Stage set for Shakespeares

Robin Baker, left, and Chris Bamford who will be running The Shakespeare pub on Gibralter Street, Sheffield, that re-opens this week.

Robin Baker, left, and Chris Bamford who will be running The Shakespeare pub on Gibralter Street, Sheffield, that re-opens this week.

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AS befits a pub called Shakespeares, there were trials and tribulations in the long process of knocking it back into shape so it could reopen.

“We had a few setbacks,” said owner William Wagstaff. “The copper piping has been pinched twice and we had to make changes to the original plans, to the toilets. But we are pleased with the results.”

After being closed since January last year, the pub, in Gibraltar Street, West Bar, was due to reopen last night (Wednesday) in time for the Tramlines music festival.

Twenty six acts are booked for the upstairs room over the weekend, reviving a Shakespeare tradition.

“There has always been a music element to the pub since the beginning of the last century and we want to keep it going,” said William, who bought the pub from Punch Taverns. “Bands are keen to see the place reopen.”

He turned his hand – and “an awful lot of money” – to Sheffield after spotting the boarded-up pub looking in a sorry state and having gone through a similar restoration process with the New Beehive Inn in Bradford.

The Shakespeare dates back to 1821, when it was a coaching inn, and there is still a stable and hayloft at back.

“It’s a lovely old building and it was sadly neglected. Nothing has been spent on it for 14 years.

“People were reluctant to invest because of the costs but it has definitely been a worthwhile project.”

The pub is destined to become part of the renowned Kelham Island real ale trail, with places such as the Fat Cat and the Kelham Island Tavern around the corner, reversing the trend of pub closures. It will be run by two real ale enthusiasts, Robin Baker and Chris Bamford.

The prospect of reopening has produced an “amazing” response, added William. “Everybody seems to be right behind us. A lot of people were upset when the pub was shut.”

Yet the planning and refurbishment have been a challenge.

“You have to be brave or mad or a combination of both. You have to have the courage of your convictions.

“I had an instinct it was a pub worth saving. It has been a bigger job than I anticipated but we have left no stone unturned.”