New Wigan Casino book to celebrate a special part of the famous venue
A new book putting a special feature of Wigan Casino in the spotlight is to be published.
The Inside Story of Mr M’s, which is set to come out in December, was put together by Steve Whittle, 64, to celebrate what is considered the sister venue to the famous dance hall, and was based within the club.
This book will provide insight to what made it so popular, with rare photos included, and will coincide with the 40th anniversary since Wigan Casino closed as well as a three-day event where a new plaque on Millgate will be unveiled.
Mr Whittle said: “I started going in 1972, and was a paying customer for the first 12 months of the all-nighters. When they opened Mr M’s I started DJing, up until the last ever record in there.
“It was very special to myself, it’s where I got my break. I was 17 and wasn’t even legally allowed in.
“There have been quite a few books already just concentrating on the Casino, but there has never been one on Mr M’s, so we got the idea to do a book around four years ago. It takes you back, thinking about it.”
Mr Whittle, who was born in Hindley and grew up as a teenager in Aspull, says it has attracted plenty of interest from other fans of Mr M’s, which was named after Wigan Casino owner Gerry Marshall.
“Last year, one of the old DJs from Stoke died, and while looking at his coffin I thought we need to put this information down before it is lost forever, because once people are gone you can’t ask the questions anymore.
“It was put out on social media that we were doing this book, and we got a good response, with people emailing their memories or photographs. I also interviewed the nine DJs who are still available, plus various other people of interest.”
Former Wigan Casino DJ Richard Searing says he is excited for the book to be released, after he helped to come up with the idea.
He said: “It celebrates Mr M’s, which had a very loyal and fanatical following, but has never been documented before.
“The beauty of it is, it tells an unknown story. Steve has spoken to a lot of local people in the town and the original DJ’s.
“It is well time for the 40th anniversary of the venue closing, as well as the plaque going up in Wigan. We came to the conclusion it was the right time. It will open a lot of people’s eyes and will be a great read for anyone who loves northern soul, it is full of memories.”
Mr Searing documents how Mr M’s came into existence, with the popularity of the entire venue giving the owners no other choice but to open an extra room.
“Wigan Casino was the most influential venue of all time, and it came along at the right time because other places had closed down. People wanted a place to go where they could dance to obscure American soul music.
“On the first anniversary there was a huge demand for tickets. There was a worry not everyone would get in, because more people turned up than the capacity could hold. A decision was made on the night to open Mr M’s, which was a mini casino at the back of the building. They had no alternative but to use it as a one off overflow room.
“However, people loved it so much there was a petition to keep it open every week, so it did.
“The two places worked well side by side, and there was never any rivalry between the DJs or the attendees, but Mr M’s has never been given the respect it deserves.”
Mr Searing says one of his favourite memories of Wigan Casino was the night he had an audition as a DJ, playing his first set in 1973.
He said: “It was the night that really changed my life because it led to me getting a job with a record company, which led to me getting other jobs. It was very good to me and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity it gave me.”
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