MUSIC and fashion trends don't hang around for long. Punk rock has crumbled, glam rock went in the musical dustbin years ago, and good luck if you can find anyone who still has a Bay City Rollers jumper. But it is 50 years since the underground black American dance music sub-culture – routinely dubbed Northern Soul – became established in Barrow.

It still attracts – like moths to a flame – a healthy band of ageing acolytes from all walks of life.

In terms of the movement’s national origins, we must go back to London around 1958, a group of geezers were developing a cool fashion style all of their own.

They were called “modernists” because of their fondness for modern jazz and so the Mods were born.

That scene morphed, moved north and by the mid-1960s the fledgling Northern Soul movement had established a base in the legendary Twisted Wheel all-night discotheque in Whitworth Street, Manchester. Among its visitors were young Barrow-based soul boys Phil Goodwin, Billy Moorby and Steve Neep – all of whom died well before their time.

But their memory and the music of that time lives on today and a special disco is being planned this summer to salute them.

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Northern Soul discos played only black American dance 45s. Some records were so rare that only a handful of copies were known to exist. It could easily cost a week’s wage to obtain one of these gems. In Barrow the soul scene was (and remains) a kind of unofficial club that never had a chairperson, never had a constitution and no membership cards were ever issued.

But – like the town itself – virtually everyone in the scene knows everyone else.

Nobody can say with any certainty precisely when Northern Soul arrived in Barrow, but it was here by the late 1960s and it is thought that the lounge bar in Duke of Edinburgh Hotel in Abbey Road was one of its earliest venues.

It didn’t have a disco – just a jukebox that played Tamla Motown and on the door were a couple of semi-legendary young lads named Mal Paton and Pete Cadwell.

Both came from out of town, were probably apprentices at the time and each simply vanished from the scene.

It is said that if Paton didn’t think someone was old enough to come in he would “shoot” the individual with his fingers. There was no way of talking him around – that was it, you would have to go home.

In 1969 a soul disco began at Furness Rugby Union Club and today it is fondly remembered as the beating heart of that fledgling scene.

Among the first DJs was Paul Tindale, of Fairfield Lane, Barrow. When Paul and his mates first attended Furness in 1969 they were all 15-year-old schoolchildren.

A short time later he would jump in his old auto at weekends to attend the Golden Torch big-pull all-nighter at Stoke-on-Trent.

Paul said: “Furness started with Saturday nights. Local bands would play their stuff and somebody would spin a few tunes in between their sets. The place was buzzing.

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“Then, sometime in 1969, they started a Wednesday night disco and the first DJs was Phil Bibby and later Ged Rule.

“Later myself, Jonny Mutton and Mark Bamber took over at the turntables. We had all previously done some DJing at the British Legion in Holker Street, but that scene was shut down after a group of Barrow Boot Boys smashed up the men’s toilets.

“When we took over at Furness Rugby Union Club, between us we had a tremendous selection of rare Northern Soul records. The place was jammed with most nights sold out.

“It became so popular that a Friday night was added. We couldn’t work Saturdays because a pilgrimage to the Highland Room at the Blackpool Mecca or the Torch in Stoke was de rigueur, but it was worth it because we nearly always brought back some more rare records.

“One of the most popular drinks at Furness was bitter and lime. It was introduced to Barrow by Steve Neep who came here from his home city of Carlisle. It was pretty disgusting but cheap - nobody could afford lager in those days.”

Paul says the big sounds of the day were Just Like The Weather by Nolan Chance, Love You Baby by Eddie Parker, Soul Self Satisfaction by Earl Jackson, Hit And Run by Rose Batiste, Where There’s A Will by Jimmy Thomas and You Don’t Want Me No More by Major Lance.

Mark remembers one particularly rueful episode: “I had spent £10 – which was two week’s wages back then – on a copy of Where There’s A Will. It went down an absolute storm one Wednesday night.

“After one too many bitter and limes Paul decided the record looked very much like an ashtray and rested his lit cigarette on it. You can guess the rest.”

From pre-war semis, terraced streets and housing estates all over Barrow the punters would head for the Strawberry Ground where the club was (and still is) based.

Original fish-tail parkas and double-breasted reefer jackets with faux brass buttons or dresses with zips right up the centre were sometimes worn by the lasses.

On their feet were dolly shoes – and handbags were not placed in the middle of a dancing ring – that only came later.

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Lads' fashion was short hair and sharp suits (sometimes tailored jackets), Ben Sherman shirts and expensive jeans, shoes called comos which were stitched around the periphery and sometimes US aviator glasses.

Diane Neep (nee Wells) was way under-age when she met her husband-to-be Steve at the club.

Diane, of Hawcoat Lane, Barrow, remembers: “In 1969 I was 14. That was the year I grew up and discovered soul music. I had made forever friends at the girls’ grammar school and we embarked on our amazing soul music journey.

“We found our own style, the boys had their Ben Sherman shirts, Levi jeans and sta-prest trousers and mohair suits. We wore very short, colourful shift dresses and I wouldn’t leave home without my Mary Quant eyelashes.

“Wednesday nights were special. I can remember how excited we would be walking down from the Strawberry to Furness Rugby Club, hearts pounding as we heard the music.

“The dancing was non-stop and we were in awe of the male dancers like Steve (Neep) and Phil Goodwin, forming a circle around them, watching their high-kicks, spins and back-drops.

“The music was brilliant, one good record after another. There was always one dancer I couldn’t take my eyes off, it was Steve.

“He had an amazing rhythm and he could pull off the acrobatics – smiling all the time, such a pleasure to watch.

“One October Wednesday night at Furness in 1969 we became a couple, our journey with soul music together began and never stopped. Happy days.”

The lads and lasses of 50 years ago – many of them now grandparents – will be keeping the faith at their old stamping ground on Saturday, August 31 when the sweet soul sounds will once again be spun by Paul Tindale, Jonny Mutton and Mark Bamber.

Between the hours of 9pm and 11pm the guys will be spinning sounds played at the club between 1969 and 1973. Guest DJ will be contemporary soul music aficionado Julian Bentley from Manchester.

The fundraiser will be dedicated to the memory of Phil Goodwin, Billy Moorby and Steve Neep – with all monies raised going to local charities.

Tickets, priced £5 each, can be obtained by emailing

It is expected to be packed. The first round of drinks – it is rumoured – will be bitter and lime.

Doubtless some thoughts will drift back to that far-off time when the disco was in its heyday.

The Ben Sherman-clad ghosts of yesteryear may just about be glimpsed on the dancefloor … and Mal Paton and Pete Cadwell, where are you now?