A new exhibition about Wigan Casino will open its doors later this month.
Wigan History Shop unveils Wigan Casino: The Heart of Soul on October 11.
It is the first exhibition of its kind, and features original objects and never before seen photos.
Claire Hawkins, exhibition curator said: "This exhibition explores the history of a building which was popular with young people for most of the 20th century.
"The cult of Northern Soul is a fascinating one, which brought so many enthusiastic soul fans together at the Casino and still does today.
"It has become what Wigan is famous for, thanks to the followers and DJs of the Casino and we wanted to celebrate this unique scene and pay tribute to a grand old building in our new exhibition."
"I have spoken to many soul fans and DJs whilst researching and was overwhelmed by their enthusiasm for the music and by the friendliness of the scene.
Acclaimed local artist David Barrow will be showcasing new works in the exhibition, portraying scenes inside the Casino Club giving a taste of what it was like to be there.
And visitors can listen to the sounds of the All-Nighters, recorded at the Casino in 1975, complete with hand-clapping.
This England, a controversial Granada documentary from 1977 is also featured plus memories of soul fans and their memorabilia, including original badges and clothing.
Wigan Casino: The Heart of Soul tells the story of the Empress Hall on Station Road.
Built by the Atherton brothers in 1916, it was a popular ballroom venue visited by many famous acts throughout the 1950s and 60s.
After changing management in 1965, it was re-launched as the Casino Club and hosted the likes of Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones and David Bowie.
From 1973 to its closure in 1981 the Casino became world famous as the place for Northern Soul fans to go, with weekly All-Nighters and live performances from famous soul stars.
Thirty-one years on from that first soul event the scene is a strong as ever, with 1,500 people attending a Casino anniversary event in September.
In spite of the empty space which occupies the former Casino site on Station Road, there is still much talk of the Casino Club, which has prompted this exhibition.
Wigan Casino Empress Hall timeline:
1915 Plans revealed for the new dance hall for Wigan by local entrepreneurs, the Atherton brothers.
1916 Official opening of the Empress Hall which held dances six nights a week and had its own orchestra.
1922 Ground floor garage converted into a billiard hall.
1926 Building extended to include a dancing and cabaret venue the Palais de Danse
1936 Empress Hall structural improvements made.
1940s GIs travel to Wigan from surrounding military bases to wartime dances at the Empress Hall.
1950s Many famous bands of the 50s play at the Emp, including The Ronnie Scott Orchestra in 1953 and Jerry Lee Lewis.
1960s The Emp is the place to be for 60s beat combos like Herman and the Hermits in 1964. Other famous acts included Tom Jones, Dusty Springfield and The Rolling Stones.
1965 Renamed the Casino Club with a performance by Shirley Bassey. Membership cards introduced for all who attended the Casino.
1973 First Northern Soul All-nighter at the Casino. Over the next eight years many thousands of soul fans travel from around the country to Wigan.
1978 Casino is crowned "World's Best Disco" by the American magazine Billboard beating famous New York hotspot Studio 54 to the title.
1981 A series of three final All-Nighters are held at the Casino before the building is closed.
1982 Fire breaks out in the building, destroying the dance-floor, offices and roof.
1983 The building is demolished to make way for a civic centre, which is not eventually built.
1990s- Northern Soul enjoys a large-scale revival, with DJs appearing at many events around the region. Several books are published about the Casino, a play Once Upon a Time in Wigan tours the country and TV documentaries and radio shows air.
2004 The site of the old Emp will be part of Wigan's new shopping centre The Grand Arcade.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
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