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A Magazine for Sheffield

Heritage Pubs: Sheffield's Historic Pub Interiors

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As part of my work as Pub Heritage Officer for Sheffield and District Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), I recently edited a free downloadable book about local heritage pubs, the first attempt to create a snapshot of the Sheffield pub heritage picture.

Included in the 81 pages are over 30,000 words, more than 300 images and detailed comment on all 22 Sheffield pubs listed on the CAMRA Pub Heritage website. Also documented are local pubs with some historical interest and many fragments of our historical brewery and pub heritage. Grateful thanks need to be given to Sheffield Archives on Shoreham Street, which provided access to a wealth of historical documentation.

Sheffield's heritage seems to have suffered more than most from the modernising carnage of the post-1960s. Large numbers of pubs fell into the hands of Bass and Whitbread, while John Smith's strengthened their hold before being taken over by Courage. Swathes of unsympathetic refurbishment were inflicted on a wide scale and even local companies that survived a little longer, like Septimus Henry Wards, eventually succumbed with no less vigour. Rooms were opened out and many historical features were lost.

The last 30 years has seen some pubs reversing this trend. A number of Victorian buildings - banks, cinemas and offices - have also been converted into pubs, saving the architecture and making positive use of the building.

Pubs included in the book range from the well-known to the unexpected. The cover features The White Lion on London Road, with its impressive interior tilework, while The Wyvern in Gleadless Valley is included because it is virtually unchanged since 1961, still using a separate off licence and shop, which retains both the original counter and shelving.

Across the city, there are many examples of distinctive windows

Across the city, there are many examples of distinctive windows. The Blue Ball in Worrall has an impressive set of Tennants windows, while many examples of those of both Tetleys and S.H.Wards exist. In Darnall, The Terminus Tavern has a fine stained glass window depicting Sheffield Castle. The Grapes has 'T R & Co', which refers to Thomas Rawson and Company, whose 1790 brewery occupied two acres on a site opposite Sheffield Midland Station. It was heavily damaged in the Sheffield Blitz in December 1940. Rawson's were the first brewers outside London to brew porter, perhaps an early example of Sheffield as a 'city of makers'.

Also included are many historical oddities. 1974 plans proposed that the internal snug of The Dog & Partridge on Trippet Lane should become a gent's toilet, while round the corner at Fagan's, in 1815 the present-day lounge was a neighbouring tenement. Further north, the middle left room at The Friendship in Stocksbridge includes a 1903 William Yale tiled painting of Venice. Billy Yale had his own studio in Stoke-on-Trent, advertising himself as a tile and slab decorator.

The Lescar is possibly unique in that 1909 plans include the addition of a new children's entrance on the Lescar Lane side of the building. These include a reference to 'obscure glass', presumably so that the children couldn't see what was going on inside.

The Cross Keys in Handsworth is one of only three pubs in the UK built on holy ground. It's an old vernacular building that stands virtually within the churchyard and there is a cemetery on the grounds of the pub. Originally a mid-13th century house for chaplains and then a schoolroom, it became a pub in 1804.

The Queen's Head in the city centre is reputed to be the oldest domestic building in Sheffield. The pub is probably named after Mary Queen of Scots, who between 1570 and 1584 was imprisoned in Sheffield and who is likely to have taken refuge here. It's Grade II* listed, one of only two pubs in Sheffield to be so highly rated. The other is Carbrook Hall in Attercliffe, with its Georgian 'Old Oak Room', a building which is currently under threat.

Historic detail is not confined to our pubs. Sheffield Brewing Company, for example, uses a bar which was recycled from the Ranmoor Hall of Residence, opened in 1968 and demolished 40 years later.

This book developed from the work of the National Pub Heritage Group. Over the past 25 years, CAMRA has developed its national and regional inventories of pub interiors. These highlight the crème de la crème of interiors, which have escaped much alteration for many years or contain features of exceptional interest. Below these top tiers can be found a host of interiors which, whilst much changed, still offer a great deal worth seeing.

Dave Pickersgill

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