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The Dorothy Pax, Arch 17, Wharf Street, Victoria Quays, Sheffield, South Yorkshire
For a few weeks I've been wanting to visit a new pub down in Sheffield's Victoria Quays. But from the side of town we live on, the Dorothy Pax, which is located under one of the arches at the beginning of the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal, is a bit of a challenge to get to by car, and then there's the problem of parking. The walk from Walkley and Crookes, on the other hand, is only two miles, and if one were to take a bus into town the walk would then be less than a mile.
On a recent Sunday we finally arranged to walk to the pub with a couple of friends, our month-long clear-sky heatwave suddenly abated with heavy rain. This was preceded two days earlier by thundershowers against a thick cloudy sky on the day of the total lunar eclipse and blood moon which was to be visible all over the UK all night long. Yeah, thanks, weather...
So we managed to drive to the Quays and luckily found a car park close to the pub which charged a flat rate of £3 which, between four of us, was reasonable.
The Dorothy Pax can be found under one of the Grade II-listed arches at the start of the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal, down which my late friend Trevor and I walked a couple of times in the past. I remembered from our walks the skinny house on the other side of the top of the canal, and the little paddling pool, which I learned later is a wet dock.
The pub was named after the last working Sheffield timber keel ship which was built in 1939 and used to carry coal and iron ore to the city. That Dorothy Pax was retired in the 1950s, and part of the pub's bar has been built out of timber recovered from the ship. Before the pub opened the premises housed a dentist's office, which seems a bit odd for the remote location. I suppose people who live on narrowboats need dentists as well.
In the front of the pub are several picnic tables, and a scattering of people were enjoying them as the rain had petered out to just an occasional sprinkling. As we entered the pub we stepped down the stairs to the bar. The hand pumps all have toy cars in front of the bases, which was why I originally knew I had to visit this pub when I first saw photos of it. (The toy cars brought memories from when I was four years old, of me and my best friend Ann digging roads in the dirt for our cars, and me coveting my other friend Maureen's toy garage with the lift and spiral ramp. Sadly she broke the whole thing before the two of us had a chance to play with it.)
Near the rear of the pub is the bar which features three handpumps and three craft beer taps, and they also offer a real cider and some gins and wine. We started with tastes of Chickenwire (4.2% ABV, Toolmakers Brewery, Sheffield, South Yorkshire) which had a sweet outer-coating edge enclosing bitter hops. Holly was hoping to like it more, as she had just eaten some grilled Chicken of the Woods wild mushrooms she had picked herself, and she was fulling anticipating suddenly dropping dead from accidental poisoning. So she thought it would be poetic if she were drinking a chicken beer at the same moment that she keeled -- no pun intended -- over. Fortunately this was not fated to happen, as Holly survived just fine and none of us were really very taken with the Chickenwire. So three of us went for the Honey Bee Blues Club (4.0% ABV, Stancill Brewing Company, Sheffield, South Yorkshire), which was a perfectly pleasant beer but not terribly exciting, with a taste a bit like dry honey. Mike went for a pint of ABK Hell Das Blaue (5.0% ABV, Aktienbrauerei Kaufbeuren, Kaufbeuren, Bavaria, Germany), which is a craft lager brewed in the German style. It wasn't bad at all for a lager.
We first sat outside next to the wet dock. When the rain started again we retreated inside and sat at the top of the stairs at window seats. That gave me a time to survey the pub's décor which featured a display of 45s on one wall and posters for blues and jazz events, along with paintings of sailing ships. The rain didn't last long so we returned to our outside seats, not too bothered by our slightly soggy bums.
The Dorothy Pax features live music on some weekends, and local art events are planned. There are plans to eventually build a kitchen, but for now they have offered wood fired pizza and jerk chicken cooked on oak and ash.
It's good to see a cask ale pub available for Sheffield's canal boat enthusiasts as well as canal walkers. Actually, it's simply good to see another cask ale pub opening, period.