Across the water from Manchester (people from Salford won’t be happy if you confuse the two), the Salford Lad’s Club doesn’t look like anything special – in fact, it’s been a “recreational club” for young people since its founding in 1903.
But believe it or not, it’s one of the most iconic ‘alternative’ buildings in Britain. In fact, in 2007 it came third in a competition to find the country’s icons – in front of afternoon tea, real ale and the full English breakfast.
Why? Because it was featured on the album cover for The Smiths’ The Queen Is Dead album, and became not only the most famous picture of the band, but also the symbol for disenchanted youth. And now, when the disenchanted youths grow up, they make pilgrimages to the Lads’ Club to see where the picture was shot by Stephen Wright.
The Smiths aren’t the only famous link to the building. The Hollies used to practice there in the sixties, actor Albert Finney and various Manchester City and United footballers were all members, and it sits at one end of Coronation Street – which lent its name to one of Britain’s longest-running and most popular soap operas.
The Club was opened in 1904 by Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scouts, and although there are fewer than 100 members today, in the past it counted up to 2000 boys in the Club.
The interiors are pretty much the same from the date it was founded – containing a gym, snooker rooms and even a boxing room – and the building was registered as having listed status in 2003. The club is currently appealing for funds in order to stay open – so if Morrissey was the soundtrack to your teenage years, you may want to cough up.
As for the famous picture – despite the name of the album, the photo’s hanging in the National Portrait Gallery in London.