CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Previous Beer Columns >> 2 Historic Sheffield Pubs

Previous Pint Pleasures - December 3, 2012

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Francis Newton, Clarkhouse Road, Broomfield, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

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Ship Inn, 312 Shalesmoor, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

Recently I discovered two pubs in Sheffield that I can't exactly call "new". When my friend Trevor and I decided to check out the Francis Newton, part of the Wetherspoons pub chain, we instantly wondered about the history of the buildings and the land. We first thought it might have been a school or an infirmary, as Wetherspoons tend to open pubs in historic institutions. As it turns out, it was a private home called Broombank House. This is where Francis Newton, a master cutler who produced cutlery and tableware under the Premier brand at Portobello Works, lived in the mid 19th century. To the rear of the buildings beyond a large lawn were his private gardens complete with a little pond. More recently the place became a pub, its previous incarnation being Aunt Sally's.

We perused the 10 handpumps and chose our pints. Trevor's Lord Marples (4.0% ABV, Thornbridge Brewery, Bakewell, Derbyshire) was spot-on in a traditional sense. I had a half pint of Yorkshire Blonde (3.9% ABV, Ossett Brewing Company, Ossett, West Yorkshire), a surprisingly tame little number from this hopmonster of a brewery.

We sat outside in the vast tree-filled garden. There are two garden areas with tables, one a non-smoking section. Although this is a trend in California and Seattle, I've never understood how one can object to a tiny bit of smoke wisping through the wide open outdoors. Ah well, there are many things I don't understand...

Although it was cloudy on this Saturday I could imagine how tempting this pub would seem on warm sunny days. One could sit at a table, umbrella or not, or sit out on the long sloping lawn shaded by a grove of trees. When we left we walked across the lawn and followed the path through the former gardens, now the Lynwood Gardens Community Nature Reserve, passing over Porter Brook and emerging onto Ecclesall Road.

My second visit to the Francis Newton was the very next day with Andrew and Mike after the three of us tried unsuccessfully to leave Sheffield and drive to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. As it was the day of the Great Northern Run so many roads were blocked off that, after an hour of gridlock, we discovered that you can't get there from here. So we retreated to the Francis Newton for a pint, sneaking our picnic, meant to be eaten at the sculpture park, into the garden. We all had pints of Ruddles Best (3.7% ABV, Morland PLC, Abingdon, Oxfordshire) which is a nice beer. It's an old friend and a pleasant change from the local micros.

One notable feature of the Francis Newton is that it has several car parks, so there's plenty of parking for families, tourists, and cask-ale-loving motorheads. For us walkers it's a very pleasant green walking destination.

Down in Shalesmoor is a gorgeous pub that can be seen from several directions and angles. The Ship Inn has a magnificent tiled exterior. I've walked past it many times, particularly when attending a secret music club nearby but I never got around to stopping in until very recently.

The pub is something of an anti-tardis: seemingly large on the outside, it's quite small inside, decorated with fascinating handmade wallpaper, lots of ship memorabilia and photos, pictures of old Sheffield, CAMRA awards all around, and there is a pool table in the small back alcove. Out back is a very tiny and very spartan heated gazebo for smokers that offers a view of the pub's car park accessible only by driving the wrong way down a one-way street. (One can approach it by turning left off Shalesmoor just before Carr Motors, making a right into Dun Lane, and then taking the law into one's own hands for a brief moment.)

On this first visit I had a very nice half pint of Deception (4.1% ABV, Abbeydale Brewery, Sheffield, South Yorkshire). I expect this brew to be perfect and heavenly in all respects, and this one did not disappoint me. Also on that day were Sheffield Porter and Moonshine. We sat at a table in the middle where I gradually became aware of a three-dimensional Admiral Nelson peeking over my shoulder. I suspected he might want a sip.

The Ship Inn is reportedly haunted due to the fact that two seamen drowned in the underground tunnels as a result of the Sheffield Flood of 1864, and their bodies were never recovered. Apparently there have been ghostly sightings of one of the men.

On my second visit to the Ship I had a pint of Farmers Blonde (4% ABV, Bradfield Brewery, High Bradfield, Sheffield, S Yorkshire), a nice example of this light hoppy session beer. I had a taste of the Chocolate Stout (4.5% ABV, Abbeydale Brewery, Sheffield, S Yorkshire) which was very chocolaty but too sweet for me. I also had a taste of Trevor's Red Feather (3.8% ABV, Welbeck Abbey Brewery, Welbeck, South Yorkshire) which was very smooth and balanced like the classic English ales Trevor likes. And it has a very nice aroma of biscuits.

The Ship Inn is unusually quaint in that it closes in the afternoons, just like pubs did in the olden days, so don't try to visit between 3:30 and 5:30 or you will be left disappointedly thirsty.

Ship Inn Updates
(Last updated 4 April 2016)