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The Manchester Wheelers a book about the Twisted Wheel in the 1960s

Manchester is famous for its music scene and night clubs, the most famous of which was the Hacienda. But what was it like in the 60s and 70s, when people danced to American soul music and the city's most famous - or infamous - club was the Twisted Wheel? The Manchester Wheelers tells the grim and gritty story of the young people who went to the 'Wheel'.

The Manchester Wheelers tells the story of the crazy characters, the rival gangs, the shady geezers and the groovy girls and who were part of the soul mod scene in Manchester. It's presented in the form of a novel but is based on real events. Names of characters have been changed.

Beware, some of the content is adult in nature and there is a lot of bad language as well as detailed descriptions of drug use. But that's how it was. Nothing is left out, so prepare to be shocked.

The Twisted Wheel opened in the 1960s in a basement in Brazennose Street, close to Albert Square. Later it moved to Whitworth Street next to the Old Fire Station and Piccadilly railway station. The Twisted Wheel continues today as a regular club night.

What was it that motivated the soul mods of Manchester? Youthful energy of course, powered by drugs, but most of all it was the music, and that music was Black American soul music.

For some reason the raw sound of often obscure US artists found an enthusiastic following in England, especially northern England. This rougher, harder edged style of sixties soul became known as Northern Soul.

For me soul was the signature music of Manchester in the late 60s and 70s. A number of famous soul singers played in Manchester, including Junior Walker, whose concert is described in the book.

I would love to have gone to the Twisted Wheel club in the 1960s but I was too young. At least through The Manchester Wheelers I can experience it in my imagination, and recreate an impression of life in a Manchester very different to the one that emerged in subsequent decades.

The Manchester Wheelers, A northern quadrophenia, is described on the cover as 'A Book by Dave' and is available from this site.

sample of Northern Soul 45rpm records

Written by Aidan O'Rourke
Posted/Updated 2009-12-02

Aidan O'RourkeAidan O'Rourke has been active in photography and online media since 1995. He has documented the development of the local area in his Eyewitness website (1997-2005) and as a contributor to books, publications and the Manchester Evening News. He runs his Eyewitness photography walks in Manchester, Liverpool and other locations. He offers one-to-one tuition in Photography and Languages. He is a high-level speaker of German and can offer photography walks and tours through the medium of German. Visit www.aidan.co.uk

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