If travelling by tram for a pub crawl in the Kelham Island area, first call will usually be the Wellington on the corner of Henry Street and Infirmary Road, which is almost adjacent to the Shalesmoor (for Kelham Island) tram stop. The pub was built around 1840 for A. H. Smith’s Don Brewery, which was nearby. Following the usual sequence of takeovers, from the 1960’s the Wellington was part of the Whitbread estate.
As a result of the Beer Orders of the early nineties, Whitbread began to reduce their pub holdings, and the Wellington was sold ‘free of tie’ in 1992. For some 20 years it flourished as a free house, winning Sheffield CAMRA Pub of the Year 2001 as the Cask & Cutler, but suffering from a lack of investment it eventually became a bit tired. In 2016 it was acquired by James Birkett’s Sheaf Inns and after a much-needed yet sympathetic refurbishment it reopened on 19 October 2016.
Niall Byrne moved from the Sheaf View to become the new manager, and the Wellington became the brewery tap for the Neepsend Brewery (formerly Little Ale Cart), which had also been taken over by James Birkett. As a result the pub’s eight handpumps usually dispense three or four Neepsend beers, always including Neepsend Blonde, and three or four guest beers mostly from small breweries, together with a changing real cider. Brewers often featured include Bad Seed, North Riding, Pictish and Saltaire, and there is a decent range of gins and malt whiskies available. Opening hours are 3-11pm in the week, 12-12 Friday and Saturday and 12-10.30 Sunday. Food is limited to the usual bar snacks together with pork pies.
The pub still retains two separate rooms, one opened out into the corridor bar area, and several features survive from an inter war redevelopment, including some leaded windows. The walls throughout are decorated with an eclectic collection of breweriana, including mirrors and advertising placards. The rooms are comfortably furnished and welcoming, and with no TV, gaming machines or music, at weekends the Wellington is a welcome refuge from the noisier pubs in the area. All in all a well deserved winner of the Pub of the Month for July. As well as the tram, there is a nearby bus stop served by routes 57, 81, 82, 86 and 135.