The Limit – did the spirit of King Mojo help inspire its success? - Dirty Stop Outs

The Limit – did the spirit of King Mojo help inspire its success?

Outside the Limit on West Street

It was actually a late-comer in terms of the market it was set to originally serve - punk was already well into its second year by the time the Limit opened in 1978.

But no one else was plugging the gap and the city’s “waifs and strays” grabbed the West Street venue with both hands.

The city’s reaction to the punk movement that first hit Sheffield in 1976 had hardly been welcoming.

Anthony Cronshaw remembers: “There was a lot of hostility towards punk in the city – right from the day it arrived. Before the Limit there was really only the Wapentake to go to.”

The club was at the forefront of a group of regional independent venues that opened in Northern England around the same time and went on to help shape the UK music scene in the eighties. Other venues included the Warehouse in Leeds, Eric’s in Liverpool and the Hacienda in Manchester.

They were all essential stop off points for artists on their ascendency and each had their own particular traits. If cash was king it’s arguable that the Limit won hands down. It was hugely successful and even went on to bankroll the transformation of the then derelict Lyceum Theatre into a music venue in the early ‘80s.

It thrived in a world without Facebook, mobile phones  and instant messaging.

The Specials at the Limit - pic by James Melik

The early Limit promotion machine was a world of DIY handbills, flyposting and newspaper adverts.

The Limit survived and thrived through times of major political and social unrest.

It saw off the Winter of Discontent in 1978-1979; the Miners’ Strike of 1984 and the recession of the 1980s.

You can actually trace the roots of the Limit back to the mid-sixties and the King Mojo – the venue unveiled by Peter and Geoff Stringfellow in 1964.

Future Limit operators George Webster and Kevan Johnson both yearned for the return of a similar venue.

The first half of the seventies had seen big changes in the after dark world. It was a time of glitz, glamour and cabaret.

King Mojo's Peter Stringfellow

King Mojo couldn’t have been more different. It was an alcohol-free teenage club held in a former dance hall in the suburbs of the city.

It built its reputation from the ground up and booked acts that went on to major national and international fame.

Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, Ike & Tina Turner – they all made the pilgrimage to 555 Pitsmoor Road.

Its city centre rival, the Esquire, was doing similar things in the city centre.

It’s fair to say the Limit took the best of both venues – added alcohol and, to coin a phrase they nicked from The Eagles, took things ‘to the limit’.

* Taken from Neil Anderson's forthcoming 10th anniversary edition of 'Take It To The Limit' which is available to pre-order now. 

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