Return of The Limit

Kevan Johnson
Kevan Johnson
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IT was the Sheffield nightclub so legendary it has spawned a best selling book, an up coming documentary feature film and dozens of reunion nights.

Now The Limit is set to be reopened by its original owners exactly 20 years after it closed down, The Diary can exclusively reveal.

The (in)famous West Street venue, which saw early gigs by the likes of U2, Pulp, The Undertones and Def Leppard, will be relocated to Furnival Square – but owners say it will have exactly the same ethos: there are no limits.

“We were looking to have Human League playing at the opening,” says Kevan Johnson, the one time policeman who opened the original club in 1978 and is behind the new plans. “But they wanted £30,000.

“I said to them ‘Don’t be daft, that’s £29,995 more than we paid you last time you played, and that was £4 more than you deserved’, so I don’t think they’ll be doing it.

“But one thing we can promise is that this new club is going to fill a real gap in Sheffield’s night scene.”

The building – the former Careers Office – is set to undergo a £500,000 refurbishment before a pencilled-in August opening date.

Twelve jobs will be created and there will be a 400 capacity over two floors. Planning permission is currently being sought from Sheffield City Council.

The music policy will focus on classic alt hits with a few newer sounds thrown in and specialist nights, while the top floor will stage live gigs.

“I was in Bangkok a couple of years ago and someone heard me speaking,” says Kevan, who is currently running the Priory Lodge Hotel in Nether Edge. “They said, ‘Yorkshire lad, aren’t you?’ And I said ‘Aye, Sheffield’, and the first thing he said to me was: ‘Sheffield? Did you ever go to The Limit?’ You can’t buy that kind of reputation, and I just got thinking we should build on that again.

“I’d like to see some of the old faces down there. There’s nowhere to go for people in the city centre who perhaps are in their 30s or 40s but young of heart – but equally we want to attract a younger crowd too.”

The 62-year-old, who attempted a similar but short-lived venture in Eyre Street in 2005, made millions from the first Limit nightclub but ended up paying a three figure fine after being arrested for a massive tax evasion.

“We were a little naughty,” he says.

Since then he’s run various pubs including Rotherham’s former Beeches Hotel and the Fulwood Inn in Ranmoor, and spent time managing bars in Spain.

“But the good times at The Limit have always been with me,” says the father-of-two. “I’ve always wanted to bring it back some day, and I think this is the right time.

“Human League might not be doing the opening night but I’m still in touch with Def Leppard so you never know. There’s no reason they shouldn’t play a secret set there. I think they’d love to actually.”

Original partner George Webster will not be involved. He is understood to now be a tennis coach in London.