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Sheffield's oldest nightclub
The Leadmill (Sheffield)
Member Name: micksheff
The Leadmill (Sheffield)
Advantages: A great venue for live bands, good atmosphere
Disadvantages: None as far as I am concerned
With Sheffield being one of the largest cities in the country you can probably imagine that when it comes to nightlife there is a huge range of different places to go. Most of the clubs that were around when I was an 18 year old (I am now 39) have disappeared and there is a whole number of new, large trendy venues that I have neither visited nor have any desire to do so.
The Leadmill nightclub is one of the few places that was around all those years ago and is still going strong today. In 2005 the Leadmill celebrated its 25th anniversary and now it is officially the city's longest running nightclub.
Back in 1980 Sheffield was a pretty run down place as many of the steelworks that had made the city famous closed down and the phrase amongst the youth of the day was "No hope, no future." The opening of the Leadmill in a derelict flour mill in a run down part of the city was a direct response to the lack of cultural opportunities in the city at that time. It was an era when youth unemployment was soaring out of control.
The choice of venue was quite clever as the large derelict mill provided plenty of space and opportunity to create a unique venue from scratch. Part of this building had previously housed the legendary "Esquire Club" where during the sixties The Who, Jimi Hendrix and the Small Faces had all played.
The principal aim of the Leadmill in those early days was to provide a venue for live acts to perform in a relaxed atmosphere. There was a late bar serving alcohol until 2am and each night of the week quickly became themed, ranging from sixties and seventies disco to jazz. Friday and Saturday nights were largely reserved for the new bands of the day and many people including myself would join the long queues and watch whichever band was playing on that particular night.
Musically speaking Sheffield in the early 1980's was a very exciting place. The lack of employment opportunities channelled the musical talents of many of the local youths to form bands and this was to give rise to the likes of The Human League, ABC, Heaven 17, Pulp, and The Thompson Twins, all of whom hailed from Sheffield and made some of their earliest performances on the Leadmill stage.
The Leadmill quickly established itself as the premier live venue in the city and such acts as Cabaret Voltaire, Killing Joke, The Fall, Nico from the Velvet Underground, Everything But The Girl, Marc Almond, JoBoxers, UK Subs, Prefab Sprout, Big Audio Dynamite, New Order and The Pogues all performed in its early days.
In September 1982 a new Band called Culture Club played there, the admission price on that particular night was just 50p and the following week they were at number one in the charts with "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?". A few weeks later the Leadmill turned down Madonna who wanted an appearance fee of £75 in favour of Ipso Factor who were happy to perform for just £25.
It was also around this time that the "Beat Club" was launched, a 60's and 70's disco held every Thursday night. This still takes place now but sadly does not have a regular current slot at the moment, although it did take place a couple of months ago and yes I was there. The Beat Club is one of the longest consecutively running club nights in the country.
In 1984 The Housemartins travelled from Hull to perform at the Leadmill just prior to their first chart topping success but they were accidentally refused entry by the door staff, whilst a few weeks later that same year an up and coming band called Simply Red premiered their new song "Money's too tight to mention".
The late 1980's and the early 1990's were the years that I frequented this place almost every weekend and although the list of bands that I saw is far too long to list here the ones that I recall seeing included Texas, The Happy Mondays, Primal Scream and The Inspiral Carpets. I saw all of these acts before they became famous.
There are two large rooms each with a bar and playing different music depending on the night. The largest room where the stage on which live bands play is located also has a cafe, a fast food outlet and a cloakroom.
The inside of the Leadmill today is pretty much the same as I remember it all those years ago, although these days there is only one set of toilets where there used to be two.
There is now a Lounge Bar which offers a chill out area located where the other set of toilets used to be. There are disabled toilets available and the venue is located on one level so wheelchair access is possible. The venue does however get very crowded so may prove to be a little uncomfortable for people with severe disabilities.
The Leadmill is located less than a five minutes walk from the main bus interchange and railway station. There is also a large taxi rank at the railway station but taxi's can usually be hailed outside.
This is still a fantastic place and today it is still a privately owned independent venue which despite its commercial success has refused to compromise many of its original principles. It is both a nightclub venue with regular club nights and a gig venue for current bands of the day. The capacity is just over 1000 so it attracts the medium sized bands of the moment who cannot sell out the larger venues in the city like the City Hall or Arena.
I would definitely recommend this place to others.
Summary: Opened in 1980 this is the longest running nightclub in Sheffield
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