Spiritual home for fans of the Smiths faces demolition

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The Independent Culture

A Manchester boys' club that has become the spiritual home for fans of the Smiths is threatened with demolition after it was refused National Lottery money for repairs.

A picture of Morrissey and the band standing in front of the Salford Lads Club was featured on the inner sleeve of the Smiths' album The Queen is Dead, and the club has become a pilgrimage site for fans. One Smiths tribute band in America calls itself The Salford Lads in honour of theclub, which stands on Coronation Street.

The club was opened in 1904 by Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell and had about 2,000 members in its heyday. Members have included the actor Albert Finney and the former Manchester United and England star Eddie Colman. The building on the Ordsall estate still functions as a youth club but urgently needs about £400,000 for repairs and asked for Lottery money to help.

Brian Ball, the club's secretary, said the application had been rejected because it would be cheaper to demolish the building than to repair it.

"The idea was to go for everything that we need in one go – central heating, toilets and roof repairs. The Lottery people have said they have looked at our ideas and decided it would be cheaper to pull it down and build a new one.

"Now we propose to put in a more detailed plan emphasising the value of the building," he said.

John Warmisham, Salford City Council's youth services spokesman, said he was amazed that Lottery officials could consider knocking down the club.

"The building is an important part of Salford's history. We get tourists from all over coming to see it," he said. Mr Warmisham added that the council would help the club to seek funding.

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