Visited on Wednesday 26th December 2018
The name Flying Sheep conjures up a number of odd images but the truth of it is that it celebrates the Isle of Sheppey, whose name gives us the sheep part, as it was literally the “island of sheep”.
The “flying” refers to the short period of time at the beginning of the 20th Century when the island was the home to many of the world’s flying pioneers.
The pub is the idea of Richard Smith and Amanda Williams and it opened on 24th August 2018.
The Isle of Sheppey is not that well known as the cradle of aviation in the United Kingdom, yet it was. It all started during the early 1900s when the Royal Aero Club was founded by Lord Brabazon near Leysdown. Its members were balloonists yet adapted to fixed wing flight very early on.
Encouraged by the location of this club, the Short brothers, early aviation pioneers, in July 1909 established the Shellbeach aerodrome.
This was deemed not entirely suitable and in 1910 they moved nearer to Leysdown and built another airfield. The Short Brothers company built aeroplanes in Battersea and tested them at Leysdown.
Returning to 1909, that was the year Frank McClean purchased Stonepits Farm and made it the home of the Aero Club of Great Britain. So, as there were many projects going on around Eastchurch and Leysdown there must have been considerable cross pollination.
Soon they were visited by the Wright Brothers, pioneers of flight. In July 1911 the Gordon Bennett Cup was contested at Leysdown.
The then well known adventurer gave his name to the Cup and contributed his name to the English language as an exclamation of surprise because of his daredevil feats. But not long after that there was war.
As factories were built around the country, the focus quickly moved away from the Island. However its legacy remains and in March 2015 the Sheppey Aviation Museum opened at Eastchurch to record this history.
It was Boxing Day when Linda and I visited and thought that it felt right as soon as we entered. After getting beers we made a visual tour of the room.
Working clockwise, the first thing is a narrow metal bookcase that contains a number of boxed games. Next along is a tall table with chairs. Beyond this is something really quirky, three airline seats with a two window section of fuselage!
After this is the toilet. On the right side is the bar counter with the hand pumps against the right side wall. Coming back down the right side are two more high tables and chairs.
Lastly, next to the window is a dart board. At various places around the room are various pieces of old aircraft. The whole ensemble has to be seen to be appreciated.
There are normally four cask beers on offer and when we visited they were: Canterbury Ales (Chartham, Kent) Christmas Pudding Ale (4.6%); Iron Pier (Gravesend, Kent) English Pale Ale (3.9%); Gadd’s (Broadstairs, Kent) No 7 (3.8%) and Whitstable (Grafty Green, Kent) Renaissance Mild (3.8%).
This is a great addition to the Sheerness drinking establishment portfolio and should not be missed if you are anywhere near to the Isle of Sheppey.
Flying Sheep, 193 High Street, Sheerness ME12 1UJ. Tel: 01795_669229.
Hours: Sunday-Monday: 16.00-21.00; Tuesday: Closed;
Wednesday-Thursday: 16.00-22.00; Friday-Saturday: 12.00-23.00
Since the summer of 2019 the bus routes in and around Sheerness have been revised.
This means the pub isn’t served often. The best way is to walk from the station. It should take 10 minutes.
Leave the station and turn right to the High Street. Walk along it, passing the Clock Tower.
Keep going past the Old House at Home (left) and the Castle (left). The pub is to be found on the right.