Photographs from Wigan Casino’s final night are printed at last in new book

Photographs from the final night at the legendary Wigan Casino - many of which have never been seen before - have been published in a new book marking the 40th anniversary.

Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 12:30 pm

Freelance photographer Francesco Mellina spent the whole night at the famous venue in September 1981, as he was taking pictures for music publication NME.

He has now collated the images, which show everything from the people queuing outside to crowds on the dancefloor, and published them in a book entitled Last Night At Wigan Casino.

As well as the photographs, the book features writing from DJ Russ Winstanley and organiser/DJ Richard Searling.

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Francesco Mellina with his book

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So far the book is proving to be popular among northern soul fans, with the first edition almost sold out and more copies being printed.

Francesco said: “There has been huge interest.

“I think that a very large core of the original northern soul fans still feel really strongly.

“There are so many events happening every year and it has been kept alive.

“More and more young people are discovering it too - the music, the dancing, the clothes. It’s fantastic.”

Francesco was determined to see the book published, overcoming an initial blow when a crowdfunding campaign launched two years ago to cover the cost failed to hit the target.

He tried again earlier this year and received much more support, surpassing his £6,500 target and ensuring the book was printed this time.

He hopes the book will be a special reminder of that night 40 years ago, which holds significance to both Wiganers and northern soul fans from further afield.

When the campaign launched in April, he said: “It’s really to celebrate such an incredible moment in time and history, particularly because it’s something I feel very strongly about.

“It’s a northern thing and it’s probably the most working-class music movement ever.

“It created an incredible thing. It’s very difficult to explain unless you were there.

“What the photographs do is pay homage to the people, to the club, to the scene. Essentially people are buying a piece of history when they buy the book.”

Francesco signed copies of Last Night At Wigan Casino at Waterstones, in the Grand Arcade.

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