Empress Ballroom 1963-64
John 'Julian' Winstanley - Wince: Vocals - Harmonica. Brian Westhead: Rhythm Guitar.
Ray Hill: Lead Guitar. Barry Hammond: Bass Guitar. John Noble: Drums.
"Wince was the first in Wigan with 'caveman' style hair. Well down and onto his broad shoulders it came.
His stocky frame might well have had the coat hanger still tucked in place inside his jacket. He cut a threatening figure as he lept two or three-at-a-time up the formidable staircase which took you onwards and upwards and into the Room At The Top.
The RATT was in fact two rooms and previously well-known a the Tom Moss School of Dancing.. that's if I recall correctly. Now it was blacked-out laberinth of narrow landings of many stairs and steps up to who-knows-heaven-above. The 'two' rooms were located one above the other and switching between the two - via an even narrower set of stairs - was earliest form of people promanading I had ever seen. Squeezing slowly past heavily scented female bodies became quite a pleasure all of its very own I can tell you!
Both rooms had band stages and the were lit only by ultra-violet tubes which were totally brand-new to me and very science-fiction, cutting-edge and incredibly facinating. The 'lights' were placed seemingly everywhere throughout each room and the action from it, on the eyes, was totally weird, but not uncomfortable and indeed it was great fun. The effects these days are now very well known to the experience clubber, but back then, they would show up any clothing which was white as a dazzling purple radiant glow. Much to the distress though, of innocent new-comers who happened to be wearing white underwear beneath thin cotton tops, but to the huge delight of the young men stood oggling there.
Seated behind a shaky fold-up table at pavement level to the right of the stairs was man-monster who's name I think was *Les Farrimond? He was the owner and former wrestler who you would hope never to cross. He would snarlingly take your entrance money and sharply dab a blob of red ink(?) on the back of your hand to indicate that you'd paid-up or it would act as a 'pass-out' for later.
Wince was Julian: The group was The Troles. They blasted their way through dozens of indeciferrable rhythm and blues songs, not one of which I had ever heard before and I thought this was really cool. The sweat, the smell, the light and the volume steadly combined to create powerful cocktails of small individual sensory explosions which, when collectively shared by two-hundred or so other rock 'n roll thrill-seekers - was just amazing. The band on the upper floor was also in full flag. Somewhere, half-way between these uppermost floors of Central Chambers facing Wigan Market Square and Bus station was a heaven and hell situation. On these stairs the combined volume of both bands playing full tilt was almost unbearable - but we just loved it - fab!"
Bill Hart: July 2010
"Rod, The Troles drummer played with ‘Frame of Mind' from late 1966 to about September 1967. He left to move to London, where we heard he had a horrific accident. He was known to indulge 'things'. He fell in front of a tube train and lost both his legs, don’t know any more? Pity.. Oggie might have been able to help.
Ken Eden: July 2010
*"The chap who ran Room At The Top was Ken Baldwin not Les Farrimond. He was a former wrestler who fought under the name of Tony Zale and lived in Southport. After the Room closed he opened another club in Southport."
Norman Eastham: October 2010
* "Just read the entry for Julian & The Troles, and your description of 'The Room', which brought back memories. I don't know if my memory is failing me badly but I don't quite remember the same set-up - maybe we are thinking of different time periods.
My memory is that we went up that first flight of stairs and to the left on the landing was a tiny booth where you got your hand stamped. Ken's not insignificant bulk often blocked the booth however, and I remember the essential ordeal of squeezing past him - I can still see his brown ribbed sweater at very close quarters. In the room to the left - a snack bar, table football, pool table (?), and the cloakroom. I don't remember a band stage or anyone playing in there.
I do remember working behind the cloakroom with my friend Betty for the first of the all-nighters - an endless procession of people asking could they have their parka or their airline (BOAC) bag back. Betty and I looked despairingly into a tiny space heaving with.. parkas and airline bags, all looking exactly the same! Not funny by about five am! As the club closed we all moved on to Wigan Bath's for the morning, and then Mesnes Park cafe for the afternoon. This became a familiar routine in later days, with the casino all-nighters - but the Room' and Bluesville in Scholes were way ahead of the game.
So many band memories, stimulated by your site The Trolls of course, The Wheels, Lincoln Bond with 'Little Jimmy' Birchall as lead singer - sadly to commit suicide before the 1960's were over. Too many to mention.
Marilyn Taylor: November 2010
Once of Julian & The Trolls - Wigan.
"Hi Bill.. I can still 'warble' a bit.. Keep on rocking with LANKYKATS.."
Now lead vocal with Skinny Lennard of Portsmouth in 2012..
John Julian Winstanley: January 2012
"ALL OVER AGAIN.."
ALL OVER AGAIN
Wigan Cricket Club hosted the eagerly anticipated return of Julian & The Troles for their annual charity bash. A packed club house, filled with many of their 60s fans, enjoyed a nostalgic re-run of performances made famous by the band when they played regularly at the RATT The Room At The Top Club - formerly situated just a few hundred yards away, opposite the old bus station and across the cobbled Wigan market square.
Lead vocalist John 'Wince' Winstanley now lives on the south coast in Hemsley and relishes the re-unions with his northern based band mates, by saying,"50 years on and who would have believed it? Here we are - knocking out the old rock and blues classics as if we are teenagers - all over again."
Long standing fan Jenny Tarbuck said, "It was a fantasic night full of amazing atmosphere and great music from the boys. I only went to bed at 5am. Roll on next year."
Bill Hart: October 2013
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