“My girlfriend cried her eyes out when it shut” – Neil Anderson remembers Leopold Street’s legendary Buccaneer bar.

Tuesday, 22nd September 2020, 7:19 pm

It was one of Sheffield’s most popular pubs and some have never got over the day it shut in 1973.

In fact the owners were that worried about souvenir hunters they never formally announced its last day.

The city’s Buccaneer was probably more a labyrinth than a straightforward pub.

An elegant-looking customer makes an entrance

It was actually a collection of dimly lit, pirate-inspired theme bars that sat under Leopold Street’s Grand Hotel.

Punters would stumble around from room to room and the foundations would reverberate to the rock sounds emanating from the turntables.

It was a magnet for anyone left of centre in the late 1960s and early 1970s and boasted George Webster, later to become co-owner of West Street’s legendary Limit venue, heading up the turntables.

For all its rebellious rumblings, there was more than an air of respectability running through it. It was actually owned by Trust House Forte that also operated the hotel.

Landlady Olga Marshall at the Buccaneer

The upstairs had been a pillar of the city’s tourism trade for decades. The hotel even gets a starring role in Bob Dylan’s film Don’t Look Back – the management try to chuck the artist and entourage out of the hotel!

Olga Marshall, who truly made her name at the Wapentake a few years later, rose through the ranks to become the manager of the Buccaneer and brought in George Webster to spice things up a bit.

She rarely drank, didn’t smoke and was already a mother of four in 1972.

She started there as a barmaid in 1964 and soon made it clear she wasn’t happy with the way things operated.

Buccaneer assistant manager Norman Coldwell, DJs George Webster and Ian Roberts with Christmas gifts for pensioners

Olga said: “We’d only got a jukebox so I spoke to the management company about getting a DJ in.

They brought in a company called DRM, I think, who came along with flashing lights and the full set-up but they just weren’t what we wanted at all.

“I asked if I could sort something out myself and found George Webster, who was playing at the Canon Hall social club at Page Hall at the time. He started playing the kind of music my customers liked.”

Takings went through the roof.

Customers at the Buccaneer

“We took more on our first night with George Webster than t he Buccaneer took on its average weekend,” she said.

The Buccaneer became one of the busiest and most popular venues in the city in the early seventies.Regular Peter Eales said: “There was nowhere else playing music like it in Sheffield. You went to The Buccaneer if you wanted to hear stuff that was different and wasn’t mainstream.

“It had a real buzz about it. There were lots of different rooms but it was that dark you could never tell where you were anyway.”

The last disc was spun at the Buccaneer in 1973 after 1,979 days of custom. The punters were heartbroken.

Paul Smith remembers: “My girlfriend cried her eyes out when it shut. We were together over 10 years – she never truly got over it!”

Another busy night at the Buccaneer

Clive Porter just missed it: “I once went as far as the doorway of the Buccaneer but some of my bolder friends went in. Not long after that it closed, so I never actually got to go in.

“I did quite like The Museum in Orchard Square – it had a good jukebox. There was also The Albert at the top of Cambridge Street.”

Many of the former Buccaneer punters – prior to Olga Marshall taking up residence at the Wapentake - ended up frequenting the Crazy Daizy on High Street.

The venue became famous as the club where Phil Oakey first spotted Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley on the dancefloor.

He brought them in for his new- look Human League and they went on to conquer the world.

Olga went on to welcome former Buccaneer punters in her new home, the Wapentake Bar, a few months later.

George Webster followed her before opening The Limit on West Street in 1978.

The Buccaneer is celebrated in our new Sheffield rock T-shirt collection. It’s also featured in our best-selling Dirty Stop Out’s Guide to 1970s Sheffield book.

Both are on sale from www.dirtystopouts.com

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The champagne is certainly flowing here
An advertising image for the Buccaneer in Leopold Street, Sheffield