The Spin Jazz Club, Oxford’s leading contemporary jazz club, has relocated to a new venue at the Old Fire Station, a performing arts centre on George Street. The club was previously located at the Wheatsheaf pub on the High Street.
The club has been closed since the first national lockdown in March 2020 and faced uncertainty around its reopening amid plans for the Wheatsheaf’s first floor to be converted into student flats.
The planning application to convert the first-floor concert venue of the Wheatsheaf was withdrawn on April 9th 2021. ‘Save the Sheaf’, a Facebook group, was set up to raise awareness of the potential closure and attracted almost 3,000 members. The group urged people to show their support and oppose the application by submitting objections.
Oxford Civic Society also submitted a letter to Oxford City Council objecting to the planning application. The letter read: “The applicant should be encouraged to withdraw the application and continue the music function in some way, or join forces with the music community and others to look for an alternative site. Encouraging the Wheatsheaf’s previous activities somehow to continue would be firmly in the spirit of both the national and the local planning systems. It would also be consistent with the city’s COVID recovery efforts and its ambition to enhance the attractiveness of the city centre to visitors.”
Oxford City Council received more than 1500 objections to the application. An email from the Council’s Development Management stated: “The application was withdrawn following concerns from officers as we were likely to recommend refusal of the application on the grounds of the loss of community facility, the poor quality of accommodation proposed, harm to a local heritage asset and inadequate consideration of refuse storage.”
Following the planned conversion of the pub’s first floor, acclaimed guitarist and founder of The Spin set about finding a new location for the club. The Spin has previously been named the Best Jazz Venue in The UK by the All-Party Parliamentary Jazz Awards, the industry standard awards group.
Oxley set up The Spin with drummer Mark Doffman and bassist Raph Mizraki in 1999 and now runs the club alongside Stuart Miller. The club officially relaunched last night, May 13, at the Oxford Fire Station with a streamed concert, on the day which marks 22 years since the club’s first live gig in 1999. The online event was recorded and filmed at the new venue and presented the Oxley – Meier band of five virtuosi musicians performing in OFS’s black-box theatre.
Speaking to the Oxford Mail, Pete Oxley said: “Whenever rules permit us to open to the public, we want the audience to enter a room, full of magical expectations. The lighting in the venue is second-to-none; there will be candle-lit tables awaiting you with waiter-service. The bar will be equipped with an interesting choice of tipples designed by The Spin, and on the stage, the seductively lit instruments will portent a great night ahead!”
He added: “It was a complete joy for the band to play there, and this has been superbly captured in the recording and filming. Although the film will be available for a limited period after Thursday, we would like to encourage anybody interested in supporting this new collaboration by ‘being there’ – albeit in the comfort of your own home – at 8.30pm on May 13, in the hope that we will feel a collective spirit of positivity for the future of The Spin!”
Jeremy Spafford, Director at the Old Fire Station told Cherwell: “We’re delighted to begin a new partnership with The Spin. Supporting local music is so important, especially now when it is under threat from grassroots venue closures across the country. Our first gig with The Spin [was] online, [on] Thursday, and we look forward to welcoming audiences back in person soon.”
Image Credit: Martin Junius / CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0