How To Survive As A Small Venue – Foremans Punk Bar In Nottingham Shows The WayForemans: The story of the small venue that not only survived, but has gone  from strength to strength… John Robb photo : Phil Tooze.

Recent times on Louder Than War have seen a sad pattern emerging; story after story of small independent venues and clubs shutting down; recession having turned the social world into a kind of battleground of social Darwinism. If somewhere as fantastic and iconic as The Twisted Wheel can’t survive, what hope is there for the rest of them? Everyone probably has their own story to tell of a lost venue  – for me it’s the Town Mill in Mansfield, were I socialised throughout my sixth form years and saw lots of great bands. The Mill was also the favoured venue and bar of my sister – 14 years my senior – during her teens, which indicates its long influence. Sadly, it closed in the midst of economic struggle recently.

These all to frequent stories make the current situation of Foreman’s Bar in Nottingham all the more remarkable. A capacity of less than 50 made live music an impossibility for them until a change in the law last year – which has seen the make the bold leap into live music venue. Better still, every single gig they have put on has sold out and the venture – described by landlord Jason Whittle as a “punk rock co-operative,” a good socialist punk expression in itself – has taken off. Launching back in February with the Lurkers and 999’s Arturo Bassick, the venue has since seen well-received gigs from Glen Matlock, Henry Cluney, TV Smith, Tom Hingley and a sold out Goldblade show  (with a sold out set from Vice Squad the next in the listings.)

Jason explains to me that the biggest barrier for them in terms of booking bands is often management; the more accessible figures on the scene, however, are all willing, understanding what the true spirit of punk is all about – independence, do-it-yourself. What’s more, the atmosphere at the gigs they hold is so enjoyable that everybody wants to come back. As I’ve often said in my reviews of gigs held there, I’d certainly be here than in some soulless arena were the atmosphere just can’t compete with the friendliness, intimacy of bustle of independent venues such as Foremans (and the Town Mill RIP…)

The location of Foremans is also worth noting – sat on a soulless street filled with chain bars that, were it not for Foremans, could be probably be any street in the country. There’s something incongruous about this lively little venue in the midst of it all; but of course I mean that in the very best way possible. To many major cities in the UK are starting to look the same as each other; of every generic high street could play host to at least one independent business or venue the country would look a lot better for it. Over the years, Foremans has come to be one of my very favourite places in Nottingham, along with our arthouse cinema (the Broadway), excellent art gallery (the Nottingham

Contemporary) and vegetarian and vegan café bar (the Alley Café) – all independently run ventures. I find it hard to imagine anybody saying that there favourite place is the Trent FM Arena, so it doesn’t seem right that these are the places that thrive whilst small venues struggle.

As Jason and I look over Foreman’s recent successes I point out that a lot of my affection for it also derives from the fact that it is more than a “punk pub” – it is, put simply, just a music lovers pub. As someone with strong affiliations to various genres, this is always going to attract not just me, but many others, and its new venue status is serving it well. Lets hope that the story of its evolution provides inspiration to all those other small bars and venues out there.

Foremans contact details:

Phone: 0115 837 2029

Foremans on Facebook.


Twitter  @Foremans_bar

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Notts born and bred contributor to Louder than War since 2011. Loves critical theory and Situationism and specialises in cultural "thought pieces" and features, on music, film and wider pop culture.


  1. We need more places with this kind of attitude I think.

    Ah management getting in the way? Takes me back to looking up venues in the back of the NME and Kerrang! phoning up getting their address posting a demo CD in a jiffybag and ringing up again a week later ourselves for gigs. Couldn’t afford managers!


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