Back in the glory days of manufacturing and heavy industry, that timeless beacon of Britishness – the pub – served both residential and industrial communities. Pubs catered to factory workers and became important meeting places for factory bosses, and the constant supply of patrons ensured a prosperous trade. Today, few of these pubs remain. But some have managed to hang on in varying degrees of popularity. Here’s a selection of some that have, and other less fortunate hostelries that tell the story of a different era.
The Kelham Island Tavern
The eponymous Kelham Island Tavern, originally called The White Hart, dates to around 1833 when the Kelham Island district of Sheffield was a booming centre of Britain’s cutlery industry. Witnessing the rise and decline of this once great steel city, the Kelham Island Tavern enjoys a more laid back existence today as a popular haunt of real ale fans, and won the CAMRA National Pub of the Year 2008. Click here for more information about the Kelham Island Tavern and other real ale pubs in Sheffield. It also gets the nod from the Sheffield University Real Ale Society!
The Fat Cat
Standing on Alma Street immediately around the corner from the Kelham Island Tavern, The Fat Cat is renowned as Sheffield’s “original real ale free house”. Pubs today are either independent free houses (like the Fat Cat), micro-brewery owned, or owned by “pubcos”, the latter representing the core number that have closed with the staggering demise of the British pub. Thankfully, with its excellent reputation, the Fat Cat should be with us for years to come. For a more atmospheric glance at this pub, check out A Pint For The Ghost.
This nicely renovated gastro pub began life in 1833 as The Ball Inn – also in the Kelham Island area. With the two pubs mentioned already and several more as well, the men who worked in the tough Victorian cutlery works certainly had plenty of choice. The Milestone, as it is known today, was actually built into the corner of Cornish Works (now converted into modern apartments called Cornish Place). The beer garden opened onto the factory courtyard at the back, and its continued existence means as good a service for today’s residents as the steelworkers of the past. With Sheffield once producing more than 50 per cent of world steel, perhaps the hands that forged your ancestors’ cutlery also lifted pint to mouth in pubs like The Milestone.
Standing on the corner of Nursery Street and Brunswick Steet opposite Sheffield’s riverside, The Harlequin is another real ale pub and also a popular live music venue, regularly showcasing local talent. Formerly known as The Manchester, the pub is adjacent to the now renovated Aizlewoods Mill, an impressive feature on this ever changing industrial landscape. Check out what the locals have to say.
The Corner Pin
If walls could speak! The Corner Pin occupies the corner of Carlisle Street and Atlas Street, in the midst of what was once the heart of Sheffield’s steel producing area. Even today, the old steel works loom above the pub, giving it a strangely out-of-place appearance amongst these leviathans of the industrial era. It was the deline of steel in Sheffield that gave way to the runaway hit The Full Monty, which made it to the stage in America and heavily featured this part of the city.
Abandoned Pubs of Sheffield
There’s something evocative about these derelict pubs, meeting places once teeming with life now hidden away behind boarded facades. It’s unlikely any of them will be used again for their primary purpose, although hopefully the buildings might be saved and reintegrated into the changing cityscape.