The Band on the Wall Photo
The main image was taken at some time in World War II by an unknown photographer though there is some uncertainty as to exactly when. The image came to light when Dessie O'Connor a well known ex Boxer and Licencee was visiting a relative in Crumpsall Hospital (North Manchester General), he befriended an old man on the ward who produced a folded postcard sized photo from his wallet.
The image above was clearly taken at the same time, the letter to the Manchester Evening News below tells the story.
My Band on the Wall Memories
I am writing to you with regards to the write up about Band on the Wall.
I am the oldest daughter of Ernest Tyson... I was eight years old (when I first) sang with the band.
The man on my left was my uncle Matthew – Ernest’s brother. I was standing beside him. I would have been 23 years old. The soldiers on the right nicknamed me the Duchess. They were nice guys – Americans.
My father made friends with a Canadian-Indian soldier who was the chief of a band.
They used to smoke a peace pipe and get some of the customers to try it.
He and his brothers, Matthew and Henry, stopped many a fight between the Americans and the Canadians and British.
The three brothers were all big men who stood back to back in settling the fights, but one time a small Canadian got on my father’s back and pulled him backwards on the ground.
I stood there and thought my dad would be mad, but no. He asked who had done it and when he found out he went over and shook the guy’s hand, said “You are the first guy to ever floor me” and gave him a beer.
I married a Canadian soldier who was killed six months after we married. I came to Canada to visit his family and stayed after his death.
I am now 83 years old.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Many stories are told of the bar being staffed by Italian POWs and deserters. Band on the Wall was right on the edge of Ancoats, known as "Little Italy". The war had a profound effect on this community as UK residents from the Axis countries were interred at various camps around the country. More information about this can be found here.
The smaller image was probably taken in the 1930's and is the earliest known picture of the band actually on the wall. The stage was placed there by Ernie Tyson, versions differ as to the reason for this but it was most likely to make more space for drinkers than to protect the band. Different accounts exist as to whether the band climbed a ladder or used steps.
It is believed that the stage on the wall was there up till the 1970's when a drummer apparently had a heart attack while playing and the emergency services had a difficult time getting him down from the wall. The council had no choice but to forbid it on Health & Safety grounds, however the name stuck.