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Could stars return to Durham students' union?
THE legendary birthplace of rock anthem All Right Now could once again play host to some of music’s biggest names, under plans revealed tonight (Thursday, January 24).
Dunelm House, headquarters of Durham Students’ Union (DSU), was a firm fixture on the national music circuit in the 1960s and 70s, staging concerts by Pink Floyd, Procul Harum and more.
Even Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin are said to have graced its stage and legend has it that Free wrote their rock anthem All Right Now backstage, ironically after a particularly poorly received gig.
Aside from the annual Durham Beer Festival, the New Elvet venue has been used mostly for student events in recent years.
But plans are now afoot for a major revamp of the Sixties-built Brutalist concrete building, with officials hoping to attract headline acts once again.
The first stage of the masterplan was unveiled tonight, with the official opening of the refurbished Riverside Cafe and Bar.
In future years, other parts of the venue, including the 700-capacity ballroom, are also earmarked for redevelopment.
DSU president Archie Dallas said: “The University is considering options to refurbish the entire building. It certainly needs one (a refurbishment). As far as I’m aware, it’s never had once since it was built.
“We’re moving back to opening it up to the community.
“Aside from the Gala (Theatre), which is very specific, there aren’t many places in Durham that do culture and music that isn’t quite niche.”
Work on refurbishing the Riverside Bar and Cafe has taken about three months.
The venue, which now has a drinks licence for the first time, will showcase the best in student talent, with live music, karaoke and open mic nights, along with weekly quizzes. Reflecting on the airy, comfortable layout, Mr Dallas said: “It’s absolutely incredible. The students love it. To have somewhere that’s always got people coming through is great.
“There are 200 student societies, including many musical groups, and we hope to showcase their talent.”
The cafe, which boasts free wi-fi, is open 8am to 11.30pm Monday to Friday only, serving food during the day before the bar opens at 5pm.