I don't want to become a Faceache beer blogger - that's my pet name for Facebook by the way, in case you had already decided faceache was a good description of my style. I say this because a post on the same is my inspiration for this article - apparently the Tap and Tankard pub is set to close in February after what may be four years in its current guise.
I have heard (also on Faceache, I kid you not) that the pub was on a short term lease, to be open only until the demolition work reached it. That can't be too far away now, since Henrys was demolished months ago and the bottom part of Cambridge street and Charles Street are now blocked off. This makes my original draught slightly wrong, since I tried to explain what might have led to the pub not making enough money to survive. That is clearly not why its closing, based on the above.
I hadn't looked at the proposals for the Retail Quarter development before, so was interested to look today at the wide reaching plans. One of the first links I found was the Hallamshire Historic Buildings website, including a section on proposed demolitions and a letter to the council from Historic England which opposed the planned scheme due to the demolition and loss of much of Sheffield's metal industry architectural heritage, shown here. As highlighted, the protests of Historic England have been ignored, despite solid basis including potential damage to and isolation of existing Grade 2 and Grade 2 star listed buildings on Cambridge street, such as Leahs Yard, just up from the Tap and T. Sheffield council's previous disregard for protecting or retaining industrial era architecture in the city is well reported, so their rejection of the opposal of Historic England comes as a sad, rueful but not remotely surprising outcome.
The plans do make mention of new cafes and bars but thus far we have lost two real ale venues (am counting Henrys and the Brewery bar as two by the way) and a brewery (albeit which never brewed) , with the Tap and Tankard going next. There are therefore three licenced premises lost to the redevelopment. The building replacing the Grosvenor Hotel is said to house HSBC staff, whom are expected to shop in town and eat and drink after working hours, but there are already less places to do that.
It is also possible that the Cutlers was never reopened as a pub given potential nearby demolition - this has now reopened as an art space and programming centre run as a not for profit community space called Dina. Am not going to say I liked the Cutlers, and I don't know why it closed, but could it not have reopened as a decent venue had it not been threatened?
The letter from Historic England to the council is included in pdf viewing format on the Hallamshire Historic Buildings website link above, and makes for interesting reading. Its well worth using the buttons in the bottom left to view the document as a whole. Much is made of the responsibility of the local council/plan submitters to consider the preservation of historic buildings in relation to their importance. Given the unbending desire to build this new and intrusive development and previous poor form regarding historic buildings, am fairly satisfied that little importance was attached to the grade 2 listed structures, and they were therefore considered with appropriate care and rigour in regards to proposals that could affect them once development had taken place. Historic England's suggestions for developing Leahs yard as a museum or heritage feature are much more appealing than being made into a tunnel of turgid , no doubt replicated eateries, as seems fearfully inevitable.
There is a link here to the list of buildings and features proposed to be demolished when Fargate is extended to become Upper Fargate. I have to say I am concerned by the scope and area of the demolition. Not least since, as previously reported, John Lewis had not agreed to their relocation when the plan was submitted, so the proposals at that point seem mainly to benefit HSBC who will have a brand new building. The only others to benefit may be the multitudinous puddle of coffee shops and takeaways that will pepper the numerous units created in this decimation.
Am sure there is the potential for this development to out perform the combined takings of the numerous trading businesses threatened by the proposed Retail Quarter. However, I can't imagine any new multi retailer development on such a grand scale being much different to any other similar sized sump of standardised shopping selections in other cities. And am similarly unconvinced that the development will afford the construction or establishing of the type of bar or traditional pub that I like to drink in. Demolishing three such venues will of course make the latter even harder to achieve.
It is of course important to be honest about the Tap and Tankard. Although there were some high points and features to savour, it is interesting for me to reflect that the period the Tap and T was open mirrors the changes to my tastebuds. I now drink less cask, much more keg and far more canned ale. One member of staff who may have worked for Kelham Island brewery did strive to get hoppy real ales on there, at my kind of strength and at a competitive price, but he didn't work there long and after a while the beer range became quite timid and disappointing. As my focus shifted to the Tuns and Shakespeares I ended up being less attracted to Kelham beers, and the less exciting guests the Tap and T had on, and drunk in the area less often.
However, against the background of knowing it was to be flattened under a new road am actually quite impressed with what Kelham did with the Tap and T. Despite my beer choice gripes this was a great example of a traditional back street boozer in the city centre, along with the Bath and Red Deer, and was a great place to go during the day to have a quiet relaxing pint and an excellent pork pie.
The pub is set to close on Saturday night February 3rd and they are inviting customers old and new to go along and have a final rink before it closes.
I will be there for a slake myself, cursing as I do the council planners and the international language of banking, in the same hoarse, bitter, breath.