The hidden Salford music venue where U2, Paul McCartney and Joy Division played

The hall is one of a number of cultural locations in the borough being celebrated in short films.
 Paul McCartney performs Credit: Getty Paul McCartney performs Credit: Getty
Paul McCartney performs Credit: Getty

A Salford venue where some of the biggest names in music played has been put back centre stage in a new short film.

Maxwell Hall is today perhaps best known as an exam hall, a conference centre or simply the building that welcomes passers-by to the University of Salford’s campus at Salford Crescent.

However, previously it was a music venue with a stage graced by the likes of U2, Blondie, The Smiths, Joy Division and more.

That hidden history has now been put back into the limelight as part of a series of half a dozen short films celebrating Salford’s somewhat understated cultural legacy.

U2 singer Bono Credit: GettyU2 singer Bono Credit: Getty
U2 singer Bono Credit: Getty

What is the musical history of Maxwell Hall?

Maxwell Hall has a special place in the story of Salford’s music scene as it was a landmark gig venue that played host to some of the world’s biggest bands in the late 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s.

Though this history is largely forgotten today, some of the iconic groups from the Madchester scene such as New Order as well as the likes of Sir Paul McCartney’s Wings played there.

New Order and The Happy Mondays played a gig at Maxwell HallNew Order and The Happy Mondays played a gig at Maxwell Hall
New Order and The Happy Mondays played a gig at Maxwell Hall

Now, though, the hall’s story is being retold on film thanks to a collaboration between Marketing Manchester, Salford City Council and the University of Salford.

Former Joy Division and New Order bassist Peter Hook and Mike Joyce are among the artists who performed at Maxwell Hall in its musical heyday and have shared their memories on camera.

Why are Salford’s cultural venues and organisations having films made about them?

Maxwell Hall is one of half a dozen cultural venues and organisations across Salford which are becoming the subject of short films.

Other venues being highlighted include including Salford Lads Club, The Lowry, Walk the Plank and Islington Mill, as well as a film about some of the city’s key makers and changemakers.

Each film highlights the important role culture plays in the city and explores the venues and organisations as well as delving into the people and stories behind the rich and diverse cultural history of Salford.

Peter Hook appearing in the film about Maxwell HallPeter Hook appearing in the film about Maxwell Hall
Peter Hook appearing in the film about Maxwell Hall

Students from Studio Salford, part of the university, also played roles in creating the short films.

This is part of a wider storytelling project for the borough which has also involved a film about MediaCity and the Salford Green Spaces campaign.

What has been said about the films?

The University of Salford’s director of performance, music, English and dance, Tim France, said: “It’s great to see some of the stories of Maxwell Hall’s past being shared.

“We are very proud of the role this building and indeed the whole university has played and continues to play in shaping the cultural landscape of Salford.

“The city has always been a hub of creativity together with inventive and technological advancements.”

Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett, added: “Salford is known for its cultural heritage, for its many firsts, and I’m excited to see first-hand the city continuing to be pioneers in the cultural landscape.

“We recognise and celebrate what our cultural offering means to both international visitors and those who live and work in the city.

“It’s undeniable that artists and cultural organisations contribute to our wellbeing, and their work has brought us inspiration and joy, whilst also bringing communities together.

“The recent All Party Northern Culture report on The Case for Culture gave 10 clear recommendations on harnessing culture to level up the north.

“Salford Culture and Place Partnership is committed to supporting the next generation of creatives, and critically, building back opportunities by creating and developing new partnerships within Salford, right across the north, and the rest of the world.”