National Centre for Popular Music

The National Centre for Popular Music was a short-lived visitor attraction in the centre of Sheffield. It aimed to be ‘an innovative visitor centre and education resource celebrating the dynamism and diversity of popular music.’

It was designed to attract visitors to Sheffield and boost the local economy as the city emerged from a difficult economic period where industries, such as steel and manufacturing, had faced a period of rapid decline. Those involved in planning the venture were partly inspired by the success of both the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford and the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in the USA.

The Centre was also to act as an anchor in the developing Cultural Industries Quarter (CIQ). However, it failed to attract the number of visitors required, and despite attempts to boost visitor figures, the Centre closed just 17 months after it opened.

The £15 million venture was funded to the tune of £11 million by the national lottery – at the time it was the fourth largest grant given to a project outside London.

The unique design of the building – 4 drums representing different aspects of music - dance music, religion, love and rebellion, and unique singers, attracted considerable comment.

Following the Centre’s closure there were unsuccessful attempts to turn the building into a live music venue. In 2002 the building was sold to Yorkshire Forward at a tenth of its construction cost, and a year later it became the new home of Sheffield Hallam University’s Student Union.

Contact us to find out more, book in advance or order archival materials.

Contact the Archives and Local Studies Library

0114 203 9395 (Sat, Mon, Tues)
0114 273 4753 (Wed, Thur, Fri, Sat)
First Floor, Central Library
Surrey Street
S1 1XZ

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