The Fat Cat with reason to purr

University of Sheffield alumnus and much loved local businessman Dave Wickett received a newly created honour, the Professor Robert Boucher Distinguished Alumni Award, at the University last week (Friday 29 July 2011).''Originally from London, Dave Wickett graduated with a Masters in Economics from the University of Sheffield in 1976. He started his career as an Economics Lecturer at Sheffield Polytechnic and was one of the first people to recognise the key importance of work placements for students.  He set up business degrees at 47 universities across the country and became Chairman of the Business Studies Placement Scheme.''In the process of setting up a staff club at Sheffield Polytechnic, he developed a professional interest in the brewing industry and a passion for real ale.  He decided that he would like to own a pub and in 1981 he purchased The Fat Cat pub in Kelham Island.
University of Sheffield alumnus and much loved local businessman Dave Wickett received a newly created honour, the Professor Robert Boucher Distinguished Alumni Award, at the University last week (Friday 29 July 2011).''Originally from London, Dave Wickett graduated with a Masters in Economics from the University of Sheffield in 1976. He started his career as an Economics Lecturer at Sheffield Polytechnic and was one of the first people to recognise the key importance of work placements for students. He set up business degrees at 47 universities across the country and became Chairman of the Business Studies Placement Scheme.''In the process of setting up a staff club at Sheffield Polytechnic, he developed a professional interest in the brewing industry and a passion for real ale. He decided that he would like to own a pub and in 1981 he purchased The Fat Cat pub in Kelham Island.

A BEER festival will be held next weekend to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the opening of Sheffield’s ‘first real ale pub’.

Dave Wickett launched The Fat Cat in Alma Street, Kelham Island, in August 1981 after buying the previous pub, The Alma, from Stones Brewery for £34,750.

Although Sheffield had 640 pubs at the time, this was the first to be free of a brewery tie and able to sell whatever beers it wanted, said Dave. It was also a pioneering in having a no smoking room and not having fruit machines or a juke box.

“People told me how stupid the concept was,” said Dave. “It would never catch on, but it worked like a dream. We managed it and now there is a ‘valley of beer’. It’s a good feeling.”

At least 20 extra beers will be available at The Fat Cat next Thursday (August 18), Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Another 20 will be sold in the new neighbouring Kelham Island Brewery visitor centre and there will be a barbecue and live music.

The pub was the catalyst for Sheffield’s real ale revolution in general and the opening of similar premises in the Kelham Island area that now attract beer enthusiasts from across the country.

Meanwhile, Dave, who has also helped to launch a micro-brewery at Welbeck Abbey in Nottinghamshire, recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group at its dinner in London and the new Professor Robert Boucher Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Sheffield for his work with the university and in the community.