Twisted Wheel club photo by John Robb
Legendary Twisted Wheel club in Manchester bulldozed

At school we get taught the history of kings and queens but the real history, for me, is the people’s history. The sweat, the grime and the toil of the people who made everything happen and it should also be about their funtime.


The Twisted Wheel is part of this and watching it get demolished to make way for a five star hotel in the centre of Manchester is another depressing example of corporate arrogance and the ignorance of our own real history.


For those that don’t know the Twisted Wheel was the coffee bar club in the sixties where northern soul started as the DJs played faster and more obscure records for the speed driven mods to dance to. For a couple of decades it has been a gay club but occasionally still had opened for soul nights. I have been there and the old wheel that gave the club its name was still on the wall and the coffee bar still in place then turned into a bar. There was still the tiny stage in the corner where Jimi Hendrix had done an after show jam. Every wall and every brick dripped damp and history, oozing the sweat and joy of a genuine culture far beyond the moneygrabbing pop machine.


This kind of history is priceless. It’s the real history in a people’s city and knocking it down for yet another glass tower for another faceless company is yet another tragedy for our culture and a triumph for greed. Why they could not be forced to incorporate the Twisted Wheel into their expensive new palace is baffling. We need our cultural sign posts to remind us of who we are and our rare triumphs where we own the culture.


Yet another club is now a t shirt and historical footnote…


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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. Such a shame – only been to a few of the Sunday sessions in recent years with the missus dad as he’s been going since it’s hey day, and the place had a real atmosphere and character that is so sadly lacking in modern corporate venues – it will be sadly missed.

  2. Totaly agree with the author of the piece.surely peoples modern cultural history is as important as the traditional history of our cities.the golden torch club in stoke on trent was a major iconic northern soul is now just a plaque on a gatepost in a years to come we will all wonder why none of these places that were important to so many were never preserved.another sad loss to our corporate,soulless future.

  3. Such a sad loss, Manchester city council you should be ashamed of what you have done to the place were northern soul started. I will never forget the times i spent in the late 60S Dancing to those great records. I’m so glad I was present at the last ever one in December. RIP THE TWISTED WHEEL


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