word on the street is that Rovvrum, which is how you actually spell it, and the place that I worked for some 5 years, has gone and got its sen some pubs. This wouldn't have been a surprise to me last century when there were a number of city centre pubs selling real ale, although admittedly nothing of the micro brewery type, however it seemed from intermittent 21st century reports that one by one those boozers had closed down or changed hands. So I forgot about Rotherham's pubs. Now, I felt it was time to head back and take a look.
Arriving in persistent drizzle I was heading for the Crinoline Bridge pub. I was fairly certain (and still am) that this must have been the only pub in the UK with that name - and was even more certain that the bridge you crossed to reach it from the Interchange wasn't made of crinoline. Heading for wjere it was I was surprising to find there was no bridge - perhaps it had indeed been crafted entirely from fabric and succumbed to the elements? Either way, in its place is a subway and arriving on the other side of the ring road I discovered there was no longer a pub. Instead, a cafe called Havanas. Having drank Landlord in the Crin at my leaving do in 2003 this was quite a sad discovery, but there were other pubs to see and pints to be supped.
I was planning on going to the Kingfisher but couldn't for the life of me remember how to get there - I was probably in the right place where I was to be honest but returned to the Interchange side and ended up at the club behind the Bridge Inn. Kind of knowing the way, I decided instead to amble uphill to the Crofts, and the Blue Coat. Inside it was warm and friendly and there was real ale in one of Rotherham's two Wetherspoons. From a fairly decent range I had a pint of the Dukeries Gun smoke, a reddish brown 5.5% beer that didn't seem particularly smokey, or as dark as I'd hoped. However, it was £1.99 a pint and went down very nicely.
Next I wandered out past the town hall and popped my head round the door of the Top House, now F.U.B.A.R, to see a gleaming bar devoid of handpumps. Although I was only there to drink real ale I eschewed the delights of this as well as the Lloyds Cornlaw Rhymer, and headed for my furthest pub, via a pub graveyard.
There's no reason why Rotherham should be any better placed than other Yorkshire towns and cities to avoid a reduction in its pub stock, but Westgate encompasses both sides of the story of urban pubs spectacularly in a short stretch. On the one hand, the road has two fantastic old pubs right next to each other, the Alma, and the Cutlers. Both have impressive frontages but for different reasons. The Cutlers is sturdy and functional and has beautiful carved stonework and terracotta looking Stones branding above the central door and windows, with a pleasing reddish theme throughout. Meanwhile, the Alma is taller and more ostentatious but has some fantastic detail and Bentleys Rotherham Ales signage (and on the side) with a "rebuilt 1903" sign on the very top. It also sports some intricate foliage and small shrubs and is very much resolutely closed. Both are no doubt ripe for ruination. Sorry, development....
It occurred to me that it was the Alma that used to sell Acorn beers many moons ago and that I had been in a number of times around that period. I don't recall it having any particular stand out features in the interior, but I know for certain that I never ventured in the Cutlers, which was open at the time, and that I also never made it into the Wellington, a former Wards pub across the road. This is occupied by the academy of music, so at least it isn't being reclaimed by nature. Further down Westgate, where the road splits stands the pub, now also seemingly an empty building, known at one time as the Dusty Miler, while the building next to the baths was a pub at some point in the last century but I never remember it being so. However, the other side of the pub story on Westgate comes from its only survivor. The Prince of Wales Feathers, now owned by Chantry brewery and renamed the New York Tavern.
The New York is an attractive looking corner pub, long and narrow throughout, with some 1950/60's looking loos at the far end. On the bar are are two ciders, one Chantry brewery ale and one guest, plus five more on the left sporting the full Chantry range, Iron and Steel bitter, Diamond Black stout, and New York Pale Ale. There are also two pub specials, including Mighty Millers at 5.5%. And all real ale is £2.00 a pint. I had a half of the Millers (it felt wrong to drink a beer of that name) and a pint of the New York Pale and it was in fantastic condition. I also tried the 18 eighteen which was a ruby ale, but the New York stood out. It was the beer of the day.
On the left there is seating facing the bar and an end room similar to the front of the Talbot in Ripley, with groups of drinkers sat in both sections. A friend mentioned to me that it didn't seem very friendly but I think it's just a traditional boozer, with the odd raucous drinker and some loud banter. More importantly its a (virtually) town centre pub selling well kept, sensible priced, local micro brewery beers. So its gets full marks for that.
A quick detour to a pub that I think used to be the Devonshire followed - now the Urban Tap or similar, and resolutely real ale free. So I finished where I intended to, in the Bridge Inn, formerly Nellie Denes. I'd heard good things about this (former?) Old Mill brewery pub and I wasn't disappointed. It was rather ace. From a range of about 7 real ales including Landlord and Reverend James and some more common local guests, there was the Demo red ale from Revolutions and the Chantry New York Pale. So I had a pint each of these, at a bargain £5.20, and sat near the bar in a busy pub with a friendly landlord. They do steak pies and peas and gravy for two quid, and the beer was well kept. A great end to my brief wet wander round Rotherham town centre.
One thing I do hope is that there aren't any more pub casualties to come. The grim tale of abandoned boozers was a stark contrast to the recent resurgence in Rotherham and means I came away with as many highlights as low points. So its perhaps not going to become a first choice place for a nights drinking, but I have friends in Rotherham and promised to go over and sup on their turf soon. So maybe it won't be too long before I'm back.