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The Banner Cross Hotel, 971 Ecclesall Road, Banner Cross, Sheffield, South Yorkshire
Back in May on a bank holiday Monday, Andrew and I decided to check out a pub we'd known about since we moved to Sheffield but never actually visited. This was due to the fact that it's a bit out of our way and it wasn't part of either pool league Andrew used to play for, so we would never have found ourselves there for a match. But recently I read that they now feature a revolving selection of cask ales, so I decided it was worth a trek down past Hunters Bar and on out to the neighbourhood called Banner Cross.
The name Banner Cross comes from bæna kross, which means "the cross of prayers" in Icelandic. I've never heard about any specific Icelandic connection to Sheffield, but as us Sheffielders are "up north" I supposed anything's possible.
The area called Banner Cross was named after the Grade II listed Banner Cross Hall, an Elizabethan mansion dating from 1821. A third of a mile away is the Banner Cross Hotel. I couldn’t find out much about the history of the pub except for an event that happened in November 1876. Charles Peace was an English violinist and burglar who killed a policeman in Manchester and then fled to his home-town of Sheffield where he became obsessed with his neighbour's wife. As a result he shot and killed the neighbour, Arthur Dyson, in a passageway located next to the pub. He then fled down to London, was arrested in Blackheath, and was transferred up to Leeds where he was tried and hung. He certainly got around a bit. Apparently the Alleyway, a sandwich shop located behind Italia Uno just a few steps from the pub, was named after the original passage where the murder took place.
We've been aware of the Banner Cross for ages but, as it's not near anything we do, we'd never stopped in. I had another Friday afternoon off, so we decided to drive down and check this out, not thinking that it was 4:00 and would be the busiest rush hour of the week. Battling our way through slow-moving traffic, ambulances, etc., we finally made it to Banner Cross and miraculously found a place to park the car. The pub has a rough and ready feel, but the clean weathered wood floor in both the public bar and the lounge really appeals to me. A central bar separates the two rooms, and when we walked in a small group of locals were standing at the public bar bantering with the landlord.
There were several cask ales on including Farmers Blonde, Yorkshire Farmer, Moonshine, Easy Rider, and Tetley. We went for pints of Saltaire Blonde (4.0% ABV, Saltaire Brewery, Shipley, West Yorkshire). It was a pleasant very golden pint with balanced hops. But the price, £3.50 a pint, seemed a bit high even considering the current rate of inflation. I suppose at some point in the future a typical Sheffield pint will cost a fiver, but I'd rather not think about that right now.
We sat in the front bar at a table surrounded by photos of various Sheffield sporting stars. Also on the walls were two sports-related illustrations by local artist Pete McKee -- one of Sheffield United fans and the other of Sheffield Wednesday fans -- hanging side by side in surprisingly peaceful harmony. Also around the walls were painted your typical witty bar sayings. And, of course, large TVs, including the main 10-foot screen, for related sporting events. In the back is a great beer garden which features a large sunny area of picnic tables in the back and a couple of inviting little alcoves along the side.
I have no idea what this pub is like in the evenings, but on this weekday late afternoon the atmosphere seemed quite relaxing. The patrons were all friendly, including the injured laughing man and the paramedic who came in to use the toilet. The lounge is pleasant and inviting, too: roomy with lots of wood tables and more of that appealing wood floor which was nothing like the typical traditional carpeted (and usually rather boring) pub lounge at all. In fact, I was reminded of some California brewpubs I've visited. I would so love to have a wood floor like that in my home.
The Banner Cross is located next-door to the Somewhere Else Coffee Shop, which I'm hoping will be a future Double Shot Buzz excursion. Directly across the road is Barking Mad Pet Supplies and Dog Groomers. And if you like decent meat, there seems to be a wealth of butchers in Banner Cross. On the other hand, if you don't eat meat, there seems to be an inordinate number of butchers in Banner Cross. Glass half empty or half full of meat, your choice.
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