THE DIARY: Picture perfect pubs

Bernie Carroll
Bernie Carroll
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BERNIE Carroll reckons he must hold the record for visiting the most Sheffield pubs in a single day.

“On December 22, I went to 79,” he says. “I should add I left every one as sober as when I arrived.”

That’s because he was working. Bernie travels the country drawing ale houses for a living. He’s the man behind a new Sheffield Heritage Pub Crawl poster which features his hand-done illustrations of more than 100 of the city’s best-loved boozers.

“I’ve done about 40 posters for places across the UK,” he says. “I’ve been to about 30,000 pubs in all.”

From Inverness to Bristol, Norwich to Cardiff, he’s spent the last 25 years sketching taverns and inns, bars and drinking dens; popping the pictures on posters and postcards; and then selling them. Some 20,000 have been bought across the UK and further afield.

“I’ll get expats in Australia or the US phoning up and asking to buy their home town,” notes the 63-year-old from Liverpool.

“I think the pubs are a nice reminder of home.”

And now it’s Sheffield’s turn. In fact, strictly speaking, it’s been Sheffield’s turn before.

Bernie released a city poster in 2003 and a second in 2004. But he reckons the place has changed so much in the intervening decade that it was time for an update.

“I’d never even heard of Kelham Island back then,” he says. “Now I understand it’s one of the best real ale areas in the UK.

“And I love coming to Sheffield. It has some great traditional pubs right where you think most cities would have trendy bars – like The Red Deer in Pitt Street.”

He’s included a few pubs, too, which he missed out last time round.

“After I’d done it I kept getting calls asking why I hadn’t featured such and such a pub in such and such a suburb, and I’d have to say I didn’t even know it existed,” he recalls. “I’ve tried to dig a bit deeper this time and go to a few more areas instead of just focusing on the city centre.”

It means among the bars featured are perennial city favourites (Frog and Parrot in Division Street), trendy bars (Henry’s in Cambridge Street), suburban gems (The Greystones in Greystones Road) and – perhaps inevitably – a couple of Wetherspoons.

“I wanted a real mix,” says Bernie, who spent seven days photographing the pubs and speaking to landlords before sketching from the snaps back home. He was delivering them on December 22.

He started the whole business back in the late ’80s after quitting his job as a translator.

“The pesky Germans kept speaking English better than I could speak German,” he notes.

He’d been drawing the pubs of Liverpool and decided to put them on a poster. They sold. So he took the idea to Manchester, where they were popular too.

“And I’ve been doing them ever since,” he says. “It’s been a great adventure. And you get so nothing surprises you.

“The place that actually sells the most in Liverpool is the Protestant Cathedral. Go figure.”

Bernie’s Sheffield Heritage Pub Crawl poster is available in The Star Shop now at £6.