Keeping the music alive

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THE spirit of The Boardwalk – the legendary music venue in Sheffield city centre – is to live on.

After the premises closed suddenly three months ago, a new venue is due to open under new ownership at Easter on the floor below with an entrance off Snig Hill.

Combining the names of the The Boardwalk and its predecessor, the Black Swan, it will offer a stage for bands and other performers in front of an audience of up to 250 against the background of a real ale bar.

Behind the project is Del Tilling, who used to own the New Barrack Tavern in Penistone Road and the Hillsborough Hotel in Langsett Road. “The important thing is to keep The Boardwalk alive and maintain the musical heritage,” he said. “It’s Sheffield’s Cavern.”

Del has bought three floors of the building from Admiral Taverns. However, the floor that used to accommodate The Boardwalk remains empty and in the ownership of Enterprise Inns, which is talking to potential tenants.

In the long term, Del hopes he may be able to extend his venture upstairs but for the moment he is concentrating on completing the refurbishment of the part of the building that used to be called Under The Boardwalk. The revamp is creating a venue slightly smaller than the one above.

He said: “It will be very much the same as upstairs but I shall be adding things, possibly more acoustic stuff. We’ll be looking to work with some of the promoters who were upstairs to try to maintain that Boardwalk feel.”

Already he is planning a beer and music festival as part of the Tramlines music festival in the summer.

After his involvement on the Sheffield real ale scene, Del retired with his wife, Diana, to the Isle of Wight. “But I missed Sheffield so we moved back, bought part of the Boardwalk building and I have been refurbishing it ever since. It’s important the musical heritage is preserved.”

Walls of the venue are being decorated with albums of some of Sheffield’s musical heroes such as Def Leppard, Joe Cocker and the Human League.

He hopes that a combination of music on the ‘Black Swan The Boardwalk’ stage, the tradition of the venue and the beer (he is free of brewery ties) proves a winning combination. Then perhaps he can turn his attention to the floor above.

“I’d like to turn it into a multi-use area, perhaps with a web-based radio station, a practice room for bands, a gallery for local artists, a restaurant...”

Since The Boardwalk closed after 15 years, promoter Chris Wilson has moved many shows to venues such as Plug in Matilda Street and The Greystones in Greystones Road.

An Enterprise Inns statement said: “We can confirm that we have entered into discussions with an interested party with regards to taking the lease at The Boardwalk. However, nothing is finalised as yet.

“We remain very interested in hearing from successful live music venue operators who may wish to consider this opportunity. Any interested parties should contact our recruitment team on 0800 9530072.”