Pub of the Month October 2016

The White Lion has not only been a constant fixture on London Road since 1781, it has been a constant favourite on the Sheffield beer scene, appearing in 28 editions of the Good Beer Guide. Its 28th appearance is in 2017. The architectural history of this one pub alone could fill an entire issue of Beer Matters. It has earned Grade II listing (1999), one of a select group of Tetley’s ‘Heritage Inns’ (1989) and, more recently, recognised by CAMRA as having an interior of outstanding historic interest, appearing in CAMRA’s Yorkshire Pub Heritage publication. For visitors to the White Lion it is the beautiful tiles, seemingly eccentric collection of rooms, and the famous reversed ‘N’ in the stained-glass that make it an endearing and comfortably atmospheric place to enjoy a few ales.

Over the years it must have had dozens of licensees but the current incumbents, Jon and Mandy, have not only been running the White Lion for as little as 18 months, but had never managed a pub before. Their story is a fairy-tale. Long-time customers of the White Lion, Jon and Mandy gave-up their public-sector careers to take on the pub they loved, worried that it was in danger of going into a terminal decline. And what a job they’ve done! As well as four regular ales – Abbeydale Moonshine, Kelham Island Lion’s Main, Tetley Bitter, and Wychwood Hobgoblin – there is always a fascinating (and often unusual) selection of up to seven excellently kept guest ales. The pub also has real cider (Weston’s Old Rosie and one guest), and an impressive selection of malt whisky.

The White Lion is a champion music venue, winning the title of best music pub in Yorkshire and the north-east in 2015. Free live music is a feature nearly every night, apart from Wednesdays when it hosts a popular pub quiz.

And given Jon and Mandy’s story, it is hardly surprising that they have made the White Lion a true community pub. It gives rooms over to clubs, groups and the local community, hosts regular charity events, supports local community events and neighbouring businesses. For all these reasons an unincorporated body, consisting of members of the local community and with the support of CAMRA, has just submitted an application to list the White Lion as an asset of community value (ACV) – fingers-crossed!

We’ll be presenting this much-deserved ‘Pub of the Month’ award on Tuesday 11 October from 8pm onwards, so come along (615 London Road, Heeley (next to Ponsford, at the heart of the Heeley Triangle) – on bus routes 10, 10A, 20, 24, 25, 43, 43A, 44, X17), and enjoy a celebration with some fine ales in one of Sheffield’s most fascinating pubs. Normal opening hours are 4pm to midnight Monday to Thursday, 4pm to 1am on Fridays, noon to 1am on Saturdays, and 2pm to midnight on Sundays.

Richard Short

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