‘Fellowship of Fagan’s’ takes on historic Sheffield pub

Earlier this month, Sheffield witnessed the end of an era as Tom and Barbara, custodians of landmark city centre pub Fagan’s, called time at the bar for the final time after an illustrious 37 years at its helm.

For anyone who’s enjoyed a proper pint of Guinness in the pub, heard one of Tom’s (many) stories across the bar or maybe helped him with a crossword clue or two over the years, their retirement, and the possibility of a city without one of the three points of the ‘Irish Triangle’, felt like a huge loss to the city.

Thankfully, a group of nine Sheffielders started a WhatsApp group, which included an Arctic Monkey, Sheffield hospitality experts, Warp Film execs and a joiner, where it was decided that rather than see the pub fall into disrepair – or worse, become a chain pub – they would club together and bring the boozer back to life.

Snug Life: seven of the nine Sheffielders who’ve come together to take on the Fagan’s mantle.

The even better news is that they plan to change very little about what makes it so special. One of the nine and Royal Oak substitute David House told Exposed: “We don’t want to change the heart and soul of the place, so it’s still going to look the same.

“We’ll be adding little touches, but we’ll still have proper Guinness. All the musicians want to stay, so there’ll still be five nights of music a week and a quiz, and, after last time, Robbie Williams is still barred from coming in! The biggest change will be having a card machine!”

The Rockingham Group’s James Hill added: “We want to make sure it’s doing what it’s currently doing, keeping that traditional nature, but also bringing it forward into the next 37 years of Fagan’s with some of the things that Sheffield is currently doing.”

Live music and a cracking pint of Guinness will continue to be a key part of the pub’s offering.

Niall Shamma, Warp’s Chief Operating Officer, added: “Tom came in 37 years ago under Fagan’s shadow and he had to make his own stories. We can’t just redo what Tom did; we’ve got to start a new story. We’ll always be incredibly indebted to Tom and Barbara, but it’s also about finding the new generation of people who call this place home.”

The nine is made up of Arctics drummer Matt Helders, James O’Hara and James Hill of The Rockingham Group, who own Gatsby, Picture House Social and Public; Warp’s Mark Herbert and Niall Shamma, Can Studio’s Ian Stanyer, painter and decorator David House, joiner Ben Pickup, and James’ brother and financial analyst Tom O’Hara.

James O’Hara said: “As much as it was about us wanting to take on the pub, because we’re proud to have it in the city, it was also about not wanting the wrong people to have it. We thought it should remain with Sheffield people, people who care about the place and care about what Tom and Barbara built.

“We’ve all got links to the place, so we thought we should be the people who step in and be the custodians of it. The Fellowship of Fagan’s – one pub to unite them all.”

We don’t want to change the heart and soul of the place, so it’s still going to look the same.

One other change will be the end of hot food. Ben Pickup explained: “We can’t make the food that Tom did, and there are probably people out there who haven’t eaten since – because they’re still full!

“We’ll have pork pies and other bits, but it won’t be Tom getting up from doing a crossword to make it, bringing it, to go sit down and do his crossword again.”

Mark Herbert added: “Basically, we’re all artists, and none of us can cook!

“We’re really excited to get going, but the people I’m telling who’ve been here or don’t necessarily even live in Sheffield, they’re excited too. It’s a bit of a sanctuary, this place. It’s always sort of had that vibe that you don’t get bothered. Whether you’re a musician, singer, actor, whatever, you can just be left alone, and I think there’s a lot of people that have been here and love it for that, so they’re excited too.”

Brewery permitting, they are hoping to be open within the month, albeit with slightly changed and later opening hours. The plan is to open from 4pm midweek, midday at the weekend, with a 1.30am close on Friday and Saturday nights.

Ian Stanyer summed it up: “I didn’t know about this place until about 10 years ago. Mark brought me down one night, and I’d been living in Sheffield for about 20 years and didn’t know it existed. Walking through that door, feeling that warmth and the music wafting through, I instantly felt a bit of grief for not knowing about it sooner.”

When asked about his feelings on taking on the pub, Matt Helders told Exposed: “You gotta pick a pocket or two!”

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