Sheffield retro: 9 nostalgic photos celebrating famous Wapentake bar which gave Def Leppard a big break

The legendary landlady at the Wapentake gave Def Leppard one of their first ever gigs

It was a subterranean rock bar that became a recognised hangout for society’s outsiders, writes Neil Anderson. Bikers, rockers, punks, goths and more all made Sheffield’s Wapentake their home.

But now, around a quarter of a century after the last bottle of Newcastle Brown was served, it seems the legendary rock bar run by Olga Marshall is having the last laugh in the acceptability stakes.

T-shirts bearing the bar’s name have become the year’s top sellers at  Sheffield-based Dirty Stop Out’s -  a company that celebrates the UK’s lost venues.

The success of the Wapentake merchandise is likely to have been all in a day’s work for legendary landlady Olga Marshall that passed away in 2019.

She gave Def Leppard one of their first ever gigs in the late 1970s and the band came back to perform for her at the height of their fame in the mid-1990s as part of the celebrated ‘Def Leppard Day’.

Her CV was hardly made for the upper echelons of the rock’n’roll scene. Always impeccably dressed without a hint of denim or leather that normally adorned her customers - she was already a mother of four by 1972, she didn’t smoke and she rarely drank alcohol.

It was on October 5, 1995, that Def Leppard came to perform one last time at the Wapentake in front of most of the world’s music press and for the same fee the band charged in 1978 - £15.

It was a massive moment – even if the initial response from the Wapentake barmaid to the band’s offer of the gig was “sorry love, we don’t put live groups on anymore”. The problem was quickly rectified by Olga!

You can view the Wapentake T-shirts there: