Publicans to pull out after 31 years – but not far

Les and Sue May at the Hallamshire Hotel
Les and Sue May at the Hallamshire Hotel

FOR 31 years, Les and Sue May have been pulling pints and dispensing community cheer in a traditional backstreet Sheffield pub.

Although they are retiring from the Hallamshire House in Commonside, Walkley, they will not be going far…

Preparing to move just along the road, the couple will become customers instead of publicans, keeping in touch with the many friends they have made over the years.

Yet Les – known among his clientele as a popular, gregarious and “proper” pub landlord, one prepared to give and take a joke – says: “I shall greatly miss being behind the bar. It’s like being on stage every night.”

Local members of the Campaign for Real Ale have shown their appreciation for the Mays’ long service by presenting them with a certificate. “It was quite touching,” said Les, who is 65.

The couple have retired but are hanging on for three months to offer leeway to the people planning to take over the lease of the premises.

They moved to Commonside at Walkley after three-and-half years at The Roebuck in Charles Street in the city centre, turning the pub into a community focal point.

Les knew the area well, having gone to the nearby former St Joseph’s Infant and Junior School. “I went to the school down the road and so did some of my customers.

“It will be very touching to be leaving old friends but we’re only moving four doors away to a little bungalow, so we’ll be coming in to have a chat with everybody.

“Sue doesn’t want to leave Commonside. When we were looking for somewhere to live she said we have been here for 31 years with our friends and everything we need is around here.”

The past few years have been a tough time for many publicans, with rent increases, higher beer prices, longer hours and the smoking ban taking their toll, but Les says they have kept going without turning the place into big student-orientated premises, as some others have done, preferring to rely on the charms of the traditional boozer.

“We have always tried to keep reasonable prices and kept the pub ‘olde worlde’.

“A little snug is the most popular room, there is a best room and an oak panelled snooker room. We have hopefully offered a little bit of something for everybody and we have got a lovely crowd of customers.”