'Excitement and hope' as Sheffield's Leadmill nightclub prepares to return after longest furlough

Dozens of staff at a legendary Sheffield nightclub are preparing to return to work after the country’s longest lockdown.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 4:14 pm

The Leadmill team are a sociable bunch who enjoy working with up to 1,100 revellers every night - and 14 months stuck at home has been especially hard, according to Rose Wilcox head of programming.

A small group came in to run a socially-distanced bar when rules eased on Monday.

But all eyes are on June 21 when remaining restrictions are due to be lifted and all 75 – including engineers, security and ticketing staff – come back.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

A socially distanced event at The Leadmill.

It will also mark the survival of a multi-million pound business and important cultural cornerstone in Sheffield.

Rose, who has worked at the venue for 12 years, said: “When your whole job is to be sociable and you’re used to being in a nightclub with a thousand people several times a week - to go from that to nothing is hard. That’s been the biggest struggle. The staff make The Leadmill, they love the business, it’s a passion.

“The worst time was during the first lockdown but before the furlough scheme came in.

“We thought it was going to be two weeks but it became apparent very quickly it would be longer, because the whole point of the industry is for people to mix and mingle.

Rose Wilcox, head of programming, in the main room at The Leadmill.

“We were worried that an iconic Sheffield institution could shut its doors.

“Now we’re getting ready to fully reopen and there’s a sense of excitement and hope.”

The Leadmill’s return will begin with opening parties and then, from September, a hectic schedule of daily events, in a bid to catch up on a backlog of gigs postponed during the pandemic.

When fully up and running, the venue on Leadmill Road hosts 400 events a year – bands, comedy, drag and club nights, workshops and talks – and welcomes 100,000 people.

A socially distanced Abba night at The Leadmill

It ran a few weeks of socially distanced activities in September and October, between lockdowns, and an outdoor bar for three weeks in April this year after the country moved to Stage 2.

But the rest of the time, until this week, it has been shut - and people have missed it.

In August, Arctic Monkeys singer Alex Turner raffled a guitar which raised £128,544 to support music venues including The Leadmill.

It attracted bids from all over the world - but it was the many supportive comments that revealed how much the venue meant to people, Rose added.

Rose Wilcox and a sign that says: 'Pulp first performed here 16 August 1980 at The Leadmill'

“It gave us the motivation to carry on. Students need club nights, musicians need gigs to develop their skills, people make friends and find love. You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Please take out a digital subscription or buy a paper.

Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.

Sign on Leadmill Road.