In an age when hundreds of community pubs are shutting, Mick and Jackie Pridmore are celebrating 30 years at The Wharncliffe Arms. Colin Drury met them...
Mick and Jackie Pridmore, landlord and lady of The Wharncliffe Arms in Chapeltown, pride themselves on customer service.
“One of our locals once had more to drink than he should,” remembers Jackie. “I ended up putting him in a wheelbarrow and taking him home to his wife.”
Pause. “You don’t get that with a Wetherspoon.”
Welcome, reader, to a proper old-fashioned pub.
Mick and Jackie this weekend celebrated 30 years of running this Burncross Road boozer, which itself is celebrating its 140th birthday. Here, the beer is always well kept, the garden is always well tendered and, if you go in on the right night, you might just bump into a Samoan supping a soft drink - it’s a favourite with Sheffield Eagles rugby league players.
The couple took over on June 6, 1984, and, in an age when hundreds of such pubs have long since disappeared, they’ve kept customers coming back since. This weekend more than 200 of them packed the tight bar and sunken lounge to toast the landmark anniversary.
So, what’s their secret? We’ll get to that. But one thing that’s not needed, reckons Mick, is vast experience.
“I’d never pulled a pint in my life when I took over,” says the 66-year-old who, back then, was a sales engineer. “Although I’d drunk a few.”
They were living in the cottage across the road in 1984. The pub had long been their local - Jackie, who was raised in Chapeltown, had even done a few shifts - and they’d spent two years watching it deteriorate.
“Up until 1982 it had been run by Dick and Ada Trickett for 28 years,” explains Jackie, 63. “Then it had five managers in two years and they didn’t know what they were doing. I said ‘we could do a better job’, and Mick said ‘why don’t we?’”
Opening night was prophetic. Dozens of customers came, drank, and, at 11pm, stayed to help the couple - today, parents of two and grandparents of three - continue cleaning up.
“We’ve always kept a good atmosphere,” says Mick, originally from Parson Cross. “We have good ale, do our bit for charity, keep the garden nice.
“People like coming here. Maybe sometimes too much. I’m sure we’ve been mentioned in the odd divorce: ‘he spends too much time in The Wharncliffe Arms’.”
And now? “We’d like a couple more years at least,” says Jackie, 63. “It’s a way of life and it’s been a lovely one.”