Monday 27th January 2014
I must admit that the name of the Harlequin had no resonance when I planned a visit to some of the many excellent pubs of Sheffield. However I have to say it is an absolutely fantastic boozer that not only caters to the tastes of the cask ale drinker but also those aficionados of ciders and perries as it has a superb range of these. It is situated in a former industrial area on the corner of Nursery Street and Spitalfields and has an interesting history.
It goes back to 1845 when the Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne and Manchester Railway opened its terminus in the city. This was called Bridgehouses and, at the bottom of the station approach a pub with accommodation was constructed to serve passengers arriving and departing from the new station. It was known as "The Manchester Railway Hotel" The major problem with the station was its location; not near the city centre.
That situation was rectified in 1851 when the line was extended on a 600 yards long viaduct over the River Don to a new city station named Sheffield Victoria. The viaduct is known locally as the "Wicker arches" after the name of the district it crosses. It is still standing and is on a single track freight line, which is quite a come down for a line that was once electrified and hosted hourly Inter-City expresses from Sheffield to Manchester and return. These ceased in January 1970 and Sheffield Victoria Station was closed.
In 1847 the railway company merged with several others to become the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway. In 1899 this became the Great Central Railway on the opening of its new main line to London Marylebone.
The old terminal station remained until 1965 and acted as the goods station for the Great Central Railway and its predecessors and successors. The structures remained for some time after that but disappeared with the construction of the city's Inner Ring Road. Sometime after the cessation of passenger trains the name of the pub changed to Manchester Hotel, more in keeping as it had became a local's pub serving the populace and workers of the area, and not a station.
In 1864 the pub was badly damaged by flooding and had to be partially rebuilt. Thereafter, it continued its existence in an uneventful manner until the mid 2000s. It closed, I believe in 2006.
On 1st September of that year it reopened. It was named "The Harlequin" which was a little confusing as that was the name of a recently demolished pub in Johnson Street, the next street across.
It had been redecorated and was heavily promoting cask ales. In 2008 Pete Roberts commenced brewing at his Brew Co., about a mile away in Carlisle Street and was looking for premises to be his brewery tap. If I have got this right, he purchased the Harlequin and in March 2010 his partner, Liz Aspden took over the reigns as manageress.
The pub looks like it was once multi-roomed and when we entered we saw a seated area to the left in the apex of the corner at the road junction. The bar is directly in front with the main room to the right of it. At the rear of this area there is more tables and seating on a slightly lower level. We took a seat at a high table in front of the bar. All of beers, ciders, perries and food menus are clearly displayed on blackboards.
Since then the pub has achieved an enviable reputation for its beers. When Linda and I visited they offered the following beers from the Brew Co. There are two regular beers served here, Blonde (4.0%) and New England Best (4.2%). There were these also: Oat Stout (4.3%), Simcoe (3.8%), Crazy Horse IPA (5.1%) and Dry Hop No 60 (4.7%).
The guest beer list was impressive also. We could have had Great Heck (Great Heck, North Yorks) Shankar IPA (5.9%), Spire (Staveley, Derbyshire) Chesterfield Best Bitter (4.5%), Dancing Duck (Derby) Amberillo (4.8%) and Revolutions (Castleford, West Yorks) Clash London Porter (4.5%).
The pub has won Sheffield Cider Pub of the Year award more than once and that comes as no surprise when you see what was offered when we visited. We had a choice of Glebe Farm (Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire) Side-R Blackcurrant Cider (6.0%), Weston's (Much Marcle, Herefordshire) Country Perry (4.5%), Sandford Orchards (Crediton, Devon) Cider Ginger (4.0%), Heck's (Street, Somerset) Port Wine of Glastonbury Cider (6.5%), Orchard Pig (West Bradley, Somerset) Navelgazer Cider (6.0%).
And there was more.... Once upon a Tree (Putley, Herefordshire) Tumpy Ground Cider (7.0%), Pure North (Holmforth, West Yorks) Fusion Cider, Broad Oak (Clutton, Somerset) KB Cider, Ty Gwyn (Newcastle, Monmouthshire, Wales) Bag in Box Dabinett Cider and Medium Dry Cider (6.0%) and no less than four from Gwynt y ddraig (Pontypridd, Glamorgan, Wales): Black Dragon Cider (7.2%), Farmhouse Scrumpy Cider (5.3%), Welsh Warrior Cider (6.5%) and Two Trees Perry (4.5%).
There is quite a lot going on here. On the first Thursday of the month there are tutored tastings and on last Tuesday there is a games evening. They hold a themed quiz every Wednesday and live bands play every Friday and Saturday at 21.00. As can be seen, this pub is well worth a visit and it is only just over the River Don to the other beery attractions of Kelham Island. There is food available, please see times of service below.
The Harlequin, 108 Nursery Street, Sheffield S3 8GG. Tel: 0114 275 8195
Open: Sunday-Wednesday 12.00-23.00; Thursday-Friday 12.00-23.30;
Meals are served: Monday to Friday 12.00-14.00, 18.00-21.00; Saturday 12.00-18.00;
Sunday: roasts and vegetarian meals are served 12.30-15.00;
the usual menu is offered 16.00-20.00.
We walked from the Shalesmoor tram stop and it took almost twenty minutes. It is served by two routes. The Blue route runs from Halfway to Malin Bridge via the main railway station and the city centre. The Yellow route runs from Meadowhall Interchange station to Middlewood via the city centre. Normally each line operates every ten minutes, giving a tram every five minutes from the city centre.
There are also several bus routes that stop here.
Probably the best way to go direct to the pub would be to arrive by bus.
The following routes operate along Nursery Street: 47, 48, 53 and 87.