U.S. were wasting time on disco, the DJs at the Wigan pulled vinyl soul from the 50 and 60s, without being particularly about where it came from as long as they had the ‘Wigan sound’. It had to fill the huge 1940s ballroom which could hold over 1200 smart dressed members. An ante room known as Mr. M’s was another dance area that brought the total capacity of the venue to well over 2,000.

People came from all over England and at the height of its popularity in 1975 the Wigan had over 100,000 members. The final night came in late 1981, after many of the best-known DJs had jumped ship and the manger Mike Walker committed suicide. The club lives on in the minds of people who were there and many who were not, kept alive through a strong northern soul music movement in England. Numerous fan groups flourish on the internet, especially in MySpace and Facebook. If you want to know more about the Wigan look for a copy of For Dancers Only: the Story of the Wigan Casino by Chris Hunt or check the following websites for more on the club and the music.

Other Links of Interest to Scooterists

  • Blue Smoke Studio, is scooter blog, a mash-up of humor, art and scooter musings by Kevin Montanaro. He is in Vermont, originally from New York and has some gorgeous pen and ink drawings of classic scooters.
  • Sweet Honey, Bitter Lemons; travels through Sicily is a book about Matthew Fort’s odyssey and his passion for the food, scenery, and Sicilians. It was a nice follow-up to our trip to Sicily.
  • Last week was the Indian Summer Rally here in Richmond and my P200 sidecar rig drew some serious scooter envy. There were meet-ups, rides in the rain, a gymkhana, duck-pin bowling and a bunch of door prizes mostly donated by Scoot Richmond, Check out the pictures in the gallery section of the website or at the 7hills scooter club site.

Music for this show is from the Podsafe Music Network and features Hey Hey Sister and Not Responsible by Laura Clapp


  1. Derek says:

    Me being an old fart now I joined the casino in 1968 before it became an all nighter and famous But remember going every Saturday night with my mates Then you had to wear a shirt tie and jacket or they wouldnt let you in Although you could take your tie and jacket of once inside It was all live bands then with lots of one hit wonders Crofters beer which tasted like swampwater And hords of girls in really short miniskirts I remember a club under the casino called the beachcommber for under aged peaple No booze Thinking about Wigan I also remember Slopes disco The beerkeller The rugby club The king of clubs in King street And the court schoolof dancing Ha Happy days Give me a reply DEREK SMITH

  2. swizz says:

    reading your article on the wigan casino brought back some great times, as the rest of the world was listening to the comerial sounds of the day we at the “casino” were searching out and dancing to up tempo soul music from the USA that no one wanted. the place was full to the rafters night after night of young kids from all over the northern industrial city’s many turning up on their scooters like i did. i used to ride 130 miles to get their, dance all night and ride back to Newcastle. the casino kept soul and scooters bonded together for ever, wigan is long gone but the sound and the scooters are not, every scooter rally here in the UK has “northern all nighters”. these rally’s are now attracting up to 10.000 scooters now, and just about everyone is in to “”. wigan bridged the gap from 66 mods to 77 scooterboys. many scooters are now adorned with references to wigan, northern and all of them great record labels. 45s that sold only a few copy’s in the USA now have 1000s of people dancing to them at allnighters. the scene is as strong as ever . .KTF. . .

  3. Dave says:

    Thanks for the details on the Wigan. Although I was never there, the northern soul scene still holds a lot of nostalga for me. I have gotten gotten all kinds of feedback from English fans about the scooter rallies and talking on the podcast with people like Iggy Granger and Peter Moore has been great fun. Maybe some time we can speak in person (via skype). Keep in touch.

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