It was a scene that lit fires in the souls of hundreds of Huddersfield residents.

And now Northern Soul, a film about the genre, could rekindle the flames in music lovers’ hearts when it hits the silver screen at Holmfirth Picturedrome on October 26.

The major exploration of the era features performances from Steve Coogan, John Thomson, Ricky Tomlinson and Lisa Stansfield, who twist and high-kick their way around the all-nighter scene in the Lancashire Pennines whilst listening to American soul and R&B.

But it was also to Huddersfield that people travelled from around the North to hear the golden oldies and new hits of American soul music.

The Albion, Lord Jims, The Crescent and Royal Swan were just a handful of Huddersfield pubs and clubs that became renowned for their nights following the explosion of the scene in the late 1960s and 1970s.

And one Huddersfield man, Howard Earnshaw, was right at the centre of the action, after he became hooked on the music in his mid teens.

Howard, now 62, said: “I was about 15 when I first got into northern soul.

“I was a mod and liking northern soul was part of the criteria.

“I first heard some in 1967 at the Starlight club which was above Burtons in the Market Place and within two years dozens of other venues were playing the music at dedicated nights.

“Huddersfield never had an out and out northern soul venue but there were regular mobile disco nights in pubs which would get quite busy.”

Click on the video below to watch the trailer for the Northern Soul movie - note, there is some strong language in the trailer.

 

After acquiring an enviable record collection of his own Howard decided to turn the tables himself and got his first spot at The Albion in New Street, before moving to the Coach House in King Street.

He said: “It was just great fun and it was a great community to be part of.

“Most nights took place mid week and lasted for around six months then they’d either move somewhere else or a new one would spring up.

“Lord Jim’s was a popular choice for people on their way to the Twisted Wheel in Manchester, which ran on the same night.

“For a town of its size Huddersfield had a good northern soul following and there were times when hundreds of people would show up from the local area and further afield.

“I also got the chance to DJ in other cities, such as Leeds and towns such as Llandudno and Halifax.”

He even remembers how friendly and non-violent the atmosphere was, despite the scene’s coming of age at a time of football violence, terrorism and industrial strife.

Wigan Casino dancers in 1975
Wigan Casino dancers in 1975
 

Howard also set up a long running northern soul magazine called Soul up North, which he still edits.

Northern soul originated in Northern England, the Midlands, Scotland and Wales after being sparked by DJs’ discovery of the American soul music in record stores.

Far from dead, the scene still benefits from well-attended pop-up nights around the area, including the Pie Hall in Denby Dale, Northern Taps and an up-coming event at Marsden Mechanics Hall in November.

Howard said: “I’m pleased that nights are still going and that younger people have got into it starting up their own nights-the more the merrier, I say.”