EXHIBITION: Strawberry Studios: I Am In Love

  • In the town it cemented onto the musical map, this collection of Strawberry Studios memorabilia takes Manchester music fans on a trip down memory lane.
  • Tom Green went to Stockport to visit.

Tucked away nicely in the depths of Stockport Museum is a hidden gem that the local folk are most definitely in love with.

The Strawberry Studios: I am in Love exhibition is packed with memorabilia and artwork associated with the town’s famous old recording studio, which housed some of the greatest bands the region has ever produced from 1967 until its closure in 1993.

Down four flights of stairs on a fairly quiet street, it’s not exactly the location you’d expect to find the extended fiftieth anniversary celebrations of one of the most important hubs of the Manchester music scene of yesteryear – but given its stay in the museum has been extended twice since last year, it works just fine.

Assembled by music historian and self-confessed 10cc fanatic Peter Wadsworth, his influence is there for all to see. Split into two main rooms, the first is Peter’s love letter to his favourite band – or at least that’s how it feels.

His fellow 10cc fans will be in their element at the sight of Eric Stewart’s red Gibson guitar and the large gold disc the band were presented with in 1975 to mark a quarter of a million sales of their greatest hits LP.

Catching my eye straight away though is the colourful mosaic displayed on the walkway between the first and second room.

Commissioned specially for the exhibition, its creator Mark Kennedy, whose work you may have seen on the side of Affleck’s Palace, has used a mass of coloured shards to depict a number of musical icons such as Ian Brown and Morrissey amid the strawberry backdrop.

I sort of want to take it home with me.

Delving further and the beards and long hair of 10cc make way for another stop on Stockport’s musical timeline. The surroundings are suddenly more familiar and as the opening chords of Love Will Tear Us Apart echo off the walls, it’s almost as if Ian Curtis is about to step out of the frames.

Joy Division fans may want to take a moment on the Unknown Pleasures stool while they absorb it.

There’s no doubt this is a celebration of Stockport and the north-west in general. You only have to read Peter Tattersall’s comments on the wall for a taste of the proud ‘f**k London’ attitude which underlies the displays.

We are Stockport, look what we can do.

What is nice about the exhibition, too, is its focus on everyday people. It is not merely a celebration of the bands that recorded at Strawberry – but also a toast to the studio staff, volunteers and student interns; without whom none of it would’ve been possible.

A handwritten staff rota from August 1986 is particularly amusing. Jokey odd-jobs such as ‘roll a spliff for Hannett’ and ‘lick stamps at 4:45pm’ give us an insight into the daily life and atmosphere there.

While the studio may sadly be no longer, its legacy is stronger than ever as it surpasses half a century, and Stockport is proud of its musical history.

Now open until September, it’s a trip down memory lane worth taking your Dad and his air-guitar on, for sure.