Photographs of Wigan Casino, 1976 | Red Saunders.

British Culture Archive

Aside from being a founder of the Rock Against Racism movement, Red Saunders is also an established photographer who has worked for many publications during his career. Unfortunately Red lost a big chunk of his archive during a fire in his studio in London in the mid-90s and for the last few years he has been working through and preserving his remaining archive. Here at BCA we’ve been featuring many of these images, including his shots for the Rock Against Racism Fanzine Temporary Hoarding.

Northern Soul

During the 1970s Red was documenting the Northern Soul Scene for The Sunday Times magazine and took his camera up to the legendary Wigan Casino. The images captured by Red captured the casino in all its glory. 

Amphetamine

Red “It was a priceless assignment – a story about Northern soul and specifically the Wigan Casino. It was written by one of my favourite writers on the magazine at that time Gordon Burn. ‘Keep the Faith’ was the manifesto here, R&B lovers and multi racial dancing all weekend.”

Wigan Casino, 1970s. Photo © Red Saunders.
Wigan Casino, 1976. Photo © Red Saunders.

I’d been a mod in the early 60’s – pilled up at allnighters at The Flamingo Club, Scene Club and Whiskey a go-go in Soho. When we walked into this loud garish scene I was quite at home, this girl is so of the night and time, look at the eyes … yes that’s amphetamine, orange in a coke bottle, look at the clothes’, her hair, the school chair and the tacky flock wallpaper. This image is a copy, most of these Wigan casino images were lost in the arson attack on my studio in the 90’s, but whilst not being an original I am so pleased I still have these copies.

Wigan Casino, 1970s. Photo © Red Saunders.
Wigan Casino, 1976. Photo © Red Saunders.

I love this shot. It has developed a real painterly quality since being copied, Dutch 17th century. Again the amphetamine eyes.

The small hours. Wigan Casino, 1976. Photo © Red Saunders.
The small hours. Wigan Casino, 1976. Photo © Red Saunders.

Early morning, the sun is rising outside and the amphetamine has taken its toll. There is no alcohol, only empty soft drink bottles and cans that the pills get mixed in.

Half way through the night I had lost my voice – I had been screaming at people all night to be heard above the music. It was quite disorientating, pitch dark and lit only by ultra violet disco lights, loud loud music and every now and again my flash popping off freezing everyone in the darkness. Outside young guys were still dancing bare chested in the falling snow. We arrived at Wigan railway station about 5am, post amphetamine, totally dehydrated and collapsed.

I still have my Keep the Faith badge.

Gallery

Wigan Casino, 1970s. Photo © Red Saunders.
Wigan Casino, 1976. Photo © Red Saunders.
Wigan Casino, 1970s. Photo © Red Saunders.
Wigan Casino, 1976. Photo © Red Saunders.
Wigan Casino, 1970s. Photo © Red Saunders.
Wigan Casino, 1976. Photo © Red Saunders.
Wigan Casino, 1970s. Photo © Red Saunders.
Wigan Casino, 1976. Photo © Red Saunders.
Wigan Casino, 1970s. Photo © Red Saunders.
Wigan Casino, 1976. Photo © Red Saunders.
Wigan Casino, 1970s. Photo © Red Saunders.
Kick out time. Wigan Casino, 1976. Photo © Red Saunders.
Wigan Casino, 1976. Photo © Red Saunders.
'A Hard Week's Night'. The Original article featuring Red's Images. Photo © Red Saunders.

Words and images © Red Saunders, all rights reserved.

You can keep up to date with Red’s work on his Instagram Page and also his website here where a selection of his prints are available to buy.

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British Culture Archive is non profit resource set up to document culture and social change in the UK. In 2022 we plan to open a permanent gallery and exhibition space where we can showcase our People’s Archive alongside exhibitions from our featured photographers. If you appreciate the work we do you please consider supporting our Crowdfunder campaign which will help towards our gallery space as well as our free online resource and exhibition programmes that we are holding throughout the UK. You can support us here.

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