The UK is now home to over 120 community-owned and community-run pubs and three of these are in the Sheffield CAMRA Branch area. Two – the Anglers Rest, Bamford and the Gardeners Rest, Neepsend – have attracted much publicity, but the third – the Miners Arms in Chapeltown – is less well known.
The pub occupies what were once three 18th-century cottages, converted to a pub in 1885. For many years it was tied to Tennents brewery but later passed to the Tom Cobleigh group and most of the attractive fittings date from that time. When that company sold up in 2003, the Blackburn brewer Thwaites took over, though the pub never prospered under their stewardship. Next door was another pub, the Thorncliffe Arms, owned by Enterprise Inns. Over the next ten years, both had their ups and downs, with the customary story of under-investment, regular changes of licensee and periods of closure.
The Thorncliffe shut in 2013, was bought by developers and subsequently demolished. Then, Thwaites put the Miners on the market. Faced with the possibility of losing both their pubs, the community leapt into action. Thirteen locals formed a community interest company with the aim of buying the pub. Thwaites didn’t make it easy, giving them less than a month to raise the money and threatening to strip the building if they missed the deadline – but they managed it with twelve hours to spare and took over in October 2014.
Since then, the kitchen and bar areas have been re-floored and a new central heating boiler installed, along with other improvements like external lighting and kitchen upgrades. On a day-to-day basis, the pub is run by tenants Caroline and Julian. The interior has long been opened out but retains distinct areas – a small bar, a large dining room and a games room. On the two pumps, Bradfield Farmers Blonde is the regular ale, with a changing guest, often from another local brewery, on the other.
Eighteen months ago, food arrived courtesy of Sam’s Kitchen. Sammie is a classically-trained chef and it shows. I’ve eaten there a couple of times and can vouch for the excellence of the grub. Dishes are a mix of pub favourites and more unusual offerings and prices are very reasonable. Food is served 5-9 Wed-Sat and Sunday lunchtimes. There’s generally a theme night the last Friday of the month – Thai, Italian and Mexican have all featured.
As you’d expect with a community-owned pub, this is very much a hub for local people as evidenced by the various events which take place – most recently a monthly coffee morning raising money for charity. Its location in Warren Lane on the edge of town means passing trade is minimal but it really does deserve to be better known. Why not give it a try – you’ll be assured of a warm welcome.