For many, the idea of a boys’ club near Manchester quays will evoke the name of one venue and only one venue.
Salford Lads Club is the iconic Ordsall reunion for young people from across the city, a place immortalized by United player Eddie Colman, Hollie frontman Graham Nash and The Smiths rock band.
But few will know that it was actually the new kid on the block when it came to youth clubs in Salford and was pursued by a group whose home is now abandoned.
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The Adelphi Lads Club was formed in 1888 by 23-year-old teacher Walter Southern, as a means of keeping poor children off the streets and out of trouble.
Pictures inside the club (which has been abandoned since its closure in 2008) show the devastation caused by a fire that tore through the building in 2010 and destroyed many of its priceless photos and artifacts.
What remains is a collection of muddy and dirty rooms, blackened by fire and strangled with graffiti (some of which are too violent for us to publish on this site).
Some rooms betray the youth club Adelphi used to be, with cartoons painted on the wall along with Adelphi’s motto “What’s brave, what’s noble, let’s do it.”
A dilapidated pool table covered with ash and dust has survived the fire, with the ironic message “do not smoke over the table” still present.
Throughout the burnt-out corridors are small gems that have survived the flame; a boxing glove, a burnt out old suitcase, an old TV – each a reminder of Adelphi.
A pile of abandoned Reeboxes on a smashed TV serves as a reminder of how many happy memories were created inside the youth club before its death.
Perhaps the most striking image of the old club is the inside of the old gymnasium, which bore the bulk of the fire damage.
Black rafters and eaves can be seen on the roof of the gym, the floor covered with ash, dirt and timber.
Adelphi was first established as a replacement for the defunct Adelphi Ragged School, an institution that kept poor and needy boys off the streets and out of trouble.
Originally based on a former mill in Pine Street, Adelphi was involved in several sports, including football, squash, basketball, boxing and snooker.
By 1889, 156 boys had joined, and its efforts attracted the attention and protection of local businessmen and philanthropists throughout the city.
Men like Benjamin Armitage and Harold Lee both supported the club, leading to the construction of a designated premises for the club on Hall Street.
The red brick building was completed in 1890, 13 years before the Salford Lads Club was established in Ordsall.
In 1914, with the outbreak of World War I, the building was commanded by the Broughton Copper Company to increase wartime capacity.
When the war ended in 1918, the Hall Street building was no longer usable and a new building was built on Cannon (this is the building that still stands abandoned to this day).
The club’s new home officially opened on December 18, 1921 and would continue its great tradition of creating sports heroes in the city.
In 1935, one of its members, Stan Clare Pearson, made his debut for Manchester United and went on to represent England’s national team.
In the 1950s, The Adelphi was one of the oldest surviving traditional boys’ clubs in Britain.
In recent years, the clubs’ influence on society had weakened, and membership fell before its doors closed forever in 2008.
The building has been closed down ever since.
Plans were submitted to Salford City Council in 2019 calling for the demolition of the building to erect a block of flats instead.
These photos were kindly given to us by an urban researcher who wishes to remain anonymous.
You can visit their Facebook page Lost Pages and Forgotten Place here.
BUT does not support or encourage urban exploration.
Have you ever participated in the Adelphi Lads Club? What was it like? We would love to hear your memories.