Retro: Sheffield tour of lost Fargate pubs

DTFAP: The Fleur De Lis, directly under the Bovril sign, next to Exchange Gateway
DTFAP: The Fleur De Lis, directly under the Bovril sign, next to Exchange Gateway
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Welcome, welcome, welcome to Fargate and our continuing journey around Sheffield’s lost pubs.

I relate to an 1893 Kelly’s Directory of Sheffield and if a pub I mention has ceased to be I will give the business that took over the premises.

DTFAP: The Green Dragon Hotel

DTFAP: The Green Dragon Hotel

We will walk up Fargate on the left-hand side and return back down on the right-hand side.

Today we kick off at the Spread Eagle that sits at no 9 – we will have to imagine that it’s still trading for our crawl.

This pub was trading in 1794 but by 1892 it had ceased selling beer. The last landlord was probably Joseph Thomas. In 1893 Alwin Holland was running his provision business from the premises, so this is one pub we lost pretty early.

After saying a prayer outside this lost watering hole, we press on to the Kings Arms at no 17. This is another old pub that had ceased to be in 1893. It was selling beer in 1797 but by 1887 seems to have run dry, so to speak.

Our next port of call is The Chequers. In my book, Sheffield Public Houses, it states it stood at no 35 but it also states that two other pubs stood at this address, which is strange as they were open at the same time.

The Chequers is a very ancient inn sign and it’s said the Romans brought it across – “What have the Romans ever done for us?”. This sign was also associated with a table used for money, this is where we get the name exchequer from as a chequered cloth covered a table when taxes were counted.

After collection, our Chequers was open in 1833 but by 1890 it had gone. After staring at the site of this lost pub and comforting Mr Dawson and Mr Sorsby, I assured them we would get a drink in a real pub soon.

We stand outside 33 Fargate, the Rodney Arms. This lost pub was named after an English naval hero, Admiral George Brydges Rodney, 1st Baron Rodney, KB. He is best known for his commands in the American War of Independence, particularly his victory over the French at the Battle of the Saintes in 1782.

The English were not shy at honouring their heroes and the best way was to name a public house after them.

This pub was serving pints in 1825 but closed in the early 1890s. At the time of our visit it was a hosiery business run by John Buckley. Mr D & Mr S consoled themselves by buying a pair of white hose for themselves, very chic.

This next pub is open, selling alcoholic drinks for the use of. It’s the Old Red House. A licence was issued in 1780 and continued slaking the thirst of the hard-working grinders, cutlery workers and steel workers in the town until 1917.

At the time of our visit Thomas Frost was the landlord. Some say “Frost by name and Frost by nature” but we found him ok.

Waving a cheery-bye to him, we set off towards the Three Tuns on Leopold Street. This much-missed pub was open in 1821 and was closed in 1987.

As we know, a tun was a large barrel, which was equal to two pipes, four hogsheads or 216 gallons. Tuns were used to distribute large quantities of alcoholic drink that was in turn sold in gallons, half gallons (pottles), quarts and pints.

This much-used pub was closed for the Orchard Square development but I know which I prefer. The name on the licence at the time of our virtual visit in 1893 is John Blenkiron.

On leaving the Three Tuns, we head towards New Church Street which was where the town hall now stands. This street was named because of St Paul’s that stood where the Peace Gardens are now.

On this very short street stood three pubs. The first port of call is at no 7 and is the Cutlers Arms. You will have to imagine this pub and the other two as they were demolished to build the town hall.

The Cutlers was in business in 1833 and after a short life it was demolished in 1890, The last mine host was Joe Walker.

A couple of doors away was the Green Man, open in 1821. This pub’s name goes back to the Dark Ages when he represented the spirit of fertility and new growth.

He was celebrated by way of singing and dancing at the time of sowing crops. There was always someone dressed as the Green Man. His grinning face can been see in churches and cathedrals the length and breadth of England.

He was also linked to Robin Hood, relating to his garb of Lincoln Green. More likely it was Kendall green cloth, but who can say which is fact and which is fiction.

At the time of its closure in 1890, landlord Benjamin Wardle locked the door for the last time.

At no 11 stood the Grapes Tavern – this was the oldest of the three on this short street by just two years.

After discussing these demolished pubs, we head back to Fargate and start back down on the other side.

At no 66 is the Fleur de Lis. This French name just means lily flower. Our pub was serving the workers of Sheffield town in 1797 and was still open in 1940 because it was offering sixpenny meals to servicemen during World War Two.

The landlord at the time of our visit in 1893 was Joseph Taylor. After the pub closed it was turned into a railway ticket office and travel agent under the name of Dean & Dawson. In recent memory it became the Western Jean Company.

This old building was demolished (another fine old building lost) for the Orchard Square development.

Just a few doors away at no 58 stood the Well Run Dimple, a remark supposedly shouted out by a punter who won a few sovs on a horse called Dimple that won a race at Crookesmoor Racecourse.

This pub was built in 1793. There was a pub of the same name situated up on Barkers Pool and is recorded in 1567 but was thought to be far older, so with this fact the naming of the pub after a Crookesmoor winner seems to be far-fetched as racing at Crookesmoor didn’t start until 1711 or thereabouts.

By 1893 this pub had closed and Hartley Brothers Tailors & Woollen Merchants took over the property. We are not drinking much ale on this crawl due to pubs closing and being demolished, so next port of call it’s pints instead of ‘arfs.

At no 44 stands a grand building and it’s the Green Dragon Hotel, opened in 1825 and closed in 1926. I don’t know why it lost its licence in 1925.

Sitting in the well-decorated best room enjoying a pint of bitter, for all its size this hotel didn’t have a grand entrance. It was entered through a door between two adjacent buildings. At the time of our visit the licensee is Thomas Lee.

It was occupied by the Provincial Insurance Company and renamed Winchester House. Up to only 10 years ago or so ago you could walk down Exchange Gateway. Look just up to your right and you could make out The Green Dragon Hotel on the brickwork when the lettering was removed.

Just down from the Dragon stood the Cutlers Arms, one of eight in the town. It stood more or less opposite the Chequers.

This pub opened its doors in 1750 and was closed in 1883. After it ceased to be, George Chappell Bootmaker sold his wares from here.

Just down from the Cutlers stood the Union at 18 Fargate. This little pub opened in 1825. I’ve got a closing date of 1910 but in my Kelly’s its premises were three different businesses running no 16 to no 18. One was the St Marie’s Catholic Association.

The Manual Training & Sloyd Tool Company was also using this address as was the London Mantle Warehouse. On January 19, 1893 the following report appeared in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph: “ The Sheffield Sloyd School at no 16 Fargate is the first of its kind in Great Britain. It’s primarily designed to prepare teachers for Sloyd classes in schools. Classes are open to the general public and instruction covers the use of all carpentry tools and their sharpening, plus the principles of their construction, the characteristics and technical uses of timber, the making of working drawings and the making of Sloyd models”. Sounds like woodwork classes.

I’m sorry that many of our pubs on Fargate were gone on this pub crawl but over the past few months you can see just how many pubs we have lost in the city and we are still losing them at an alarming rate.

To demolish a 200-year-old pub to build flats seems criminal to me but I’m helpless to stop the onslaught on these social hubs.

The ones I have written about are just a small fraction, so we’ve many more to go.

Go forth, spread the doctrine and drink responsibly.