The Sportsman, (Main Street, Hackenthorpe, S12 4LA) has recently gained a place on the CAMRA Regional Inventory of Pub Interiors and has been proposed for the prestigious National Inventory.
The Sportsman was the last pub to be built by the Worksop and Retford Brewery (plans dated, 1955 and 1956). ‘Serious discrepancies‘ were found in the 1955 plans, 1956 seeing a successful resubmission.
The previous building was originally in the hands of Sheffield-based Old Albion Brewery who were taken over by the WRB in 1939. WRB were subsequently taken over by Tennants Brewery of Sheffield in 1958, who, in turn, who were taken over by Whitbread in 1962.
Building work was carried out by J.E.Smith (Worksop) Ltd., Kilton Road, Worksop, and the design was by W.S.Daniel, Estates Surveyor for the WRB. At that time, the pub was in North East Derbyshire (Chesterfield Rural District Council), 1973 boundary changes bringing in it into the City of Sheffield.
In the mid 1950’s, Sheffield City Council were developing the new Hackenthorpe estate, and some public house licences were transferred from the centre of Sheffield to the new estate. In October 1955, Derbyshire County Council Planning Department, referring to the licence of the Sportsman, suggested that ‘it would appear that this should be diverted to a site out of the village and towards the estate if possible.’
Superintendent E.Wallis, Renishaw Police Station, responded on 5th.November stating: ‘ This is practicably an impossibility, there are no sites available, the Sheffield Corporation and Planning Authorities would certainly not tolerate any idea of the transferring of this house onto the new estate ….. I suggest that this plan be approved so that the work can be put into operation as soon as possible to give the increasing population the benefit of using a modern house, a wider main road and increased parking facilities.‘
The previous pub fronted the road. It was totally demolished, the front of the new build been built in the same place as the rear of the old building. The pub is remarkably little altered with three rooms, a 1985 map showing there have been no changes to the room layout since construction.
There is a sizeable entrance lobby inside the front door. This originally included a hatch for off-sales. A door on the left leads to the games room which retains a bar counter of a distinctive 1950s style, the bar back fitting and the fixed seating are both original. It now has a pool table but until recently it was a three-quarter sized snooker table. A 1972 painting of the pub is displayed above the bar.
A door to the right of the lobby leads into the lounge bar with another distinctive 1950s style bar counter, the bar back fitting and the fixed seating are original. All bars have original canopies, the shape matching that of the bar. The linked bar feeds the three separate rooms.
A door on the right hand side of the lounge bar leads into a lobby with 1950s panelling to picture frame height all around. A door leads to the concert/function room at the rear with another bar counter of a distinctive 1950s style, the bar back has more bays than that in the lounge bar and the fixed seating is original. There is another large lobby at the rear off of which are the toilets. The wall tiles in the gents ante room and toilets themselves are 1950s light blue ones that have been painted over in a dark blue colour – the gents is otherwise little changed. The ladies has modern tiles. All the doors have distinctive 1950s style wooden handles on one side (brass plates on the ‘push side’). The windows have been replaced with uPVC.
When opened the Sportsman, in addition to bottled Don Jon and Donovan would have offered cask conditioned Worksop Amber (OG 1032.5) and Best Bitter (1038.5). Donovan achieved a Diploma at the British Bottles Institute Competition in 1955 and, in 1899, was described as ‘the Perfection of Strong Ale, Brewed October and November, specially for Christmas.’ Unfortunately, the Sportsman does not currently provide cask-conditioned beer. The hope is that this may change in the future.
Thanks to Tim Knebel at Sheffield Archives for assistance in sourcing original material.
A history of the Worksop and Retford Brewery is available at: http://tinyurl.com/j4d34ow