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50 years ago in Eccles: Remembering the ‘cursed’ Carlisle Club as it goes up in flames (again)


How many Eccles and Salford residents spent happy hours dancing the night away in the Carlisle Club in Eccles?

And how many of this generation could even tell you where it was?

This building – now the Nur Malaysian restaurant – still stands on Liverpool Road, a short distance from the centre of the town.

Nur Malaysia restaurant - Google Street View

Nur Malaysia restaurant – Google Street View

It has had a fascinating history dating all the way back to the First World War, when wood salvaged from an army camp was erected on site to form the building frontage. Brick extensions were added later.

It was first used in 1918 as a meeting place for the Eccles Brotherhood and Sisterhood*.

Liverpool Road before the building arrived (1910) © Salford Local History Library

Liverpool Road before the building arrived (1910) © Salford Local History Library

In the 1930s it became a social centre for unemployed people and then in the Second World war was used as a centre for troops based in the town.

It opened as The Carlilse Club around 1963 – the height of the Beat phenomenon sweeping the charts.

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Jack Diamond pushing over a pile of pennies at the Swinging Sporran © SalfordOnline.com

Jack Diamond pushing over a pile of pennies at the Swinging Sporran © SalfordOnline.com

It was named after local firm of commission agents and 3,000-plus had joined as members.

Thousands would come every week to enjoy dancing and cabaret, local acts and bands, with an adult outlook.

You could even eat and drink, getting such top cuisine as chicken in a basket, the very height of sophistication at the time.

It cocktail bar was even opened by local Coronation Street celebrity Doris Speed, who played ‘Annie Walker’ on the up-and-coming ITV soap.

The club itself had three years of popularity, but suffered a couple of bouts of bad luck before the June 1966 fire that gutted the place.

Like a phoenix from the proverbial flames, the club would rise again.

The crowds flooded back when it became The Barberella Club where local DJs such as Fred Fielder, AKA, Chunky Baby and Dave Eager would spin on the wheels of steel.

 Barmaid Sally Sweeney with customer leaning on bar Jack Lowther - The Barbarella Club, 1972.

Barmaid Sally Sweeney with customer leaning on bar Jack Lowther – The Barbarella Club, 1972. Are you the copyright holder of this image? Please contact editor@salfordonline.com

It later became part of a pub chain owned by Scottish and McEwan brewery and became a pub called The Swinging Sporran – which to be honest I thought was dreadful – although I’m certain others will disagree with me.

The Swinging Sporran - 1979. Are you the copyright holder of this image? Please contact editor@salfordonline.com

The Swinging Sporran – 1979. Are you the copyright holder of this image? Please contact editor@salfordonline.com

Watch: (archive site) 20 escape as Talk of the North club burns down

The club manager of the day, Neil Harris, described the club as being ‘jinxed’.

In the early hours of the morning of Saturday 11 June 1966, Salford fire brigade were called to reports of a massive blaze which had engulfed the building.

One fire crew from Stretford reported that they could see the smoke rising high above Eccles as they made their way to the club.

They were there for an hour putting out the blaze and soaking the building with water to stop any further fires breaking out.

Part of the roof and back of the building including the stage and cocktail bar were severely damaged.

However the three other bars together with gaming machines, cigarette machines, and bar stock were relatively unscathed.

The club manager Neil Harris was called in to survey the damage and he said: “This is the end as far as I am concerned.

“During the last three years I have been dogged by ill-luck and ill-health and I had already made arrangements for another company to take over the club licence in three weeks’ time.

“The fire has put an end to all activities as far as I am concerned, there will be no more shows until the new owners decide what to do.”

If you have any memories of happy hours spent at the Carlisle Club, Barbarella Club or The Swinging Sporran please get in touch with SalfordOnline.com via Facebook or Twitter.

*We assume this was a religious friends group however there is very little information available. If you know any more about this group please contact tonyflynn@salfordonline.com.

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Tony Flynn

SalfordOnline.com's Local History Editor and Senior Reporter.