New book seeking to tell story of Northern Soul venue in Wigan

A DJ is writing about the place where he spent several years spinning the decks.

Thursday, 13th May 2021, 4:45 am
Steve Whittle with the Northern Soul memorabilia at the Grand Arcade

Steve Whittle is penning the volume telling the story of soul at Mr M’s, a room at Wigan Casino which gained its own identity and loyal fanbase.

Steve, who was born in Hindley and now lives in Newtown, was the regular DJ at the venue from early 1975 until December 1981 when he spun the very last track to be heard there, The Night by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.

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Steve Whittle, Alan Cain and Richard Searling at the Grand Arcade

And now the two are working together on the book they would like to hear from people who regularly went to Mr M’s to share their stories.

Steve, 63, said: “When I went on Richard’s radio show and we would chat between records he told me that I have to get all this down.

“The catalyst for me was last year when we lost three of the big DJs. It got me thinking that nobody is immortal so maybe it should be done before it’s too late.

“I’m a DJ, not an author, but Richard thinks I’ve got a good story to tell so I will do my best.

“We’d absolutely love to hear from anyone with memories of Mr M’s from 1974 to 1981.”

Named after Casino owner Gerry Marshall, Mr M’s was somewhat plusher than the venue’s main room and at first there was resistance to the idea of holding soul all-nighters in there.

However, in September 1974 it played host to Northern Soul for the first time and from then on was part of the iconic all-nighters, playing established favourites and older tracks while the DJs in the main room offered the very latest sounds.

Steve has already been interviewing some of the DJs who spun the decks and says it is clear what most people who went remember best.

He said: “Overall what gets mentioned is the heat. It was incredibly hot in there. The condensation used to drip down off the ceiling, which sounds horrendous now but all added to the atmosphere.

“Every email of memories we’ve had mentions the music first and foremost but then the heat.

“The Casino was a very special place and Mr M’s was a separate room which attracted its own clientele and own identity within the all-nighter.

“I DJ’d the main room on occasions but most of my time was spent upstairs in Mr M’s and it was fantastic.”

It is believed Steve’s book will be the first time Mr M’s place in Northern Soul has been covered in depth in print.

The 1970s Northern Soul scene was extremely special for those involved and Richard said he would love for that to be included in the new book.

He said: “It would be nice to hear about records people remember at Mr M’s or friends they met there and are still in touch with. “Mr M’s used to open at 3am and we had to announce it was open when we were DJing. People would split and quite a lot would go into Mr M’s.

“I also remember DJing a warm-up soul night in there for about a year while the Casino hosted a punk night before the all-nighter. There were so many people arriving in town early and hanging about the streets.

“It was bizarre going across the balcony and then seeing all these people pogoing.”

Email memories of Northern Soul at Mr M’s to [email protected] or [email protected]

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