Landlord of multi-award winning real ale pub in Sheffield retires

Kelham Island Tavern landlord Trevor Wraith who has retired.
Kelham Island Tavern landlord Trevor Wraith who has retired.
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The landlord of a multi-award winning real ale venue in Kelham Island, who had become somewhat of an institution in Sheffield’s pub scene, has retired.

Trevor Wraith, who is credited for transforming the popular Kelham Island Tavern, left the pub in capable hands on Thursday, pulling his last pint after over three decades in the business.

The Kelham Island Tavern is on the Sheffield Real Ale Trail.

The Kelham Island Tavern is on the Sheffield Real Ale Trail.

The 63-year-old from Mexborough, began bar work in 1973 alongside a day job in engineering, but it was only after he was made redundant nearly 20 years later that he decided to look into the industry full time.

He took on the Rutland Arms in Brown Street with friend Philip McKenna, where the pair scooped awards such as best beer garden from Yorkshire in Bloom, before leaving ten years later to reopen Kelham Island Tavern in 2001.

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Once a traditional pub for steelworkers in the surrounding area, Kelham Island Tavern had fallen into a state of disrepair after its closure in the early 90s, before Trevor refurbished the venue with the help of Lewis Gonda.

Kelham Island Tavern has won multiple awards

Kelham Island Tavern has won multiple awards

Reopening in 2002, business began to boom with regulars from the Rutland Arms and some from further afield.

The pub later went on to win multiple awards, solidifying itself as a place to visit for real ale. 

Trevor said: “We put a lot of work into it. We doubled in size with the extension at the back which made it more viable as a business because we could get more staff and had more space. 

“It grew from there and we became eligible for the Campaign For Real Ale, and in 2003 we won pub of the month, later became CAMRA’s Pub of the Year in Sheffield. 

Kelham Island Tavern won Sheffield in Bloom for its beer garden, which features palm trees.

Kelham Island Tavern won Sheffield in Bloom for its beer garden, which features palm trees.

“We won Sheffield Pub of the Year every year from 2004 to 2018, except in 2013 which they say is unlucky for some.”

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“In 2004 we also won Yorkshire Pub of the Year which was a big achievement as we were not only the first in Sheffield, but the first in South Yorkshire to win, and we won that around half a dozen times.”

Three years on Sheffield was hit by devastating floods – which closed the pub for five weeks after the banks of the River Don burst – causing damage to floorboards and internal furnishing, but the owners and some pub regulars worked to restore the tavern to its former glory.

And, it worked as a year later they became CAMRA National Pub of the Year. 

Trevor said: “That was a major achievement, and in 2009 we made CAMRA history by winning that two years in a row. It had never been done before or since.”

Trevor says the pubs notoriety helped bring in customers, both old and new, as many CAMRA members would flock from across the country to visit the venue. 

“It has been a labour of love,” he added. “The last time I had a holiday was in 2005. But I was determined to make it work and it took a lot of energy but it was rewarded.

“I would work in the kitchen, then run upstairs for a quick shower before coming back down for a shift behind the bar. It was very intense for a few years, in 2009 it got very busy. 

“I would spend time behind the bar a lot, and always made sure to be prominent. Up until last week I was still doing 60 to 80 hours a week, and was always involved.”

Trevor has now handed the reigns to new licensees Louise Singleton and Josh Jepson, and says the pub will be in capable hands.

He said: “At the time of leaving there is a decent team of staff. I’m very confident that they are the best people for that pub and for the area. They’ve got an interest in beers and different styles.

“I think they are the right people to source that for the beer drinkers of Sheffield.”

Trevor, who is a keen gardener, says he is now taking time to adjust to his new life away from the pub scene, and is looking forward to having some free time to see family and friends.