Workers in the industrial heart of Victorian Sheffield didn’t have to go far for entertainment. Streets that by day echoed with the clatter of metalworking, by night filled with the chatter of eager music hall-goers. Little Piccadilly, as the West Bar area became known, was home to the likes of the Britannia, the Royal Casino, the Grand, the Gaiety and the largest, the Surrey Music Hall which stood on the site of the present Crown Courts. A theatre of 1,500 capacity which also included a ballroom, dining rooms, outdoor dancing terrace, buffet and a subterranean museum.
The Surrey was run by Councillor Tommy Youdan, a larger than life character who also sponsored the first ever football trophy competition – the Youdan Cup. As well as music, audiences enjoyed circus, comedy, magic, eventually film – and plenty of drinking. At their peak, the halls ran ‘twice nightly’ programmes. Most of the buildings have been lost over the years, either to development or to the fires that were all too common in such heavily-draped, gas-lit and wood-constructed halls. The former Don Picture House survives, though, behind the cladding on the corner of West Bar and Paradise Street.
Carving by Steve Roche
Steve Roche at his studio. Stone carvings by himself, Anthony Downing and Mark Hetherington