William’s Shakespeare

William Wagstaff at the Shakespeare pub in Gibralter Street which he is refurbishing and re-opening in June
William Wagstaff at the Shakespeare pub in Gibralter Street which he is refurbishing and re-opening in June

ONE of Sheffield’s oldest pubs is due to reopen in the summer as an addition to the city’s renowned real ale trail.

The boarded-up Shakespeare in Gibraltar Street, West Bar was spotted by William Wagstaff, who had rescued another pub in a sorry state in Bradford 22 years ago.

“I thought: ‘Why not have a go with this one?’ It might need an awful lot of work doing but as soon as walked into it I thought it’s pubs like this that should be kept going.

“There are certain pubs which you have to say goodbye to and others which should be kept going.

“There was something that tugged at the heart strings.”

The Shakespeare closed in January, renowned as a venue for live music.

William has bought it from Punch Taverns, and has an eye on music returning to the upstairs function room.

But that’s one for later. The priority is restoring and building a reputation as a real ale pub, a process he went through with the New Beehive Inn in Bradford.

He knows all about the Don Valley Beer Trail, with places such as the Fat Cat and the Kelham Island Tavern, and Sheffield’s reputation as the beer capital of Britain.

“We want to be part of the scene. I used to come from Bradford every now and again and walk around the pubs. It is unique to have so many good real ale pubs within such a short distance.

“This will complement the other pubs in the area. It will be run on the same sorts of lines, with real ales. At some later date we might put a brewery in.”

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

William plans to restore original features in retaining the character of the premises and he is looking for a manager “with a similar passion for traditional pubs and real ale”.

He is already overcoming one setback. “The day we took over some herbert whipped out all the pipes”.

Hundreds of feet of copper piping had disappeared.

But William is determined to add The Shakespeare to Sheffield’s canon of real ale pubs. “It is going to have quite a lot of investment, a total refurbishment. It is going to be put back on its feet and given a new start.”

William Wagstaff can be contacted on newbeehiveinn@talk21.com.