Silloth is a small port town in Cumbria, situated on the shoreline of the Solway Firth. It is 22 miles to the west of Carlisle. In the UK census of 2011, the town had a population of 2,906 .
Links With Peel
"One of the most catastrophic gigs that the John Peel Roadshow ever did". (John Peel, 10 April 2002)An infamous visit of the John Peel Roadshow to the town on Saturday 15th December 1984 went down in Peel folklore. The DJ had been booked to play at the Sunset Leisure Centre. His choice of records was so badly received that he was forced from the stage and had to be escorted from the venue by the police for his own protection.
Responding to regular correspondent Michael Day in Portland, Oregon (who had family connections with the town) Peel told the tale on 09 May 2002:
"The John Peel Roadshow, which was just me and a box of rather unpopular records, was booked in this kind of rather old-fashioned kind of club place, you know, dancehall place. It was one of those places where there was a kind of that red plush stuff was the principal decor and the DJ booth was right in the middle of the floor. The main body of people that was there was composed largely of three separate hen parties from three separate factories in the area. And they really hated me, and they were probably right to do so cos they kept coming up and saying, 'why are you playing all of this crap? Have you got anything that's in the charts?' And I'd say, 'well anything specific?' and they'd just say, 'no, anything that's in the charts'. I'd got one record I think that was in the charts and that was by Talking Heads and they didn't like that much either. I made myself so unpopular because there really wasn't anything that I could do expect just press on. I ended up barricaded in the manager's office and had to be eventually rescued and escorted to my car by the police, who recommended that I didn't even stay in Silloth overnight which I was scheduled to do and just kind of left town. I've never dared go back to that part of the world since, and it was about twenty years ago. That was the short version of the story. The full version of course involves lantern slides and several changes of costume."
Quoted in an article in the Independent On Sunday the previous October, Peel said:
"It was one of just two places where the John Peel Roadshow had to be rescued by the police. There were three huge factories in the area, and the town was full of randy women in their late twenties and early thirties out on hen nights. The trouble was they were not ready to rock to my artfully selected mix of dubs, and I only had one record with me that was in the charts, and that was Talking Heads. There was a riot that ended up with me being barricaded in the manager's office and escorted out by the police."
At the time of the DJ's death in October 2004, the local newspaper for that area of Cumbria recalled the incident.
Co-owner of Sunset Leisure Centre, Eric Stanwix, remembered that night well:
"When he performed, the crowd wanted to listen to top 20 chart hits, not the experimental music he played," he said. "There were up to 600 people chanting for him to get off.
"Basically they were not happy. I've got nothing against him but it was basically the wrong man for the wrong crowd."
Jim McKay, entertainments manager at the time, said: "I remember Mr Peel commenting that all they wanted to do in Silloth was wear wet T-shirts and conga."