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Gatecrasher One

When somebody asks you about this building then you realise that history can be more recent than you realise. Especially for those millennials who’ve never seen another century, nor are likely to.

This ordinary looking student accommodation on Matilda Street, at the edge of the city centre, was built in 2016. It takes the name of Gatecrasher, complete with a logo of a vinyl disc.

Our story begins with Henry John Roper and George Wreaks, who set up an engineering company in the nineteenth century, eventually moving to the Oval Works at the corner of Arundel Street and Matilda Street, about 1904.

The two-storey brick building was in use until 1986, and like many former industrial sites, was left empty for several years.

In 1991, an application was made to convert the building into offices, a plan never realised, and then subject to numerous requests for conversion into a nightclub.

The final application succeeded, and after refurbishment, the building opened as The Republic nightclub in 1995.

The building was extended on a sloping topography by Birmingham architects, Mills Beaumont Levy, “in a fragmented style of Gehry-esque fractured geometry with a mono-pitch roof, and varnished timber cladding, not quite vertical with tiny square windows.”

The Republic struggled financially, its rescuer being Gatecrasher, a club night, that started using the building on Saturday nights in 1996.

Gatecrasher, a pioneering trance music event in Birmingham, had been set up by Simon Raine and Scott Bond in the early nineties.

Due to competition in the city, the duo moved the event to Sheffield, originally at The Leadmill, then at The Arches, near The Wicker, and eventually The Adelphi, a disused cinema in Attercliffe.

Gatecrasher eventually bought The Republic for a six-figure sum, afterwards renaming it Gatecrasher One in 2003, the first of ten proposed clubs, although subsequent venues in Leeds, Nottingham, Birmingham and Watford did not get numbered.

The main body of Gatecrasher One was split into five areas – The Foyer, Main Room, Electric Box, Lounge and the VIP Pod. The interior design was by Matt Rawlinson of RAW, and famous for its bespoke Opus sound system.

Gatecrasher One became legendary on the British dance music scene, with resident DJs including the likes of Judge Jules, Paul Van Dyck and Tiesto, and was often over-subscribed, entry only obtained if you were lucky enough.

Its demise came on 18 June 2007, when a fire destroyed it and caused partial collapse of the building. While council officers were keen for it to be repaired, structural engineers claimed it was beyond reparation and it was demolished.

After demolition, it was a vacant site until the six-storey Gatecrasher apartments were built in 2016, the garden feature built in the shape of a record turntable and four wings named after musical terms – Opus, Mezzo, Viva and Accent.

While the signage might be the only reminder of its halcyon days, Gatecrasher arrived back in Sheffield the same year as the apartments opened, taking a lease on the former Kingdom nightclub on Burgess Street, opening as Area, and eventually to be demolished as part of the Heart of the City II scheme.