Do you remember Sheffield's Hofbrauhaus German bar, where it was Oktoberfest all year round?

The world-famous Oktoberfest that takes place every October is quintessentially German, with crowds drinking Bavarian beer, dressed in lederhosen and dirndl skirts, singing along to the music of an oompah band.

Saturday, 2nd October 2021, 12:30 pm

In 1970s Sheffield, you could enjoy that fun all year round, in a novelty theme bar on Eyre Street in the city centre that drew crowds in from the city and beyond.

The late Brian Slater, who lived in Nether Edge, was a member of the venue’s oompah band and later became the compere for the venue.

Shortly after Brian died in 2014, his family shared some pictures and his story.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Brian Slater (right of picture) was compere at the Hofbrauhaus on Eyre Street, for many of the years it was open, and also played a variety of instruments in the oompah band between 1973 and 1982

Brian’s youngest son Steve said that his dad started work at the Hofbrauhaus in 1973.

He told Retro: “He was initially in the band and became the compere for most of the time he was there.

“When he started he was living in Bradford, working full time in Halifax and coming to Sheffield seven nights a week. He got an office manager’s job and had to make the decision whether to leave that.

“He moved with my mum and two older brothers to Sheffield.”

He said that Brian worked at the Hofbrauhaus from 1973 to 1982.

Lots of Sheffielders remember raucous nights at the German bierkeller-style venue, with revellers encouraged to stand on the seats and sway along to the oompah band.

Steve described a tape he had heard of his dad compering, shouting “zigger zagger, zigger zagger” and the crowd shouting back “oi, oi, oi!”

Brian also played games with the crowd, including the yes-no interlude and ‘open der box’.

“He got his confidence through playing with the band and decided to try compering. He took to it really well, ” said Steve.

“He had a really dry sense of humour and spoke his mind, ” he added.

When it first started, the venue attracted 1,000 people a night, said Steve. He added: “I know it was very popular as it attracted large crowds and most people I mention it to have memories of the place.”

Jazz trumpeter Kenny Ball and musician and entertainer Roy Castle were among the venue’s famous guests.

Brian played E flat bass, tuba and other instruments and was an accomplished musician.

Later in life he played with Stannington Brass Band and was also organist at Abbeydale United Reformed Church.

Neil Anderson wrote about the Hofbauhaus in his Dirty Stop Outs series of books recalling Sheffield nightlife.

Neil said that the venue was next to the uber-trendy nightclub the Penny Farthing, which considered itself a cut above the rest of the city’s nightlife. That didn’t stop people going to both on a night out, though.

He said that after the novelty wore off, the Hofbrauhaus went from packed nights with busloads of revellers arriving from Leeds, Bradford and Nottingham to resorting to cheap food and drink offers and lunchtime sessions with strippers.

Strange fact: one of the DJs that played the Hofbrauhaus and other venues such as Romeos and Juliet’s and Samantha’s was a teenage David Grey, who went on to become Master Cutler in 2014.