Global attraction of Wigan Casino recognised on national TV show

Friday 17th January 2020

The last night of the internationally acclaimed Wigan Casino is to be re-told in a major television feature.

Russ Winstanley, who DJ'd the Station Road venue's first and last Allnighters, has been interviewed by broadcaster and fellow Wiganer Stuart Maconie.

It was initially to have been shown in a North West-only slot after the One Show this month.

But the BBC have decided that the programme would generate so much interest further afield - including abroad - that it is now to go out nationally next month.

Russ said: "Stuart interviewed me about the Casino, that sad last night and we also reminisced about his numerous visits to my record shop in Hallgate in the '70s.

"As you know, the Allnighters were my idea and I was the only DJ to work the first and final ones.

"From September 23 1973 there were 526 Allnighters: one each week and a monthly Oldies' Allnighter plus early sessions every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

"No other venue has ever held as many Northern Soul Sessions as we did: over 1,700 early sessions too.

"The average Allnighter attendance was 3,000 and early sessions 1,500. Add in the Oldies' Allnighter and you had over 10,000 Soulies per week! We boasted 100,000 Members and over four million soul lovers visited us in total!"

As a result the Casino was named the country's and the world's number one soul venue on many occasions and Russ himself has been much decorated for his work there.

The club closed on December 6 1981 having run its Allnighter from midnight through to 9.30am.

That last night was DJ'd by Russ, and the "three before eight" were played three times consecutively at the end of the night.

The crowd refused to leave and Russ said that to "break this spell of hysteria", he picked a 7ins at random from his box and played that. This final Wigan Casino song became one of the most famous Northern soul songs of all time: Frank Wilson's Do I Love You? (Indeed I Do).

The venue was eventually demolished and the site is now covered by the Grand Arcade.

But Russ has helped to keep the memory of those eight glorious years alive ever since through a huge range of musical activities.

In fact on January 24 he is running and DJing at part of the Soul Legends Weekender at Butlin's, Skegness. Acts include The Supremes, George McCrae, Heatwave, Odyssey, Jimmy James and Angelo Starr.

Also ex-NME photographer Francesco Mellina hopes to also have a book out soon containing ultra-rare last night pictures that he took at the Casino and thought he'd lost.

The programme will be broadcast on BBC1 at 7.30pm on Monday February 10.

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