Thirst for city’s first ‘micro-pub’

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Real ale fans are rallying in support of plans for Sheffield’s first ‘micro-pub’.

They are backing a scheme to turn a former e-cigarette shop on Ecclesall Road, near Hunters Bar, into a small pub selling cask ale - and notable for an absence of food, music and fruit machines.

“A lot of pubs aren’t pubs but glorified restaurants,” said Chris Sinclair, owner of the Dronfield Arms in Dronfield, who is behind the venture with business partner John Harrison, a teacher. They aim to create a place to “have a chat and read the newspaper rather than play the bandit or pool or come in for food”.

It would be smaller and different from other pubs in the area, and it would complement existing independent business around Sharrow Vale, said Chris.

Council permission is being sought, and there is opposition from some residents who do not want yet another place to drink on the road.

The new ‘micro-pub movement’ - there are two in Chesterfield - characterises itself as “a small freehouse which listens to its customers, mainly serves cask ales, promotes conversation, shuns all forms of electronic entertainment and dabbles in traditional pub snacks”.

Chris, who has revived the Dronfield Arms after taking over the boarded-up building three years ago, envisages no more than 50 customers at any one time in the Ecclesall Road ‘micro-pub’, and a closing time of 11pm.

Some 18 letters of support, and five against, have been submitted to the council, which will decide whether to approve the premises change of use.

Dave Pickersgill, pub preservation officer with the Campaign for Real Ale, says: “A micro-pub suits a residential area as they do not generate noise beyond normal conversation, they don’t open late at night, they do not have a traditional cellar, which means deliveries are made in the same way as they would be to a shop and there aren’t smells caused by hot food as there is no kitchen.”

Residents have guarded against the road being saturated with places to eat and drink. A Dover Road resident says the proposal is “not without some appeal”, but adds: “Our objection is because of the proliferation of bars on this stretch of Ecclesall Road and the cumulative impact in terms of late-night noise and activity.”