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Friday 17th
posted by Faye Lipson in Features

by Faye Lipson

ON THE eve of Record Store Day, the threatened demolition of Rare and Racy adds a solemn note to the celebrations.

The book and music shop has been in Sheffield’s bijou Devonshire Street since 1969 and houses swathes of off-beat literature and vinyl records.

Musician Jarvis Cocker is among the shop’s fans, calling it a “global treasure.”

Yet it now looks certain to be bulldozed, along with other independent businesses including The Natural Bed Company and fashion boutique Syd and Mallory.

Last month developers Primesite UK Ltd won support from Sheffield City Council to demolish buildings 162-170 on the street and build new apartments, a shop and a restaurant in their place.

The Labour-controlled council ignored a 20,000-strong petition against the proposals and the objections of Labour Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield.

Author and Morning Star jazz columnist Chris Searle, a Sheffield resident, praised the “absolutely unique” premises for its collection of “highly progressive jazz.”

“Many of the records I have reviewed in the Morning Star’s pages, I heard first in there,” he revealed. “I’ve been visiting it twice a week for 30 years.”

He believes that once gone, the shop would be irreplaceable.

“It offers an extraordinary range of music including highly progressive jazz that you couldn’t buy anywhere else, plus music by local artist Phlegm, who also painted the extraordinary array of murals on and inside the shop,” he explained.

“It embodies a different notion of shops, of risk-taking and cultural adventure. I have never seen or known a shop like it. I’ve visited record shops in many towns and none can compare to it.

“It is absolutely unique.”

He regards shop co-owner Alan Capes as another one-of-a-kind for showing unusual generosity to the city’s poorer residents.

“I’m good friends with Alan. He’s too shy to do interviews, but he’s a wonderful man.

“I’ve seen down-and-outs come into the shop and Alan puts his hand in the till and gives them something.”

The need for new housing developments in Sheffield city centre is unclear.

The city’s housing supply already meets demand, with average rents for a three-bedroom home at an affordable £652 a month.

Coda Planning Ltd, which made the case for development on behalf of Primesite UK, claims that its plan will save the street from dereliction.

“The simple truth is that these buildings are in a state of disrepair,” said Coda Planning director Alan Murray.

“This means that if no action had been taken, then in the longer term the buildings would not be able to be occupied and would have become a serious blight to the area.”

But campaigners fighting to save the shops say they are determined to appeal against the decision.

  • The petition to save 162-170 Devonshire Street can be found at