On the trail of pop and rock history

Halifax has a surprising and rich history of music. From the late 1950s through to the 1970s, the town’s many music venues hosted visits by some of the top pop music artists of the day.

Dusty Springfield, Rod Stewart, Iggy Pop, Pulp, Joy Division, The Jacksons and The Cure are just some of the major names who have played gigs in the town.

The town’s rich musical heritage is now celebrated in a trail which visits the venues which remain and the sites of those which have been lost.

Halifax Music Heritage Trail was the brainchild of music promoter Michael Ainsworth, and was inspired by the books of Trevor Simpson which chronicled the town’s thriving pop and rock scene.

The trail was started in 2011 as part of Halifax Festival and has been developed in the years since. Michael said: “I believe the cultural history of Halifax is important and will be kept alive via the music trail. More than anything we should remember that some of the biggest names in popular music appeared on stages in our northern industrial town.”

The trail takes in venues such as the Victoria Theatre, whose stage has hosted gigs by iconic artists such as Little Richard, Martha Reeves, Smokey Robinson, Morrissey, Paul Weller and Glen Campbell and the former Odeon Cinema, where Dusty Springfield gave her first solo performance and well-known artists such as Cliff Richard and The Shadows, Billy Fury, Dave Berry, Billy J Kramer and Helen Shapiro attracted crowds of fans.

The former Princess Ballroom hosted around 800 gigs in the 1960s, attracting The Kinks, Herman’s Hermits, Animals and Carl Wayne, while The Return Club, on the site of North Bridge Leisure Centre, hosted Pulp, Dodgy and The Mock Turtles.

Another popular venue was Alexandra Hall, scene of around 500 gigs between 1962 and 1970, and The Plebians Jazz Club where Rod Stewart, Joe Cocker, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, and Jimmy Cliff were among the headline acts.

Michael Ainsworth and Trevor Simpson will be leading a walk round Halifax Music Heritage Trail on Sunday, August 21 from 2pm to 5pm, starting from North Bridge Leisure Centre. A second walk will be held on Sunday, October 9.

Venues visited will include: 1, North Bridge Leisure Centre; 2, The Odeon; 3, Scene Three/The Kibbutz; 4, AEU Club; 5, Pot O’ Four; 6, Marlborough Hall/Halifax YMCA; 7, Clary’s Good Mood; 8, Plebians Jazz Club; 9, The Plummet Line; 10, Milan’s; 11, Arden Road Social Club; 12, The Victoria Theatre; 13, Alexandra Hall; 14, The Royal Oak (Dirty Dick’s); 15, The Shay; 16, Halifax Minster; 17, The Piece Hall; 19, Palin’s (McDonald’s); 20, Cookies.