Bringing back The Boardwalk in Sheffield

Kate Major and Chris Bamford outside the Boardwalk which they are looking to revive. Picture: Andrew Roe
Kate Major and Chris Bamford outside the Boardwalk which they are looking to revive. Picture: Andrew Roe
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As a music venue it provided a launching pad for the careers of important acts from The Clash to the Arctic Monkeys.

But, for much of the past six years apart from a brief spell as gay club Fuel and Twist, the Boardwalk - once the Mucky Duck and before that the Black Swan - has stood empty on the corner of Bank Street and Snig Hill in Sheffield city centre.

Now plans are being made to revive the building as the Boardwalk Beer Hall.

Chris Bamford and Kate Major have left their respective pub management roles at The Shakespeare and the Three Tuns to concentrate on the venture.

There will be a bar selling a range of craft beers, intended to boost the venue’s viability.

‘Street food-style’ dishes will be served and there will be a mix of free live music ranging from blues to rock ‘n’ roll and jazz, with regular spots for local performers. Then, in the longer term, there is an ambition to open up the cellar as Under the Boardwalk, a proper 200-capacity music venue which will likely lean towards alternative rock and indie.

Chris said: “Given its history, and from speaking to a lot of people, it’s a much-missed venue. It’s certainly got a hell of a lot of pedigree. Everyone I’ve spoken to has said things like ‘I saw Joe Cocker there a few times’. At the moment we’re waiting for the legalities to go through and still in the process of taking on the lease. It’s looking like we should be in there in the next couple of weeks.”

He said the pub model would be ‘more like it was when it was the Black Swan’.

“The pub will be open 12 hours a day, but with music at nights. In the longer term we’re looking at opening it as a proper live venue - that will be six months to a year after we open.”

It was increasingly difficult to solely rely on live music to pull in trade, Chris explained.

“If you look at live music venues across the country, they need to get people in during quite a small window of time. If it’s going to be a successful business it can’t just be live music. You’re going to get quality drink as well, so that’ll be its bread and butter.”

The pair gave some thought to re-using the Mucky Duck or Black Swan names, but decided the Boardwalk fitted best.

“We’re going to be talking to all the local breweries,” Chris said. “Sheffield is very much a real ale city but we’re a little bit behind compared to cities such as Manchester with craft beer. We’re hoping to bridge that gap as well.”

The interior ‘needs a bit of work’, he admitted.

“We could open before Christmas but there’s certainly no guarantee of that.”

Food vendors looking for a residency are being encouraged to contact Chris and Kate.

Email boardwalkbeerhall@gmail.com for details.