Ship ahoy: Historic Sheffield boozer sets sail for a new chapter

One of the oldest pubs in city, The Ship Inn sits resplendent at the gateway to Kelham Island and, despite being closed since July 2021, continues to stir a torrent of affection from Sheffield residents hoping to see its long-awaited return. Today brings good news for those Ship Inn stans, as new owners have revealed they are set to breathe fresh life into the old place and, after a week of soft openings, officially reopen today (25 Feb).

Pictures: DeadPony Photography.

History is etched into the Ship’s original, brown tile facade, most obviously with a silver heritage plaque on the building’s front, but less well known may be the story of two smugglers who, when the Dale Dyke Dam burst its banks in 1864, met their end in secret underground tunnels that lead to the pub from the River Don, drowning as the infamous floods swept down into the valley.

It is said that one of these tragic characters, Charlie, continues to haunt the pub and down the years there have been numerous sightings. Luckily for Charlie, he will now have some new companions to share the pub with, as the team behind The Bar at Yellow Arch and The Millowners Arms have joined forced to resurrect the boozer (sadly, not poor old Charlie), restoring it to its former glory.

Ship Inn

The new landlords are hoping to emulate the vibe of popular Camden boozer and Amy Winehouse haunt, The Hawley Arms, offering somewhere to come as your first or last stop on a Kelham crawl, or a comfortable space to spend the day.

The interior remains predominantly the same, but the new owners tell us they are focusing on a return to ‘good beer and good tunes’. I mean, what more could you want?

Russell Frisby of Reyt Bluesy Ltd, who run The Bar at Yellow Arch, told Exposed: “We want to give that extra point of entry into Kelham Island. Obviously, you’ve got Heist and the Gardeners Rest on one side, the Riverside right down the other end, and this completes the triangle.

Ship Inn

Stephen Myerthall

“It’s going to be more of a traditional boozer, but not a traditional Kelham boozer. It’s going to have more of a vibrant city centre pub.”

Stephen Myerthall added: “We used to come in all the time as we used to live next door, so it used to be our local. It was always a place where you could come and have a nice pint, sit in a corner have a nice chat, and it was always buzzing. It’s a bit quirky as well, which we like.

“I think there’s just a bit of a gap in the area for an alternative kind of pub. It is one of the heritage pubs in the area and it’s obviously been here for years and years, and it was a shame to see it close, but with us as operators, we believe we can do it justice and get it right.

“We really want to turn it back to that nice neighbourhood pub. Good beer, perfect serves, friendly people, and friendly service.”

Ship Inn

The extensive premium beer offering will include four rotating cask lines, as well as premium lagers, ciders, proper pints of Guinness on tap, and you’ll even be able to grab a pint of the rarely spotted (in Kelham, at least) John Smiths.

The car park at the back will remain, and they have plans to update the courtyard area, giving it more of a Yellow Arch feel, with high quality heaters and fixed seating.

“We want to cater for everyone,” says Stephen, “but still include that Kelham Island buzz about beer and craft. It’s important that we’re still appealing to the boozer drinkers who are after a pint of mild. We want to be open for everyone.”

Ship Inn

As well as the good beer, the other main element for the new owners is the tunes and, in keeping with the Hawley Arms vibes, they plan to spin indie and alternative, mixed with a bit of blues, and anything else the owners think is good, basically. They also plan to have live music, with acoustic acts at the weekends, low fi DJs, and a much welcome return of the quiz.

Russell said: “Russell said: “I used to love going to the Frog and Parrot back in the day. Everyone in in there was in a band and would all hang out together. We’d like to see a bit of that in here.

“We’re really excited, and it’s great for other business around us. I personally love it, and it’s the kind of boozer I always imagined owning when I was younger. We can’t wait to get everyone in.”

Opening weekend is scheduled from 25 February, and the scrum for the new bar will be kicked off with England v Wales in the Six Nations Rugby, showing live on the big screen. For more info, chuck them a follow on socials.

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