apologies for avoiding an all too obvious tabloid pun here, but I won't mention that the ship is in anyway connected to water or not sinking. Well, apart from I just have. I mean thereafter. Last night, a night after the soft launch, I was there for the public reopening of the Ship Inn on Shalesmoor which closed due to financial problems of the previous landlord in January 2015.
As you may know, on Wednesday night I was at the reopening of the Red House on Solly Street. I mentioned that, as well as there only being six customers, the pub hadn't publicised its reopening. Interestingly, I quoted from the previous landlord of the Ship regarding the lack of local trade. Given that this scenario hasn't changed, and I struggled to find much social media coverage of the reopening, perhaps have a guess at how busy the Ship was last night....
It was rammed. Absolutely chock-a-block with persons of all ages and outlooks and drinking preferences. We arrived around 20.00 and when we had been served our drinks were lucky to find a spot to sit, in the area near the side door, with Saxbob Swift. We actually started the night on keg beers - mainly because it was very warm inside the pub, we were very thirsty, and the only enticing real ale was Old Moor Porter. I had a pint of Schiehallion, the Harviestoun lager beer, Tash a pint of BrewDog Punk IPA and Matty a Charles Wells DBA.
It was striking to see how many people I recognised, mainly because some. I'm sure, we had seen in the Ship before. Local drinkers there may be few but if their regulars used to travel across the city to drink there, they appear to still be doing. It was good to catch up with Bob and he seemed to get on well with Matty, and it was also good to spot Chris Bamford and others from Shakespeares enjoying the atmosphere and the beers.
We went cask next - and all had pints of the Acorn Old Moor Porter. The other casks on offer were Acorn Blonde (which changed to that from something else!) Greedy King Old Golden Hen and Kelham Island Easy Rider. I appreciate that the keg beers give the pub a different angle for drinkers, but I have to say the cask choice was better before - always local ales, always sold at a bargain price and always something hoppy. Punk IPA is probably the hoppiest beer there and there was nothing on cask last night that matched it in that respect.
Now, the pub has an impeccable tiled Tomlinsons Brewery frontage, and this, obviously, has been retained. However, inside they have exposed tiling around the windows which looks fantastic. The end room where the pool table used to be now houses a large bottled beer fridge and a single round table and the access to the loos is the same, from that room. I didn't, alas, due to how busy the pub was, get to see what happened to its fabulous original 1970's jukebox. I think it may have been lost.
A couple of windows were broken whilst the pub was shut and they along with another large one from the front have been removed. The plain glass widows allow much more light in and the pub is brighter lit so its stands out more. Inside the decor is more modern, but not in a way that distracts, but its difficult to make that assessment on a night where the pub was so busy.
Out of the three pubs that have reopened in Sheffield in the last week this was far and away the busiest I have seen. It will be interesting to see if this now becomes part of the Don Valley real ale trail, specially as so many CAMRA members never seemed to drink in the Ship, despite it selling 4 local real ales for years.
One last thing to note is the food - I imagine they probably stop serving at 20.00 or 21.00 but Matty was there before then and saw only on person eating. The Ship never previously did food, apart from crisps and nuts (it now does pork crackles from a jar and they are gorgeous by the way!) and nobody seemed interesting in eating. This, in some ways, suggests the pub's past as a down to earth drinking venue maybe at least partially retained. Sheffield needs more real ale boozers where food either isn't served or is equal to the provision of real ales. The Blake in Walkley is a great example of the first.
Am hoping to revisit next week after payday, including the Red House and the Punchbowl on Crookes. Its always interesting to see how a pub fares after its reopening night. To repeat what I previously said, I wish all three licencees the very best in their pub ventures, and look forward to helping them enjoy success.