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40 Years of Spice - The Beginnings

Nov 02, 2021

It’s a lovely coincidence that the Spice 40th Anniversary Ball took place at The Midland Hotel in Manchester, as there are many connections from that junction where it sits, to the very beginnings of Spice.  Dave (Smith) our founder, explained that the particular cross roads of Peter Street with Mount Street had huge connections to Spices early days.  Dave started Spice in 1981, and had worked as Manager of Manchester YMCA, a marvellous building which was situated on one corner of the junction (since converted to offices). Opposite corner was the Nat West Bank, which was where the Spice Bank Account lived for 25 yrs.  On the third corner was Central Library, a magnificent circular building which has a spectacular domed main reading room, which was in retrospect not the best idea for a library - even the quietest  sound echoes around the dome, and it is said you can hear the whispered conversations of people at the opposite side of the library as the sound bounced up to the dome, across and down. Well worth an explore if you have time.  Dave spent many hours here, supporting the council funded Library Theatre which was in its basement, and ‘head hunted’ Lindsay Turner who was  the theatres press officer, to be his very able 2nd in command in the early days, Lindsay worked for Spice Manchester and Spice UK for 25 years before retiring in 2016.  All events used to start from meeting under the magnificent two story portico on Peter Square, as there was in those days plenty of parking, and it would be sheltered if raining. For the first few years everyone used to meet there and then jump in each others cars to go off for the day on various adventures.  It wasn’t unknown as the number of events grew, for someone to have jumped in the wrong car and find themselves heading off to do a Hot Air Balloon Flight in Yorkshire instead of an easy walk in Wales!

The Midland Hotel on the remaining corner was the venue for the very first ’Spice Hits Town’ as it was known, or Club Night, in ‘The Butty Boat Bar’.  Dave remembers the momentous night that the circle of members, which had been growing with each passing month as more members joined, split into two like a big amoeba. It was out home for the first 5 years until the numbers attending became too big for the public bar, and we needed our own space. Spice didn’t move far though, just across the street to The Cafe Royal, opposite the YMCA, now a Subway.

Regretfully I can’t envisage a time where there will be a plaque on the entrance to the Hotel commemorating Spice UK started here in 1981, just like the one celebrating how Mr Rolls met Mr Royce within its prestigious walls - but you never know, here's to another 40 years!
Dave is pictured with current Spice UK lead - Rob.


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