Ken Dodd. Philip & David Williams
David (left) and Philip pictured with Ken Dodd who provided the foreword to their second book on Frank Randle - The Theatrical World of Arthur Twist'.

Philip and David have been writing together since their teens and early twenties respectively. They are well-known for their love of their home town of Ashton-under-Lyne, situated seven miles east of city centre Manchester. This is something which shows in their many popular local history books. They are deemed well-informed on aspects of local history, cinema and the world of entertainment.  Their writing began in the late 1960s when opportunities arose for the brothers to interview and write articles about celebrities of the day. This proved a grounding for several of their later books covering the entertainment field including the acclaimed biography of northern music hall and film comedian Frank Randle.

2019 saw the publication of the first in a series of books under the heading of ‘Entertaining Ashton’. ‘For Your Delectation and Delight’, the long-awaited volume on Ashton’s music halls and theatres was  launched on 24th August from the Ashton Market Hall.  This was followed by the publication of 'Flickering Memories-From Fleapit to Multiplex: A History of Ashton-under-Lyne's Cinemas with a special book signing at Cineworld, Ashton on Decmeber 5th 2019.

Of their earlier local books their most popular to date has been 'To Market, To Market' - The Story of Ashton's Ancient Market.

This book has been published three times since 1995, with the last coming in 2009 after the devastating fire which ravaged the market hall. The last edition with a foreword written by ‘Coronation Street’ actor Bill Tarmey is still available in hardback format.

Philip and David clearly know and love the subjects they write about which has enhanced their reputation with their growing number of readers.

introducing david

David was born on August 7th 1947 and is the eldest of the two brothers. He attended Waterloo Primary School before moving on to Stamford Boys Secondary School. While at Stamford David began supporting Oldham Athletic AFC much to the dismay of his friends who were either of the blue or red persuasion of Manchester. David still follows the Latics today. In later years his interest in football saw him managing several local amateur teams and he was the founder of the Waterloo Lions – later to become Waterloo FC.

On leaving school David started work in a confectionary cash and carry warehouse. However, in time with a need for more money he found employment in a local bakery.

During the music revolution that was the 1960s David became well-known as one of Ashton’s first DJs performing under the name of ‘Dizzy Dave’. In tandem with his bakery job he played the pubs and clubs of the north west. When offers of bookings came from several leading agents, David, for a while, became a full-time professional DJ. During this period his writing developed. Working with many top acts of the day he took the opportunity to interview and write articles about them. These were taken up by several national magazines. One of those ‘never to be forgotten’ moments for David was the night while working in a club in Stoke when he was privileged to introduce onto the stage the Motown legend Jimmy Ruffin.

David married his wife Sandra in 1971. They have three children who have presented them with four grandchildren, Alex, Abbie, Ashley and Nathan. Sadly, Alex the eldest, passed away in August 2012 after suffering a stroke – a result of the after affects of meningitis which he contracted when he was seven years old. In 2014 ‘The Believe and Achieve Trust’ was set up in memory of Alex to continue his work in raising awareness of meningitis and to offer support to other young people whose lives have been affected by the disease.

Prior to David’s marriage, his future father-in-law insisted that he got a ‘proper job’. Consequently, David began working alongside his father-in-law in engineering. However, this came to an end in 1972 due to changes made within the company. David then joined ASDA prior to the opening of their new store on Langham Street, Waterloo, Ashton. He became a Goods Inward Checker before taking up the position of non-food warehouse manager. During the years at ASDA David continued with Philip in meeting top stars and interviewing them for numerous magazines. David has never forgotten the occasion when he received a rose and a kiss on the cheek during an interview with British soul diva Dusty Springfield

The many years of working long and unsociable hours with ASDA impacted on David’s evening and weekend work as a DJ. Consequently, he began to walk the streets for a living – as a postman, that is. A job which allowed for plenty of time for David to continue with his DJ work as well as his writing and researching of local topics.

Gradually, over the years David began to suffer from ill-health which eventually resulted in him departing the post office. He returned to ASDA for a short while before having to permanently retire on medical grounds.

Since then David has got together whenever possible with Philip to pursue their shared interest in writing and local history

introducing philip

Born on August 9th 1951, Philip is the youngest of the two brothers – of which he is constantly reminding David. In education he followed his brother in attending Waterloo Primary School and Stamford Boys Secondary. At Stamford he was a librarian and also contributed to the school magazine. One of his first interviews occurred while still at School when he met, talked with and wrote about stage and radio comedian Ken Platt, followed by ‘Carry On’ stalwart and eccentric Charles Hawtrey.

After leaving school at the age of 15 he worked for a number of years in the retail trade before taking up a position at Ashton’s ABC Cinema. His love of cinema made this a dream job for Philip.

During the latter part of the 1960s Philip was the founding member of the Ashton & District Free Radio Association (Tameside at this time had not yet been formed). This was a branch of a national movement which supported offshore radio stations – the likes of ‘Radio Caroline’ – and were opposed to the ‘Government’s proposed ‘Marine Offences Act’. Incorporating the ‘Free Radio Campaign’ the movement – which also lobbied for the legalisation of commercial radio in the UK – attracted hundreds of local members. With the production of their own ‘association’s’ magazine this gave Philip (and David) more opportunities to meet several pop music stars who were also in support of legalised commercial radio. This resulted in more interviews and articles several of which also featured in mainstream publications.

His position at the ABC Cinema sadly came to an end with the cinema’s proposed closure – during which time he had visited the Elstree Film Studios in Hertfordshire and met several film stars. His employment move saw him returning to the retail trade when like his brother he joined the management team at the ASDA store, Waterloo, as a grocery Good Inwards Checker. While working for ASDA Philip was offered a position of assistant manager at the small fledgling supermarket chain ‘Cee n Cee’ – leaving when the company was absorbed by Kwik Save’.

After a period working in security things eventually came full circle when ASDA relocated to their new Cavendish Street site and Philip re-joined the fold – where he remained for 28 years until his retirement in October 2017.

Philip is divorced but remains on good terms with his ex-wife Chris. Together they have two sons and four grandchildren, Cerys, Anwen, Cadellin and Seren.

Amongst Philip’s all-time favourites in the film world are the kings of comedy Laurel and Hardy. Philip was the founder of one of the earliest and certainly Tameside’s first branch of the ‘Sons of the Desert’ the global Laurel and Hardy appreciation society – named after their 1933 feature film. Around the world each branch, or tent as they are known takes their name from one of Laurel and Hardy’s classic films. The ‘Be Big’ tent which Philip formed – but is no longer involved with – happily still meet each month at the Ashton Cricket Club. There is also another excellent and popular local branch with the ‘Sailors Beware’ tent based in neighbouring Hyde. The Sons of the Desert again allowed both Philip and David to continue writing articles and interviewing personalities both for their own ‘Be Big’ tent magazine and various other publications.

Together Philip and David still write occasionally for the provincial press and national magazines. While closer to home articles relating to local history and nostalgia often appear in the local Tameside Reporter.

In 2012 after being contacted by Mossley resident Trevor Rowley. Philip aroused local awareness and public funding for the erection of a Blue Plaque in honour of Ashton born music hall entertainer George Formby Snr.