LOOSE Connections is our media and communications project covering Documentaries, Podcasts and Newsletters.
Only at The Studio Podcast Episode One Ft Hayley Ellis
Waifs and Strays Radio Sitcom from our HCR show Radio Sitcom
Enjoy our amazing pictures of past events at The Studio!
Watch our short films from previous project
Metronomes June 2018 Metronomes
Celebrate 2018 Celebrate
Remember The Queens Hall Remembering The Queens Hall
A LOOSE Story
LOOSE has been active since 1997, and registered as a non-profit company LBG in April 2008 (6566823) and a Registered Charity in July 2013 (1153366).
OUR AIMS: Removing Barriers to Participation in Music, Theatre, Arts, and Life…
Strengthening Community, Reducing Isolation, Improving Well-being.
Building skills, confidence, and increasing creative opportunities.
OUR VALUES: Equality, Diversity, Fairness.
In 2018 the Directors/Trustees of LOOSE are: Greg Oldfield, Jaki Florek, Mark Whitby, Anthony Nyland, and Dave Harrington – all are unpaid volunteers.
LOOSE is now a no-profit company LBG (566823) and a Registered Charity (1153066).
In January 1997: Halton’s music scene under the guidance of HBC Music Officer Roy Jones had a Music Collective which was briefly called Feedback and we started a local zine of the same name, then it was decided to have two groups.
The zine kept the name Feedback, and the Music Collective change its name to LOOSE.
LOOSE Record Label (part of the Collective): This was set up by Joe Florek in 1992 for his band Lazy Mary. There were several local band releases on the LOOSE label, recorded by Bill Leach in Stanley Villas. The “live room” was in the cellar, the big old Allen & Heath recording desk was in the “control room” in the attic; 3 flights of stairs separated them!
1998 LOOSE 04 ‘Spike Island’ was the first local compilation CD, made up of donated tracks.
2001 LOOSE 05 ‘Bridge Over Muddy Water’ was the second compilation album, all new tracks and many interesting collaborations, recorded by Bill in Stanley Villas.
LOOSE Committee: To get small grants we had to have a bank account, and a Committee. Pete Bentham was named as Chair (check out The Dinner Ladies!) Also on the committee was Greg Oldfield & Jaki Florek who, in 2018, are both still heavily involved in supporting LOOSE.
Gig At The Vic: Pete B asked John Booth landlord of The Vic in Anne Street if we could put on regular monthly band nights; he and his wife Gladys were very supportive and Gig At The Vic was born! Later, ‘Ballistic Acoustic’ was added each month for original singer-songwriters.
Young People: At one of the meetings in the back room of The Kingsway pub, a load of teenagers turned up and said “What about us? We’ve got nothing!” They had nowhere to rehearse, nowhere to perform, borrowed equipment, and nowhere to see live bands as they weren’t allowed in pubs. No-one wanted U18s on their premises.
U18s Saturday Sessions: Roy Jones sorted out weekly Saturday Sessions for Under 18s at The Studio in Widnes, and Greg Oldfield ran the workshops.
A frequent comment from people who were part of that, has been “I felt like I was part of something, I found somewhere I belonged.” 20 years on, people still feel that.
We got some equipment and soon there were Under 18s gigs at The Studio, and many more young people were drawn in. A strong community of young people grew.
Feedback Magazine: PHOTOS Thanks to Roy’s support, the magazine gained council funding on condition it covered all arts; it was compiled and edited by Jaki Florek, design & layout by Gary Gleavey (Zen Baseballbat), and was contributed to by many different people of all ages. It documented many of the musicians (local & invited) playing at The Vic, and Widstock, and young bands playing at The Studio and later at The Brindley in Runcorn. Multi-instrumentalist & film-maker Ste Cole (All Day Glow, later a.P.A.t.T) was one of the first Studio staff appointed by LOOSE in November 2009; in 2018 he is still with us.
2001: Bridge Over Muddy Water. Thanks to an Awards For All grant for printing costs and contributions from hundreds of local musicians, the BOMW book evolved. Compiled by Jaki Florek, design & layout by Gary Gleavey & Hazel Roberts, it was published by Feeedback.
It covers music in this area (Runcorn & Widnes) over the past 100 years, including current (at the time) local choirs, bands, and musicians.
And then… Roy left, moving on to another job, and Martin Cox was appointed Music Worker, and re-launched the U18s gigs as “Fused”.
June 2004: The Studio (and the Queens Hall, which it was attached to) were closed by the Council, and everything moved to The Brindley, the new Arts Centre in Runcorn, including the U18s gigs.
The final gig at The Studio was 3rd April 2004, an all-dayer. 22 young bands played plus Halton Samba band.
The final gig at the Queens Hall was April 24th organised by Greg Oldfield & Andrew ‘Splodge’ Rogerson as an ‘Earthhum’ event.
July 2004: LOOSE put on the very first event at The Brindley, an U18s gig.
More new young bands got involved. Tank (Ste Airey) took over stage management and MC-ing duties, previously done by Sam Whittaker at The Studio. Stu Joynson (guitarist in Freefall) was on sound, having shadowed Bill Leach in a scheme set up by Roy Jones.
Aug 2004: LOOSE meeting in The Kingsway “How do we get The Studio re-opened?”
“Maybe LOOSE could run it?” The start of many meetings!
Young people ruthlessly harassed the Council, as only young people can.
Information was passed around online via Daveycam, (by Davey Kilgannon). There was a peaceful demonstration in Victoria Park in 2005.
Sept 2007: JF applied for a government grant from the Community Assets Fund.
It was our last chance; having lost a previous successful bid due to having to have all the funds in place before work could start. The Studio was due for demolition.
2008: Feedback magazine ended; there was no time to work on it and no-one to hand it over to. LOOSE registered as a Company Limited By Guarantee.
March 2009: Halton Council signed The Studio building over to LOOSE… and we mended it.
All works were over-seen by JF & Stu Joynson, as well as the community Assets funding an additional grant thankfully came from WREN for the re-wiring.
Nov 2009: Thanks to The Big Lottery Fund – the ACCESS ALL AREAS project enabled us to have paid staff for the first time ever, they started in January 2010, and for 5 years young people in Halton once again had regular free access to supported music-making plus related creative activities.
17th APRIL 2010: The Official opening of The Studio took place and was attended by many of the supporters who had campaigned along side us.Under the guidance of our newly appointed Music workers: Ste Cole, Amy, Pete, Stu Brown, there were demonstrations of a recording session with Aeroplanes Fly High and circuit bending amongst many other activities. (We later gained Gen from Zombina, Tony from 28 Costumes as original staff moved on.)
Soundclash: This was the very first event at The Studio organised by Sean O’Hare and Ian Pye, (now Mako Media) with many young bands and performers from Bankfield School and an Awards Ceremony.
2012: Roy Jones re-joined us a an interim manager and later that year Louise Nulty joined LOOSE as Project Manager and is still, in 2018, benefitting The Studio and the local community with her expertise and creativity and many and varied arts/music/drama projects, activities & events.
2013: LOOSE became a registered charity.
Since 2015: LOOSE has been successful with a number of short term funding bids, from People’s Health Trust, Awards For All and other National Lottery Projects. Jaki Florek continues to seek longer term funding to keep cultural, heritage and artists projects happening at the Studio.
Our Lost Neighbour
The Queens Hall was a local landmark. We thought it would always be there…
Making music is part of Widnes’s Heritage, it is what people do round here. Many people’s memories are tied to music events which took place at The Queens Hall. Local people were devastated when the building was closed and boarded up in 2004, as was The Queens Hall Studio next to it in Lacey Street. The final event ever was Closing Time on April 24th, 2004. Local musicians of all ages performed, local people of ages danced.
After that, filled with rainwater and pigeons, it slowly rotted away.
People were angry when it was demolished in 2012, but The Studio had already been saved thanks to LOOSE volunteers and support from the local community.
The Queens Hall had been a significant live music venue and theatre, and was also used for a variety of community events and civic functions. There were variety shows, model railway exhibitions, Widnes Horticultural Show, wrestling and boxing, Gang Shows put on by Widnes Scouts, dances and discos, and wedding receptions. The building had been there for almost 150 years.
Built in 1864, as Victoria Road Wesleyan Methodist Church,some of the older members of the community remember it as a church, as it didn’t close until 1953. From 1849 onwards Widnes had rapidly developed from being sparsely populated marshland, where people farmed and fished to being a centre of the chemical industry, with terrible consequences.
By 1881, it was described in The Daily News as “the dirtiest, ugliest, most depressing town in England.” Widnes Corporation bought the building in 1953 when the church closed and gave it a typically 50s make-over. It opened as The Queens Hall on May 1st 1957, Alderman Thomas Swale performed the opening ceremony.