Here are 10 of Sheffield's most unusual pub names - and the stories behind them

Sheffield is blessed with a wealth of historic pubs, with many named after influential figures and events from the era in which they were created.

Monday, 25th January 2021, 2:55 pm
A number of Sheffield pubs have unusual names

Over the last few decades, the Steel City has earned a reputation for its brilliant boozers and breweries; and more recently, for the community of micro pubs selling some of the country’s best – and most potent – ales.

But some of the city’s most popular pubs, such as The Closed Shop, Cremorne and Brown Bear date back much further, and have been serving the people of Sheffield for more than a century.

Many of their names reflect the time in which they were established.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

There are two explaintions for how The Closed Shop in Commonside got its name. The first suggests it became called that as a swipe at the bureaucratic licensing laws that led to it being forced to close when an oversight led to the license not being renewed on time. And the second asserts that it was given the name in the 19th century after the owner of what was then a general shop on the premises noticed that some of the customers would sometimes sit on sacks stacked inside, drinking the ale they had just purchased. This led to the owner believing they would be able to make more money if they operated as a pub instead, and closed the shop.

Here, we take you through the etymology of some of the more unusual monikers.

Please contact me at [email protected] if you have any suggestions for pubs that are not included on this list but should be.


The London Road boozer dates back to the 19th century and is believed to have been named after a famous racehorse which won the Derby in 1872. Picture: Marie Caley

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.

Located on Leopold Street, The Bessemer was named after Henry Bessemer who was an inventor and became an integral figure in Sheffield's steel industry after moving to the city in 1858. Picture: Google
Built in 1475, the Old Queens Head is Sheffield's oldest pub and its current name is believed to refer to Mary Queen of Scots who was imprisoned in Sheffield from 1570 to 1584. Picture: Dean Atkins
Dating back to the the late 18th century, The Brown Bear is one of the oldest pubs in the city centre and is in a Grade II listed building which predates the Town Hall. There has been a pub on the site for over 200 years. It was probably named after the bear baiting pit which was in the Botanical Gardens. The pit closed in the 1870s when a curious child got too near and was killed by the two resident bears.
The Museum was built on the site of the mortuary for Sheffield Hospitals and the vaulted ceilings can still be seen in the cellar. The pub has gone through many name changes since its opening in 1897 when it first opened as The Museum. As the Orchard Square development was built around it, the pub changed its name to The Orchard, The Brewing Trough and The Hogshead, finally reverting to its original name in February 2005.
Dating back to 1836 The Three Merry Lads got its name from the Marsden family who named the pub after their sons.
The pub on Crimcar Lane in Lodgemoor was named after the Royal Navy ship, HMS Sheffield, which was nicknamed the ‘Shiny Sheff’ because lots of stainless steel was used on her fixtures and fittings.
The name given to the Kelham Island institution is believed to refer to the modern idiom "fat cat" which means an individual who is rich and/or doing well for themselves. The site has deeds dating from 1832 but it is not known if a pub was opened at that time. By 1852, the property was a pub then called the Kelham Island Tavern (now the name of a pub around the corner of Russell Street). It was then called The Battle of the Alma until 1981.
The Sheaf House Hotel, Bramall Lane, opened in 1816. It is believed to have been named after the Sheaf House sports ground, which used to be behind the pub and predates the Bramall Lane football ground. It was used by both Yorkshire County Cricket Club and Sheffield Wednesday F.C.