A TRUE Northwich legend and a man responsible for ‘changing the face of entertainment in the town’, has been laid to rest.

To many residents living in Northwich today, it seems almost unbelievable that the town once attracted the biggest names in music, such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Tom Jones and The Drifters.

But during a 20-year career as Northwich Memorial Hall manager from its opening in 1961, Gwili Lewis managed to turn a small market town into a place where all the top music performers in the country wanted to play.

Northwich Guardian:

Memorial Hall's opening in 1961

After his death at the age of 98 on June 19, tributes to Gwili described just how important he was to Northwich.

John Hulme, who co-wrote a Guardian column with Gwili and fellow member of Castle Community Church, said: “All our members of the church were saddened at the passing of Gwili. Not only was he a devout Christian and churchgoer but a fabulous natural entertainer.

“Two years ago, I was privileged to document his life in over 20 columns for the Guardian.

“As manager of the Northwich Memorial Hall, he changed the face of entertainment in Northwich. Gwili was one of Northwich’s stalwarts and the town has lot to thank him for.”

Northwich Guardian:

Gwili Lewis and John Hulme together wrote a nostalgia column for the Guardian

Gwili moved to Northwich from Ebbw Vale in Wales with his wife Joan and children Gareth and Sian when he was offered the job at Memorial Hall.

He booked The Beatles on several occasions, becoming affectionately known to John Lennon as ‘Taff’.

Fast becoming well-loved in the town as the architect of a vibrant entertainment scene in the 1960s, Gwili also began to make a name for himself further afield.

Northwich Guardian:

George Harrison and John Lennon with Gwili and the 1963 Northwich Carnival Queen

He served on the panel of judges for selecting Britain’s ‘Song for Europe’ (the old name for the Eurovision Song Contest) and in 1981, was made Honorary Life Fellow of the Institute of Municipal Entertainments.

After Joan died in 2010, Gwili remained heavily involved with the church, the Northwich Welsh Society and Vale Royal Writer’s Circle.

Northwich Guardian:

Gwili with wife Joan on his retirement from Memorial Hall in 1981

Gwili’s son Gareth said his dad was a born entertainer and has inspired one grandson to follow in his footsteps.

Gareth said: “Dad, or tadcu to the grandchildren – which is Welsh for grandad – was a fascinating man.

“He always had a story to tell.

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“He was a mine of information often recalling details, incidents and stories from decades before, full of humour, full of wit, a born entertainer in so many ways who was so proud of his children and five grandchildren.

“In fact, one of his grandsons has very recently followed in dad’s footsteps by becoming the theatre manager at the new Wembley Park Theatre in London.”