Where people buy their groceries, there was once a time when they came for romance.

The Lansdowne Picture Palace has had many names and uses over the decades. And I believe more relationships and marriages have been created by that building, than anywhere else in Sheffield. Were you one of those lucky couples?

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 2:58 pm
Updated Thursday, 17th June 2021, 2:59 pm

Located on the junction of London Road and Boston Street, The Lansdowne was designed by architect Walter Gerard Buck.

It opened on December 18, 1914. Brick built, it had a marble terracotta facade in white and green with a Chinese pagoda style entrance with arched windows on the side elevation – it was a beautiful building.

Originally seating around 1,250, in 1940 the capacity was reduced to 965 due to cramped conditions.

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The Lansdowne Picture Palace during development work
The Lansdowne Picture Palace during development work

The building was quickly converted into a temporary Marks and Spencer, when the original store situated on the Moor was destroyed during the Blitz December 12, 1940.

In the 1950s it became a Mecca dance hall called the Locarno, where I believe many romantic stories began.

My era was the late 1970s, and by then the building had become Tiffany’s.

Once a week, I believe it was a Monday night, Tiffany’s held an under-18 disco which was frequented by hundreds of teenagers from all over Sheffield

One of the circular windows atthe old Lansdowne Picture Palace on London Road

These teenagers will be into their mid 50s now, but they were eager to cut their teeth on their first nightclub experience.

I was no different to many of the young people. It was a great opportunity to meet girls from different parts of the city – or that was the theory. After all, you still had to approach these strangers who also happened to be girls.

As ‘chatting up’ or talking to girls wasn't covered by my school’s curriculum, this endeavour would prove difficult and mainly fruitless. So the vast majority of the night would be spent sipping coke or orange juice and looking across the dance floor at the unattainable.

This is a skill I took into my adult life in around the grown-up nightclubs in and around Sheffield where any talking to the opposite sex was very much kept to a minimum.

The Lansdowne Picture Palace - London Road

In later years Tiffany’s reverted back to one of its earlier names, and was known as Locarno’s again for a while.

It had numerous other names such as Vickers and The Palais, but the purpose always remained the same.

In 1994 it became The Music Factory before developing a new guise painted matt black and renamed Bed, but still a nightclub.

In 2004, after nearly 90 years as one of Sheffield top entertainment venues, the doors finally closed when it became part of a large development of student flats.

We nearly lost the icon building which generated so many relationships and children.

While the area was being developed a large fire broke out, luckily the fire service were able to act quickly enough to save the building.

The controversial black paint was stripped back revealing the original white marble facade with bands of darker stone.

Round windows with stained glass were reinstalled bringing natural light into the former picture palace.

It was then converted into a supermarket and remains as such now changing from Sainsbury’s to Budgens just a couple of years ago.