Cellar Door has slammed shut: What next for Exeter’s nightlife?

There is now no reason to walk for more than 15 minutes


Tuesday nights will look very different this year.

While Arena’s queue snakes further down Summerland Street as punters pitch up for their quick fix of cheesy chips and cheesier tunes, Exeter’s Quay has fallen silent.

Cellar Door, once host to a bevy of Exeter’s best respected underground nights, changed hands over the summer. Rumour has it the club is set to become a gastro-pub – though its closure may leave Exeter with an appetite for something more substantial.

Ever since opening in 2011, the Cellar was the only reason Exeter students took a 20-minute walk.

Beats & Bass member Jed Fletcher said: “It had its own identity and stuck to it. It had a cool name, cool location and just didn’t stray from being cool.

“My experience has only been great, the music was different and interesting, and the DJs really knew what they were doing.

“Cellar Door had such a different feel to other nights that Exeter offered, it was unique and that made it worth the long walk there.”

Thick As Thieves founder Harry Horsfall said “When we joined the university a few years ago Exeter seemed a bit dry, it had the standard pop nights and then Beats & Bass hosted the techno nights, but we wanted to start something new, that was mid way, where you could bring your friends and listen to good music while having a good night.”

“We chose Cellar Door because it was new, looked cool allowed us to add more in order to expand what night life scene was like.”

His co-founder Will Millner also laments the venue’s demise. He said “It’s a shame that Cellar Door had to close down, we felt that it was really starting to make a name for Thick as Thieves and help the brand grow.

“The thing that made Thick as Thieves at Cellar Door stand out so much was the environment that it was in.

“At first we only sold tickets to friends and then friends of friends until it got big.

“That way we could build a group and make it more personal, if you know what I mean.

“You’ve got to move on though. The Cavern will be our new home for now and they have been playing good music for over six years.

“We’ve got a good foundation for this year and have many nights planned.”

As well as housing Exeter’s dance music scene, the Cellar also served as a performance space for theatre groups. Last year it hosted ‘The Dream’, a modernised adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which was one of the best received student plays of the year.  Actor Kwasi Yeboah said: “The atmosphere steals you from the norm, from the moment of entry to the time you leave. I really liked it.

“I thought it was just a suave place. How many underground clubs in the middle of Devon does a South London boy get to frequent?

“Not to mention it was an amazing performance space. Getting into role in that environment was perhaps one of the most exhilarating things I’ve done as a performer.”

While the shutting of Cellar Door is undoubtedly a blow to Exeter’s nightlife, it is far from a death knell for the underground scene.

The Cavern, as well as re-homing Thick As Thieves are set to host Kink, new boys Mahatma Music and indie nights, while Eton Messy are scheduled for regular visits this year.

What’s more, a second serving of Hijacked Festival is feted for the summer.

“This year it’s going to be even more out there,” Harry said.

“We’re happy that it’s done so well – we’re pretty amazed actually, but we don’t want to stop.

“We want to make it bigger and better and bring in more acts. The whole group of us dedicate our lives to this so we really want to make it worthwhile”.

“Cellar door? No, I don’t want to go sell a door”.

Sadly, such cringe jokes will no longer be heard around the streets of Exeter.