Sheffield sex industry ‘could be driven underground or contribute to tourism’ says La Chambre boss
The man who ran Sheffield swingers club La Chambre has warned the city’s sex industry could be driven underground – and believes it could be contributing to tourism.
Husband and wife Barry and Marie Calvert were responsible for opening the club in the former Robin Hood pub on Attercliffe Road and the pair have written books about their escapades at La Chambre which has 25,000 members.
But the venue closed for good after coronavirus prevented it operating.
Barry says he will not re-open the venue, and the area is being redeveloped – but warns of his concerns that the sex industry could be driven underground, when it could be used to attract visitors to the city. He says his club helped fill hotels in its heyday.
Barry Calvert said: “It’s not going to re-open. We’ve retired and sold the building.
“We thought about re-opening, but Covid finished us off. We were shut down for two years, and we had the upkeep of the building to consider. It gave us the final push to retire. We ran it for 22 years.
“We’ve had lots of enquiries from people who wanted to carry it on from that building, but Sheffield Council and property developers are talking about redeveloping the area, and won’t allow it.
“They’ve looked around the city, but Sheffield Council seems to have a demarcation zone where things of a sexual nature should go, and it has been the Attercliffe corridor. But now they are talking about redeveloping it.
“It was the perfect site, well away from any schools and things like that. But the building is just looking really derelict now. We had spent £200,000 getting it right inside.
“Every big city has a zone where things like that are allowed. But Sheffield seems to have shut things down.
“But it is going to happen somewhere, and it will go underground if they don’t allow it overground.
“That will cause a problem for them to solve in the long run.
“The police always said to us that they got no trouble from us, and that they had more problems from pubs.”
He believes the club put the city on the map and attracted visitors.
“We had 25,000 members worldwide,” he said. “We filled the hotels of Attercliffe right through the week.”
He said La Chambre had paid £5,000 a year in licencing fees to the council to run their club, and were limited to certain hours of operation.
He said the building no longer looks like the club that he ran. Images he had painted on the outside of the building have been painted over in black paint to get rid of any sign La Chambre had ever existed.
He defended the club's activities. He said: “It’s more honest than people who have affairs – it was all above board and up front. I don’t know any couples who broke up because of swinging. It is time the council came into the 21st century and tried to compete with other cities.”
Sheffield Council has been approached for comment.