Leeds & West Yorkshire

The Cockpit in Leeds closes after 20 years of music

Cockpit interior Image copyright Tom airey
Image caption The venue has been a key music venue in the city since the 1990s

A Leeds music venue that hosted gigs by artists such as Amy Winehouse, Kaiser Chiefs and the White Stripes has announced it has closed for good.

The Cockpit opened in 1994 and was closed for "essential maintenance" in July but has now revealed its permanent demise.

The venue's main room held 500 people underneath railway arches in Swinegate.

Colin Oliver, of the venue's promoters Futuresound, said it was sad to see it go, but he blamed a "changed" industry.

Mr Oliver said: "We should have done this two years ago."

Image caption Amy Winehouse was one of the artists who played gigs at The Cockpit

Have you got pictures and memories of bands you saw at the Cockpit? Please let us know at england@bbc.co.uk


Mr Oliver added no money had been spent on the venue over the 20 years, but gutting and refurbishing it "didn't work as a model" and the company could not afford to be "emotionally attached".

He said nowadays people did not go out to nightclubs during the week, while students had "big debts".

Mr Oliver said the company had a new venue opening in the city next week.

Image caption Kaiser Chiefs went from The Cockpit to playing festivals like Glastonbury

Simon Rix of Kaiser Chiefs has tweeted his thanks to the venue for providing his "musical education there at 17 at [club night] Brighton Beach".

He also added the Leeds-based band, originally called Parva, were signed after playing the Cockpit in in 2004.

'Favourite, regular haunt'

Lorraine Jones, 33, who works in advertising, said she remembered the club fondly after first meeting her now husband Richard at the Cockpit during 2000.

The couple, who were students at the University of Leeds, had an interest in "slightly obscure indie music" and met at one of the venue's club nights, she said.

"It had charm, nobody expected a smart venue but it was definitely one of our favourite, regular haunts," she said.

Now the couple are married and living in Manchester with their two children.

Mrs Jones said: "The Cockpit never felt like a 'student venue' - people didn't go there to get drunk, although sometimes that was the result... We went for the music."

She particularly remembers seeing Dublin band JJ72 at the Cockpit and that bands like Coldplay and Muse were both "quite small at the time".

Image copyright Roger Templeman
Image caption The venue's main room held about 500 people underneath railway arches

Sean Hornby, 40, from Leeds, tweeted about the closure: "Very disappointing. Never been to a bad gig there. Great atmosphere and sound. Proper shame."

He said he last went to the Cockpit just before it closed in July to see The Dandy Warhols on what turned out to be a "roasting" night when the band and the walls were "drowning in sweat".

"I thought it was part of Leeds' musical heritage like the much-missed Duchess," he added.


Cockpit memories: Trevor Gibbons, BBC News, Leeds

It was small(ish), it was hot and it was sweaty. But it was the place to go for live music in Leeds for legions of music lovers.

I once saw The Fall play a tempestuous gig there when they declined to do an encore; instead they sent their roadies onstage to perform three songs.

It was the sort of place where you could see plenty of bands who you knew would go on to great success and even headline festivals... but you would always rather have seen them at a proper venue than in a big, wet field.

What better use could you put an old railway arch to? Weird, wacky and wild but it was The Cockpit.

Buzzcocks and Mumford: More Cockpit memories


The Cockpit was previously a pub before becoming a music venue and "an integral pillar of the Leeds music scene", according to the closure announcement on its website.

Other artists who played at the venue included Boy George, Elastica, Embrace, Feeder, The Hives, Kula Shaker, New Model Army, Placebo, Shed 7 and many smaller local bands.

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