Salford Lads Club
It’s known worldwide for its starring role in the artwork for The Smiths’ album The Queen is Dead, but Salford Lads Club is, in their words, more than just a famous door.
Step inside and you’re in the last remaining lads club of its time that is still housed in its original building. The past sings from the walls in the form of photographs, memorabilia and artwork, while the present makes itself heard loud and clear from the gyms and halls; on weekday evenings, the lads and girls of Ordsall gather here to play sports, make friends and have fun, like they have been doing for 120 years.
About 240 local kids come here every week, and the club also offers yoga and boxing classes for adults (more on the boxing below).
The majority of the thousands of visitors each year come for the heritage though. It’s the third most visited historical music attraction in the UK, after Abbey Road and The Cavern Club. Open days are on Saturdays and Wednesdays, 11am-2pm, so visit then if you want more than the classic photo of yourself at the door.
Inside you can explore The Smiths Room – an ever-expanding, floor-to-ceiling art exhibit made from fan pictures and post-it notes. And you can help the club keep the lights on by buying Smiths memorabilia such as T-shirts and postcards.
Next door to The Smiths Room is the Archive Room which has the name of every club member from 1903 to 2015 laser etched in metal plates on the wall, along with the handwritten membership cards.
The club’s original features have made it a popular location for period dramas. Most recently, it’s been featured in Peaky Blinders and the Russell T Davies’ series Nolly.
Also, they don’t shout about it, but you can hire the club as a wedding venue.
Boxing at Salford Lads Club
Boxing has been taught at Salford Lads Club since it opened back in 1903. The founders, the Groves brothers, wanted to get the local lads off the streets and out of the gangs, and boxing was one way to do that.
Head upstairs and you’ll find a boxing gym complete with bags and a 3/4-size ring. The adjoining concert hall acts as an extra space for warm-ups and drills.
Nowadays the classes attract a mix of Salford residents, students, and newcomers to the area. You don’t to book in advance, just drop in.
Adult classes are £3 and are held every Tuesday and Friday from 6pm-7.30pm. Junior boxing (boys and girls) is on Wednesdays, 7pm-8.30pm. Kickboxing classes are held on Monday and Thursday evenings
Coaches Leon Warmington and his son Joe lead the boxing classes; they took on the role when the club’s longtime coach Dave Connell took a step back after an impressive 40-plus years in the voluntary role.
Before Covid, they were getting about 40-50 people in the classes and they’re keen to build the numbers back up. So if you live in Manchester or Salford and want to box, you’ll be very welcome, whatever your level of ability.
They’ll work with you to develop your fitness, footwork and technique. You can spar in the ring once they’re confident that you know what you’re doing (guard up!)
With walls covered in boxing memorabilia and former member Jamie Moore’s belt displayed in the entrance hall, it’s got a real sense of history to it. Don’t expect to have much time to soak it all in though – the varied, 90-minute classes fly-by with Joe and Leon leading you through a fast-paced sequence of drills and rounds on the bags.