Published: Wednesday, 27th Jul 2022

Bolton Museum’s big exhibition this summer explores 100 years of being young in Bolton.

Pupils pikes lane school 1975Packed with classic toys, games, photographs and local people’s memories, it will take you on a trip back into childhood.

A special section of the exhibition focuses on youth culture, celebrating the joy and creativity of young adulthood, especially through music.

Created in collaboration with the Museum of Youth Culture, the teen section will examine the nightclubs, venues, bands and singers that have mattered most to young people in Bolton.

One of the contributors to the exhibition is Dorothy Snelson (née Makin) who was born in Westhoughton in 1944. She recalls how her social life opened up in the early 1960s when she got a job in the town centre.

Dorothy said: “Social life in Westhoughton had been limited to two cinemas and any church activities.

“Suddenly to have dance halls like the Palais and Navada, clubs like the Beachcomber and something as avant-garde as a coffee bar, the Casa Blanca, was a revelation.

“I lost no time in sampling the delights!”

Dorothy also appears in a new film which has been specially commissioned for the exhibition.

Another contributor to the film, Gary Hough, recounts his involvement in the early punk scene in Bolton, including seeing Buzzcocks at the Bolton Institute of Technology in 1976.

Gary later became a New Romantic, hanging out with fashion designer Jane Kahn who helped to engineer the look of Duran Duran and other music performers in the early 1980s.

One of Kahn’s flamboyant New Romantic jackets is on show in the exhibition.

The teenage diaries of Ann Melmoth (née McNamara) also feature in the exhibition along with the outfit she used to wear to the Navada on Spa Road.

The main draw was the roller-skating rink, but Ann also remembers seeing teen Glam rock heroes like Mud perform there in early 1970s.

Other highlights of the exhibition include children’s clothes and toys from the early 1900s to the present, comics, annuals, LPs and tapes, and early arcade games.

Bolton Council’s Deputy Leader, Cllr Hilary Fairclough, said:

“The memories of people like Dorothy Snelson and Gary Hough are incredibly evocative and give a real sense of what it was like to grow up in the 1960s or 1970s.

“We are very grateful to the individuals and groups who have contributed stories, photographs and objects to the exhibition.”

Starting Out: An exhibition about Growing Up in Bolton is open now and runs until Sunday, September 25, 2022.