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Sheffield History

The Limit: Sheffield’s Greatest Nightclub?

The Limit Nightclub Sign
The Limit Nightclub Sign

The list of gone-but-not-forgotten nightclubs in Sheffield is huge. One of the most fondly remembered is The Limit.

A huge, dark former basement club on West Street, The Limit is now regularly referred to as ‘the small place that U2 played at when they were starting out’.

The Limit, West Street, Sheffield
The Limit, West Street, Sheffield

Take me to The Limit

The Limit opened on 30 March 1978. Despite its reputation for being dark, having sticky floors and the toilets invariably being flooded, the venue is regarded as ‘legendary’ by former patrons.

Many bands graced the stage at the venue. Acts included OMDMadnessDexy’s Midnight RunnersThe UndertonesMarillionUltravox and UB40 — as well as a lengthy list of popular Sheffield bands such as Def LeppardCaberet VoltaireHuman League and Pulp. Indeed, members of local bands seemed to always be in the venue whether playing or not!

Artery Performing at The Limit

Legendary performances

Legend has it that Pink Floyd performed a secret warm-up gig at the venue. Word was spread just an hour or two before doors opened. As would be expected, The venue was packed out and hundreds of people were turned away.

Flyer for The Limit promoting U2.
Flyer for The Limit promoting U2: Thursday 13 November, 1980.

The B-52s played their first ever UK performance at the club (25 July 1979), later described by Q magazine as one of the best gigs of all time”.

Club entrance, West Street, Sheffield
The club entrance, West Street, Sheffield

DJs such as resident Paul Unwin would play an eclectic and alternative mix of music on club nights. Regulars would hear likes of Joy DivisionThe ClashIggy PopNew Model ArmyThe CureUltravoxSimple Minds and many, many more.

Flier for The Limit featuring Ghost Dance, Ides of March and Boy on a Dolphin c.1988
Flier for The Limit featuring Ghost Dance, Ides of March and Boy on a Dolphin 20/21 November 1988. Image kindly supplied by J. Emens.

End of an era

Last Night at The Limit Ticket
Ticket for the last night of The Limit, Saturday 19th January 1991.

The Limit finally closed its doors on 19 January 1991, to much sadness from its many regulars. The final night was ticketed at £10, which included all drinks for free in order to drink the bar dry.

A painted ‘Sheffield Music Map’ plaque long marked the spot where the club once stood. Inevitably the building was bulldozed and redeveloped into new retail units and apartments.

Even today a number of ‘The Limit reunion’ nights at various venues in the city prove popular. Familiar faces from the original club can be seen at these events. Likewise, the music is often provided by the original DJs from the venue.

The Limit Plaque, Sheffield
Sheffield Music Map ‘plaque’ at the site of The Limit following the building’s demolition (now gone)

Local bestselling book “Take me to The Limit” is still a popular read and a couple of venues have tried — but failed — to recapture the spirit of the original in recent years.

Neil Anderson recently published a new The Limit edition of Dirty Stop Outs Guide to 1980s Sheffield.

All Sheffielders will have their own favourite lost night-spot. Other notable former clubs and pubs include:

There are so many former nightclubs in Sheffield it is impossible to remember and list them all!

What are your memories? Have your say in the comments!

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Flyer featuring Human League and (Deaf) Def Leppard
Flyer featuring Human League and (Deaf) Def Leppard

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Founder and editor of The Sheffield Guide. A lifelong Sheffielder with a local pride that lovingly crafts each and every piece created. Discover the very best of the Steel City with The Sheffield Guide.

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