Salford Lads' Club – Salford, England - Atlas Obscura
Join us on an Atlas Obscura Trip in 2019 »

Salford, England

Salford Lads' Club

This historic club for wayward boys has shaped some of the biggest names in music almost as much as they have shaped it. 

Established in 1904 by the man who would go on to found the Boy Scouts, Robert Baden-Powell, the iconic Salford Lads’ Club has been keeping mischievous youth out of trouble for over a century, unsurprisingly influencing some of the biggest names in 20th century rock music along the way.

Purpose built by famed architect Henry Lord, the lad’s club initially worked to provide an alternative to the roving gangs of teenage toughs that had been plaguing English cities. The club offered activities such as boxing, billiards, a handful of outdoor sports, and even checkers (which at the time had a reputation as a barroom game). Along with a system of similar institutions, a large percentage of wayward youths were given a second chance on the straight and narrow.

The club continued  in to the later 20th century eventually serving as an early practice space for famed musician Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, and possibly most famously serving as the backdrop to the album art from The Smiths album, The Queen Is Dead. The club’s history rubbed off on the young Smiths almost as much as their fame did on the club, helping to define the bands image as troubled youth. The club was also home to future Joy Division and New Order bassist Peter Hook.

Given the building’s quintessentially English look and its storied musical history, it has gained a well known reputation as one of the most iconic buildings in the country and has also been featured in a number of television shows and, of course, music videos. Today, the club accepts both boys and girls and many of the musicians shaped by the Salford Lads’ Club still contribute time and appearances for fundraisers and such. Its not unlikely that the rock stars of tomorrow are there already.