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Farewell to Kelham Island....

A late change of plan last weekend saw me make a trip to Sheffield for the first time for a few years and provided an opportunity to enjoy a final drink of a Kelham Island beer following the brewery's recent demise, along with visiting several fine pubs and catching up with a friend from the world of blogging....

Last Saturday I had planned to visit Lancaster, going from Halifax and changing at Preston. I arrived at Halifax station 10 minutes or so before the departure time to find the word Delayed ominously displayed alongside my train on the departures screen. Eventually it changed to say 12.02 which was half an hour late, and meant that I would struggle to make my connection at Preston and mean less time in Lancaster, making the trip less viable. I thought about it for a few minutes, then decided to cancel that train. But where to go? I looked at upcoming departures. There was one to Huddersfield (becoming increasingly harder to find from Halifax these days). I know, I could then catch the train to Sheffield going via the attractive Penistone Line. So I bought a ticket, and about half an hour later I was getting off the train at Huddersfield, just as the train to Sheffield was pulling out of the station! Grrr! Another hour to kill. Nothing for it but a pint at the Kings Head, which had quite a lively atmosphere, and where the Magic Rock Ringmaster was on top form as usual (NBSS 4).

Eventually I arrived in Sheffield and so in order to plan out my now truncated visit I went to the Sheffield Tap which is at one end of the station building to map out the afternoon's entertainment. Originally the First Class refreshment room for the then Sheffield Midland Station, after years of neglect the building was lovingly restored and  opened in 2009, and now houses the Tapped Brewery, situated in shiny splendour behind a glass barrier in one of the rooms in this rambling building. I ordered a pint of Bibble from Wild Beer which I enjoyed in the ornate room in which the brewery is based. The place was quite busy, but with many opting to sit out in the warm sunshine the room I was in was pretty quiet with only a few other people in the room with me. The beer was reliable as I have come to expect from Wild, with the Mosaic hop giving plenty of tropical and stone fruit flavours (NBSS 3.5). Time to plan out the afternoon.

The Sheffield Tap, complete with brewery

I had already decided to visit the Kelham Island area, and I had walked there from the station in the past, but with limited time I decided I would take the practical option and get an Uber. It turned up promptly and I was taken through busy streets where, as in Manchester and Leeds, new buildings have shot up or having started being built since my last visit. The Kelham Island brewery was just up the road, now sadly closed of course, from where I was dropped off a few minutes later. I walked into the Fat Cat (opening picture) and was surprised to see a couple of the brewery's beers on the bar, although I was aware the last beer brewed at the brewery was being sold here but the thought hadn't occurred to me that there might still be some left. I asked the girl behind the bar and she told me these were the last 2 barrels they had with the final barrel of the flagship Pale Rider having sold out earlier in the week. Plenty of people had been calling in for a final drink of Kelham Island beers, she said. I ordered a half (thinking of my fellow beer drinkers) of Easy Rider, along with a pint of Greensands IPA from Surrey Hills. The room was empty save for another guy ordering, so from the pick of the tables I selected one in the corner opposite the bar. The room hadn't changed since I had last called in around 5 years ago on my last trip to Sheffield.

A final half of Easy Rider

I tackled the half first, and it was in good nick, cool and refreshing, and easily worth a National Beer Scoring System rating of 4. It was a fitting final half of Easy Rider from the hugely-influential and much-admired Kelham Island Brewery. As I moved on to the Greensands IPA, the calm in the room was shattered as a group of guys came in who I would guess were already well into a tour of the area's pubs, each jostling to see what was on at the bar. The IPA was hoppy, with a solid malty base, refreshing and tasty, and again I rated it as an NBSS 4. The beer's brewer, Surrey Hills, hit gold in winning Champion Britain of Beer a few years ago with their flagship pale ale Shere Drop, and are based in Dorking in Surrey. My mate Richard, who lives in the area, is a regular visitor to the brewery and regularly sings its praises, and I am hoping that I will be able to pay a visit there if I can get to see Town play at newly-promoted Dorking Wanderers in the National League next season. 

I finished my beers and squeezed my way out of the now-busy Fat Cat, and headed off round the corner to another award-winning pub, the Kelham Island Tavern. The bar is facing you as you enter into an L-shaped room, with a further room beyond, which you can see through a window from the main room, with access to a beer garden beyond. As usual there was a plentiful range of beers to choose from, but being in Sheffield, I opted for some more local beer, Moonshine, from Abbeydale Brewery who following the recent events down the road are now the city's oldest brewery, having been formed in 1996, a year or two after Kelham Island. The beer was spot on, cool and refreshing, just what was needed on a warm afternoon. Another NBSS 4. Earlier in the afternoon I had messaged one of my blogging friends, Martin Taylor, who moved to Sheffield last year, to see if he was around and fancied a pint. As I was enjoying my pint, my phone vibrated, and it was a message from Martin, saying he'd just got back from Scotland, and whilst he was planning to cut his hedge, he would love to meet up. We arranged to meet at the Wellington, and he kindly sent me a route map from the Kelham Island Tavern. 

Another cracking pub, the Kelham Island Tavern

Some guys who had been at the Fat Cat came into the pub as I was leaving, and clearly there is something of a circuit in this vibrant, former industrial suburb. The Good Beer Guide lists 7 pubs, but there are numerous other bars and eating places, and with several former industrial sites now converted into apartments, plus additional purpose-built apartment blocks, there is a thriving local community to support them alongside the visitors who come to the area to explore its industrial heritage and visit the Kelham Island Museum, galleries, and other cultural attractions. And as I walked the 10 minutes or so to the Wellington, there were plenty of reminders of the area's industrial past.

Reminders of Kelham Island's industrial past

Following Martin's directions I came to a busy main road, and I spotted what I thought was the Wellington. I had been there many years ago as part of a pub crawl bus trip organised from the Red Rooster in Brighouse, and whilst I can't remember too much about the pub, I recall it was a free house back in those days. I crossed the pedestrian crossing, and a couple of minutes later I was at the Wellington, a red brick building on a street corner, its sign introducing itself as the Neepsend Tap. Which was fine by me, as I enjoy many of their beers that regularly crop up in places like the Market Tavern and Crafty Fox in Brighouse.

The entrance to The Wellington is from the Henry Street side, with the bar facing you as you walk in. There were around half a dozen beers on hand pump, predominantly from Neepsend. I ordered a pint of Blonde, which was retailing at a very good value £3.00, and was in excellent condition (NBSS 4). I had a look around the pub to see if Martin had arrived, but there was no sign. The layout of the pub is fairly traditional, with a lounge on the main road side to the left of the bar, and a smaller, more basic room off the main bar. The area in front of the bar has a corridor leading off it to the toilets and throghout the pub there is much dark wood, glazing, and pub memorabilia. As I stood by the wall opposite the bar sipping my pint, the door opened and in walked three people. One of them was Martin, and he introduced me to Christine, his wife, and Will, aka the Sheffield Hatter, another blogger who is a fount of knowledge on the pubs of Sheffield and a fan of Luton Town. 

We found a table in the room near the bar and had a good chat over our beers. Martin travels all over the country in his quest to visit all the country's Good Beer Guide pubs. His blog is and is a highly-entertaining read of his travels around the country visiting pubs, gigs, places to eat, and all sorts of places of interest. Christine has started going with him more on his travels and it was good to meet her for the first time. They seemed to be enjoying life in Sheffield, and Martin in particular has thrown himself into visiting all of Sheffield's pubs by foot when time permits. Will comes across a genial chap who moved to Sheffield and has never left, and his exploration of the city's pubs since moving here has given him an encyclopaedic knowledge of them, although he also seems to know a lot about pubs in other parts of the country too, as when Martin would mention some pub in some obscure place in wherever, he seemed to know of it! As the beer was good we stayed for another pint, although Martin did mention a couple of times that he needed to get back to cut his hedge.

I had one more place on my itinerary to visit, a few minutes walk away. We bade farewell to Will, but Martin and Christine came along. We went to Bar Stewards, a bar and bottle shop on Gibraltar Street, opposite another GBG-listed pub, The Shakespeare, which I had been in before. The bar opened around 5 years ago in a former shop and has 4 hand pumps on the bar, along with several keg lines plus bottles and cans. We found a table next to the bar, and from the cask range I went for a pint of Happy from Cloudwater, which seems to crop up all over the place these days. It was in great condition, maintaining the run of NBSS 4 ratings! I liked Bar Stewards, it had great beer and there was a nice vibe to the place.

Bar Stewards, with Christine and Martin

It was getting closer to the time for the train back to Huddersfield, so we finished our drinks, and whilst Christine headed back home, Martin said he'd walk me back to the station. Although, when I say 'walk', it was actually more of a yomp, as Martin set off like a hare up a rather steep hill leaving me huffing and puffing to keep up. We were going the direct way through the city centre, and it didn't take long but despite that, we arrived at the station just as the 1835 to Huddersfield was pulling away from the platform. Oh well, nothing to do but while away the hour to the next train at the Sheffield Tap. Martin kindly hung around to keep me company/have another pint, although I didn't make a note of what it was. It seemed his hedge would have to wait. We had a good chat about pubs and places and other bloggers, but 1935 came around pretty soon and I was away on the train back north.

What a great afternoon! Great pubs with excellent beer, and a most enjoyable catch up. I can thoroughly recommend Sheffield as a place to visit, and I hope to get back there again sooner rather than later....

Follow me on twitter: @realalemusic


  1. Ha Ha , Martin used exactly the same hedge excuse when myself and Will knocked on his door last autumn when I had a few days up there, both he and Christine joined us for a few pubs, a great pub and beer city, very sad though regarding Kelham Island.

  2. All these Pub Men visit but NEVER help out with the garden!

    Glad you enjoyed the (our !) Pubs, Chris, almost as good as Halifax!

    Come back and we'll do the Harlequin, Blake, Bath and Rutland.

    1. Thank you Martin! Sounds like a good idea!

  3. Hi Chris, I meant to comment on this post, some time ago, but I’ve been away for two weeks, on the longest holiday since before I got married, so have been playing catch-up since getting back.

    Martin looked after me extremely well, when I visited Sheffield, back in May. He met me at the Fat Cat for lunch, and then, after Will turned up, conducted me on a guided tour of a few of the city’s finest pubs. He also accompanied me to the station, although Will and I both cheated by using our bus passes!
    Christine had been planning to join us, but unfortunately had some last-minute work to attend to. I have had the pleasure of meeting her before, most noticeably in my home town of Tonbridge. This was when she and Martin were in the area, visiting her parents, who live in nearby Southborough. We also had met up in Ely, a couple of years previously, where the three of us visited a couple of pubs in the city.

    I can therefore fully concur with your positive assessment of Martin’s hosting skills.


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