Arson attack on Sheffield's oldest pub branded 'wake-up call', as owner steps up security

Owner Sean Fogg surveys smoke damage to the Old Oak Room at Carbrook Hall
Owner Sean Fogg surveys smoke damage to the Old Oak Room at Carbrook Hall
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An arson attack on Sheffield's oldest and reputedly most-haunted pub has been described as a 'wake-up call' to save the 'architectural gem'.

Carbrook Hall, in Attercliffe, is a Grade II*-listed building, dating back to 1176, and hosted talks ahead of the siege of Sheffield Castle during the English Civil War.

The Old Oak Room at Carbrook Hall before the fire (pic: Mick Slaughter)

The Old Oak Room at Carbrook Hall before the fire (pic: Mick Slaughter)

It nearly went up in flames after firebugs poured petrol or oil through a window on Sunday, April 29, but luckily firefighters were able to extinguish the flames before serious damage was caused to the most historic section.

READ MORE: Sheffield's most historic pub damaged in arson attack
The attack, which follows several break-ins since the pub closed after being sold by Punch Taverns to West Street Leisure in February 2017, had prompted fresh calls from heritage campaigners for the building to be restored and re-opened to the public before it is lost forever.

Dave Pickersgill, of Sheffield & District CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), said: "Carbrook Hall is one of only two, Grade II* listed pubs in Sheffield. The irreplaceable 17th-century Jacobean panelling gives it a prime place in the local historical landscape.

"For over a year, since coming under new ownership, the pub has been shut, part of the historical heritage of Sheffield slowly rotting.

The more modern bar area of Carbrook Hall was worst affected by the arson attack

The more modern bar area of Carbrook Hall was worst affected by the arson attack

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"We can only hope that this fire will act as a wake-up call and spur action into reopening the pub and allowing visitors to appreciate the historical interior."

CAMRA and Sheaf Valley Heritage successfully applied last year for the building to be made an 'asset of community value' - offering additional protection against demolition or development.

Carbrook Hall was one of the buildings the Hunter Archaeological Society set out to protect from destruction when the group was founded in 1912.

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Ruth Morgan, the society's honorary secretary, said: "Members are extremely concerned at the devastating damage that has been done to Carbrook Hall over the past year and particularly in the recent fire."

This more historic area of Carbrook Hall was also spared the worst of the damage from the arson attack

This more historic area of Carbrook Hall was also spared the worst of the damage from the arson attack

She claimed the building would make a 'fine place' to stop and eat during a historical tour of the city.

"Its grade II* listing and ACV status protect it - now the building needs a new life and a caring owner and a community group of friends to inspire interest in it and ensure it is properly restored," she added.

She also pointed out how the campaign group Hallamshire Historic Buildings had presaged the building's fate not long after it closed, writing at the time that as long as it lay empty 'the biggest threat for this historical gem is damage through vandalism or arson'

Historic England said it was concerned about the building and had 'noted its vulnerable state'.

Boarded-up windows at Carbrook Hall following the fire

Boarded-up windows at Carbrook Hall following the fire

Jane Jackson, the body's heritage at risk principal for Yorkshire, said: "We have been in touch with the owner since the fire and he has reassured us that the building is secure and the fire damage was minimal and affected the least historic part of the building.

"We are visiting the building next week with the council to assess its condition."

Carbrook Hall was originally an ancestral home before becoming an inn. There has been a building on the site since the 12th century, but, according to Historic England, the oldest surviving part of the building is believed to date back to around 1620.

It is most noted for the intricate wooden panelling in the Old Oak Room, which also features an ornate ceiling.

The building has frequently been cited as one of South Yorkshire's most haunted, with reports of ghostly apparitions in the toilets and mischievous spirits throwing bottles around the bar.

Carbrook Hall's owner Sean Fogg has said he is in talks with a multi-national company about taking a 20-year lease on the building.

Carbrook Hall closed in February last year

Carbrook Hall closed in February last year

He would not divulge the company's name but said the building would not become a supermarket or flats, and he dismissed rumours the firm is Starbucks or another big coffee chain.

He says he has set aside £250,000 of his own money to restore the building and wants to work with the council, Historic England and members of the community to reopen it as a viable business so the public can once again appreciate its 'splendour'.

He added that a full-time security guard was now based on-site, following the fire, though Sheffield historian Ron Clayton asked why this had not been the case beforehand.

Carbrook Hall as it once looked (pic: Hunter Archaeological Society)

Carbrook Hall as it once looked (pic: Hunter Archaeological Society)