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Strawberry Studios Exhibition 

The Strawberry recording studio was set up in early 1968 by Peter Tattersall in Stockport, in small premises above a record shop. Peter then invited Eric Stewart, who later became a member of 10cc to work alongside him. They moved to the famous Waterloo Road property and the studio was given its name after their favourite Beatles song ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ Big names including The Stone Roses, Paul McCartney, Joy Division and The Buzzcocks all recorded there before it shut in 1993.

The exhibition which opened on January 27th is a tribute to the Stockport studio which shaped and helped mold British music into what it is today.

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I caught up with Peter Wadsworth, Peter is the official historian who gave me a tour and gave me masses of verifiable facts, history and gave me a quick Q&A.

The exhibition begins dedicated to the early days and initial setting up of the studios going back to even before 10cc, with an entirety of write ups and photos on how it was formed and developed in the first years along with the original recording equipment which surround the room.

Taking centre stage is the red Gibson 335 played by Graham Gouldman in the ‘Not in Love’ record. In the connective corridor is a mosaic picture made especially for the expedition by Mark Kennedy who’s work graces the legendary Affex Palace in Manchester city centre. 

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On entering the following room I took a breath as I found myself in music heaven, I’m surrounded by The Stone Roses, Garage Flower, which was recorded in 1985 as a debut but was never released until 1996. Memorabilia, photos, write ups, music players and pieces all playing tribute to Factory Records including an original piece of the hacienda dance floor and a quote from Tony Wilson are scattered around the room. The Happy Mondays- Bummed, New Order – Movement, The Buzzcocks, The Charlatans – The Only One I Know, The Smiths – This Charming Man & their debut single ‘One hand in Glove’ adorn the display cases with a quote from Morrissey “One day in Stockport to enliven history” He was right.

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I considered the photos of Joy Division which were taken outside of the studios on the day of July 28th 1979 (the date Transmission was recorded) exceptionally special.

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On the other side of the room in a glass cabinet stood the real gem, the actually Strawberry Studios booking diary, just wow, the diary ran from July 1980 & 1981, I immediately ask  ‘Can you show me where Joy Division were booked in during this period please?’ He scans the pages and there it was, July 14th factory records, Joy Division. I was quiet for a few seconds in complete awe, pretty overwhelming stuff as a Manchester girl to see the evidence of a a pre-booking of what was later to mold Manchester music and put it on the map as the music capital of the world. In the diary 2 weeks entries are missing, deliberately ripped out from March 5th to the 18th there’s nothing all entries are removed. Peter had previously asked the manager of the studios  ‘Where are the entries for theses dates and why they were they removed? He answered I can’t remember’ What happened during this period remain unknown, exception to few, I however speculate, ‘He does remember ‘

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Why had those early Factory releases had that magical Hannett sound? The young genius had been able to plug in his digital thingy into the outboard racks of a major world-class thirty-six track studio that was in Stockport – Stockport ladies and gentleman, Stockport, because 10cc were a Manchester band and they had taken the proceeds of the delicious I’m Not In Love and had reinvested in their home. Reinvested. Built a fuck-off studio. Respect.”

Tony Wilson

I asked Peter…

The exhibition is a massive tribute to the studios, how was it inspired?

Peter- I did a PhD on the studios over 7 years I’ve always been collecting Strawberry memorabilia and researching it’s history so I saw the exhibition to be a combination of it research.

So it’s mainly come from yourself?

Peter- I prompted it got all the stuff together and the museum created it putting into cabinets so a joint venture between me and the museum.

How do you think strawberry shaped British music outside of London? 

Peter- Massively!! In the early 70’s there wasn’t a Manchester music scene as such. A common misconception is there was a massive Manchester music scene till the mid 60’s then it started again when punk came along, so one thing I do want to say is Strawberry ‘WAS’ the Manchester music scene in between those 2 periods and what 10cc and other bands like Sad Cafe and Barclay James Harvest were doing keeping the scene going and gave a really sophisticated recording studio for the later generation. So when factory came along they actually had a studio to hand.

What do you consider the studios finest moments?

Peter- Two I’d say. Firstly ‘I’m not in love’ cause it’s probably the most famous single to come out of the studios, a world wide number 1, but I think it’s lost these days as you can recreate sounds digitally. The other is Unknown Pleasures which is regularly voted in the top 10 albums.

Why did it all end? 

Peter – Recording studios changed, so with digital sound coming in in the mid 80’s recording studios had to return equipment with digital desks, Strawberry changed hands and things changed so much. It needed so much investment that the record owned ones put some of the smaller ones out of business and that was the case with Strawberry. 

After chatting with Peter I then walked up to the original studios on Waterloo Road which on May 3rd 2007 was mounted with a plaque stating that No 3 Waterloo Rd was one of notable historical interest.

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Stockport’s new squeeze ‘The Blossoms’ have been quoted….

‘If they make it big they’d love to re-open strawberry “

With the way things are going that could very well happen…..

The exhibition runs at Stockport museum from January 27th for a year.

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Contributor Lisa Lyla Rose

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