my recent trips to and from the Northern General Hospital have shown a familiar but unfortunate picture of pub life in the S4 and S9 areas of Sheffield. The areas along the route present an increasing roll call of closed and demolished pubs which have either been put to alternative use, struggle on in defiance of their circumstances. or worse still have been bulldozed.
The route starts in Darnall where The Industry, still showing obvious pub tiling, and the Ball, further down Main Road, are notable losses from the last two decades. The route taken doesn't go down Main Road or indeed York Road in Darnall, but York Road has two boozers worth a mention. The Duke Of York has been closed for many years now, having undergone a name change (possibly, and very ironically to "Goldmine"...) and succumbed to a theme makeover, before succumbing to a rather more pernicious theme. Of pub closures. Across the road the Terminus Tavern, previously called the Bradley Well, still survives and I even heard once that it sold real ale. I haven't been in to find out, but its notable for being the only open pub in that part of Darnall.
On the corner of Prince of Wales and Staniforth roads is the Wellington, still for sale through Colliers CRE and once mooted as the siting of a new medical centre. This has been closed for nearly as long as the Duke, 2008 potentially, but before I moved to the area was the winner of the Community pub of the year in the late nineties. Diagonally across, the Rose and Crown, a former Wards Irish themed pub closed its doors sometime after being renamed Connells and is currently a community centro and post office. Most depressing though is the site of the former Halfway House.
This was off Senior Road near the allotments on a dead end beside Greenland Road. It was closed, its bowling green grew over and it was left to lose its windows and large amounts of roof before it was flattened in about 2009. The question is...why? The site remains unused and there is no evidence that anyone plans to do anything with it. A pub of the month winner in the nineties, if memory serves, which sold Glentworth beer at one stage, it seems to have been easy to flatten the pub but having taken that drastic step, harder to use the space it left behind.
After Greenland Road things start to improve - but only slightly. Broughton Lane comes next and towards where it joins Attercliffe Common the Bing maps for the area fails to mention the surviving Noose and Gibbet but rather optimistically notes the Enfield Arms. This pub was built in 1825 but was likewise demolished, in 2008 to make way for....nothing. Except they left about a foot of tiled walls as an outline. I went in the Enfield a couple of times and it seemed to be a decent honest boozer with three real ales. Once again, someone seems to have prioritised flattening it without having any firm ideas (or possibly firm finances) to do anything afterwards.
Crossing Attercliffe Common there is an old and new pub combo of the Arena Square and the Wentworth House. The Wentworth was doing really well when I went a few times in 2007 and 2008 although it hasn't sold real ale for years. Its new build neighbour sells one or two real ales but is ostensibly a large restaurant. The positive thing is both are still open. With the senseless loss of the regional inventory listed Stumble Inn to an Indian Restaurant just up the road, and the demolition of the Commercial at the junction with Weedon Street, its good to see that there is still a traditional pub to go drinking in round there.
Down Hawke Street you pass the site of the Wellington which had stopped trading but was still standing in the late nineties, and joining Upwell Street there are further tales of woe. The Sheffield Arms seems to have closed down although I understand it was open recently, but the Ball, a sturdy looking pub which appears to inhabit half of a much larger red brick building, with a decent Bentleys sign on the Page Hall end, is certainly open. Alas the Firth Park Hotel a little further on is now a community centre - although I suspect the banner advertising bed and breakfast, function room and bar meals is a legacy from its days as a pub. Finally, as you come out onto Barnsley Road you are nearly at the hospital - and slightly up hill on your left is the site of the former Cannon Hall pub, which I remember being Whitbread, and which I recall drinking Castle Eden in around 1994....
In essence there are three areas which have seen some sort of change, and a decline in pubs as a result. Certainly Darnall and Fir Vale/Page Hall have seen what would best be described as a change in their cultural make up. Darnall perhaps less so, but no less bereft of pubs for also having an increasingly tee total population. Sandwiched in between which is Attercliffe Common, a hub of heavy industry which surprisingly isn't a beer desert but is a pale shadow of its former self in terms of boozers.
However, don't be disheartened. Because, even against this backdrop of increasing depletion of pub stock, its pleasing to find out that in addition to the already admirable selection of pubs to be found elsewhere in Sheffield, there is to be a new pub.
A "pop up" micro pub is to open at number 170 Crookes Road in what used to be Mr Ben's fancy dress shop. Called the Crookes Ale House, it opens at 12.30 on 27th December (today) and is open until 22.00 and keeps those hours everyday until it closes on 30 December. There isn't a website but as you find so often these days they have a "social media presence" - here is a link to their Facebook page, and they are on Twitter as well.
Given the tales of decline and closure above, its nice to see a pub spring into life and close in a positive way. Magic Rock and Sheffield brewery Co beers are to be on sale and bottles form Europe and America, so get up there for a look whilst you can.