Could Fibbers go back home? Music venue might return to Stonebow House

Closed: Fibbers on Toft Green. Photographs: Richard McDougall
6 Jan 2020 @ 6.32 pm
| News

It’s goodbye to Fibbers… for now.

The legendary York music venue has closed its doors for good on Toft Green. But the owners say they want to move into a new home.

Or, indeed, an old home – as Fibbers’ original location, Stonebow House, is one of the potential venues they are looking at.

Aaron Mellor of Tokyo Industries, which owns Fibbers, told YorkMix: “We don’t have any fixed plans, other than a strong desire for Fibbers to continue as a brand within York.

“We love York and we’re very keen to continue.”

Back to the old house

A big space… Inside Stonebow House
We reported last year how developers North Star plan to demolish Fibbers’ old Toft Green home, to make way for offices.

Aaron said they were originally told Fibbers could remain on Toft Green until May or June, but in November “the developer decided that he wanted the site back a little bit earlier. Our existing lease expired on 6 January which has meant a fairly sudden closure.”

And it also means the search for a new home is all the more urgent.

After reading that plans for a food hall in the redeveloped Stonebow House had been scrapped, Aaron has got in touch with the building’s developers.

“We don’t have anything locked down. We are speaking with a number of people on the other side of the river about new accommodation, including the old Fibbers site,” he said.

Fibbers in its original home – at the back of Stonebow House, in 2008. Photograph © Google Street View
They are waiting to hear from the Stonebow House developers

“I read that the old developer who was moving into the front of Stonebow has relinquished the site and is no longer interested.

“So we’ve sent an email to the developer of that site – and we’ve got numerous emails out to other developers and retail people within York.”

He said he spent this weekend “walking around York, taking notes of boards and different spaces that would work”.

This might be a ‘gap space’ which Fibbers could occupy for a year or two before moving into a more permanent home.

He is urging music fans to help Fibbers find a new venue:

  • It’s a call to arms. We are in need of a new home.

    If any readers know of anywhere, or if there are any property developers that want to house Fibbers, we’d super love to hear from them.

If you can help please contact Aaron on [email protected].

Bands need venues

Pete Doherty plays Fibbers
Launched by Tim Hornsby on Stonebow in 1992, Fibbers quickly established itself as York’s top live music venue.

It has played host to some of the biggest names in music, from The Killers to Coldplay, Laura Marling to Lee Scratch Perry.

Aaron has owned Fibbers for ten years and says York needs places like it.

  • It’s hugely important, not just for York but for bands.

    The bands that Fibbers has seen through its doors, they all need grassroots venues in the UK and the country is losing them.

    There’s been a feeling that live music venues weren’t that important to a city’s fabric.

    I think the council are now thankfully realising that to have a great vibrant city you need all types of different spaces.

Fibbers is part of the new York Music Venues Network, which won backing from City of York Council last month.

Trying to stay alive

This is what is proposed to replace Fibbers on Toft Green
“I don’t see the retail sector coming back any time soon really,” Aaron said. “There’s a lot of boarded-up buildings in York city centre at the moment.

“There are developers out there holding these boarded-up buildings that they’re paying rates on. Let’s have a look at trying to do something with that.”

He added:

  • We are hugely motivated to stay in York and we are speaking to anyone who has got vacant units at the moment to try and stay alive.

    Fibbers has been amazing and long may it continue.

    This certainly isn’t the end, just another chapter in a very interesting book.

In a separate development North Star are behind the regeneration of Rougier Street as the ‘Roman Quarter’.

It wants to include a 400-capacity music venue as part of the plans, and they have held talks with Fibbers about running it.

But that wouldn’t open for several years.