As readers of this blog will know, I hail from Yorkshire. So when the news broke around two weeks ago that the iconic music venue and club The Cockpit in Leeds was to close I was heartbroken. According to their official website the reason for the closure was “it is no longer viable to deliver you the level of service you deserve with the building in its current condition.” The Cockpit had temporarily closed over the summer for refurbishment but it sounds like the venue has a lot more work needed to it than previously thought.
Forever The Sickest Kids, 2009. All pictures are mine, unless stated otherwise.
The owner of The Cockpit, Colin Oliver spoke to The Yorkshire Evening Press and said that the venue would have to be closed for a year to do the work needed and it is not viable to work. As someone who works in a music venue/bar, every day the venue is not open , is a day not making the money it needs to keep running. This means the venue will have to close and all the gigs planned there are being moved to other venues throughout Leeds, mainly The Keys Club.
During my earlier teens I frequently visited The Cockpit for gigs. My first standing gig was at the venue to watch The Blackout back in 2008. The popularity of the Slam Dunk nights at The Cockpit help give birth to Slam Dunk Festival which is running successful every year and only growing. Part of me can’t help but wonder why the city council cannot invest money in such an iconic place, they have just spent a small fortune on the city’s first arena. But small venues such as The Cockpit are slowing dying out and frankly that is upsetting. Fibbers and The Duchess in York have both had face lifts over recent years and are still going on, so why can’t The Cockpit. Leeds has had many closures of small venues such as Rio’s and The Well, is this a sign of things to come, I hope not.
But then again the closure of The Cockpit should not surprise me. The venue’s sound system was never the best and it was a dingy place under the dark arches but it was well and truly loved. And that is why it has affected so many people. Queuing hours on end outside that venue, waiting at the back of the venue to meet your favourite bands (it was one of the easiest places to meet a band). And this to the fact that the venue was next to the train station, one of the most practical things (access to toilets you had to pay for and a McDonalds so you have no need to stray to the other side of the city to get some food). The memories I have of that venue will stay with me for a long time and I can say with much confidence that I never had a bad experience at The Cockpit.
So thank you Cockpit, thank you for being a venue that despite its flaws always gave a good gig. Thank you for being such an integral part of the Leeds music scene, you will be truly missed.