Seventies’ scene in Sheffield offered a wealth of top nightclubs

It is an era that had everything from disco to punk via glam rock – but what was Sheffield’s greatest club of the 1970s?

Wednesday, 9th December 2020, 4:45 pm

It is 10 years since I completed a year-long project to gather memories and pictures from the 1970s.

Punters, DJs, venue owners, go-go dancers, waiters, musicians, hostesses – I spent many happy hours interviewing scores of people over those months.

I had no idea what the reaction would be to the book – up until that point most of my world had been writing about the here and now.

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Neil with the original Dirty Stop Out's Guide to 1970s Sheffield
Neil with the original Dirty Stop Out's Guide to 1970s Sheffield

I suppose I got carried away hearing the memories. I loved the way people came alive when they started talking about their nights out of old in and around the city.

People dug out forgotten photos and started ringing friends they had not spoken to for decades to confirm information.

Within a few months, I was becoming an authority on the era and amassing an amazing collection of memories and memorabilia.

My initial interest in the Sheffield of the 1970s was actually sparked by a film - City On The Move.

Josephine's

This 1971, council promotional flick actually includes footage from inside the renowned Fiesta cabaret club and is, without a doubt, the most confident piece of footage ever produced about Sheffield.

The nightlife is labelled ‘sophisticated’ and as good as anything in London.

It’s fair to say Sheffield was punching way above its weight in the early Seventies and the punters were more than rising to the challenge.

It was an affluent time for the city and a great time to be going out.

Go Go dancing competition at the Penny Farthing Club, Sheffield..February 1970..L to R Betty Nixon of Durlstone Crescent, Avril Cochrane of Crescent Rd, Nether Edge and Christine Hague of Kilvington Road

The Fiesta, which opened 50 years ago this year, in summer 1970, was then the biggest nightclub in Europe – just let that sink in, the biggest nightclub in the whole of Europe.

That was an incredible accolade, but reminiscence of the confidence in the city at the time.

The glitzy venue attracted the biggest stars in the world – it came closer than any other UK venue to landing a gig by Elvis.

The venue was underpinned by a whole network of thriving working men’s clubs and the aim of most of their hit acts was to get on the cabaret circuit.

Top Rank Suite, Sheffield.

The Fiesta was not the only cabaret club in the city centre.

The nearby Baileys, on Cavendish Street, was one of a national chain.

The Penny Farthing was a true place to be seen in the 1970s and the scene of a famous go-go dancing competition – you can still find footage online.

Down the Castle Market end of town, you had the Penthouse.

Originally opened by the Stringfellow brothers, it morphed into more of a rock club in the 1970s.

The sprawling Top Rank provided mass market disco-style entertainment with its Steely’s nights.

roxy2LA - The Fiesta Club, 1976

Its Sunday night improvision club promoted up-and-coming rock and punk acts and more.

Josephine’s truly upped the glitz when it opened in Barker’s Pool in 1976 with its in-house restaurant, champagne league and baby grand piano.

It outlasted the ’70s and ’80s and was still doing good business right up to the mid-1990s.

The Limit was the city’s only dedicated punk venue when it opened in 1978.

The West Street cellar venue was a massive hit.

The amount of venues on offer in 1970s’ Sheffield truly dwarves the number today – it was a very different world.

Other names of the ’70s include Scamps, TurnUps, Hofbrauhaus, Crazy Daizy, Tiffany’s, Genevieve, Fanny’s, Shades and many, many more.

It was definitely a decade of two halves. Recession had set in by the end of the era.

The Fiesta went bust in 1976 – it subsequently reopened and then shut again, twice – and many venues struggled.

The reaction to the‘Dirty Stop Out’s Guide to 1970s Sheffield, when it was launched 10 years ago, was amazing.

It became famous nationally as the book that persuaded Ann and Chris Jackson to remarry after 26 years apart.

A 10th anniversary edition of the ‘Dirty Stop Out’s Guide to 1970s Sheffield’ is on sale. Each copy is signed and numbered and costs £19.95. Only 100 copies are being produced - see dirtystopouts.com