‘Blue plaques’ to commemorate Joy Division and John Peel unveiled in Rochdale

Peter Hook and members of OMD and The Membranes also at the unveiling

Two new ‘blue plaques’ have been unveiled in Rochdale to celebrate the town’s musical heritage and impact on the Manchester music scene.

Issued by Rochdale Council, the plaques celebrate two musical buildings used by the likes of John Peel and Joy Division.

The first plaque was unveiled at the location of the former Tractor Sound Studios on Market Street in Heywood, which was financed by John Peel in 1973 after the Rochdale band Tractor had sent him a demo tape.

The late DJ had a strong connection to the town: prior to becoming a radio presenter he worked at the Townhead cotton mill in the centre of Rochdale.

“For me the weird thing is that John Peel started here – starting this [Tractor Sound Studios], which led to Cargo [Studios], which led to Joy Division and then Factory Records,” said Joy Division and New Order bassist Peter Hook to NME.com.

The second plaque was unveiled at the Kenion Street Music Building, formerly home to Cargo Studios and Peter Hook‘s Suite 16 Studios.

In use from 1977 until 2001, the studio welcomed a host of bands over the years including Joy Division, New Order, The Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, Teardrop Explodes, Echo And The Bunnymen, The Fall and most of the artists on the Factory Records label.

The building, which was used in the filming of the ’24 Hour Party People’ movie about Factory Records, will be remembered by most for the scene where producer Martin Hannett had Joy Division drummer Stephen Morris record the drums for their song ‘Atmosphere’ on the roof of the studio.

Also in attendance at the event were Cargo Studios founder John Brierley, OMD‘s Andy McCluskey, journalist and Goldblade/The Membranes frontman John Robb, The Mock TurtlesMartin Coogan and dozens of other musicians and music fans, including actor and Hacienda regular Dominic Brunt, who plays Paddy in ‘Emmerdale’.

“For me it’s all about inspiring people and, I’m not being funny but, if you come from a small town like Heywood or Rochdale and you have an interest in music, then you can feel lost,” Peter Hook said. “But if you can look at something like that [a blue plaque] you’ll think ‘Shit’ and it is inspirational and that’s what’s lacking these days for me and it should be about inspiring people and getting people going.”