IAN Raybould of Walney was in at the start of the Northern Soul phenomenon. Here he recalls the way it was...

ONE of the accidental benefits of being born in 1950 was being a teenager in the 1960s and all that came with it, including of course, soul music and its surrounding sub-culture.

The clandestine nature of the soul movement in which invisibility, anonymous short haircuts and clothing worked as a subtle code for those in the know.

We wore made to measure suits with 14-inch vents and ticket pockets, Ben Sherman or collarless shirts with paper collars (Style 77 from Woolworths) which would be discarded in the early morning when the sun was coming up and you were coming down.

I first became aware of this scene in early 1967 after a few of us went to see the Small Faces in Manchester but couldn’t get tickets and the queues were never ending.

That night we met some girls from Oldham who gave us the “keys to the kingdom”, telling us of an all-nighter club, the Twisted Wheel, and along we went to this club in Whitworth Street.

It’s difficult now to describe the full flavour of the place; many rooms with walls made of all kinds of wheels (wagon, wooden, metal and bicycle), DJs taking turns to get the crowd dancing. It was an amalgam of rooms throughout, including a chill room next to the bathrooms.

The bathroom walls were covered in graffiti, including the immortal words “Sgt Plumbers Purple Hearts Club Band.”

The café upstairs sold coffee and Fanta orange, no alcohol. Most of the kids took amphetamines to stay awake and dance all night. The dancing was exceptional, especially the girls; they had the moves alright.

When we returned to Barrow and had our hair cut, we began to frequent the Duke of Edinburgh.

I saw that some of the older lads already had a grounding in this movement. There was Barry Grimewater, who had the grace of Fred Astaire and often danced with a rolled umbrella.

He was the essence of style, controlled, aloof and untouchable. His mates included Tommy Ryan, Dave Roskill, George Foster, Sam McKinley, Terry McCarten and Brian Townsend. They were older and tougher than we were and took to insulting us with the Tamla Toy Town tag, a title which we adopted.

Our crowd included Dave Christie, Denis Charnley, Phil Goodwin, Mike Ward, Malcom Payton, Moz Baines and Dave Heavyside. Other characters from different tribes and genres of that time included JP Jones aka Jonah, Geoff Greenhalgh, Eric Duke, Stuart Garner, Ray Clifton and Slogger Sloan.

There was also a female element to the crowd which included Sheila Jackson, Sally Conway, Pauline Huddart, the Robson twins, and “Bubbles”. The Duke became our base.

I would like to emphasis the cultural mix of people involved in the Duke of Edinburgh scene. The weekends were a mixture of all types, whereas mid-week was quieter and mainly for soul aficionados.

I guess I went to the Wheel a dozen times or more over three years, 1967, 1968 and 1969.

The atmosphere was electric and we saw many live acts there such as Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band, Jimmy James and the Vagabonds, even Junior Walker the sax man himself, and all this in semi-secrecy.

We also saw the Alan Bown Set and Zoot Money who took to the stage in a fur coat and a big floppy hat. There were many others, far too many to go into here.

The press, even the NME missed the Twisted Wheel scene; the ads were all for Carnaby Street and hippy gear!