Earlier this year Punch taverns sold the Carbrook Hall and it closed on the Monday 20 February. It did not close because it wasn’t making money. It closed because it wasn’t making enough for Punch Taverns.
The Carbrook Hall was a thriving pub. Not all the time, not everyday, and it wasn’t to all tastes – what pub ever is? It struggled to make itself heard and visited: trapped by the ring road and hemmed in by modern industrial units and remnants of our Victorian steelmaking past.
But it was viable as a business and it catered for any number of pub goers as the application for Asset of Community Value application that I made jointly with Sheffield CAMRA makes clear.
I collected the evidence for this so I know that the Carbrook Hall made a virtue out of it’s location, and it’s community was friendship groups from all over the city who kept coming back, local workers and people interested in local history or status as ‘most haunted pub’.
On weekdays it offered lunches for Santander Bank telephone call and internet banking support workers next door and staff in nearby businesses and workers from local light industry. Users of Hollywood Bowl bowling alley, and from the internationally famous steel wire rope manufacturer Gripple came in, from Forgemasters and from businesses based at Meadowhall Shopping Centre. It was used by shoppers and staff after work or on lunch breaks from Meadowhall retail park, from Aldi, Currys, PC World, The Range, B and M Bargains and Iceland warehouse.
Staff from the MacDonalds restaurant over the road held meetings here. Visitors on courses, attending conferences and on holiday in Sheffield staying at the Premier Inn by Sheffield Arena often came down and praised it as a ‘proper pub’.
The Steel City Riders motorcycle group met at the pub and recently raised funds through a charity bike ride to support Kasabian Newton Smith, aged eight, a little Sheffield boy who lost his fight against cancer in December 2016.
Two Sheffield based ice hockey teams made it their base and staff from Forces Support Limited, a military bereavement charity based on Carbrook Hall Road close by used the pub on a regular basis.
Everyone spoke warmly of how inclusive it was: “a caring place. It looks after its customers, the kind of place where people talk to each other”. Michelle and family worked hard in the last 18 months to keep the place going in the face of pub company indifference and lack of investment.
The future? To our knowledge the new owners, West Street Leisure have no experience of community pubs or listed buildings, have said “all options open’ which tells us nothing except they either don’t know what they want to do or want to keep their plans secret.
Neither are acceptable for the Carbrook. But thanks to the ACV submitted a few days before it closed I may not be talking about it as though it was the past tense. There is a glimmer here. The Carbrook Hall may live again, hopefully in the hands of a brewer – a local brewer? and a community interest group who care for its history and the communities that use it. Lobby the politicians: the local councillors and MPs, gather evidence on use and keep an eye on your local – it could be next.
Brian Holmshaw – Sheaf Valley Heritage