Back in the late 1960s apart from London, there were no other professional recording facilities at the time. Strawberry Studios began its incarnation in 1967 in Stockport, Manchester when local man Peter Tattersall (who had previously worked as a road manager for the likes of Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas) bought a tiny, twenty-foot-square studio above the Nield and Hardy record store in Stockport for approximately five hundred pounds. Over the coming months he then went about raising further money for it.
Local bands such as The Mindbenders began using the studios to make demo tapes and it was here that Eric Stewart, of said band got involved and despite being told it was a potential waste of time and money Stewart accepted an offer from Tattersall to become a partner and history was born. Stewart's favourite song at the time was The Beatles' Strawberry Fields Forever thus they named them Strawberry Recording Studios, and on 20th October 1967 a new era began.
Over time many bands used the studios including friends Kevin Godley and Lol Crème who ultimately became 10cc and were particularly successful in the early to mid 70s. Other artists included Paul McCartney (who recorded an album there with his brother Mike McGear), the Bay City Rollers, and then later such bands as Joy Division, (who recorded their debut album Unknown Pleasures there), The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and the Smiths were all associated with the studios.
Sadly, by the early 90s, due to changes in the industry including the advent of digital recording it became difficult for smaller studios such as Strawberry to keep up and it suffered financially as a result. In 1993 Strawberry Studios closed their doors forever thus cementing them in rock and roll’s hall of fame.
Around a similar time as Strawberry was created so was Seven Miles Out, a trendy boutique emporium (created and named by maverick entrepreneur Miles Baddeley (as it was “seven miles out of one of the greatest cities in the world”). The boutique no longer exists today but the name gave inspiration to the title of a new creative art space that was funded in December 2013 to breathe life into Stockport town centre that supports local artists and musicians.
Over two years later and Seven Miles Out has hosted many arts and music events and continues to do so. On Wednesday 30th March over a dozen Stockport bands and musicians will be performing classic songs recorded at Strawberry Studios to raise money for the Seven Miles Out Arts Centre. ‘Strawberry Studios Stockport’ will take place at The Plaza Stockport to support the continued activities of Seven Miles Out.
Says creator and organizer of the event John Barratt “Just as Strawberry was able to support local musicians, at Seven Miles Out we believe it’s important to give opportunities for our town’s up and coming bands to perform. This concert will be a very special night celebrating the music of Strawberry Studios where the past meets the present.”
Clint Boon a Stockport-based DJ and former member of the Inspiral Carpets will be introducing the event which includes a variety of bands such as pop jazz duo Blank Cheque, who won Best Student Band in Manchester, rock band The Hidden and some of Stockport’s up and coming talent including the youngest band to perform: Square One, a trio of 10-year-olds who will be performing Buzzcocks’ ‘Everybody’s Happy Nowadays’ and The Smiths’ This Charming Man.
A founder member of The Stone Roses, guitarist Andy Couzens, will be performing with his band The High, who had Top 30 success in the nineties with tracks including ‘Box Set Go’. They reformed last year 25 years after their debut album release ‘Somewhere Soon’ with a slight change in line-up.
John has also organised a three-hour documentary special which features the founder of the studios, Peter Tattersall telling the story of Strawberry that will be broadcast on Imagine FM on Sunday 20th March 6-9pm.
‘With Blossoms now putting Stockport back in the musical spotlight what better way to celebrate the legacy of Strawberry Studios than with the town’s stars of the future.”
Tickets for ‘Strawberry Studios Stockport’ are priced £10 & £5 for children aged 16 and under, available from Seven Miles Out & The Plaza box office. For more details visit www.sevenmilesoutarts.co.uk
Special thanks to: Rosemary and John Barratt and Peter Wadsworth (Strawberry North).Photo credits courtesy of Peter Wadsworth. Old Strawberry photo credit to Music Week January 1979 supplied by the University of Manchester Library Document Supply Unit.Strawberry Preserved display case taken by Janny Baxter, photographer, SMBC taken at Stockport Story Museum.