historic pub trail: sheffield

head to south yorkshire and experience the industrial heritage of sheffield through these fascinating British pubs.

The Sheffield Tap

As you depart the train, you’ll find that the first stop on our trail, the Sheffield Tap, is perfectly situated on platform 1b (bonus if the train pulls up here!). Interestingly, this pub is housed within the former Edwardian Refreshment & Dining Rooms of Sheffield station, which became disused in the 1960’s. It all came to an end in the 1970’s, when the Refreshment Room was converted into a waiting room. The original mahogany bar top was sadly removed, along with the damaged front bar being pushed to the back of the room beneath the back bar. The ornate fireplace and phenomenal features were also taken from the building, which led to the grade II listed interior to be vandalised and subsequently locked up in 1976. Fast forward to 2008, and the owners were finally able to access the derelict rooms and begin their restoration. As you would expect then, the style of The Sheffield Tap is of an old railway waiting room with a large bar that runs the length of this space. You’ll discover a fine array of real ales from 11 hand pulls, including Tapped Jazzler, Thornbridge’s Jaipur, and the Salted Caramel Lucaria. Pair your pint with one of the excellent pork pies with the knowledge of this being a real beer lovers pub… enthusiasts are known to be in and partaking of the ales at 11:00 am, so we’ll see you there!

The Old Queen’s Head

The Old Queen’s Head can be found on Pond Hill, where this charming little pub juxtaposes with a modern bus station and new office blocks. This establishment occupies the oldest domestic building in the city; the timber framed building is thought to date back from c.1475, although the earliest known written record of it is in an inventory compiled in 1582. This was of the estate of George Talbot, the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, and it included the furnishings of The Old Queen’s Head, then known as “The hawle at the Poandes”. By the beginning of the 19th century, the building was being used as a residence until a pub called The Old Queen’s Head was opened in the neighbouring building in 1840, and sometime after 1862 the pub expanded into this building. Apparently, the Queen in the pub’s name is likely Mary, Queen of Scots, who was imprisoned in Sheffield from 1570 to 1584. Unbeknownst to us, today you’ll find numerous paintings of World War II fighter planes - spitfires, Hurricanes, all over the walls. We recommend trying a pint of the Nutty Black dark bitter whilst sitting in this historic building.

The Fat Cat

On Alma St. in Kelham Island, a real beer county, you’ll find The Fat Cat pub. This building was established in 1850, but the watering hole came a little later and was known as “The Alma” This is possibly because it is located at No 23 Alma Street, but it is also reportedly named after a battle in the Crimean War (1853-1856). It later became a hotel, but today The Fat Cat stands as a “ferociously independent” pub that sits right next to the Kelham Island Brewery. This quaint, traditional little boozer lies in a historic part of the city and serves a variety of delicous food including seak pie and kelham sausage and yorkshire pudding. We recommend a pint of Campbells Flintlock Golden Ale, but there’s plenty of options from the Kelham Brewery to choose from too.

Kelham Island Tavern

The Kelham Island Tavern is the only pub to have become the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) National Pub of The Year two years running. This terraced watering hole in the beer paradise that is Kelham Island clearly promises an element of quality then, as well as being steeped in history. It was constructed in the 1830’s as part of a terrace, and originally operated as “The Sawmaker”. Later renamed the “White Hart”, it then became the “Kelham Island Tavern” in the early 1990’s but unfortunately closed soon after. However, the derelict building was thankfully revived in 2002 to specialise in real ales, and the following year saw The Kelham Island be mentioned as one of the five pubs in the area among the “best real ale pubs in Yorkshire”. Inside you’ll find a carved wooden bar as well as a partially tiled floor, a low red ceiling, and the walls are painted a daring yellow! This impressive pub boasts a great array of independent brewery ales including: Blue Bee and Barnsley Bitter by the Acorn Brewery. We recommend a pint of the White Rose Brewery “Kind of the Mountains” to be paired with your traditional pub grub such as a classic burger or steak and ale pie.


Shakespeare’s was built in 1821 as a multi-roomed coaching inn, and has since undergone various changes. For many years as an S.H. Ward’s pub, the well-known live music venue was closed by Punch Taverns in early 2010. It reopened 18 months later, this time with the original passageway to the yard creatively turned into another room. Simultaneously, the above-bar panelling was added and the long-established bar moved forward slightly. As you enter this watering hole, the terrazzo flooring which flows from the entrance lobby signifies the original flooring plan. There’s also a leaded “Ward’s Fine Malt Ales” window to admire along with a distinctive exterior sign with the same wording. This great, old fashioned pub serves a wonderful range of independent real ales, including: Abbeydale Deception, Barnsley Bitter, North Riding Classic Pale and also Blue Bee which is extremely popular in Sheffield.

Three Tuns

The Three Tuns promises a unique experience, for it looks like a miniature version of the Flatiron building in New York. It’s been around since the 1700’s, and it used to be a nun’s washhouse. A medieval road ran from the cathedral, and there are also tunnels underneath the pub that were used by the nuns or possibly the monks. Upon entering the pub, make your way over to the “pointy” section of the iron - it’s really cool to sit in due to it being very narrow (as long as there’s enough room for you and your pint, then why not!). A fantastic range of ales are on offer, including Brakspears Bitter (we recommend!), Ossett Brewery Blonde, Titanic Plum Porter and Oakham Ales Jeffrey Hudson Bitter.

The Red Deer

The Red Deer dates back from 1825, and it has been much extended since. It originally stood as three small rooms with a central bar area, and this space was opened out in the 1980’s and the bar repositioned to give a single L-shaped lounge. A raised area towards the rear, known as ‘The Gallery’ was added in 1993, a section that lead onto the beer garden.Today, The Red Deer is actually part of the University complex, yet it still retains much of its original charm. Inside you’ll find a fantastic range of cask ales, including: Blue Bee Hillfoot Best Bitter, Little Critters Little Hopper (a vegan pint), Hogorths “Ruin attle Gaming Table”, Camerons Strongarm, and Hopjacker “Illywacker”.

The Rutland Arms

Our last stop is certainly an interesting one. As you approach The Rutland Arms, you’ll notice that it almost looks derelict from the outside, but we can promise that the inside is a different story. It’s famed for its quirkiness and extensive range of ales and lagers, so the last stop on the tour won’t be a disappointment! There’s even a backgammon school!

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