And so it comes to pass: SalfordOnline.com is closing.
Pull up a chair, reader, and I shall try and unfold the whole story as best I can.
Are you ready? Then I shall begin.
I first met Tom Rodgers at Salford City Radio in 2009 when he was interviewing DJ Tony Thornborough and I was his guest on the show.
Shortly afterwards Tony started working as a volunteer at SalfordOnline.com and asked me if I would be interested in joining him there.
I recall one of first ventures was filming in Weaste Cemetery and finding out more about the great, good and not-so-good who are interred there: Eddie Colman, Mark Addy, The Salford Poisoner, etc, etc.
Amazingly these were met with popular demand, and so we continued filming around Salford, meeting new people and telling their stories.
And so it came to pass that Tony Thornborough left SalfordOnline.com but Tom Rodgers, stalwart fellow that he is, persuaded me stay.
I have some great memories of the filming trips we took around Salford.
One favourite was researching the life and times of Buffalo Bill: that proved really popular.
Eventually I ventured out onto the mean streets of Salford with just a trusty cine camera, a sponge and a rusty spanner to film what would appear to be the wholesale demolition of Salford.
I ventured onto the roofs of St James’s Church, Pendleton Church, Eccles Parish Church and St Andrews Church to film the views both inside and outside – and not to swipe the lead – filmed at the Organ Heritage Centre in Peel Green, too many school events to mention, I once even handled a swarm of 70,000 bees in an allotment in Winton without getting stung!
We’ve reunited pals from 50 years ago, returned WW1 letters retrieved from a skip to their rightful owners, WW1 letters found in a loft returned to the relatives who were living in Germany, was interviewed by German Radio Station, DVB, about the history of Salford Docks and the growth of the Quays.
We’ve charted the history of the Bridgewater Canal from Worsley to Castlefield in a 10-part series which felt like it took as long to make as it took the Irish navvies to dig the canal.
I filmed the demolition of All Souls Church (and the very last mass there), Seedley school, Langworthy Road school, Tootal Drive school, All Souls school, St Lawrence’s school, yes, I recorded more damage to the Salford education system than succesive Tory Goverments could muster.
I filmed the funeral of Busby Babe, Albert Scanlon’s funeral at All Souls Church on a cold, snowy afternoon which put me in mind of that awful plane crash in Munich in 1958 in which Albert escaped with his life.
Amazingly I was allowed to interview famous people face to face! Yes, I brushed shoulders with Sir Alex Ferguson, Ryan Giggs, Paddy Crerand, and Bobby Charlton to name but four Manchester United legends.
How could I forget that almost legendary interview with Graham Nash, when me and ‘Nashy’ as I know call him chatted for for what seemed hours about old Salford, music, the docks, football, life and the universe, on which I had to correct him on several occasions it has to be said.
Another in the field of music I met and interviwed was Richard Thompson who proved to be a hard chap to interview, his answer to one of my searing, probing questions was a curt: “You’re reading too much into it.” So exited Boy Flynn.
Tom Paxton was a massive Manchester United fan, believe it or not, Howard Marks was a delight to meet and share ‘memories’ with, Harold Riley was a pleasure to interview, and even signed a book about LS Lowry and drew a sketch of him in it for me, Geoffrey Key, my favourite Salford artist was amazing company and believe it or not we are still friends, he even gave me an original piece of his artwork for my birthday which hangs in pride of place in my humble abode.
Christopher Eccleston, kindly gave me a five minute interview when he opened the newly refurbished Eccles Carnegie Library and he was a really, nice and genuine guy, and a Manchester United fan to boot!
John Cooper Clarke, the Bard of Salford was a hoot to interview, a very funny man and passionate about Salford again a Manchester United fan, can you see a pattern forming here?
I am still so glad that I filmed and recorded the memories of Jimmy Rushby, the only chap I knew who stepped foot on Hiroshima, two weeks after the bomb was dropped on it, a lovely man with so many interesting stories to tell me about his life, and what a life he led.
It was an honour to be asked by his son, Peter, to read the eulogy at his funeral this year, he was a great man.
Perhaps the greatest achievement was being instrumental along with Stephen North in getting a red plaque sited in Bexley Square to commemorate the battle of Bexley Square in October 1931, an issue that I felt so strongly about and still do.
So many thanks for bearing with me for these past years and I hope that in some small way I have amused and educated you and not annoyed that many.
So many people to thank, Paul Kenny, Mike Duff, Karl H Davison, Albert Spiby, Danny Moran, Albert Thompson, Marcus Murphy, Dawne Sheldrick-Keating, Stevie McChops, Allan Hayward, Sean Kilgarriff, Roy Mozley, Billy Tunnicliffe, Jimmy Potts, Scott Todd, Ted Taylor, Duncan McCormick, Marie Hassall, Louise Woodward Styles, Anthony Murphy, Dan McLoughlin, Les Batty, Simon Williams, Brad Thornton, my agent, my fashion stylist, my hairdresser, my word is that the time? I really must be going, my ride’s here…