Dorothy Pax: Closure-threatened Sheffield music venue puts 70p on pint in bid to survive

A music venue at the heart of an up-and-coming area of Sheffield has been forced to put a whopping 70p on a pint to survive.
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Richard Henderson, of the Dorothy Pax, says the big increase comes after costs were absorbed for a ‘long, long time’. But as fuel prices and inflation soar, and people spend less, the drastic move was necessary to remain solvent.

After a busy summer, the 15-strong business at Victoria Quays faces a winter when it is traditionally quieter and this year comes with many challenges.

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Richard Henderson, of the Dorothy Pax, says a price increase comes after costs were absorbed for a ‘long, long time’.Richard Henderson, of the Dorothy Pax, says a price increase comes after costs were absorbed for a ‘long, long time’.
Richard Henderson, of the Dorothy Pax, says a price increase comes after costs were absorbed for a ‘long, long time’.
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The Dorothy Pax, named after a historic narrow boat, opened five years ago when only one other former railway arch was occupied, Richard said. Today they are all in use. He is proud to put on three gigs a week, including free events, pay musicians and engineers, maintain a no-minimum-spend policy and use local suppliers. But now he needs something back.

He said: “With hindsight we should have increased prices incrementally. I thought it would sort itself out but it seems the price of energy, petrol and supplies aren’t coming down. I’m really worried we might not make it through the winter. “We still have a full programme of events and I’m urging people to save on their heating and come and support a local independent business. Now is not the time to be home alone.”

The area is surrounded by large offices employing an estimated 6,000 workers but Richard estimates only 20 per cent are back in full time - hitting lunchtime trade. But having hospitality firms at the Quays helps other local businesses recruit, he believes.

Mr Henderson is proud to put on three gigs a week, including free events, pay musicians and engineers, maintain a no-minimum-spend policy and use local suppliers.
But now he needs something back.Mr Henderson is proud to put on three gigs a week, including free events, pay musicians and engineers, maintain a no-minimum-spend policy and use local suppliers.
But now he needs something back.
Mr Henderson is proud to put on three gigs a week, including free events, pay musicians and engineers, maintain a no-minimum-spend policy and use local suppliers. But now he needs something back.

The Dorothy Pax is well regarded - it was CAMRA’s Sheffield pub of the month in September. It is used by the boating community as a ‘post office’ and it runs ‘wet desking’, offering workers free wi-fi.

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Richard added: “I’m hoping to trade through this situation. This area is the best it’s been, we have the new Pollen market nearby and the Grey to Green planting scheme and Castlegate is being redeveloped. But hospitality remains incredibly important. “Victoria Quays is sometimes called the Sheffield Riviera. It is a great community asset, it’s safe and clean. But there’s a risk it could go back to being a derelict, under-used space.”

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