Wigan (Lancashire)

Let`s talk Wigan- Limahl`s Home Town :

” I was born and brought up in Wigan, which is basically a very working-class, industrial Lancashire town.

My father was a miner for over twenty years and, when I was little, my family was very poor. We lived in a very ordinary council-owned house in a very ordinary street. There was me, my mum and dad, my grandmother, my two elder brothers and my younger sister.

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I went to St. John’s junior school, which was just down the road from our house. I hated school because I wasn’t very clever and I’d find it frustrating trying to learn things. I just wasn’t interested. I knew that I wanted to be a singer, so I wasn’t interested in anything apart from music. I told some of my close friends about my ambitions, but they just laughed. When you’re at school in Wigan, the bright lights of London and stardom seem impossibly far away.

Wigan, like other small towns, can feel very claustrophobic. That’s especially true if you never go to other places, if you work in Wigan and socialise there as well. The only singing I ever did during my schooldays was with the church choir – and even then, I was never given any solo parts! ”

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At the age of 14, Limahl won a talent contest at Wigan Casino

 

” The only good thing I can remember about Wigan at that time was the Northern Soul music scene which started at the famous Wigan Casino, where they played soul records that you’d never hear in the national charts. I felt that I really belonged to something through being a part of that.”

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“We’d all dress up in really baggy trousers with big square pockets in the sides. They were a joke, really. You could have made three pairs out of them. We all wore similar styles of shirt too, with pleats in the back. People used to go around boasting, “I’ve got a pleat in the back of my shirt!” Brogue shoes were a must because they were the best for dancing in. And black, woolly hats were very big in Wigan.”

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Baggy trousers , shirts, holdalls & more

“Finally, when I was sixteen, I left home and I left Wigan. I decided to have a go at getting into show business and was lucky enough to get work in a few shows. I travelled all over the place – London , Swansea, Spain , everywhere. I quietly lost my northern accent. I hated the Wigan accent and deliberately got rid of it. A regional accent can be a big disadvantage to an actor.”

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Wigan Casino inside & outside

“You need to have a ‘clean’ accent but be able to do regional accents as well. When I go back hone now I do sometimes find myself slipping back into the local accent – especially if I get angry. It took me ages to get out of the habit of saying words like ‘glass’ with a short ‘a’ instead of a long one. I also had problems learning to say words like ‘book’ and ‘look’ without saying ‘boook’ and ‘loook’, which is what they say in Wigan .”

“Although I didn’t like Wigan when I lived there, I quite enjoy going back these days. It’s good fun to get back to your roots for a while. But I could never live there permanently.”

“The reactions I get from people when I go back can be quite funny. The neighbours who had never had much to do with mum and dad, suddenly started speaking to them after I became well known. One of the neighbours said to me recently, ‘Ee, you’re doin’ a’right, lad. I bet you’re earning a bob or two, like…” I’m not sure if he was being nosy or just friendly. People are like that in Wigan.”

( out of an interview from the 80s )