Friday, November 30, 2012

UK Trip Part VII: Manchester & Morrissey/Smiths Tour

From Keswick it was on to Manchester to meet up with our close friends, Neil and Susie.  It has been 10 years since we met them while living in London back in 2002.  We started planning to meet up in England to celebrate that anniversary last year when they were out in California visiting from Toronto.  So happy we were all able to come together and make it happen!

After all these years listening to music based out of Manchester, we were finally there and the best part was we went on a private Smiths tour!  Neil and Susie found out about the tour.  I had no idea that there was a company specializing in music tours of the area (Joy Division, Oasis, Stone Roses, general Manchester music tour, etc.). 

Manchester Music Tours is run by the Craig Gill, the drummer of the Inspiral Carpets.  He had to go to London on business the day our tour was scheduled so another guy, Glenn, took us on the tour instead. It was everything I hoped it would be!  I will always remember the name of our guide by thinking of the lyrics to Death at Ones Elbow.  He did a great job showing us around and we were with him for somewhere between 3 to 4 hours!

After meeting up at our hotel, the four of us took a cab to the meeting spot, The Star and Garter.  This is where the monthly Morrissey night is held which is why it was a good starting point for the tour.  From there we hopped in the car with Glenn and took off to go by many sights any Smiths fan would recognize from Morrissey’s lyrics as well as others of musical history significance.

I am sure I am leaving something out, but from my photos I can remember:

-          Piccadilly Station
-          Free Trade Hall (Sex Pistols first gig)
-          The G Mex (The Smiths played here and there is a famous photo of fans ripping Morrissey’s shirt apart)
-          Site of The Hacienda (original structure unfortunately no longer there and has been replaced with flats)
-          The Ritz (site of first Smiths gig)
-          The Apollo
-          The Holy Name Church (Vicar in a Tutu)
-          Platt Fields (where the fair is held annually, mentioned in Rusholme Ruffians)
-          Southern Cemetery (Cemetry Gates)
-          The Iron Bridge (Still Ill)
-          384 Kings Road (Morrissey childhood home)
-          Building where Morrissey worked his only job
-          Salford Lads Club
-          Strangeways Prison

We actually got to go on a tour of Salford Lads Club given by the man in charge there, Leslie.  It was so amazing!  This club has so much history dating back to 1903 and is continues to be an important part for the youth of the area.  There were so many interesting parts but of course our favorite was the boxing gym and the Smiths room.  There is actually an entire room dedicated to the Smiths and their connection to the club.  It is plastered with photos and notes people have left as well as other artifacts, such as an intact shirt of Morrissey’s.  We sent the photo of us in front of the club to Leslie and he said he would put it up with the others so we’ll always be present in the Smiths room at Salford Lads Club!  I got a shirt form there as well.  All proceeds go directly back into the club.  They need help maintaining the place as it is more than 100 years old and an active club for both boys and girls.  There is an amazing little concert hall there as well.  Billy Bragg has played there and The Hollies got their musical start there.  This Smiths tour is a must for Morrissey fans, but also enjoyable for those who may not be as much of a fan since it is just an overall great tour of the Manchester area.

That evening after the tour we met up with an old friend that was part of the BUNAC crew when we lived in London back in 2002, Jareau!  The five of us went for Chinese food.  Great to catch up after all these years.  So strange for the five of us to be back together again!  Jareau then had to leave us shortly after dinner and we then met up with Neil’s best mate, Neil.  He was super nice.  We just got one drink with him before he had to go, then the four of us ended the night at The Britons Protection pub.

The next morning we went to a nearby town where Neil grew up, Warrington, and his mum cooked us a fry up and his dad made us tea before we hit the road for London.  Ben and I loved getting to see where Neil grew up and his parents are fantastic!  So glad we had the chance to visit before moving on down the motorway.  Driving into London was the most dreaded part of the trip as far as driving was concerned but there was an end in sight as we were finally going to get to return the rental car!  No more driving, only public transport for the last few days of the trip!

road sign for Manchester and Salford

meeting spot for tour outside the Star and Garter
(note the lovely pile of garbage to the left)

Piccadilly Station

Sex Pistols first gig was here

G Mex

former site of the Hacienda

music timeline behind the Hacienda flats

site of first Smiths gig

site of recent Morrissey gigs

the holy name church

cemetry gates at Southern Cemetery

platt field

not quite under the iron bridge we kissed...

my tag on the iron bridge

384 Kings Road

no I never had a job because I never wanted one...

inside Salford Lads Club

our notes left in the smiths room
(I had to go with a quote Morrissey used from A Taste of Honey)


  1. Finally had time to read your last posts. This looks so awesome - great pics!

  2. Thanks for reading! We had such a blast!