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Photography by Lilly Shields

Alison Bell and Liam Walsh have been friends & colleagues for well over 30 years. They chose the Boardwalk as their special location as it was where they first met, and they have been close friends ever since!


Alison was a regular gig-goer at The Boardwalk (and occasional DJ) ~ the venue was on the circuit for many UK and international touring bands. Some memorable gigs there included The Stone Roses, Big Black, James, Inspiral Carpets, Primal Scream, Manic Street Preachers, Happy Mondays…

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The Boardwalk

Madchester heritage plaque

The Sinclair family owned the Boardwalk, and Colin Sinclair managed ACR and The Railway Children. Liam met Colin at a James gig at Devilles in 1984 and Liam started working at The Boardwalk in various roles, and his music industry career began there. Many established and up-and-coming bands rehearsed in the basement of The Boardwalk, including New Order, ACR, James… Rain (before Oasis), where Liam got to know many of them.


Liam set up a t-shirt printing business (SWAG) around this time, while at art school and printed the famous Inspiral Carpets ‘Cool as f**k’ t-shirts which sold all over the world during the Madchester era (88-91).

Alison set up a Music PR company, Red Alert Promotions, with business partner Sue McDermott in 1990. Liam gave up his printing business and joined them the following year. Red Alert was initially started at 23 New Mount Street, another creative hub where many bands (James, The Fall & Inspiral Carpets), artists (inc. Microdot), and even a radio station (Sunset/Kiss) were based.

Red Alert eventually moved to Little Peter Street, almost opposite the Boardwalk. The new building soon became another creative hub, when Tony Wilson and the In the City team moved in!

Bands/artists Red Alert worked with over the years included Prince, George Michael, Oasis, Bjork, Primal Scream, Depeche Mode, The KLF, Moby, New Order, Elbow, Doves and Nick Cave… Liam went on to work with The Killers, Goldfrapp, The Coral, and many more and continues to work with musicians as Humans And Other Animals.

Alison and Liam are still working together on various PR projects and events.

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The Boardwalk stage

'Rain - Liam Gallagher & Bonehead, 1991.

THE SHOOT: The Boardwalk, Little Peter Street, Manchester

The legendary former music venue, nightclub and rehearsal rooms, where Alison and Liam first met

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Student reflection: Katie Jones


Meeting Martin for the first time and learning about his incredible journey was wonderful. I was so excited to be photographing him for the Greater Mancunians project.

We started the photoshoot outside the Old Trafford stadium, next to the 'United Trinity' statue, where we had to tackle the intense winter sunlight to get the best image. We placed Martin in the shade of the statue so we could still capture the stadium behind him, we used a reflector to bounce light into the shaded  areas of the shot, this helped us pull out a few great images. We then moved into the stadium grabbing the opportunity to position Martin in-front of the team dug outs next to the pitch. Martin was easy to work with and open to suggestions and poses and was clearly enjoying experience of being pitch side in his beloved Old Trafford. We completed the shoot up in the disabled seating area, where we took the opportunity to photograph Martin against the backdrop of the stadium.

Photographing Martin in such an icon location was a fantastic opportunity for me to test my photography skills and build my confidence and communication skills, which will certainly help me in future projects. Being apart of the Greater Mancunians was just amazing and I would love to be considered for future shoots.

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Katie Jones, Martin & Katie O'Neill

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