"I think I was the only guy that called him 'Bill' and got away with it..
Bless him. Did so much for Wigan bands.."
John 'Julian' -' Wince' Winstanley: The Trolls: April 2012
William Leyland - Founder of the L.E. Agency.
Based in Hindley near Wigan, William is fondly remembered by many people -notwithstanding
the many pop groups from the fledgeling sixties era, through the 1970's and almost up to the present day.
Always the consumate businessman and entrepreneur, he founded The Pink Elephant nee Colours Club in Aspull in the sixties and latterly in the 1980's owned the 'Cricketers' social club in Poolstock Wigan, which sadly burned down not long ago.
William died in 2007 but the legend he created in the entertainments business of himself - is a true exemplar of how fondly he is remembered and well thought-of he still remains. Here is a small tribute and worthy legacy to an extraordinarily nice man..
"I have heard the tale that William was so big when he was a schoolboy that his desk used to rest on his knees."
1996: William celebrates with Rainbow Cottage in Graham's house in Aspull
near Wigan their 20th anniversary of an appearance on BBC's Top Of The Pops:
They played Brian's song 'Seagull'. .
"I just wanted to recall one of my favourite stories about William and his dog Nelson, from a time when I was working at William's recording studio in Hindley, a very happy time for me. Occasionally we the office staff - would all have fish and chips for our dinner. One day me and Billy Birchall went to the chippy and brought back fish and chips for everybody. We left William's F&C in his office on his desk as he was on the loo, and went to eat ours with Owen, Doug and the gang in the main booking office. Suddenly we all heard William shout at the top of his voice 'NELSON'. A couple of us went to peep into his office only to see Nelson cowering with his tail between his legs having just devoured William's fish and chips. William looked up at us and shouted, 'NOBODY SPEAK TO THAT DOG'. There was never a dull moment at The L.E. Agency!"
Brian Gibbs: April 2012
Doug Larbey: William: Gill Gibbs: Tony Houghton: Brian Gibbs:
Owen Hughes: Graham Hill: Steve Morris:
Winston at The Cricketers; sometime in the 1980's..
Dave Flintoff: Jimmy Carter: Phil Cunliffe: Billy Birchall:
* "HE (WILLIAM) WAS A LEGEND IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY AND MAPPED SO MANY LIVES OUT. HE WAS OUR MANAGER (WINSTON) FOR QUITE A FEW YEARS AND MADE US INTO ONE OF THE BEST BANDS TO COME OUT OF WIGAN. ONE NIGHT WE WAS GIGGING AT UPPER MORRIS ST WMC, WIGAN AND WE HAD JUST BOUGHT A NEW P.A. FROM SAI; HE WAS IN THE CLUB WATCHING US AND THE FOLLOWING DAY HE PHONED SAI TO COMPLAIN THAT THE P.A. THEY SOLD US WAS 'FAR TO LOUD AND FAR TO CLEAR. WHAT A GUY."
*"Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames' and Alan Price of The Animals once did a gig at the top of Hall Lane, Hindley, Wigan in the late 60s. It was in held a marquee in a field on the Borsdane Wood side of Hall Lane; William Leyland of the L E Agency organised it. One of the guests was Jennifer Moss of Coronation Street fame. I had my photo taken with her sat on my knee. It rained very heavily during the evening and most of the night. Alan Price stole the show with his song 'The Amazing Dancing Bear'.
Mark Calder: *www.wiganworld.co.uk 2008
An L.E. Agency Contract: Shyms 14 Oct 1965.
Above: You might just make-out the following:
Dec 31st New Court Ballroom King St, Wigan Fee. £20.
Te one below it reads; Casino Club Station Road Wigan Fee £10.
An L.E. Agency Commission was 12 1/2 % payable within three days.
Signed by Irene Mason.
"William 'Don't call me Billy' Leyland ran the L.E. Agency. The address at number 6, Cross Street, Hindley, Wigan was his Record Cabin where he first started off in his business. I was a bit annoyed when he first put that wooden hut up because I used to play football on the gable ended house and could not play there after it was erected my Grandma used to live opposite at number 5. She eventually ended up being William's cleaner at his house on Wigan Road, Hindley. The Record Cabin then turned into a greetings card outlet and is now a double-glazing shop. How times change!"
*David Darbyshire: June 2010
Mr & Mrs Doug & Irene Larbey - 2011
"In the mid-sixties William Leyland employed Doug Larbey and Irene Mason at the 'shed' in Cross St, Hindley, Wigan. I would go and pay monthly instalments there for my beloved Ludwig Super Classic drum kit and also, our 15% commissions for the Shyms bookings.
Later on Owen Hughes of Owens Hobbits joined the team. William also had a small shop in a terraced block in Darlington Street opposite the old gas works. I remember a petite attactive looking girl working there whose name was Pat. She came from Worsley Hall."
Billyshym: June 2010
"Pat Bolton worked in William's tiny music shop in Darlington Street, Wigan opposite the gas works during the mid sixties. I also remember drum tuition workshops being held in here but I never went to any of them."
Bill Hart: March 2011
"The acoustic guitar was a Levin and the semi-acoustic was an Epiphone Riviera. I dont know how William Leyland could have sold them as new, as Graham Hill - Rainbow Cottage - and myself of Ipso Facto hammered them to death? Both were lovely guitars."
Mitch Michinson: April 2011
"William was a regular at the sauna in Mornington High school,I used to go there with Dave Pilling from Ashton, Alex Murphy and a load of old pit men used to have us in stitches with their funny storys of their past. One day there was about twelve men sat on benches three tiers high; William was sat on the bottom row. The legs of the structure had rotted and snapped throwing every one forward in a heap on top of each other. William was very badly bruised and had to go to hospital. On his way out he started cracking jokes and said he had had loads of naked men on top of him over the years but never ten at the same time."
"William was the reason we - Schooner turned pro' in 1979. Now I remember our first trip to Germany in a black Ford Transit with red windows. We bought it off a local band - oh yeh! - it was Winston - They had just bought their first ever coach."
"I worked at L.E. for four years - left to have my son 29 years ago- and absolutely loved working there for so many reasons. William was one of life's real characters, and though he was indeed grumpy at times, I always had a soft spot for him - and a lot of respect for him too - believe it or not! Some of the stories we could tell. I absolutely loved his dog Nelson - used to take her for walks at lunchtime - she even came home with me on the bus sometimes! And for all the crazy times, he did work hard for all his bands, as did Owen, Alan, Doug, Barry and Jon. I would give anything to have those four years back again. One of his favourite sayings when you were in the car with him 'Clear go.' I say it now!'"
I had a pint or two with him in the late 60s early 70s. He was a character wasn't he!
The Long - Gay Party!
William's 'Colours' Club: Formerly The Pink Elephant..
"William used to travel with us sometimes to gigs - Lee Shane & The Tropics. He had a shop in the Wigan Scholes area. I bought a left-handed Harmony guitar from him when I played with The Kaytones - wished I still had it; worth a fortune now! He was a right character in a nice way. mentioned it to Keith Wright of The Sportsmen; he too has a lot of fond memories of 'Bill' - only called him Bill behind his back though!"
"My old Pink Elephant membership card. We had some great times at the ‘Elephant and some not so good, one ending up with four of us in Hindley 'nick' for the night, after we were arrested for singing "Give Peace A Chance" on our way home."
Frank Clossick: April 2012
"I know they were from Manchester, but saw I 'Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders' at the Pinkie (Oink.. Pink Elephant Club) when they had the 'Bunny Girls' there. Mike Hurst & The Trekkers were regulars there too. Double Diamond Keg Bitter was the drink, and Bi** - sorry William Leyland - used to pick us up in his Ford Transit Van from Woolworths opposite Lewis's Cafe - Keith's Cafe - on Market Street, Hindley on Saturday nights - and take us up there."
"My wife and I used to frequent the Pink Elephant Club. Bill, oops sorry, William Leyland owned and operated that club. I think one of the bands that played there was the Harlem Johns Reshuffle?"
"Another one of William Leyland's L. E. Agency's bodged-up sheds.. The 'Elephant' was housed in the most ugly of all black-painted wooden shacks you'll ever not wish to see. I don't think I ever saw it in broad daylight - perhaps it was as well!
Aspull Village is on a hill with the east-side facing Winter Hill, Rivington Pike and the huge TV transmitter. No shelter from the elements here! How it managed stand upright for so long and not totally implode is still a minor miracle and will forever remain a legendary fabled mystery to all who knew and sailed in her. In short it was a bloody eyesore and I'm certain it was never missed by the locals when eventually it was demised.
William's L.E. Agency was heavily involved in the now cult film Gonks Go Beat. The Vaqueros,
The Trolls, The Long & The Short and Ray Lewis & The Trekkers featured along side Lulu & The Luvvers and The Nashville Teens. He can clearly be seen happily dancing and singing along to beat in one of the latter of the films scene's.
The Vaqueros and The Trolls
Pic courtesy of Anita Maijer -Schrot
William had a large mural painted on the back wall opposite the stage. He assured everyone who came into the club that the Pink Elephants - when seen in the special lighting he'd installed - that they actually appeared to 'move', but only if you watched closely enough! I did watch pretty closely and predictably they never ever moved a fraction of an inch. Of course it was the room which moved, especially when a gale-force wind was blowing outside.. and you might have had too many pints of William's expensive version of 'Double Diamond' Keg Bitter too."
Bill Hart: August 2010
"Gawd I'd fogotten about the Pink Elephant Club. I used to frequent there in the early 60's when I was just a 'wee girl'. Missed the last bus many a times and been in deep you-know- what with me dad!"
'Lets Have A Party..'
LE's Christmas bash at Hunters Lodge, Chorley: 1978.
William and sister..
Brian Gibbs - 'Jean' and Alan Cottam Irene Mason with mum Kitty..
William's mother.. Simon Millard Alan Cottam and Owen Hughes
Pics by Brian Gibbs
"I remember 'Billy' Leyland riding the Hindley streets on a bike with the inner-tubes stuffed with grass. He hated being called Billy."
William in office at LE's Nelson House, Hindley, 1974.
"I used to work for William at his club. We all used to cry
laughing at his stories; but boy - could he be grumpy."
#Pics by Brian Gibbs
Bill Hart: April 2012
If YOU have any William stories to tell.. the please send them to email@example.com