When Sarah Ingolfsdottir and David Knott took on Hagglers Corner six years ago, the place was little more than a derelict factory - a one -time sweetmakers, ironmongers and coal dealers long since abandoned to the pigeons that roosted there.
But today, and after much hard work on the couple’s part, the complex is a thriving community hub - a bohemian haven that provides a home for independent businesses, gigs, yoga classes, events, the Kaffihus café and workspaces.
And now there’s a new addition. A public bar has opened at Hagglers on Queens Road, bringing together local ales, craft beer and handmade cocktails along with a programme of live music and DJ sets.
David said the response to the bar had been ‘brilliant’.
“We’ve had an events space upstairs for a couple of years, but a year ago we finalised the buying of the building,” he said. “It’s ours now, rather than renting it off a landlord.”
Craft beers on offer include Goose Island IPA, from California, while the keg pump hosts the local ales.
“At the moment we’ve got Abbeydale Brewery on, but we’re rotating between local breweries - Kelham Island, beers from Bradfield. We want to keep it local but have international craft beers as well.”
Meanwhile, the cocktail menu offers creations such as Northern Lights - a mix of blueberry gin, vodka, fresh cherries, real blueberries and mint, named after the natural phenomenon that illuminates the skies of Sarah’s home country, Iceland.
“On Fridays and Saturdays we have DJs on, then on Wednesdays it’s an open jam night. People can come along every week, get up with their guitar and play with a band. It’s quite good, I think - like an open mic but for musicians. We’ve started a film night as well upstairs, and once a month we do a quiz in the bar. Doing it weekly might be a bit much.”
The decor is novel too - there’s a distinct theme of corrugated iron, another nod to Iceland, where the metal is a traditional building material, while birch trees have been planted floor-to-ceiling.
“It looks like the trees are growing through the bar,” David remarked.
The entrepreneurial spirit of Hagglers Corner has allowed a tattoo studio, music school, piano teacher, massage therapist and florist to flourish, along with the Running With Scissors sewing classes and Copperbelle interiors shop.
“We’ve created quite a lot of jobs here now for people, which is quite a scary thing,” David said. “We’re responsible for their lives!”
Fourteen weddings are booked in too, along with plenty of private parties and children’s birthday celebrations. “We do quite a lot of weddings now. They’re really bespoke. We’re part of the community round here. I’m growing the gigs we do as well, I like to think we’ve got some good-quality music here.”
Bar manager Jake Shallow has been employed to oversee the latest venture, lightening the load for David, aged 40, and Sarah, 38, who live in Abbeydale and have two children - daughter Lilya, five, and son Ned, 18 months. Running Hagglers is a full-time occupation, and David said plans for a microbrewery remain ‘on the back burner’.
“I’d like to build a mezzanine across the courtyard, as a balcony upstairs would make more room, but when that will happen I’m not sure.”
And David and Sarah hope to find a new home of their own. “We both sold our houses to buy Hagglers and we’re slowly outgrowing our little terraced house now!”
n The bar is open Wednesday to Sunday, 4pm to late. Visit www.hagglerscorner.co.uk for details.