Salford Lads’ Club was established in 1903 to provide positive alternatives to teenage street gangs in the poorest areas of the city before organisations such as the Scouts came into existence, and is now a registered charity.
It became internationally famous in 1987 when alternative rock band The Smiths posed in front of the Grade II listed building for the inside of an album cover, and it became a destination for the band’s devoted fans to visit. In 2003, the charity subsequently converted one of the rooms used for weightlifting into a place that Smiths fans could spend time and leave messages and leave photos of themselves for other visiting fans to see.
The club has since become a mecca for Smiths fans around the world and has become a major tourist attraction with people wanting to see the club’s huge collection of fan messages and photos. It has used this popularity to raise funds for the club by selling branded merchandise. However, the ‘Smiths Room’ ran out of wall and ceiling space, leaving many fans disappointed that their photos and messages couldn’t be added to Salford Lads Club’s collection.
Subsequently, the club wanted to add a digital display to allow more messages and photos to be shown in the room, thus ensuring that it remained a popular destination.
We worked with the club’s trustees to fully understand their ambitions, and the sensitivities relating to what they wanted to achieve, and the budget and space they had available.
It was clear that they wanted to change the room as little as possible so that the collection of fan’s historical messages would remain intact, and that the look and feel of the building would be preserved. However, they also wanted to keep collecting fan messages and photos, and to show off the club’s activities to garner support and encourage charitable donations from fans.
We recommended three small Vestel displays. One 32” portrait screen for fan photos taken outside the building’s entrance, which had a 9:16 aspect ratio and would show off photos taken on mobile phones well. This would be used as the centrepiece of the display. The other two 32” screens would sit either side in landscape, one to show fan messages, the other showing photos of the club and its activities, past and present, helping fans to learn more about its important youth work, and ongoing challenge to preserve the historically significant building.
Given the club’s charitable status, we provided some services free of charge to help them modernise their collection.
Although the Club had added additional panels for fan messages and photos in the Smiths Room, it hadn’t been able to add any additional messages or photos to the collection since 2018.
It can now display five years’ worth of fan messages and photos which have never previously been seen. The club can also continue creating a digital archive of the often touching and funny fan messages, and photos.
Fan comments regarding the new displays have included “Amazing!”, “It’s a beautiful idea!”, “We need to send in our pictures!”, “Fabulous!”, “Love this!”
"We’ve found the Saturn team really helpful and knowledgeable.”Leslie Holmes, Project Manager
Leslie Holmes, Project Manager, Salford Lads Club
“Salford Lads Club is a place like no other. First and foremost, it’s a place to help young people. Secondly, it’s a historically significant building and is the best example in existence of a pre-WWI recreational club. And last, but not least, it’s a mecca for fans of The Smiths music.
“We asked Saturn to help us sensitively modernise the Smiths Room, making it a fun and interesting place to visit, but without losing what makes it so very special. Saturn gave us some great suggestions that were within our budget and we’re really pleased with the end result.
“We’re a very busy club so it’s important that the software system we use to control the screens isn’t complicated. We’ve found SaturnVision surprisingly simple to use. The Saturn team gave us some training on and within an hour or so, we were confident in how to use it.”
“We haven’t needed the Saturn helpdesk very often, but it’s great to have someone to call if we have a technical issue or a question on how to use the software.”
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