Pint Pleasures: Two Pubs near the River Loxley / Robin Hood and his Merry Ships

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Previous Pint Pleasures -January 2, 2006

guinness eileen

The Anvil, 106 Stannington Road, Stannington, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

guinness eileen

The Nags Head, Stacey Bank, Loxley, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

For the past year I have been working for Sheffield Hallam University on a research project on the Sheffield Flood of 1864, a disaster which claimed at least 240 lives and destroyed many homes, gardens, factories, shops, and bridges. It started above Bradfield when the Dale Dyke Dam burst, sending 650,000,000 gallons of water down the valley around the River Loxley through Malin Bridge and on into Sheffield, causing 8 miles of destruction. Many pubs were destroyed as well, most notably the Stag Inn on Holme Lane in Malin Bridge.

A few months ago we decided to visit a couple of pubs on this tragically historic edge of Sheffield. The Anvil, located on the corner of the Stannington Road (B6036) and Wood Lane, is an L-shaped two-room pub. As we walked in a couple of young men were playing darts in the smaller room, while older locals were sedately congregated in the larger room. The decor is very strange: striped walls in a sort of country gift shop style, suggestive of somebody's grandmother baking apple pies. But my fantasy staled quickly, transmogrifying into a tedious old lady ironing shirts. And the grunts -- where were they coming from? Were there barnyard animals outside? Oh, of course not -- it was just the tennis on the TV.

There were 2 handpumps offering Pale Rider and Bombardier. We ordered half pints of Bombardier (4.3% ABV, Charles Wells Brewery, Bedford, Bedfordshire) and sat at a table in the smaller room. Sadly the beer wasn't very good at all, possibly near the end of the cask with not much life remaining.

So we left and drove back up through Malin Bridge and out the Loxley Road (B6077) to the Nags Head in Loxley, famous as the home of Robin Hood. This Hardys & Hansons pub was quite a bit more lively with friendly locals seated in the cosy front bar and a 3/4 size snooker table in the side room. We were tempted to sit in the back at the Mini Cooper table -- comprising the front of a Mini with seating for the driver and passenger -- but there wasn't much of a view, the "road ahead" consisting of a wall with a fruit machine. So we decided to sit with the locals in the front bar. We had pints of Olde Trip (4.2% ABV, Hardys & Hansons Plc, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire), and as I sipped it I wondered if the Nags Head could have been Robin Hood's local. Ah, yes, this is very nice pint, with a caramelly malt but not sweet at all, well balanced with a good bitter finish. I know that's not one of my more creative descriptions, but this would be a fine pint for a band of merry men, or merry women, or at least soon-to-be-merry people if they're planning to have a session.

Also on the handpumps were Kimberly Bitter and Kelham Island Farmers Pale Ale. On the wall is a 3-dimensional picture of the Aquitania, a 4-smokestacked ship which started life as an armoured merchant cruiser but ended up being used in the Gallipoli landings and later as a hospital ship. The flag on the picture is 2-dimensional as are the flock of seagulls in the sky. There are model ships in every nook and cranny of this front bar, lots of horse brasses, and a wagon wheel and horses on the fireplace. So what is the connection here? Are the brasses related to Robin Hood and his merry horses? And what about the ships? Definitely food for thought...

Anvil Updates
(Last updated 8 February 2014)
Nags Head Updates
(Last updated 31 Octoberf 2015)